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Interiors 101: The 21st century sideboard

Timeless, practical and incredibly versatile, the sideboard has been an iconic piece of home furniture for well over a century now. Traditionally used in dining rooms to store a mish-mash of crockery and linen, the item has evolved into a classic modern furnishing that can look stunning in almost any room of the house.
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In fact, far from being a fusty old piece of furniture that wouldn’t look out of place in your grandparents’ house, there are now tons of sleek and contemporary sideboards out there that can give your home a very modern 21st century feel, and win you plenty of compliments from décor-savvy visitors and guests. In this article, we explore top tips for choosing the perfect sideboard, and how to decorate it with plants, ornaments and eye-catching artwork that’ll truly transform the look and feel of your room.

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The A to Z of sideboards

Sideboard, buffet, cabinet, credenza – when you start hunting for a sideboard you’ll quickly learn that it goes by a myriad of different names. Vintage shops and online retailers sometimes call it different things, but as a general rule of thumb, a sideboard in the dining room is called a ‘buffet’ (or ‘smorgasbord’ if you’re in Sweden). While a low, long storage cabinet in a living room goes by the more commonly used name of ‘sideboard’. To add to the mix, sideboards come in a wide variety of sizes and styles – from classic mid-century models to high-gloss lacquered designs with a contemporary finish. But if you’re already feeling a bit confused by it all – don’t worry. If the item is long, waist-height and packs in plenty of storage space, chances are you’re look at a sideboard!

Choosing the right sideboard for your room

So, you’ve started browsing the shops, and found one you like. But before you splash out on that too-good-to-miss sideboard of your dreams, you’ll want to spend a few minutes deciding whether it meets the needs of your room. When it comes to sideboards, a one size fits all approach doesn’t apply!

Picking a sideboard for your dining room or kitchen? Make sure it’s designed with sufficient surface space on top to hold a good spread of food and drink for dinner parties and family meals. You’ll also want to check there’s plenty of room below for china, silverware and other miscellaneous hand-me-downs.

Wooden sideboards with a low hatch can look great in dining rooms and kitchens, and give the room a classic rustic and homely feel. Or if you’re choosing a sideboard for your living room, it pays to make sure the interior shelving and storage space is optimally set up for easy access to all your DVDs, books and children’s toys.

Before you click ‘buy’ or whip out the credit card, check the item also fits with the theme and feel of the rest of the room. Already got a modern décor? An old rustic sideboard will probably look out of place. On the other hand, if your living room or kitchen has already got a cool throw-back vibe, a mid-century retro sideboard with stylish panels will fit right in.

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Top tips for styling your sideboard

Found the perfect sideboard for your home? Well done! Next step is to plan what you’re going to put on top. If you’ve opted for a sideboard with dark wood, beware that the material can really draw the eye in and become the main focus of the room. So, it’s good to make sure your ornaments, decorations and artwork around it are just as eye-catching.

Add a pop of colour with a bright lampshade or hang some bold artwork behind – they’ll bring energy to the room and help fill any empty wall space. You can also sit your favourite houseplants, candles, photos and books on top to bring a warm homely feel. Get creative with interesting ornaments, pottery and even a stylish arrangement of polished stones to really bring some personality to the space. One neat trick is to vary the heights of the objects. Taller objects at the back and smaller objects in front will draw the eye in to each one which is great if you really want to show off a recent buy or a treasured family heirloom. Objects all the same height, on the other hand, can look uninteresting and samey, so avoid as much as possible.

Symmetrical or asymmetrical arrangements: which is best?

Adding symmetry or asymmetry to your sideboard arrangement can inject an interesting dynamic. Symmetrical arrangements exude a feeling of calm and order and can help the room feel more tranquil. If that’s the aura you’re going for, why not add two stylish lampshades to your sideboard, one at either end, to create an instant feeling of balance.

An asymmetrical arrangement, on the other hand, works well if you want to exude a modern and less formal vibe. A beautiful vase on one end, and a charming stack of books on the other, can create a more casual feel with lots of energy. Don’t get too caught up on choosing the perfect ornaments though. Most interior design experts recommend keeping things simple. Don’t overcrowd the surface, and when in doubt stick to white and monochrome shades for a classic look.

Sideboards are a classic piece of furniture that bring an air of class and sophistication to any room. With so many different styles and sizes on offer, you’re sure to find one that fits perfectly with the décor and look of your home. The top surface also provides a fantastic opportunity to show off your personality, so grab your favourite trinkets, get creative and create a chic space that’s really your own!

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