How to Style a Buffet or Sideboard

Assymetrical styling on a sideboard

One of my favourite pieces of furniture, often overlooked, is the humble sideboard or buffet. In a dining room, it’s often overlooked by the star of the space, the dining room table, but it’s a master of practicality as well as aesthetics. With either drawers or cabinet doors, it can house all manner of items requiring hiding away like the ‘fancy’ china you bring out on special occasions, the additional table linens, even the kid’s craft supplies and the waxed table cloth that protects your table when they are getting creative.

But even if you are already well aware of it’s practical side, are you missing out on creating something a little extra special with your buffet? While we may lavish attention on other areas of our homes, neglecting the top surface of this piece can be a styling trick you don’t want to miss out on. Allowing the day’s mail, stacks of old magazines or the clutter of the day pile up can only be described as a crime against this wonderful piece of furniture in your home. Why not give it the attention it deserves by creating a beautiful display that will only enhance the room it’s in?

sideboard styling in black white and gold

Styling the top of your sideboard needn’t be a minefield of decorating decisions, however. It’s a small area upon which to flex your styling muscles and try out a few new things. You can suit your arrangement to nearly any style you desire – whether you love a more rustic country look, crave something minimalist or modern, or like a touch of the eccentric and eclectic and pretty much anything in between.

dining room sideboard with large art

There are many ways of course you can decorate the sideboard and in my post today we’ll talk about a few different options you might have. The most important thing, however, is that your sideboard tells the story of you. So whether you use family photos to show off your warm and welcoming side, use it as a makeshift bar for your legendary cocktail parties with friends or use it to display the eclectic finds from your travels, it should reflect your personality and style.

For a more formal look or to convey a sense of elegance, symmetrical displays are a great start. Consider twinning a pair of lamps on either side or a pair of two large vases filled with flowers or branches. As your brain can understand and interpret symmetry quickly, this look is easy on the eye and there is an innate sense of calm that is conveyed immediately.

symmetrical styling on sideboard

Asymmetrical displays have a bit more energy and interest and as such, will contribute to a more casual approach in your décor. If your space is less formal, you may wish to think about those items you display on top and how they might reflect your more eclectic personality and style.

Assymetrical styling on a sideboard

Whether you choose a symmetrical or an asymmetrical display, the objects you use and the height and scale of them play an important role in the final look.  You can create height by stacking books and placing objects or plants of various sizes on top and you can consider contrasting smaller objects with tall vases, lamps and collections of photographs or art leant across the wall.

Without that variation in height, the collection can read as “flat” and your eye will stagnate along the straight line created. Using objects of different heights layered upon the surface and hanging art or a large mirror above it, your eye will have an interesting line to follow and this variation of height allows it to take in every piece on display.

sideboard styling with rustic and global touches

You will also want to vary the scale and size of your objects, layering some objects in front of others, with larger pieces at the back and smaller items towards the front. A single placement of items all lined up like little soldiers will again appear uninteresting so consider leaning artwork against the wall, with larger or wider objects at the back and smaller items in front of it to vary the depth of the accessories.

And finally, don’t forget to consider mixing up your textures – rough with smooth, glossy with matt, natural fibres and metals – all of these variations create interest and layers in any display.

Check out our favourite sideboards and buffets from our wide selection…

get the look sideboards

traditional / eclectic / modern / hollywood regency / vintage / mid-century modern / glamorous


How do you decorate your sideboard or buffet? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!


Image sources: AM Dolce Vita / French for Pineapple / Apartment Therapy / Suburban Bitches / Claire Brody Designs

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