For many, decorating a dining room starts and ends with choosing a dining set. After all, your table and chairs are the most important functional aspects of the space. But there’s one more piece of furniture you might want to consider before you switch to picking out curtains: a buffet table. These long, low, narrow cabinets are designed to go overlooked, sitting inconspicuously off to the side of your table and usually below the height of the tabletop. What’s the point? Though you might not have ever had one, or noticed when someone else did, these clever cabinets add tons of storage and surface space that can make your dining room more usable.
Use A Buffet Table To Store Your Spare Tableware
As little as a generation ago, it was common for formal dining rooms to feature a large, ornate cabinet for storing and displaying fine dinnerware and glassware. But having separate dinnerware for entertaining (let alone a cabinet to store it in) has fallen out of vogue as friendly and family gatherings have gotten more casual. That said, if you do have extra place settings for guests (whether it’s fine china or a big package of chinet) a buffet table is a slightly subtler way to store it – close at hand for entertaining but out of the way of your everyday.
Stash Your Servingware Where You’ll Actually Be Using It
Buffet tables are also a great place to store big, bulky serving items that you don’t use when it’s just your family, but that you need for special occasions, entertaining, or even heading out to a barbecue or potluck. Serving trays and utensils, that extra-extra crockpot, or that massive soup tureen that only sees the light of day on holidays can all find a useful home in a buffet table, where you can easily transport them onto the table or into the kitchen on the rare occasion that they’re needed.
Clear Some Space In Your Kitchen Cupboards
Buffet tables can also act as overflow storage for your kitchen – and not just for stuff you use to entertain. We’ve all got a few things in our kitchen that take up more space than we’d like and see less use than we’d like, but that we’re reluctant to get rid of: specialized appliances (like my ice cream maker and waffle iron), lemonade pitchers that get stowed off-season, oversized tupperware or baked-good-transport containers, and so on. These things can take up an obnoxious amount of space in your kitchen. Shunting them into a buffet cabinet in your dining room gets them out of your way, but lets you keep them both cleaner and more accessible than if you packed them away for long-term storage somewhere like the basement.
Use A Buffet As A Wine Rack (Or Even A Full Bar)
Even if you don’t have a lot of kitchen stuff to store, buffet tables can still be a useful addition to your dining room. Ones with built-in wine racks are especially nice for entertaining, letting you keep a few bottles on display and close at hand. In fact, bar buffets range anywhere from simple wine racks to fully-equipped bars, with room for everything from highball glasses to cocktail stirrers to your favorite bottle of whiskey, so you won’t have to make trips to and from the kitchen to keep an evening conversation well-lubricated.
Add A Touch Of Personality To Your Dining Room
Big china cabinets typically consist of a wood cabinet on the bottom with a wood-and-glass hutch on top, and buffet tables typically keep that design, minus the hutch. But it’s possible to find ones with open shelves or clear glass cabinets, which take up much less space than a full china cabinet while still letting you put items on display. Glass-fronted cabinets in particular are good for retaining some of that formal feel (especially if you put nice dinnerware or something like a decorative tea set on display). But for a more casual dining room, you might use that same space to display something as simple as a shelf of books or family mementos.
Spread Out With A Little Extra Surface Space
Last but certainly not least, buffet tables provide one of the most prized of all forms of storage: counter space. While most buffet tables are slightly below table or counter height, the fact that they’re typically placed along the long edge of your dining table makes them a wonderful catch-all surface. Table’s too small? Put serving plates on the buffet when they’re out of rotation. Serving a big, all-ages party? Load your buffet table up with different types of drinks, so people can help themselves without having to make trips to the kitchen. Have a bad habit of leaving homework, mail, or paperwork out on your table come dinner time? You guessed it: move all that stuff on top of your buffet so it won’t be in the way while you eat.
Buffet tables are easily overlooked – both during the design phase and in general. But if you’re looking for a simple, easy way to supplement your storage in either your kitchen or dining room, buffet cabinets are a super effective (and sometimes surprisingly stylish) way to do it!