What Is the Difference Between a Buffet and a Sideboard?


A buffet and a sideboard are popular display furniture items for dining and living areas. Buffets are usually used during parties or special events where people serve food. Meanwhile, a sideboard is designed to serve as additional storage space.

The buffet can usually be found in dining areas. A sideboard, on the other hand, can add an excellent touch of luxury to your dining room or living area because you can use it to display decorative pieces or collectibles.

Buffets and sideboards are similar furniture pieces in structure and, occasionally, in their use. Hence, many people find it confusing and can't differentiate between them.

In this piece, we will put an end to this confusion as we will provide answers to what a buffet is, what a sideboard is, as well as their differences and similarities.

If you want to refine the style of your dining area, a buffet or a sideboard can be a great addition to your space.

With that said, let's get started!

What is a buffet?

Black buffet

A buffet is a large, flat piece of furniture used to showcase food platters and tableware (hence the name).

Because of its purpose, a buffet’s height rises to just about the counter level to make it easy for people to serve themselves.

They are perfect for serving food for buffet-style meals and offer minimal storage. A buffet is typically placed in the dining room or kitchen.

What is a sideboard?

glass and black sideboard

A sideboard, sometimes called "credenza," is a piece of furniture with a flat top consisting of a set of cupboards or cabinets that can be used to store tableware and table linens and serve platters of food. 

Because of their purpose, which is to serve as a place to put decorative items or collectibles, sideboards can come with a hutch, which provides additional space for displaying fine china or ornamental items.

Typically, sideboards are lengthy, have a lot of storage, and are low to the floor. They are not as tall as buffet tables and can be placed in several areas of the home, including the lounge room, entrance hallways, or even in the home office.

Typically, mahogany and wood like oak, pine, and walnut were used to manufacture sideboards.

Sideboards became prevalent in wealthy 18th and 19th-century households. The piece of furniture got its name from its customary placement in a home - at the side of a dining room.

However, they are now used to display various items in living rooms and other areas. Since most televisions can fit on the flat top of sideboards, they can double as an entertainment center in a living room.

You can also use a sideboard in the entrance hall to place your keys, mail, and decorative items.

Viesso has a large collection of sideborads where you can find a suitable piece for your home.

Differences between a buffet and a sideboard

small grey buffet

Although a buffet and a sideboard have many similarities, there are also a few main differentiating factors that are worthy of note, including:

  • A buffet is a long-shaped piece of furniture with a flat top surface used for showcasing food platters and tableware in the dining room. In contrast, a sideboard is a flat-top piece of furniture that can be used to serve platters of food or store tableware and table linens.
  • An important distinguishing feature between a buffet and a sideboard is its legs. Buffets typically have long legs. Hence, they are taller than sideboards. Sideboards have very short legs or a base that rests flat on the ground.
  • Buffets, unlike sideboards, are placed in dining rooms, while sideboards can be placed in several parts of the home, typically in living rooms, dining rooms, or hallways.

Similarities between a buffet and a sideboard

glass table and sideboard in background

Despite their differences, buffets and sideboards are also similar in many ways, which include the following:

  • Both are described as furniture with a flat top and a long shape perfect for setting out all of your serving dishes.
  • The terms sideboard and buffet can be used interchangeably for the same piece of furniture.
  • Both buffets and sideboards are sturdy, visually appealing containers with storage drawers or cabinet-like doors.

Can a buffet or sideboard refine the style of your dining room?

To properly create a space that feels comfortable and inviting and matches your dining room furniture and style, it is essential to think about how certain design elements affect how people feel in specific environments. In particular, consider these questions:

  • What kind of ambiance do I want my dining area to provide?
  • How can I ensure that guests feel at home while enjoying their meals?
  • Is anything missing?

For many, the answer to these questions comes down to what is known as a "buffet" or "sideboard." These designs have been around since the middle ages and became popular during the 19th century, as households became prosperous enough to dedicate a room solely to dining furniture. Today they remain popular, even though they may seem quite simple compared to modern furniture.

Although buffets and sideboards were intended to entertain guests who visit your house, they are still considered traditional dining decor. If your dining room storage set did not come with a sideboard or buffet, you can still find one in a similar style that could be a perfect match.

Take a quick view of some of our collections. You might find one that is perfect for your dining area.

Also, to create a more refined and elegant dining area, consider adding a few decorative accessories to enhance the atmosphere.

Tips to take full advantage of your dinning furniture

Now you know the basics about buffets and sideboards, but if you want to learn how to use them effectively to refine the style of your dining room, here are five additional tips:

Make sure your sideboard has plenty of storage space

If you want to display plates, bowls, cups, utensils, and other items, put them on the open shelves of your sideboard rather than stacking them on each other.

Add a mirror to your sideboard

A mirror will reflect and project beautiful views of your food. Mirrors also keep clean surfaces free of dirt and crumbs.

Put candles on your sideboard

Candles add warmth and illuminate your table. Candles also have a sweet aroma, making the entire place feel cozy.

Use your sideboard as a display case for seasonal décor

Display gorgeous flowers, fresh fruit, and other decorations throughout the year to bring life to your dining area.

Takeaway: Know the difference between a buffet and a sideboard

There is no definitive difference between a buffet and a sideboard. They are typically differentiated by their leg size and place in a home.

Buffets have high legs, so they are taller than sideboards, which have shorter legs or a base that sits directly on the ground. Furthermore, sideboards are often placed in living rooms, dining rooms, hallways, or elsewhere, while buffets are placed only in dining rooms.

The similarity between a buffet and a piece of sideboard furniture has confused many people for a long time. The versatility of a sideboard's practical use also contributed to the confusion. However, we hope this piece improves your understanding of what a buffet and a sideboard are.

Using the information in this guide, check out Viesso’s collections of sideboards to make your home look fashionable and elegant.

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