What is a sideboard?

If you have ever heard the term sideboard or seen it used when describing interior décor and furniture and not been sure what they were actually talking about, you are not alone. The term sideboard is used interchangeably with buffet, credenza, or server and there really is not much difference between the pieces.

This type of furniture piece became popular because many homes that were built in the 18th and 19th century did not include much space for storage. Many people found this to be quite a problem, especially those with large collections. Because of this, people turned to furniture makers to find a solution to their storage problems and one of these solutions came in the form of the multi-functional sideboard.

It was originally designed to stage the food before meal time. The hostess would serve each item of the menu one by one from the sideboard. The dining table, on the other hand, would only hold the plates, cups, and other eating utensils along with the centerpiece. As the end of the meal came, the sideboard would become a staging area for desserts and cordials.

sideboardAfter dinner, the sideboard buffet would be used as storage for the dinnerware and flatware. The structure of the piece was generally five to six feet in length by eighteen inches deep by thirty-eight to forty-one inches tall. It was built with cabinets in the main trunk of the piece with one or two drawers. The top was made to be completely flat without any interruption of its surface since this was the main staging area for serving and storage.


Now that I know what it is, what do I do with it?

No matter what you call it, the sideboard-buffet-credenza is still a great multi-functional piece of furniture to have in your home.  It can be used as a decorative furniture piece that doubles as storage in living rooms, foyers, bedrooms and more.  It can be used in place of TV stands for something more stylish than your typical entertainment center. Some people feature them in their office, using them as storage and space to display photos and plaques.

In short, you can do whatever you want with it. Some people, craftier than those of us at Live Shabby Chic, refinished and repurposed antique pieces to bring new life to them.  My favorites are those that have be repurposed for an in-home bar, like this one or this one, which is also a great example of the shabby chic furniture style.

It can be fairly difficult to find an antique sideboard in good condition at a reasonable price.  They are very sought after and although many were made with great craftsmanship and quality, such as oak sideboards, prices can be quite high.  Many furniture makers are specializing in reproductions of vintage and antique style pieces and can provide you with style choices from different eras, including early American, Victorian and even European.

When it comes to styling this new addition to your furniture family, assuming you are not using it for a bar or to host your television, you have a lot of options.  This post shows five great options – with lots of pictures.

Classy Clutter has an amazing sideboard makeover. Just look at this pic!

Shabby Chic Sideboard

Shabby Chic Sideboard

Now that you know what it is and what to do with it – go get your own!

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