Whether you are decorating your new home for the first time or are helping someone else buy furniture for theirs, it is important to know the differences between a sideboard and a hutch. If you do not, you may end up purchasing an item that is too big or too small for your home.
A sideboard is a short piece of furniture with either low legs or no legs, a cabinet, and a flat top. A hutch is a tall set of shelves that are placed on top of a sideboard. Both items are purposely designed as a storage space as well as a display case for porcelain and other smaller-sized items.
While sideboards and hutches may seem similar, both have different usages in regards to their storage and display capabilities. Originally sideboards also had other usages in the 18th to 19th centuries. Read on to discover the many possible purposes for sideboards and hutches and which one is right for your home.
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What Is the Purpose of a Sideboard?
When the first sideboards were developed in the 18th century, their original purpose was as a storage place in the dining room. The sideboard’s flat top was used as an easily accessible place to put food before a servant served it to the family. It was also used as a storage space for dishes, silverware, and anything else needed for meals.
Today a sideboard’s function is similar, whether you have a servant to serve food or not. In the 21st century, sideboards are not just for dining room use. Sideboards are useful anywhere in the home. Common places one may put a sideboard include:
- The kitchen
- The living room
- The front foyer
A sideboard’s potential purpose in the kitchen can be for storing eating utensils and other such kitchen supplies. In the living room, a sideboard’s purpose can be for holding television sets and other gadgets designed for recreational purposes. A sideboard in the front foyer is an excellent place to put your car keys so you never forget where they are.
Distinguishing Features of Sideboards
A sideboard is a piece of furniture designed to store things. A sideboard’s purpose depends on where the sideboard is located in the home. The main components that distinguish a sideboard from a different type of furniture are as follows:
- Short height
- Shallow depth
- Long flat top
- Cabinets or drawers
- Extremely short legs or no legs at all
If your sideboard has long legs, then it is not a proper sideboard. It is a buffet. Sometimes the terms are used exchangeably. However, if you want to place something under a buffet, such as a small trash can or a cooler, it is vital you do not get a proper sideboard as you will not have storage room under the piece of furniture itself.
A sideboard’s shallow depth is another distinguishing factor. Because sideboards were originally designed to be placed in a dining room, shallow depth was important as it would take up less room. The shallow depth made it easier to pick up trays of food without having to reach and potentially lose balance.
What Materials Are Sideboards Made of?
In a world where plastic is increasingly becoming the norm, sideboards are still made out of wood. For more elaborate sideboards, they may be decorated with carvings and metal inlays. Traditionally these types of trees are used to make sideboards:
It is important to make sure your sideboard is made out of high-quality wood. The better the materials, the more likely it is that your sideboard will last for decades. When you purchase high-quality, if expensive, furniture you can save more money long-term by not having to replace the sideboard every couple of years.
What Is the Purpose of a Hutch?
A hutch’s purpose is identical to a sideboard’s purpose. A hutch is used for storage, whether it be for food or other household items. The hutch itself is a set of shelves that are designed to be placed on a sideboard. Once on the sideboard, the hutch raises the lower piece of furniture’s height and adds more storage space.
While a sideboard is ultimately more decorative than functional, a hutch’s purpose is much more functional than decorative. Due to its height, a hutch has much more storage space than a sideboard. Common places to put hutches include:
- The kitchen
- The dining room
- The bedroom
- The foyer
- The bathroom
- The craft room
- The home office
Things you put in sideboards can also easily be put in hutches. If a hutch is placed in a bedroom, it will be a useful place to store clothes and shoes. In a bathroom, a hutch can find its purpose by storing extra towels, unused soap, and shampoo. A hutch’s ample storage space is perfect for craft rooms and the home office.
What Can Be Stored in a Hutch?
Hutches are perfect for storing larger items that can not fit on or in a sideboard. Theoretically, if you can fit it in a hutch you can store it there. For a more unconventional use, you can store houseplants on a hutch’s shelves. However, these things are the most common items that are typically found stored in and on hutches:
- Large serving platters
- Full sets of china
- Table cloths
- Family heirlooms
Table cloths are most often stored in a hutch’s bottom drawers, not in the open shelves. This is to protect the cloth from damage and dust. Family heirlooms such as wedding dresses or diaries can be stored in hutches for safekeeping as long as the hutch is in a controlled environment and out of damaging sunlight.
Hutches are also fantastic places to display collectibles, knickknacks, and other trinkets. If you have souvenirs from your latest vacation and you don’t have enough wall space, consider propping them up on the shelves of your hutch. Some hutches have glass doors, making it the perfect place to store beloved items without the danger of them being touched.
The Differences Between Sideboards and Hutches
The main differences are the height and the amount of storage space sideboards and hutches have. Hutches are taller than sideboards, thus have much more storage space. Hutches also have open shelves or glass doors covering the shelves. Sideboards only have closed drawers or cabinets. The only open space on a sideboard is the top.
Due to their smaller and shorter size, sideboards are easier to move. Hutches can be as tall as six feet or almost two meters. Some are even taller than that. Because hutches are so big, it is dangerous to move them by yourself. If you do need to move your hutch, make sure you have removed everything out of it and have a friend or loved one’s help.
Purchasing either a sideboard, a hutch or even both is a worthy investment for any homeowner. While sideboards do have less storage space and hutches take up more room, both items of furniture are extremely useful when it comes to storing your family’s belongings. Delicate possessions need to have safe spaces to avoid damage.
Even if the original purpose of sideboards has changed over the past two centuries, their new potential purpose can be just as helpful if not more so than their original one. After all, televisions were not around in the 18th and 19th centuries! If an item can fit, then it can find a safe and spacious new home on or in your sideboard and hutch!