When you’re choosing or designing a new kitchen, storage is probably at the forefront of your mind: you want to make sure you have enough space for all your cookware and appliances, as well as for all of your pantry items and daily-use items like pots and pans, silverware, and utensils. But it can be easy to overlook less frequently used items, like large serving platters, plates for when you have company (whether they’re fine china or paper), or that corn dog maker you got for Christmas. These don’t belong in your kitchen cabinets, but it can be nice to have them on hand, which is why it’s worth including a dining room cabinet or buffet in your dining room furniture.
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Especially if you entertain for large groups, having a separate place to stow things like tablecloths, extra stemware, or your gramma’s crystal deviled egg plate can really come in handy. The size of the dining room cabinet or buffet should, of course, correspond with both the size of your space and the items you intend to store in it. But the good news is that you can find them in a huge variety of sizes and shapes, from long and short to tall and narrow, to big, sprawling cabinets or even built-in alcoves designed to offer out-of-the-way storage for items you don’t use every day.
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If you have a full set of china – from place settings for 12 to a massive soup tureen – and it suits your decor, you might even want to consider going for one of those really big, full on antique, curio-style dining room cabinets. The glass-fronted upper half will allow you to display your best dinnerware (or some nice crystal decanters), while the cabinets and drawers beneath are great for stowing silverware, serving utensils, candlesticks, and larger items like chafing dishes, seasonal dinnerware, centerpieces, and so on.
Smaller buffets can also be a practical addition both to a formal dining room and a more casual eating area. While you might not want to serve food buffet style, having a landing pad for dishes somewhere between the kitchen and the table can help expedite the serving process (whether you’re hosting four people or a dozen). Having a place other than the table to put the second course or dessert can save you, the host, from a lot of trips back and forth to the kitchen. At a smaller or very crowded table, it can also be nice to have a place to set aside serving plates while everyone at the table is eating.
Even if you don’t plan on using the surface of a buffet for serving food, the storage can still be invaluable. Even a small dining cabinet or buffet can offer a pretty significant amount of storage. If you aren’t big on entertaining, this doesn’t even have to be strictly dedicated to storage for dining-related items. In fact, they work quite nicely for storing things like cleaning products, off-season linens, place mats, or just about anything you’d like to keep close at hand in your dining space.
Because buffets in particular are so small – often shorter than the dining table they’ll likely be placed next to – it’s easy not to notice them provided they don’t infringe on your walkways. The home I grew up in had one of these cabinets and I genuinely didn’t realize what it was for until I was an adult. To me, it was just an inconspicuous little cabinet for displaying seasonal decorations, though it was actually full to overflowing with my grandparents’ wedding china and other family heirlooms.
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Finally, if you do most of your entertaining in your dining room, it can be worth adding a dining room cabinet or buffet to the space to act as a sort of makeshift bar. Though not as well equipped (or as large) as a full sized home bar, a buffet is a great way to store liquor bottles and wine, and also acts as a nice place to set up and serve drinks. They’re also a touch larger than your average standalone wine rack, which means you’ll be able to store more or a greater variety of alcohol to serve – no trips back and forth to the kitchen needed.
But what do you think – do you like the idea of having additional storage and close-at-hand convenience, or do your kitchen cabinets cut it? Let me know in the comments!