I am completely crazy about buffets. What’s not to love about a piece of furniture that is beautiful to behold, offers up gobs of tabletop space just waiting to be filled with displays, and gives you lots of room to store all those extra dishes and doodads? But the best part of buffets is they are an ideal addition to just about any room in your home.  Here are some quick tips on how to pick and use a buffet to add style to your home. 

Buffets Finish off a Dining Room

If you read last week’s blog on selecting the perfect dining table, you know I am thrilled with the revolution that is happening in dining room design right now. Finally free from the matchy-matchy edict that said your dining room furniture had to be a set, we’re all having a blast exploring new ways to create dining rooms that better reflect our own style. But one tradition I’m holding fast to is including a buffet in your dining room decor.

One of the reasons I’ll never be able to give up buffets is I think they finish off a well-dressed dining room. Without this beautiful, functional, fun piece, I just don’t think a dining room feels “done.” I know I could never survive without mine. When we have guests for coffee or cocktails, it makes the perfect beverage server. Every time I pack my table full of guests, then gobble up the middle of the table with an impossibly big centerpiece, it saves the day by providing ample room on which to serve the food. And, it gives me a stage for an ever-changing seasonal display. If you’re like me, dressing up a big, open space like the buffet is mental therapy, better than any energy drink.


Buffets Serve as a Beautiful Anchor

Buffets should not be held captive in dining rooms. These attractive, versatile pieces of furniture should be set free to add style to other rooms in the house, too. When I design rooms for friends and customers at Nell Hill’s, I always include a visually heavy piece of furniture to ground the space. Along with bookcases, secretaries and hutches, I frequently use buffets as that stalwart wooden piece that gives a room structure and strength. (Plus, they give the bonus of offering additional storage space.) Top the buffet with great accents, surround it with artwork, and your room is done.


Buffets are Versatile and Hardworking

Buffets are usually just the right dimension to fit in any spot in your home, which means you can use them in a million and one ways when you are designing a room.

They make an ideal place to put a flat-screen TV, hoisting the screen to just the right height so it’s easy to see. Or, if you prefer to hang your TV on the wall, slide a buffet up underneath it so the TV is not visually floating on the wall. Whether the TV is sitting on top of the buffet or mounted on the wall behind it, include the TV in your overall display on the buffet. Work in a few accents on the tabletop that balance out the screen, and incorporate the screen into a montage of artwork. You’ll be amazed by how this helps the TV melt into the background when it’s not in use.

How about placing a buffet in your entry, topped with a large mirror? Put one against an empty wall in your living room to serve as a bar when you entertain. If you have a boring hallway that needs some life, put a buffet against one of the walls, top it with an accent lamp and create a grid of great artwork behind it (maybe some photos of your family?). We’ve had customers buy buffets to use as cabinets in their bathrooms, which I think is a wonderful idea. They cut a hole in the top of the buffet to hold the basin, then the plumbing is hidden in the cabinet below. I’ve also seen people use buffets as kitchen islands, replacing the wooden top with a slab or granite or marble. Stunning!


How to Pick the Right Buffet for Your Space…

When customers come to Nell Hill’s in search of the perfect buffet for their dining room, or any other room in their home, I ask them four telling questions that will help them select the right piece:

  •  How are you going to use the buffet?

Will your buffet be in your dining room, providing a spot to hold food and beverages? Or will you use it in another room in your home, mostly for decorative purposes? Would you like it to offer concealed storage space in the cabinet below, or do you want the base to be open?  (My buffet has open legs, so I’ve slid a big basket underneath it filled with wine bottles. It’s my wine cellar!)

  •  Does the style suit your home?

Do you want a sleek, modern buffet or something more traditional? Do you prefer informal pieces, like a buffet that looks as if it was taken from an old farm house, or one that’s very high style?  The buffet in the picture above is a vintage piece that a friend of mine restored. You can’t beat it for charm. No matter what you pick, make sure the piece harmonizes with the other furnishings in the room and in your home.

  •  How much do you want to invest in your buffet?

