6 Expert Tips To Choose Sideboards And Buffets

Before we even start with our list of tips for choosing sideboards and buffets, let's first sort out an important issue that some of you might find confusing.

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What is the difference between a sideboard and a buffet?

Sideboards and buffets are both pieces of furniture with fairly low, elongated storage spaces. When you place a sideboard in your dining room, it is referred to as a buffet. Once you move it to the living room, it is called a sideboard. Both are great for storing stuff, but where you will be using it will of course make a difference to the specific features you should be looking for.

Pieces meant to be used as a sideboard in the dining room generally speaking have stubby, relatively short legs and could feature a hutch for display. Pieces made to serve as a buffet in the dining room typically have no hutch, and the legs are higher.

Antique White Solid Manufactured Wood Sideboard
Antique Teal Solid Manufactured Wood Sideboard
White Solid Manufactured Wood Credenza
Espresso Birch Wood Buffet Table
Chrome Stainless Steel Buffet Table
Burnished Brown Solid Manufactured Wood Buffet Table
Gray Gold Solid Manufactured Wood Sideboard
Orange Solid Manufactured Wood Console Server

How to choose the right size sideboard or buffet?

Determining the perfect size for a buffet or sideboard can be quite tricky. In the first place, you don't want it to look overly big or minutely small when compared to your dining room table or living room furniture. Here's a couple of other principles to take into account:

  • The front to back depth of a buffet/sideboard is normally between 20 inches and 22 inches. For comfortable circulation, you need at least 24 inches of space between furniture pieces. And in the dining room, you want enough space between the table and the buffet so your guests can comfortably pull out their chairs and don't feel like they're trapped in a straitjacket.

  • A buffet is where you store items you often use in the dining room. Make sure you can access these items even if you have guests sitting at the table. If you e.g. forget to take out the napkins, you wouldn't want one or more guests having to get up just so you can open a drawer.

  • A buffet or sideboard with glass cabinet doors or open shelving can be a great idea for a smaller dining room or living room. Such a piece will appear lighter, and will give the room an airy ambiance. A piece with closed cabinetry has a heavier, bulkier feel to it and will work best in a bigger space. A glass cabinet filled with a shedload of different items might make the room look a little cluttered.

What is a good height for a buffet or sideboard?

The ideal for a buffet is that it will be exactly the right height so you can effortlessly serve food from the top. A good rule of thumb here is for it to be the same height as your kitchen counter, which is normally 36 inches.

Of course, whether you are unusually tall or short should also play a role when deciding on the perfect height. Most manufacturers make buffets and sideboards that are between 34 inches and 38 inches tall.

Take into account that the average height of a dining room table is between 28 inches and 30 inches. Most people prefer their buffet to be taller than that.

Pure White Mahogany Wood Wide Sideboard
White Manufactured Wood Wide Sideboard
Silver Solid Manufactured Wood Standard Sideboard
Rich Oak Standard Drawer Buffet
Black Solid Manufactured Wood Narrow Server
Russian Birch Core Narrow Credenza
White Gloss Solid Manufactured Wood Buffet Table
Dark Brown Mango Solid Wood Credenza

How do I choose the right style buffet or sideboard?

When deciding on the style for your buffet or sideboard, you generally speaking have two options: choose something with a style that fully matches your current dining room or living room furniture, or dare to be different.

If you are not really the adventurous type when it comes to furniture, choosing the same style as the current furniture is the safer option. Safe doesn't have to be boring: a style that perfectly fits in with your present furniture and décor can look classy and timeless.

If you are buying the buffet or sideboard as an add-on because your original dining room or living room set didn't come with one, you might have to compromise a bit. Look for a similar finish and style, even though it's not a perfect match.

If you can't wait to buy something different, here are some ideas:

  • You can introduce a bright contrasting color into any living room or dining room by selecting a painted buffet or sideboard.
  • A creamy white or pastel piece could perfectly complement a farmhouse, French Country or cottage style.
  • In an era where the word 'eclectic' has become very popular, adding an antique or vintage buffet or sideboard to a room with modern furniture and décor will send the message that, although you are a trendy type of person, you can still appreciate the best the past had to offer.
Old Blue Rustic Farmhouse Buffet Table
Solid Manufactured Wood Farmhouse Sideboard
Natural Manufactured Wood Iron Sideboard
Geometric Walnut Solid Wood Server
Brown Solid Rubberwood Antique Credenza
Navy Birch Solid Wood Sideboard
White Gray Mid Century Modern Sideboard
Reclaimed Barnwood Manufactured Wood Industrial Server

How do I choose the right material for a buffet or sideboard?

Most buffets and sideboards are made from some or other type of wood. One option is to try and match the type of wood used in the dining table, or at least to try to find something with a color that matches that of the dining room table.

Another option is to go for something with a contrasting color. If you, for example, have a light oak dining room table (or coffee table in the living room), but all you can find is a mahogany buffet/sideboard with light oak insets, that would be perfectly OK since it complements the table.

Distressed Walnut Solid Wood Server
Distressed Red Brown Solid Wood Buffet Table
Brown Mango Solid Wood Sideboard
Weathered Oak Manufactured Wood Metal Credenza
Black Metal Manufactured Wood Sideboard
Clear Metal Glamorous Buffet Table
Oak Solid Manufactured Wood Metal Sideboard
Sandblasted Antique Natural Finish Sideboard

How do I select the most functional buffet or sideboard for my needs?

Remember that a buffet or sideboard is more than just a lovely piece of furniture. It is also supposed to be very functional and useful. Different buffets have different functional features, so before you buy make time to write down a couple of notes on how you intend to use it.

A buffet with drawers, for example, will be great to store things such as napkins, cutlery, plates, place-mats and similar items. It won't be such a good option if you want to store bigger, bulkier items such as vases or fairly large containers. In that case one with doors and perhaps adjustable shelves will be a better alternative.

Some buffets offer specialist features such as a dry bar, which is perfect for serving drinks. Others come with a marble top where you can put down hot dishes without any fear of damaging the surface.

Jessica started out as an interior photographer, but her love of pretty settings took her to the field of interior design, where she can combine two of her greatest passions, creating and then capturing the beauty of homes.