These names apply to a piece of long, low furniture, generally with short legs, or perhaps none, with a series of drawers or doors for storage. Such pieces originated long ago. A sideboard has its roots in old England as a surface to lay food upon while serving and over time, the addition of extra storage below caught on. In Sweden a buffet came in handy as a spot for the iconic Swedish smorgasbord...and the idea soon spread to France and throughout Europe. Such pieces may even be called "commodes" in the French style which originated in the early 1700s. Commodes can have long or short legs, but the general idea is the same: a long, low piece of furniture with storage below.
Nowadays, we use sideboard, credenza, buffet, or even commode interchangeably, although I am sure I just made some antique furniture expert's head explode by throwing commodes into the sauce. Yes, antique French commodes are quite ornate with gilt-bronze mounts and exquisite ormolu but for our intents and purposes, a commode is used like a sideboard or buffet but can sometimes resemble a chest of drawers.
Here is a round-up of some modern buffets, credenzas, and sideboards. As you can see, they can certainly be used in dining rooms (I am a great believer in sideboards and buffets for dining rooms as they lend a finished sense to the room), but they can also have great use and effectiveness in an entry, providing not only beauty and style, but usefulness as a landing place for keys, mail, etc.
This first dynamic and very modern piece below designed by Elizabeth Garouste for Ralph Pucci is technically listed as a commode on the Pucci website. You can see how the bank of drawers resembles a chest of drawers. But this piece of red lacquer and polished bronze could go anywhere, in a living room, entryway, or dining room.
The Heritage sideboard by Boca do Lobo is made to look like cut up sections of different pieces of furniture covered with classic blue and white Portuguese ceramic tiles.
Jean de Merry made the Diana credenza out of reverse painted glass depicting a scene of the Greek goddess Diana on a hunt. In the second photo, you can get a better idea of the scale of the piece and how lovely it would look at and entryway or in a living room.
The Gazelle sideboard, handcrafted at the Gregg Lipton studio in Cumberland, Maine, features a modern take on a cabriole leg in stunning mahogany and birdseye maple.
The primary color blocks in the paintings of Piet Mondrian are the inspiration for this playful and fun sideboard by Sarl Studio KM.
This spectacular piece is The Monocle sideboard by Delightfull. And it is indeed delightful here with a black and white photo of a James Bond-type, some graphic modern art, and a waiting martini. Behind the doors are drawers to hold napkins and swizzle sticks...
The compass rose and latitude lines of nautical charts of yesteryear make up the breathtaking Sagres sideboard by Malabar, executed in solid poplar wood and supported by gold and bronze plated steel. the second photo shows that it hides ample storage!
And finally, this exquisite piece in which each of the exterior faces is entirely sculpted out of a solid piece of wood by hand, then covered with metal sheeting, is the Floral credenza by Stephanie Odegard. Available in white bronze,copper, brass or silver.
Consider a commode, buffet, sideboard, or credenza in your entry, living room, or dining room.