Designed quite by accident, buffets (you may know these versatile and timeless gems as sideboards) first appeared in the 1750’s when dinner party hosts would, quite spontaneously and perhaps even desperately, drag their hall tables into their dining rooms, push them back against a wall, and use them for extras: wine bottles, hot plates, dishes and glasses.
Originally only a simple serving table with cupboards, this thrown-together piece of dining room furniture was soon created and copied in a variety of styles and sizes by designers across Europe. By the end of the 18th century, the newly developed buffet was as common as, well, flush toilets, soft drinks, and steam boats.
Today, a couple centuries after its birth, this affordable, attractive, and must-have piece of furniture can be found in the most unexpected places in our homes. Read on to discover our favorite buffet hacks of 2019.
If you’re a bit confused about the official name of these long and lean, low-slung beasts, our loosely-followed rule of thumb is: once they are no longer in your dining room, buffets are sideboards, but these titles can be used as interchangeably as, say, plate and dish. So as you lounge with family and friends in your living room, use your sideboard as an impromptu minibar with glasses and extra bottles stored below, as a stage for your ever-changing seasonal displays, and as an anchor that gives your room structure and strength.
Wondering what to do with those long empty wall spaces few pieces of furniture can handle? Enter sideboard. More literally, enter you. As you walk in the door, drop your keys and loose change in the strategically placed bowl on your sideboard. Place mail and catalogs on the shelf below. Shoes, pet toys, reusable shopping totes, and rain gear all have their spot because: buffet in entryway. The icing is the mirror placed above for last minute primping as you slip out the door.
In a bathroom where space is at a premium, the shallow depth of buffets is golden. And when re-purposed as a bathroom vanity, lending surface space and functional storage, sideboards become those sought after best friends: never imposing but always there when you need them.
Play up the sideboard’s best features while hiding all your clutter and piles in plain sight. It really is a two-fer when it comes to this piece of furniture in the bedroom. Seize the opportunity for self-expression by displaying books, flowers, framed photos, or a grouping of candles on top, and tuck away toys, board games, and peripheral electronics in the cupboards below.
Placed front and center, buffets can double as floating islands in kitchens with their ample surface space up top and storage down low. Keep extra linens, cookbooks, and serving dishes hidden but within reach.
A buffet, used as a media stand, an ad hoc bar, or a sofa table with reading lamps, can be a great addition to your sun-room, your screened-in porch, or your converted basement. Whether you position yours as a focal point or simply take advantage of is functionality, a buffet may be the best furniture purchase you’ve ever made.