Linen Color Trends & Inspiration Ideas

Unique Sideboards and Buffets to Make a Statement in Your Dining Room

Virginia Shelley
7 minute read

The dining room sideboard assumes center stage, providing essential storage and display. More than just furniture, today’s sideboards make a bold statement. From vintage charm to sleek modern designs, unique options abound.

You need storage. You want style. We’ll cut through the noise, focusing on sideboard materials, aesthetics and functionality. Skimming big box stores and digging into custom designs, we consider it all. By the end, you’ll be ready to find the perfect showstopper sideboard or buffet for your space. No more boring dining rooms. Let’s dive in and transform your space with a little help from the one-and-only sideboard.

What Is a Dining Room Sideboard and Buffet?

Sideboards and buffets are dining room staples that offer storage, serving space, and style. While similar, they have some distinct differences.

A Brief History

The origins of the sideboard date back centuries in Europe. Large wooden planks expanded the limited table space for serving medieval feasts. These early utilitarian sideboards evolved into ornately carved furnishings that the wealthy used to show off serving ware.

Iconic styles like Chippendale and Hepplewhite sideboards surged in the 1700s. After falling out of favor in the early 1900s, sideboards reemerged in the mid-20th century with sleek mid-century modern designs. They remain popular statement pieces today.

Key Features and Purposes

The main roles of sideboards and buffets include:

With storage, surface area, and style, sideboards are functional focal points.

Sideboard vs Buffet Differences

While often used interchangeably, some key variances:

  1. Height: Sideboards are around waist high while buffets are taller with higher counter space.
  2. Orientation: Sideboards emphasize vertical storage while buffets focus on horizontal surfaces.
  3. Serving style: Buffets optimize self-serve access with more counter space. Sideboards spotlight storage.

Most Popular Styles and Designs

Unique Wooden Sideboards

Sideboards and buffets are available in a wide variety of styles to complement any dining room aesthetic. From vintage revivals to contemporary sleekness, here are some of the most popular design influences and characteristics to consider:

Mid-Century Modern

Mid-century modern sideboards reflect the clean, retro-inspired look of the 1950s-60s. Key features include:

This nostalgic style works well in mod and eclectic spaces.


Industrial sideboards focus on the raw utilitarian look of factories and warehouses. Elements include:

The urban loft vibe pairs nicely with modern and rustic interiors.


Warm, casual, and inviting define the farmhouse sideboard look:

For a relaxed and cozy cottage feel, farmhouse is perfect.


Classic and timeless, traditional styles like French Provincial and English look to the past with details like:

Ideal for formal dining rooms or spaces needing an elegant touch.


Scandinavian and Nordic sideboards take graceful inspiration from mid-century modern with:

This understated, functional style suits calm, uncluttered interiors.


Rustic sideboards embrace the raw, natural beauty of the countryside with features like:

Perfect for bringing an organic warmth to a space.

Materials and Finishes

The materials and finishes of a sideboard or buffet significantly impact its aesthetic, functionality, and durability. From warm wood tones to sleek metal accents, let’s explore some top options:

French Country Style Sideboard In Antique White With Distressed Finish For Warm Interior Dining Room Decor

Wood Tones and Finishes

Wood remains the quintessential sideboard material, available in a spectrum of tones and finishes.

Dark woods like walnut, mahogany, and espresso make a dramatic statement. Staining adds rich depth and dimension. Distressing or whitewashing softens the look in the farmhouse and cottage spaces.

Medium wood tones like oak, cherry, and rustic alder provide visual warmth. Natural variations in a wood grain add organic interest. Painted finishes in colors like sage green or navy blue transform the look.

Light woods like maple, birch, and pine have an airy, casual feel. They suit Scandinavian or modern aesthetics. Bleaching brings out natural highlights in the grain.

Natural wood finishes apply tung, linseed, or poly oils to protect the surface while accentuating the natural color tones.

Painted and stained finishes not only change the color but also protect the wood while adding depth. Modern water-based stains avoid harmful fumes.


Metal introduces sleek contrast and an industrial edge to wood sideboards.

Wrought iron has an artisanal, handcrafted look. It pairs well with rustic styles.

Brass, bronze, or gold tones add a glam touch. The patina finish develops character over time.

Chrome has a clean, streamlined look that suits modern sideboards. Stainless steel provides a similar sheen.

Glass and Mirrors

Glass-front cabinets or shelving enable displaying treasured dishes and objets d’art. Mirrored panels and doors reflect light to expand the visual space while providing a touch of deco flair. Leaded, frosted, and smoked glass also lend unique style.

With endless material and finish options, you can find just the right mix of textures and tones to enhance your dining space.

Functional Considerations

Rustic Farmhouse Style Sideboard With Reclaimed Wood Doors And Black Iron Hardware

Beyond aesthetics, sideboards and buffets must serve key practical needs for storage, display, and serving. Consider these functional elements:

Storage Capacity

Assess how much enclosed storage you need for:

Then select the configuration of drawers, cabinets, and shelving to accommodate those needs.

Display Opportunities

Glass-front cabinets or open shelving allow showing off:

Illuminate displays with integrated lighting like LED strips.

Serving Ease

Plan ample countertop space for:

Look for expandable fold-out surfaces if needed.

Built-in Convenience

Integrated features like:

By carefully considering your space needs, a sideboard becomes both beautiful and highly functional.

Placement and Styling Tips

The placement and styling of your sideboard or buffet significantly impact its form and function. Consider these tips:

Scandinavian Style Light Oak Buffet With Tapered Legs And Rail Hardware

Strategic Positioning

Clever Styling

Lighting Layers

With strategic placement and creative vignettes, your sideboard can do double duty as a functional storage piece and decorative display.

Buying Considerations and Budget

Investing in a quality sideboard or buffet is a long-term commitment. Consider the following factors when making this important dining room investment:

The quality of materials significantly influences durability and lifespan. Solid hardwoods like oak and mahogany will far outlast laminates. Dovetail joinery and strong cabinet backs resist warping. High-grade hardware stands up to frequent use. Pieces made from kiln-dried lumber, water-based finishes, and low-VOC paints are eco-friendly options. Judge construction and materials quality in person before purchasing.

Custom-built sideboards allow designing tailored storage and features just for your needs. Start the process with precise room measurements and your vision for the piece. Build with premium materials like thick lumber and joinery for heirloom quality. A designer can assist with drawings and material choices. Premade options offer more immediate gratification, though limited customization.

Factor in delivery concerns like size, access through doorways and staircases, and installation requirements. Hire professional installers for complex configurations. Assembly is generally required for ready-to-assemble pieces – make sure all hardware and instructions are included.

Set a firm budget upfront. Pieces run a wide range costing $500 to over $5000. Add at least 30% for custom work. Quality wood construction starts at around $1000. Take time to find the best intersection of function, aesthetics and affordable price for your dining space.

By carefully evaluating options, you can invest wisely in a sideboard or buffet that perfectly suits your space and brings joy for years to come.