When it comes to dining room furniture, two terms that get mixed up and used interchangeably are "buffet" and "sideboard." 

While these two pieces of furniture may look similar, they have distinct differences that set them apart, and understanding these differences can help you choose the right piece for your home. 

In this article, we will take a look at the differences between a buffet and a sideboard and review commonly asked questions from users about these pieces of furniture.

And by the end of this article, you will be able to differentiate between a buffet and a sideboard, which will come in handy when you go furniture hunting.


  • What Is A Buffet
  • What Is A Sideboard
  • Differences between a Buffet and a Sideboard
  • Similarities between Buffet and Sideboard
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Conclusion
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What Is A Buffet

A buffet is a long, not-too-tall, not-too-short table with shelves and cabinets for storing dishes, silverware, and linens. Buffets are designed mainly for the dining room, and it is used to serve food. The height of the buffet should not be too tall or too short, so it is easy for people to serve themselves from the surface.

Buffets originated from Sweden and were initially used to lay smorgasbords, which is a wide spread of food and drinks. They are designed to be functional and practical, making them an excellent option for people who prefer a practical piece of furniture that can serve multiple purposes. 

They are an excellent option to consider if you want a beautiful piece of furniture for a buffet-size meal with compartments for storage and versatility to fit in other areas of your home apart from the dining room.

What Is A Sideboard

On the other hand, a sideboard is a decorative statement piece that originated in England in the 18th century; it was built with expensive wood veneer and used as a dining room accessory. 

A sideboard is built shorter than a buffet or sometimes without legs. It is usually designed mid-century or minimalist style and is often placed in the dining room, hallways, or living rooms. 

They are typically designed with a flat top, a combination of cabinets and drawers for storage, and short legs, making them low-to-the-ground furniture. 

Sideboards are often more ornate than buffets, with elaborate carvings and decorations that make them a focal point in a room. Overall, manufacturers design sideboards to make more of a statement piece than to offer a practical storage solution.

Modern Buffet SideboardsModern Oak Sideboard

Differences between a Buffet and a Sideboard

Though a buffet and a sideboard are pretty similar in many ways and can be easily misidentified, they are two different entities and furniture. These are the four main notable features to differentiate between a buffet and a sideboard.

  • Size and Shape

Buffets are typically longer and lower than sideboards, making them a good choice for dining rooms with limited space. On the other hand, sideboards tend to be shorter and have stubby legs, making them a better option for larger rooms where they can be used as decorative focal points.

Learn more: Should sideboard match dining table?

  • Storage Options

Buffets typically have more storage options than sideboards, with multiple drawers and cabinets for storing dishes, linens, and silverware. Sideboards also have some storage compartments, but they are designed more for display than storage, making them aesthetically beautiful and pleasing to the eyes. 

  • Ornamentation and Design

Buffets are usually simpler in design, with clean lines and simple shapes. Sideboards, however, are often more ornate and decorative, with intricate carvings and decorations that make them stand out in a room. Check out this Art Leon sideboard with a beautiful spiral design.

  • Legs

Buffets are built with long legs, while sideboards have short legs or without legs, with the base resting directly on the floor. 

Similarities between Buffet and Sideboard

  • They can be used in the dining room to serve food.
  • They can be both used as aesthetic and storage furniture.
  • They are usually built huge and with a flat top or cabinets above. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where Can I Use a Buffet or Sideboard

Buffets are an excellent option for dining rooms, kitchens, and other areas where you need practical storage and serving space. Sideboards, however, are better suited for living rooms, hallways, and other places where you want to make a decorative statement.

Related Reading:  Can I put a sideboard in a living room?

2. Can I Place A Sideboard in a Living Room

Yes, a sideboard is an excellent storage and aesthetic piece of furniture in your living room. It is made in different designs, such as mid-century modern, modern, and contemporary designs. Hence, regardless of your living room design or style, there is a sideboard that can go perfectly with it.

3. How do I choose between a buffet and a sideboard

When choosing between a buffet and a sideboard, consider your needs and the style of your home. A buffet may be the best option for practical storage and serving space. 

And if you are interested in a decorative statement piece that will add character and style to a room, a sideboard may be the better choice.

Check out this Art Leon sideboard with a rattan design

4. How Tall Should A Sideboard Be In A Dining And Living Room

A sideboard has a standard height of thirty-six inches, and placing a sideboard taller than your dining table is advisable to create a good sense of proportion. 

And when you are placing it in your living room, getting a sideboard with short legs or one without legs is better. A sideboard taller than your couch or other tables present in your living room may distort the overall look of your living room. 


In conclusion, while buffets and sideboards may look similar at first glance, they have distinct differences that set them apart. 

Buffets are designed to be functional and practical, while sideboards are more decorative and ornate. 

When choosing between the two, consider your needs, the style of your home, and the space you have available. With the right choice, you can add practical storage with a decorative style to your home.

You can check our sideboards and buffets section for various sideboards and buffets. 

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