As kitchen design tends more and more toward the modern, old fashioned china cabinets and buffets are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Ornate carved mahogany and leaded glass cabinets are nothing if not beautiful, but they’re out of place in an increasingly minimal dining area. That said, while many people might not want an old fashioned cabinet it an ultramoderndining room, china cabinets and dining room buffets still serve an important function, especially for people who entertain often. If you have a set of china, a separate set of dinner plates for parties, or just need an unobtrusive bar setup, you certainly need a place to store your supplies. These simple but stylish modern dining room buffets are a great way to get the best of both worlds – the traditional storage you need with the modern style to fit your dining space.
First and foremost, dining room buffets offer simple, straightforward utility. So before you start shopping, take an inventory of what exactly it is you need to store. If it’s china, how many pieces? If it’s a punch bowl, how big is it? Table cloths, party favors, or spare glasses and a cocktail shaker? Consider how much space whatever it is is going to take up, and what the smartest way to store it all would be. This Sapphire Grey buffet has a sleek, glossy geometric design that will look great in a modern space. The design is ultimately pretty simple, focusing on a nice blend of different types of storage (both cabinets and drawers) with just enough style that it’ll accentuate your space instead of just occupying it.
Once you know what you need to store, and how much space it’s going to take up, you can get a better sense of what size dining room buffets you should be looking for. Modern dining room buffets tend to be more compact than old fashioned china cabinets, and tend to sit lower on the wall rather than taking up a lot of space. That said, they come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and styles, and you want to find one that’ll be the least obtrusive in your dining area. This Nightfly White Bar Buffet is narrower and taller than your typical long-but-short dining room buffet to make a torso level workspace for a little added utility – better for use in a bar than in a formal dining room.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that my very favorite thing about modern design is that modern and modular play hand in hand, and that definitely applies here. Modern dining room buffets are much, much more flexible than old world china cabinets or buffets for the simple reason that their sleek, square lines fit nicely together. For example, this Nightfly White Curio can be used in three ways: as a single, cabinet style display, linked together to make a wall of cabinets with inset glass display cases, or combined with the matching Nightfly Buffets to create a single versatile unit. That means that it can not only fit well in just about any space, but can be easily customized to fit your specific needs.
The very best modern dining room buffets do more than just offer you the storage space you need, though. Minimal modern design is beautiful in its simplicity, but that’s no reason not to help it along a little. If you want to break up all those simple, straight lines, look for dining room buffets like this Tecla Tobacco Oak buffet from Rossetto that have either open cabinets or enclosed glass spaces. Like the Nightfly curio, this buffet has a slightly museum-like glass case around one corner of the display, which breaks up the simple vertical oak slat construction. It also allows you to keep some of your favorite items on display, both protected and shown off even when not in use. Plus, the narrow base on this buffet creates the illusion that it’s floating, which is always a nice visual trick for a modern decor.
Many modern dining room buffets have little peep-hole style shelves built into their front faces. Combined with sometimes oddly shaped geometric doors, this adds a lot more visual interest to the piece than you might think. This Alma White Buffet is a nice example, with a tiny shelf area that draws attention to the fun shaped doors and drawers. Other than that, it’s utterly simple, square, and glossy, but the change of shape and break in the pattern make it just a little bit eye catching.
The best dining room buffets are both unobtrusive and nice to look at. They’re typically there because you don’t have quite enough cabinet space, or because you need easy but infrequent access to special items, but probably shouldn’t be the main focal point of whatever room they’re in, and shouldn’t distract from whatever your main focus is. That said, one of the best ways to make something subtly more visually interesting is to use texture. This Diamond Ivory Buffet does that to a T, with crocodile leather patterned panels just a half shade darker than the body of the buffet. Even to our eyes, something tactile is appealing, and this simple detailing is just enough to be pleasing without being distracting.
Finally, you want to look for modern dining room buffets that sit fairly low to the ground. This is a pretty common characteristic among buffets in general, but it’s one worth thinking about because it isn’t quite universal. While a china cabinet is typically raised off the floor so you can see into it from a dining table, less obtrusive modern dining room buffets are made to sit below eye level while you’re seated at the table. That way, while something like this Mirage Buffet looks beautiful when you’re milling about, it’s totally out of sight while you’re actually entertaining.
The right sized, right styled modern dining room buffets are much more than a stop gap storage solution. They’re the chameleons of cabinetry, alternately displaying and concealing your finest items, all without taking up too much space. What kind of modern dining room buffets are you looking for? Do you have any particular size restrictions or requirements you’re having trouble meeting?