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Living and DiningHow To Decorate A Dining Room Sideboard

So much more than a place for a photo frame, a sideboard is an opportunity to elevate your living and dining zone and show off some personality. But a common question we hear amongst renovators is how to decorate a dining room sideboard, so in this article, we give you some first-hand tips on how it’s done.

But first …

What exactly is a sideboard?

Sideboards are long narrow pieces of furniture with drawers or cupboards designed to store dinnerware, platters and everything the next dinner party needs. Unlike a buffet, which typically has legs, sideboards are often built into a niche or positioned flush with the floor for a clean look.

Think of it as the dining room helper that keeps the clutter in check and looks fabulous doing it.

Sideboard with a marble benchtop, drinks and a plant.

So, how do you decorate a dining room sideboard?

We know that sometimes decorating can be very overwhelming. If you find yourself questioning what colours are trending, how high a vase should be and whether runners are considered ‘old school’, you are definitely not alone!

Our first piece of advice is not to be too bound by the rules of styling, but rather follow the tips below to create your version of them. Decorating, after all, is a personal task that should reflect you and your family, so be brave and bend the rules if you want to!

First, ask yourself how you’ll use your sideboard

While its primary purpose is often to store dining room items, a sideboard is massively versatile and can serve whatever purpose you need.

So, before you hit the shops for decor, ask yourself how you want to use your sideboard. This will determine the way you decorate it.

Here are some ideas:

  • Plant station
  • Charging station
  • Food serving zone
  • Seasonal decor area
  • Art and photo display
  • A music hub complete with speakers
  • Organisation station for keys and reminders
  • Drinks bar (consider installing a wine fridge underneath!)

Know your style and stick to it

Is your home Coastal, Urban, Country or perhaps Modern Farmhouse like the one we recently renovated? Know what style you’re working with before you start acquiring the pieces to decorate it.

Not sure what your style is? The safest thing to do here is to go neutral with classic items that you can make work no matter how your home evolves.

Mix up the heights of objects

Too much of the same anything tends to get a bit dull, and the same rule applies to the height of decor. Using pieces with different heights creates fabulous visual interest, so we always try to opt for at least one tall and one flat item, with items of assorted heights in between them.

Another option is to place short items in front of taller items for extra visual depth, such as a small pillar candle in front of a tall vase.

Here are some ideas:

  • Tall – lamps, plants, candlesticks, vases and tall bottles, portrait-style wall art leaning against the wall
  • Medium – book stacks, pillar candles and diffusers, photo frames, fruit bowls and baskets
  • Short and flat – platters, plates, bowls, coasters, placemats and flat baskets
Farmhouse dining table and navy sideboard.

And mix up the textures!

Texture is an inviting and important part of a room’s ambience, so embrace it! Just like the heights of objects, aim to mix it up – think smooth bottles or candles, ribbed plates or bowls, bushy plants and organic fabrics and fibres like jute.

But texture doesn’t end with the decor, the sideboard itself is a chance to add heaps of it. The look and feel of the benchtop, cabinets and the wall behind the unit are all opportunities to add texture, so if you are building or renovating, consider this in your plans!

A touch of nature is always welcome

Greenery is very welcome in all kinds of Australian homes and the great thing about it is that you have a LOT of options. Potted plants are our personal favourites, however, depending on lifestyle, they aren’t always practical for some households. And that’s where succulents or artificial plants, flowers and foliage are fantastic.

When choosing greenery, consider your theme and find something fitting. Perhaps eucalyptus foliage for a country home, pampas grass for coastal themes or a cactus for boho styles!

If you do opt for potted plants, ensure they are suitable for indoors. (Peace Lillies and succulents are some of the most forgiving in our experience!)

Add a focal point

Your sideboard’s focal point not only captures attention but it creates a wonderful piece to arrange your space around. It’s also a great way to establish a symmetrical and balanced design.

Our favourite pieces for a strong focal point are large mirrors and wall art, hung centrally above the sideboard. Just ensure the size of the piece is appropriate for the size of the unit. Remember, you want it to stand out, not take over.

Navy dining room sideboard.

How we decorated our dining room sideboard

If you’ve watched Episode 5: Living, Dining & Media of the Making HOME Renovation Series, you’ll know that the dining room’s sideboard was an unexpected gift!

With boxed-out air conditioning cables on one side, we weren’t sure what to do with the space. But after some thought, we decided to add another pillar and built a sideboard to work as a bar and display area between them – and we love it!

“This area was a joy to build and a joy to decorate. We’re thrilled with how much functionality and style it brings to the dining area – it really becons your over to stay for a while.”

Nikki from the Making HOME team

Affordable cabinetry

We were very lucky that the building of this sideboard coincided with the launch of Kaboodle‘s 400mm range of cabinetry. This meant we could get the colour, finish and shaker profile we wanted for an excellent price. This left more cash in the kitty to splash out on a spectacular benchtop!

Handmade leather handles on a navy blue dining room buffet.

Handmade handles

The team was tempted to use the same brass handware we used in the kitchen, but to save money and add a little texture, Nikki made her very own leather pull-handles!

“I have to say, I’m very proud of these handles. The leather fits the Farmhouse aestheic beautifully and the texture is irresistible.”

Nikki from the Making HOME team

Marble benchtops

From Art Of Marble, the sideboard’s Carrara marble benchtop is nothing short of a showstopper. It’s gloriously smooth, filled with beautiful tones and it dials up the luxe in this Modern Farmhouse dining room.

Living and dining zone with navy armchair and buffet.

Simple yet sophisticated styling

The styling of this sideboard is pared back and sophisticated. The team used a large round mirror as a focal point and balanced it with a rattan-wrapped plant at one end and a tall lamp on the other. A round drinks tray sits slightly off centre containing bottles of different heights, and next to that is flat basket filled with glassware. Some ornaments we added in front of the lamp to create visual depth.

Notice the texture-rich wall? It was a very deliverate choice to leave this wall as exposed brick rather throwing plaster sheets over it. It brings oodles of rustic goodness to an otherwise polished finish.

“Decorating this sideboard was a lesson in restraint. Just because it’s so long, doesn’t mean you have to fill it!”

Nikki from the Making HOME team

Some of our favourite additions to sideboards:

  • Trays
  • Vases
  • Lamps
  • Baskets
  • Potted plants
  • Artificial foliage
  • Bottles and glassware
  • Meaningful ornaments
  • An overhead statement mirror
  • Candles or other home fragrances
  • Textiles like placemats or runners
  • Books (choose books that pair well with your theme!)

See more of the Making HOME renovation!

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