the weather report

What's the Difference: Credenza Vs. Sideboard

We get it. Sometimes pieces of furniture can look pretty similar, right? There’s no shame in admitting it can be confusing! I mean, not many people run around trying to determine the differences of credenza vs sideboard just for kicks.

Unless of course, you’re a furniture aficionado like us here at Inside Weather! Since we’re mad about furniture and not afraid to admit it, why not let us break it down for you? By the time you’re done reading, you might just be an accidental expert.  

What is a Credenza?

The term ‘credenza’ originated from the Italian word ‘credenza’, meaning belief or trust, way back in the 14th century. They were initially used to store food items prior to testing them for poisons. Put another way, they were a food ‘holding area’ for taste-testers to test the goods for poison before serving them up. Hence the use of the word ‘credenza.’

Credenzas were traditionally designed with intricate woodwork. However, in later centuries, the usage and function of credenzas evolved. These days, a credenza is an American term for a furniture item that is typically used as dining room furniture.

You can use it this piece of dining room furniture to display fancy serving dishes, to serve food, or even just to store dishes and table linens. A modern credenza is also very often used for serving buffet meals.

Credenzas regularly get confused with sideboards because it can be tough to distinguish the differences. 

Features of a Credenza

A credenza is a piece of room furniture with a cabinet-style structure. They often come with short legs or no legs at all, although there are many quirky designs to choose from. They often feature sliding cabinet doors for additional space.

Credenzas traditionally are made in a long, low shape for ample storage space below and plenty of serving space up top, although that’s not always the case. They are, however, often smaller and more formal than a sideboard. Sometimes, credenzas come with glass display cabinets on the sides, perfect for showing off that fancy china. At Inside Weather, our Latte Credenza is customizable to fit your space and style perfectly.

Though most––if not all––are made with decorative wood, they’re not just a pretty face! The tops are often made of some kind of heat-resistant material to protect them from hot serving plates, lending an air of both beauty and function. 

How to Use a Credenza

They are typically considered a dining room accessory. However, many people also use them as a furniture piece in spaces like living rooms or offices, in lieu of a file cabinet or other storage. Seriously, who couldn’t use a little more hidden storage in the office?

How to Decorate Your Credenza

There’s no accounting for personal taste. You can decorate your credenza however you like. But before buying it––or any other  furniture piece for that matter––take a careful look around the space you want to put it in. Keep in mind the length of the wall, the color scheme of the room, and the placement of other furniture items. It should complement, not clash.

  • You could use it in your dining room for displaying your favorite dishes and/or silver.
  • You could use it as a TV console, since it’s low enough to bring your TV to eye level. Plus, there’s plenty of space for TV accessories like your sound system, remotes, and hiding away those ugly user manuals. Not to mention a great way to hide a mess of cords and wires!
  • You could use a credenza as a stylish accessory in a study room or office, and show off your favorite plants. Don’t forget to fill the cabinets with books!
  • Another excellent use for a credenza is as a private home bar. Put it in your living room and fill it with glasses and bottles. You can display your current favorites on the top, along with a cocktail shaker and a stylish serving tray. 
  • Baby on the way? Try one in the baby’s nursery as a changing table. Think about it! There’s ample space for a changing pad on the top, and plenty of room to store spare diapers and other changing accessories down below.
  • If it’s a living room or sitting room accessory, why not put paintings or framed pictures on the wall behind the credenza? You can hang one large piece of artwork, or multiple small ones and create a nice-looking little nook.

For additional credenza styling inspiration, be sure to read our latest blog post on the topic!

What is a Sideboard?

A sideboard is similar to a credenza in design. The earliest versions of sideboards were created in the 18th century, although they gained popularity in the 19th century. By the 19th century, most average households became prosperous enough to afford a separate room for dining.

Sideboards were traditionally decorated and designed with expensive inlays and veneers. In later years, sideboards changed according to trends and innovations in room furniture design. However, 18th and 19th century vibes are still very much in fashion.

Features of a Sideboard

Similar to a credenza, sideboards are also designed to be a storage space. Sideboards usually consist of multiple cabinets and drawers, with a wooden top for holding food or other items. They feature cabinets that sometimes extend to the floor, enhanced with hutches to display china or other decorative items.

Sideboards can be used in the dining room, the living room, or even hallways. They also often have a long and low profile, although not in all cases. Some sideboards can be vertically high, which means they won’t offer a serving space on the top. 

How to Use a Sideboard

Nowadays, sideboards are used to maximize dining room storage space, but in living rooms or any other areas where household items might be displayed. You can place one in hallways, in a foyer, in a bedroom, or even a bathroom if you have the space for it! They are excellent for storage and to show off all your favorite knick knacks, depending on the design and style of sideboard you choose, of course.

If you're looking to create a functional entryway, we cover all the different ways that you can take advantage of a sideboard in your space.

How to Decorate a Sideboard 

Sideboards can enhance the look of any room, provided you find the perfect one. They come in a variety of designs and styles, which means you can find one to suit almost any space that has room for it.

Before buying a sideboard, you should consider the decor and color theme of your home, the purpose of the sideboard, and where it will be placed in your house. Below are some styling tips to keep in mind before choosing and decorating it.

  • Before decorating your sideboard, consider the color scheme of the room. Decorate it with items that bring out the thematic color to enhance the overall look of the room. You can opt for similar color shades, or opposite shades to create contrast. Whatever you decorate it with should also match the vibe of the room. For instance, if your sideboard and room is shabby chic, you probably won’t want to place contemporary decorative items on top of it. 
  • Regardless of the size of your sideboard, divide the top space in an aesthetically pleasing and symmetric way. For example, if it’s long enough, divide the space in three sections. Pair up similar items at the corners and place a signature piece in the center. Similarly, you can also pair together similar items; for example, if you’re going with plants, you can opt for plants of different sizes. Another beloved décor idea is using lamps, books, and plants in any order.
  • Make use of fancy trays when decorating a sideboard. You can use the tray as a sort of catchall for any number of things. Some options might be putting a variety of materials on one tray, like colored glass and metals. Maybe it’s home to a small plant, or a scented candle. You could place a small antique piece on it, or a couple of books. If it’s in your bedroom, it could even just be used to catch your pretty baubles and jewelry! For trays that appear more aesthetically pleasing, put an odd number of items on the tray, and look for items that are different in size. 
  • As with the credenza, you can enhance the appearance of your sideboard by decorating the wall above it with artwork. Not only does it bring that artistic touch to the whole space, it also draws the sideboard into focus.
  • You might even consider just leaving free space on the surface of the sideboard, depending on where and how you’re using it. If it’s in the dining area, it can be used as a buffet table. In the living room or hallway, it can be a safe place to catch everyday items, like your phone and keys when you’re home. 

The truth is that too many objects on a credenza or sideboard will only serve to make it look cluttered. Sometimes less really is more!

With a customizable credenza and sideboard options from Inside Weather, you’ll have a versatile piece of furniture that is built to last. Shop now!