Sideboards & buffets are essential storage and serving area for your kitchen or dining room. They predate built-in cabinets and can be beautiful additions to your home décor. They fit especially well with Victorian, country or even shabby chic interior decorating themes.
These cabinet/storage/countertop furnishings come in an amazing variety of styles, ranging from elaborate period pieces to simple, rescued wood designs.
Purpose for Sideboards and Buffets
Sideboards and buffets are essentially decorative cabinets with desktop areas. They can be used to store implements, including your fine china, and to provide a space where decorative or meal service items can be displayed.
For example, if you read a Regency or Victorian era romance, you might encounter statements such as the following: “Breakfast was laid out on the sideboard so that the household could partake as they arose.” Or for a more modern setting, “Dessert was displayed on the sideboard to make room for the Thanksgiving dinner.”
What is the Difference Between a Sideboard and a Buffet?
Buffet is the older and perhaps more elegant term for essentially the same piece of furniture. Buffets tend to be bulkier, with perhaps a little more depth to the storage area.
Traditionally, they were dining room furniture that allowed the fine china and dining room linens to be stored safely, while the top provided a place to lay out extra dishes or to place items such as the cookie jar.
Sideboard is the more modern term for a similar furnishing. Sideboards frequently have an open shelf section with or without a door, they have drawers and sometimes come with glass fronts. They tend to be a little sleeker and streamlined in appearance.
Their appearance is such that they can even be moved into the living room where they can act as an entertainment center because they have a solid top where a television or viewing screen can be placed and plenty of storage space for game consoles, recorded media, and more.
What to Know Before Purchasing a Buffet or Sideboard?
The style of the other furnishings in the room. If you already have Victorian, Country, Modern or Shabby Chic furniture in the room, you will want your buffet or sideboard to match or complement the tables, chairs, or other furnishings in the room.
Dimensions of the space where the piece will go. Unless you are buying the buffet or sideboard with the idea that you will re-organize your room around your new item, this is essential.
Door dimensions. You also need to be sure that your purchase will fit through the portals to your home. Buffets, especially, can be quite large and unwieldy. If you have an older home, especially one that does not have a wide patio entrance, measure your doors as well as the space where the buffet or sideboard will go. Your new furnishing will need at least a half-inch clearance on both sides to easily fit through a door. A standard door typically will have a clearance of 36 inches. But older houses might have 32-inch doors, or even doors as narrow as 28 inches.
Floor supports. A buffet, especially, can be a fairly heavy piece of furniture. This is particularly true of antiques. You need a good, solid floor that is reasonably level for the doors and drawers in your buffet to work properly.
What Material Choices Are Available for Buffets and Sideboards?
Materials can be varied. Older or antique pieces are likely to be made of solid wood, such as oak, with a veneer of a more expensive or decorative material such as maple or mahogany. More modern pieces might be made from reclaimed barnwood, pine, or even manmade materials such as pressed fiber wood.
A sideboard might even use unfinished pine, giving you the choice of whether to leave it in natural color or paint it to match your other furniture.
What to Look for in Sideboards & Buffets?
Here are some of the factors you should consider when looking for sideboards and buffets:
You want a console that isn’t going to wobble or tip over with an expensive wide-screen TV or any other kind. In fact, you might want to back up your sideboard with a wall-mount for the television, just to make sure that children or pets do not tip it over.
With basic modern, you have several possible choices for style. A credenza type sideboard with sliding glass doors on the front would work well, and keep your recorded media, as well as accessories, tucked away neatly. If you are going for ultra-clean and uncluttered, a unit with opaque doors and drawers can help keep things sorted and out of sight.
Modern can mean a lot of different things to a lot of people. A neutral wood tone will work, or a plain white Boardwalk style will do nicely. If you are wanting to emphasize elegant, black works almost every time, but you could also go for a dark brown.
When it comes to living room furniture, you want something that is easy to clean. Some types of older buffets have a lacquer finish or milk paint that can be damaged by modern cleaning products. More modern pieces might be unfinished wood, shellac, vinyl paint or varnish. Always avoid lead-based paint in any location where there might be children or pets.
What Style Works Best If You Need Extra Counter and Storage Space?
Boardwalk might look good in your kitchen. It is a simple style that incorporates straight lines, low gravity center and plenty of room inside the unit. Usually finished with modern paint or finish, it is easy to clean.
Any Room, Any Style
Buffets and sideboards can be used in any room and can go with nearly any style. You can match the furniture style you have, or you can mix it up and let your buffet or sideboard make a statement.