Sideboard styles and buying guide

Sideboard styles & ideas

Thinking of buying a sideboard in the near future, but stuck for ideas and inspiration? Here, we look at some of the practicalities to consider, before giving an overview of some of the most popular styles.

Are sideboards just for the dining room?

Sideboards have featured in UK homes since the 18th century and today they remain an extremely popular piece of furniture. Although traditionally a sideboard was intended to be used in a formal, separate dining room, that’s certainly no longer the case, as they now regularly feature in kitchens and living rooms, and even sometimes in bedrooms or hallways.

What’s the difference between a sideboard and a buffet?

In short, very little. Sideboards are more commonly associated with living rooms whereas buffets are associated with dining rooms. However, the two terms are largely interchangeable these days, especially as they serve the same purpose.

Is a sideboard right for the room?

It’s certainly worth asking yourself this question first. Sideboards are usually relatively large and so it’s worth considering how big the room is and whether you can justify the space taken.

They do of course come in all shapes and sizes nowadays, from short to long and deep to narrow, and so more often than not you’ll be able to find something that’s right for the dimensions of your room. However, if you can’t find a buffet that’s a suitable size, it might also be worth considering something like a console table, that will be smaller and slimmer, whilst still offering some storage capacity.

Modern sideboards

What should a sideboard’s function be within the room?

The key benefit a sideboard can bring to your home is to provide a generous amount of storage. Naturally you’ll want your new sideboard to look great, but as they’re relatively large a sideboard shouldn’t primarily be considered as a decorative piece of furniture, unless you have a particularly large room.

Before you buy, try to evaluate how much you need a storage cabinet within the room and what will be kept in it. This will not only help you to confirm that you need a sideboard, but will also help to guide you on the size.

Try to calculate the approximate volume of storage you require and then choose a unit that provides slightly more than this (to allow for storage of a few items you may acquire in future). The main thing to avoid is choosing a unit which has much more storage capacity than you actually need, especially if space is at a premium.

How big is too big?

The key is to ensure that it won’t make the room feel congested. A good, practical way to test this is to place / stack a number of boxes together which equate to the dimensions of the buffet that you’re interested in. Leave them there for a week or so and then evaluate whether you feel you can afford the space or whether the room feels congested.

One additional aspect to consider is the practicalities of getting it in to your home. It’s certainly advisable to check the measurements of any cabinet you’re interested in very carefully and to ensure that the unit will fit through the doors within your house or flat.

What storage features should I look for?

Firstly, try to carefully think about what items you have, or plan to buy, that would be stored in the cabinet. Sideboards are often used for storing plates and dishes but, in modern day living, the sky’s the limit in terms of what you can keep in there. If a majority or all of your items aren’t particularly decorative then it’ll be better to opt for a unit that has lots of doors and cupboards and very few, if any, open shelves.

Behind the cupboard doors, shelving is often useful to have, depending on the size of what you want to store. If these shelves can be moved or removed, this is certainly a practical added benefit.

A few drawers are also often beneficial, as you’ll invariably have smaller items which can be discretely stored within them.

Sideboard design has progressed significantly in recent years and some now have innovative features such as wine racks, which you may wish to consider.

Does it need to match the rest of my furniture?

Match, no. Coordinate, yes. People’s tastes are becoming more and more eclectic, and at the same time the ‘rules’ of interior design are becoming more flexible. Obviously you don’t want a clash of styles within the room, but as long as the sideboard coordinates with the décor and other furniture, then you’re fine.

What are the most popular sideboard styles?

1) Scandi sideboards

Scandi sideboards

Scandi emerged as a popular furniture style in the 1960s and 1970s and has remained ‘on trend’ ever since. Perhaps one of the most iconic items within the suite of Scandi furniture is the sideboard. With clean lines and a very contemporary look, Scandinavian style sideboards are particularly popular within modern houses and flats.

2) Reclaimed

Reclaimed wood sideboards

Reclaimed wood furniture is one of the most popular choices of furniture at the moment and this is understandable, given it’s many merits. Not only is it environmentally friendly, but it’s got a distinctive and unique look, and it’s also usually more robust than most, with the wood being sourced from old buildings or boats. All of which means that reclaimed wood makes for a great sideboard.

3) Mahogany

Mahogany sideboard

A very traditional choice, mahogany is a high quality hardwood option that brings a certain elegance to a room. It’s a furniture style that divides opinion – it has some very loyal devotees but equally some find it difficult to then coordinate with other aspects of the room.

4) Rustic

Rustic sideboards

There’s often cross-over with reclaimed here, where the rustic style emanates from the wood being from a reclaimed source. The style has some versatility, although if this is your choice of sideboard it’s best to at least hint at rural, rustic or farmhouse influences within the broader décor.

5) Oak

Light oak sideboard

Arguably the most popular wooden choice for homes throughout Britain. Aside from the availability of the wood itself, oak is also popular as it’s a hardwood that blends well with a variety of decors. If oak is your thing, then there’s choice aplenty, and designs vary from traditional to modern.

6) Industrial

Industrial sideboards

Most certainly a contemporary choice, an industrial sideboard will make a great statement in any living area. Inherent with the style, you’ll be getting a sideboard that’s robust, hard-wearing and contemporary.

7) Painted

Grey painted sideboard

An extremely popular choice of sideboard, often due to the fact that, like oak, it very easily blends with a variety of decors.

8) Walnut sideboards

Walnut sideboards

If you’re looking for a dark wood sideboard but don’t necessarily want the formality of mahogany, then walnut could be ideal. Like mahogany, it’s a good quality hardwood, and most ranges are designed in a way which can suit a slightly more traditional or modern décor.

Shopping for sideboards online?

Greenway Furniture are an independent online furniture retailer, offering a number of modern furniture ranges, so if you’re looking for ideas and inspiration for your new sideboard style, then hopefully you may find it here.

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