Like most furniture, buffets come in a wide range of prices and the quality can vary. Do you want a buffet you can enjoy for five to 10 years? Or do you want one that you can hand down as a family heirloom?  Once you determine the lifespan of the piece, you’ll have a better feel for whether you want something trendy or timeless, budget or built to last a lifetime.

  •  What size fits your space?

Because buffets can be space hogs, it’s important to measure the length of the spot where you’d like to put the buffet to be sure it will be a good fit. Another dimension to keep in mind is the depth of the buffet, especially if it will be in a hallway. Make sure it’s not so deep you can’t get around it easily.

If your buffet will be in a dining room, get one that is three to four inches taller than your dining table. Sometimes people try to use sofa tables as buffets, and it just doesn’t work because the dining table and sofa table are too close to the same height. It’s important to have different heights for visual variation in the room.


Next week … We are filling the stores with all our fall merchandise, and next week I’ll give you tips on how to use my favorite pick for fall in your décor. I think you’ll love these mercury glass pumpkins and gourds as much as I do – especially when you see the price!

P.S. Don’t miss a bit of Nell Hill’s news – stay up to date on my favorite finds, new arrivals at the stores and all our special events by checking the Nell Hill’s Facebook page every day. You don’t have to have a Facebook page yourself to look in on the fun, but if you’re already on Facebook, “like” us today!


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10 Responses to “Buffets Add Style to Every Space”

  1. Sue Says:

    I love, love, love your blog and will continue to enjoy it for all your creative ideas. Just wanted to let you know that I like your creations more than what looks like photos published by Hickory furnishings. Is that okay to say – I mean it in the most positive way! Your ideas are so much better than the “set photos” that you have featured some of lately. You have such a perfect touch!
    Thanks for sharing your awesome creativity!!

  2. Lisa Fernandez Says:

    I just did just that. I moved a table into the dinning room added a marble top to it and made an instant buffet table and put a few of my favorite table top vases and a new bust. Love it. I love this post. It’s so fun and loaded with so many ideas. THanks Mary Carol.

  3. Carol Ohm Says:

    I love the buffet lamps with the black shades, they are sleek and slender. Are those available in your store?

  4. Natalie Says:

    Love these ideas, as always. I have an old buffet that my mother-in-law and husband re-finished years ago and I never really know how to decorate it. It has the shallow, 3ish inch ledge a foot above the actual main part of the top of the buffet and I have a hard time with placing things on it. It’s used in our family room, so not as a dining room addition.

    Anyway, hope to draw some inspiration from your photos (as I normally do!)

  5. Dorothy Says:

    Can’t believe the comeback of buffets. They were standard in most farm homes. We stuffed every drawer with necessities; like hankies, sewing supplies, material waiting to be sewn and bills. Not much space left for niceties as we think of today and what you feature on your blog. Everything was practicality. Of course the standard Lord’s Supper picture hung prominately above ours. You have shown the versatility of the buffet today which opens so many possiblities.

  6. Mary Carol Says:

    Hi Carol—Those beautiful silver lamps with the black shades are available for order. Just call 877-746-4320 for all the details.

  7. Robin Frank -- Vision Interiors Says:

    One of the best buffet projects we worked on recently …. We took customers old … Very old Mediterranean 1970s ladies triple dresser with attached Mirrow and recycled it to the dinning room . We took off the Mirrow and hardware and painted it black in a non shinny eggshell finish …. Then we waxed it …. CHAZAMM … New hardware … Glass top cut for it … Looks so great !!! Now it’s ready for those FABULOUS Nell Hill Lamps !!!!! Also one of her terrific fun pieces of art over it …. Think of the cash saved on the dresser ……………have fun

  8. Sheryl Schubert Says:

    Where can I purchase the glass front buffet? It is exactly what I have been looking for for 3 years. Thanks.

  9. Mary Carol Says:

    Hi Sheryl—Super, we have it for you at Nell Hill’s —at our Briarcliff location. It is called our Chesterburl Sideboard. Call 877-746-4320 for more details.

  10. Anne Ryan Says:

    Where can I purchase the mirror over the buffet? Thank you!

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