The Credenza, Sideboard, and Buffet
All photo credit is to 1stdibs.com!
Unlike clothing, music, and shoes--for example--developing our style when it comes to furniture and interiors is not a journey we begin at a young age, usually. Maybe in your bedroom growing up you were allowed to pick out the bedspread, but often times young people aren’t given much opportunity to learn about furniture until it’s time to move out of mom and dad’s and into their own place. So then the question is what furniture does one need for their first place? What pieces might you want to consider for your home and why?
A really great place to start learning about furniture and its place and function is through design magazines: Singapore Tatler Homes, Home and Decor, Expat Living, etc. There you can see how a room is set up, what furniture is used in them, and how is it arranged.
Arbitrarily I chose the credenza, sideboard, and buffet to focus on for this post, just because my hunch tells me that most people who are first planning what furniture to buy for their home, may overlook this area (and also what is the difference, if any, between them?). These pieces are good for people who like to entertain. All provide a place of storage for less commonly used items (special occasion plates, silver, larger serving bowls), and the low flat surfaced area is where food can be served from so that there is more room on the dining table (and more room for your lovely tablescape!)
Starting with the credenza: it originates from Italy where in the 16th century “the act of credenza was the tasting of food and drinks by a servant for a lord or other important person (such as the pope or a cardinal) in order to test for poison. The name may have passed then to the room where the act took place, then to the furniture.” The word credenza comes from the Italian meaning belief or trust and it is similar to credence in English. Credenzas usually are either without legs or have a shorter leg. Often they have sliding doors that are used for storing dishware and other items used in the dining room. The function of the credenza is to be for serving, storage and showcase style and will be most often found in the dining room.
Shown below is a mid-century credenza with sliding doors from the USA (from 1stdibs.com).
The sideboard became popular in the 19th century when homes started to become more affluent and houses were larger, allowing for a separate dining room. Like the credenza it usually has a shorter leg or no legs at all and can be found in living rooms, dining rooms and hallways. Rather than the sliding doors it usually has cabinets doors. It is also used for serving and displaying food and storage of dining room essentials. It was originally produced in England, France, Poland, Belgium and Scotland and later on in America. Shown below is a mid-century sideboard from the Denmark (from 1stdibs.com).
The buffet seems to be interchangeable with the sideboard, although some sources say that the buffet has a longer leg. Shown below is a French buffet from the 19th century (from 1stdibs.com).
Furniture tells a story and through studying furniture one can also learn a great deal about history!