Is it a Buffet or a Sideboard?

Deciphering the Differences Between Functional Storage Pieces

One of the most versatile pieces of furniture that we stock is the sideboard. No wait—maybe it’s the buffet. So which is it? While the names of these pieces differ, they have one thing in common: they each provide extra storage in the home.

Today the names of these pieces are often used interchangeably, and no standard definition exists for either piece.  The original function was to store utensils, serving dishes, linens, and so on—items related to dining. Some sources say that the names evolved depending on which room in the house the piece was located: if in the dining room, it was a buffet; if in the living room, a sideboard.

Food was often served on the top of the piece as well, so you can understand how the concept of “buffet” style restaurants sprang from this idea of serving yourself from a centralized location. If you’re from the South, you probably remember Sunday dinners when you could sneak the last slice of sweet potato pie from the buffet while the rest of the family was lost in conversation.

These pieces are great multi-taskers, and we often sell them to clients who envision nonstandard uses for them. If you’re downsizing to a smaller living space—or have a small living space to begin with—a sideboard can add visual interest and provide  additional storage without taking up precious square footage. They make perfect entertainment centers, hiding away all the components, CDs, and DVDs while providing a sturdy flat surface for the flat screen. (In fact, next week we’ll show you how one client repurposed her reclaimed teak piece into a cabinet for her vintage stereo equipment. Stay tuned!)

We like that our clients think creatively about these pieces, too. We’ve sold several to folks who have converted them into pieces for the bathroom by cutting holes into the top and inserting a sink; this same conversion technique makes the buffet work as wet bar, too, offering plenty of storage for glassware and spirits.

Do you have a good idea about making such a piece multifunction in your home? We offer three different styles of recycled teak pieces as we’ve shown throughout this post, and the honey buffet (pictured above) is just as versatile. Come by for a visit to see how these stylish yet hard-working pieces might improve your living space—and your life!

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