For the average homemaker, the term credenza can be a bit confusing. Is it a desk? A sideboard? A hutch? Originating from the Italian word for “belief,” credenzas were first used to store food that would be tested for poison before being served to aristocrats. From the 14th-century to now, the defining characteristics and purpose of a credenza has changed in several ways, though it continues to be a staple in many households. Today, credenzas are available in endless styles and finishes, with both decorative and functional uses.
By the books, is an item of dining room furniture for serving food, displaying serving dishes, and storage. Still, with seemingly indistinguishable terms like sideboard and buffet, it can be easy to get things mixed up. Although the differences between these items are minute, it can help to understand what sets one apart from the next. If you’re in the market for a new credenza (or sideboard, or buffet), read on for a full guide on how to choose what’s right for you.
A credenza is a cabinet-style piece of furniture that is typically used in a dining room, with no legs (or extremely short legs), complete with sliding doors that open up to storage space for dishware and other dining essentials. It’s a stylish storage solution, and its long and low shape provides an additional serving surface. Credenzas can be used in offices as well, substituting a desk or workspace while providing additional office storage.
Credenza vs. Sideboard
A sideboard is similar to a credenza, with its long shape, low profile, and ample storage space. Unlike a credenza, sideboards typically have cabinets that extend to the floor, and can come with hutches that add additional space for displaying fine china or other decorative pieces. They are commonly placed in living rooms, dining rooms, or hallways.
Credenza vs. Buffet
When it comes to practicality and function, credenzas and buffets are fairly similar. The main distinguishing quality of a buffet is that they typically have longer legs, and are taller than credenzas or sideboards. Buffets provide a moderate amount of storage, and are great for laying out food for buffet-style dining (makes sense, right?).
Shop Our Favorite Credenzas
Check out some of our favorite credenzas in a variety of styles and finishes.