Difference Between a Sideboard, Buffet and Credenza

Posted In Knowledge - 10/05/2017

What Are the Differences Between a Sideboard, Buffet and Credenza?

What is a sideboard and how does it differ from a buffet? What is a credenza? The terms sideboard, buffet and credenza are often used interchangeably to describe a common and useful piece of dining room furniture. While these are all long, low-profile storage and service pieces, they differ in several ways. Variances can be subtle, like design features and overall structure, or more noticeable, such as their location in the room.




With plenty of unique styles to choose from, sideboards make a great addition to your home. Design features may differ, but they are all characterized by having short legs or no legs and cabinets that reach the floor. This is why sideboards often look similar to kitchen cabinetry.

Origin & Function

The sideboard originated in England and was used to set out food. Over time, these pieces transformed into models with drawers and other compartments for storing fine china, table linens and other household items. Today, some sideboards may come with hutches for additional space.

This piece of furniture also lends itself nicely to displaying keepsakes and collectibles. Because they are so versatile, it is not uncommon to place sideboards in living rooms, dining areas, home bars, kitchens or hallways.



While sideboards and buffets are much alike, they tend to be located in different areas of the home. Buffets are exclusively used in dining rooms, while sideboards have more flexibility.

Long Legs

Another difference between sideboards and buffets is their leg construction. Buffets are typically tall, with long legs that hold up a series of cabinets or drawers for storage. As the name implies, these pieces were used to set out food during gatherings, creating an open and generous atmosphere.



Original Purpose

Credenzas, like sideboards and buffets, are often located in dining rooms. However, unlike the other storage pieces, this type of furniture was not used to display items or present food. Instead, credenzas were used to queue all dishes that needed to be tested for poison before being served to the elite.

Current Function

For the modern home, their purpose is a little different. Credenzas are comparable to buffets in terms of usage and practicality, though they either do not have legs or have extremely short and slender ones. Complete with long, low cabinets, these pieces usually feature convenient sliding doors. The term credenza is also used interchangeably with a console as a large storage cabinet used anywhere in the home. You can find these accent pieces used in wide hallways, roomy entryways, living rooms and home offices.


How Do Servers Compare to Sideboards, Buffets and Credenzas?

Since there are some distinct differences between a sideboard, buffet and credenza, you may wonder where servers fit into the mix. These pieces are most similar to buffets, but they are smaller and typically more formal, similar to chests.

In addition to looking like buffets, servers are also used to present and hold food. However, because they are narrow and significantly smaller in size, servers usually display desserts or appetizers.

Choosing the Right Dining Room Essential

While each of these pieces has the potential to tie together a room, choosing the right one is key. Before committing to such a large and impressive piece, asking a few questions can determine the right style for you:

What Is Its Purpose?

First, consider the piece's purpose. A sideboard is best for displaying portraits and decor, while a credenza or buffet might be ideal for stowing away items out of sight. Any of these pieces are ideal for presenting food, though a server offers the least surface area.

How Much Space?

Next, consider the space you are working with. While it may seem like a great idea to set out an array of dishes for friends and family to serve themselves, a small dining room might be too cramped for a large buffet or dining room dresser. In these cases, a small server might be more logical.

Style Preferences

Finally, style plays an important part in weighing the differences between sideboards, buffets and credenzas. Sideboards are the most versatile option, though those looking to make a statement in their dining room may want to go with a handsome credenza. These pieces come in a wide range of colors and finishes from stylish black and white to classic wood finishes.

Style with Purpose

If you simply want to store and display at your convenience, don't worry too much about the exact name of the furniture. In fact, some dining room storage pieces are even referred to by other names, such as consoles. Though there are differences between a sideboard, buffet and credenza, they can all add function and beauty to your home.

For more take a look at Optimize Your Dining Room: Sideboards, Buffets, Servers, Credenzas, China Cabinets & Curios. Or for additional ideas about dining room storage: Difference Between a China Cabinet and Curio.

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