Guide | Display & China Cabinets

How to Choose a Corner China & Curio Cabinet

Curio and china cabinets are a great way to display some of your most beautiful treasures from Hummel figurines to Wedgewood china. However, for homes with limited space, it can be challenging to find a cabinet that fits your collection and coordinates seamlessly with your room.

While curio cabinets have a long and fascinating history, these days, you can display everything from Star Wars figurines to records in china and curio cabinets.

To help you make the decisions about these two types of cabinets and which one is best for your space and lifestyle, here are some tips and tricks to choosing the best corner curio or china cabinet for your home.

What's the Difference Between a Curio Cabinet and a China Cabinet?

These two types of furniture share many of the same qualities as they are both made to display fragile, rigid items. However, curio cabinets display almost any kind of trophy, figurine, or anything else you'd like to show off.

China cabinets generally are tailored to display chinaware, so the sides are enclosed. Curio cabinets, on the other hand, have open glass sides and shelving, and some styles feature mirrors on the back of the cabinet, making it easy to see all the details of the object from every angle.

Brown Traditional Oak Corner Curio Cabinet
White Classic Solid Wood Corner Curio Cabinet
Brown Traditional Manufactured Wood Corner Curio Cabinet
White Classic Solid Wood Corner China Cabinet
Dark Brown Solid Wood China Cabinet
Brown Traditional Manufactured Wood Corner China Cabinet

Why Do I Need a Corner Cabinet?

Corner cabinets are the ultimate space savers. These unique designs use what is usually dead space in your house - the corner. They can also create a focal point in a room to anchor the rest of your furniture and accent pieces, such as mirrors and lamps, as well as ornaments. 

Corner china and curio cabinets offer the same internal storage space as their counterparts that fit along a wall but have a more understated style impact to showcase your china, crystal, heirlooms, and other collectibles.

Rustic Traditional Solid Wood Corner China Cabinet
Brown Classic Manufactured Wood China Cabinet
Gray Simple Solid Wood Corner China Cabinet
Brown Traditional Solid Wood Curio Cabinet
Transparent Modern Glass Corner Curio Cabinet
Brown Traditional Manufactured Wood Curio Cabinet

What Do I Have to Consider when Looking for a Curio Cabinet?

  • Location

One of the primary considerations, when you're in the market for a curio or china cabinet, is where it will stand in your dining room, kitchen, or sitting room. Choose a corner away from direct sunlight as this can fade delicate glazing and paintwork and ensure there is sufficient clearance around the cabinet to prevent the doors from scratching walls and other furnishings.

  • Size

Most china cabinets range between 60-70 inches tall, with large models measuring in at over 90 inches. However, you can also find compact options under 45 inches high. These low line styles are ideal for displaying artwork, photographs, and accent pieces on top to elevate the style of your room.

Measure the designated corner space, including both the lengths along the walls and the width between them, then measure the height of the space. Remember that you want the cabinet to provide ample storage, but not be so tall that it overwhelms the rest of the furniture in the room.

  • Display Items

The next aspect to consider is what items you want your cabinet to hold. Is it mainly chinaware, or would you like to display glassware, porcelain dolls, or pieces with unusual dimensions?

If you're going to display a wide range of objects, look for a cabinet that features adjustable shelving. That way, you can stagger the shelves to show some smaller objects up top and larger ones further down.

  • Lighting

If you plan on buying a cabinet that has interior lighting to illuminate your display, make sure that the corner you plan on putting the cabinet in is close to a power source. There's nothing more unsightly or potentially dangerous than a cord running along the baseboards.

Brown Traditional Solid Wood Corner Curio Cabinet
Dark Brown Manufactured Wood Corner Curio Cabinet
Gray Elegant Solid Wood Corner Curio Cabinet
Transparent Modern Glass Curio Cabinet
Dark Brown Classic Solid Wood Curio Cabinet
White Traditional Solid Wood Corner Curio Cabinet

What Materials Are Used to Make Cabinets?

Curio cabinets, also known as curios, are generally made of wood and glass, but they, along with china cabinets, can be fashioned in traditional to baroque to contemporary styles.

For the most durable material, choose quality hardwood like pine, oak, or mahogany. Good wood furniture is cut straight from the tree trunks, unlike composite wood products that are manufactured. However, composite wood cabinets are a more affordable alternative to solid wood, though not as long-lasting. Choose a composite frame cabinet with solid hardwood veneers for an affordable display case that is both stylish and durable.

Along with what type of wood, you can also choose its finish. Wood finishes protect the furniture from exposure to sunlight and other damaging elements. A well-chosen finish can also add to your décor as the array of finishes ranges from rich tones like mahogany or cherry to more subdued hues like oak.

To match your corner china or curio cabinet to the rest of your home's décor, use a finish that will highlight the color palette, complemented by the appropriate style of furniture.

A boho-chic or beach house would look great with the lighter tones of oak with a light or distressed finish. More classically themed rooms, styled with solid wood furniture and sumptuous fabrics and rugs, would look best with darker toned pieces and interior lighting.

Brown Traditional Solid Wood Curio Cabinet
Dark Brown Classic Manufactured Wood Curio Cabinet
White Stylish Glass Curio Cabinet
Gray Classic Solid Wood Corner China Cabinet
Brown Elegant Solid Wood Corner Curio Cabinet
Brown Classic Solid Wood Corner China Cabinet

Quick Tips

  • Measure the Inside

China and curiocabinets may look like they have a lot of space inside, but looks can be deceiving, especially with the unique shape of a cabinet made to fit into a room's corner. Take some quick measurements on the inside of the cabinet, both width, and height, to make sure your items will fit inside.

  • Check the Brackets

Once you have taken the piece home, double-check all the brackets before putting your most precious, breakable items inside. Sometimes a bracket can fall out during transportation, so it's worth it to check before all the fragile items are on display.

  • Get Locking Cabinet Doors

If you are a grandparent or regularly have small children visiting your home, you may want to look into cabinets that have locking doors to prevent any accidental damage to your valuables.

  • Don't Overfill

Resist the temptation to put everything of value into your new corner china or curio cabinet. Leave at least an inch of space between each item so you can see every aspect of the piece and prevent scratches or cracks occurring if items rub against each other.

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