What Is a Credenza—and How Do You Use One?

And are credenzas, sideboards, consoles, and buffets all the same thing?

<p>FollowTheFlow/Getty Images</p>

FollowTheFlow/Getty Images

The word credenza kind of screams elegance—like it should be an elegant architectural flourish or an style of tile. But credenzas are furniture, and you'll find that they are just as useful as they are beautiful. If you're in the market for some storage (and who isn't?) learn more about the credenza, and how they can help you keep your home looking sleek and stylish.

Related: Stealth Storage Ideas to Hide Everything

What is a credenza?

A credenza is a wonderful piece of storage furniture, featuring some combination of shelves, cupboards, and drawers. It typically comes to about waist height to allow you to easily reach and place things on its top. It's also long and somewhat narrow, so it tends to take up a sizeable amount of floor space—but leaves plenty of wall space above it for hanging pictures, shelves, or other wall art.

Traditionally, a credenza was used in dining rooms to hold dishes, silverware, glasses, and serving pieces, but these days, it can come in handy for storage anywhere in your home.

What's the story behind the credenza?

Credenzas have been an essential piece of dining room furniture for almost 700 years. Back then, they stored and displayed the family's finest dishes, and were also used to plate and serve food.

Fun fact: In medieval times a credenza was often the spot where the servants would taste the food first in front of the nobility to ensure it wasn't poisoned. (Credenza means trust—an appropriate name for a piece of furniture where your trust in your servants was put to the test!)

What's the difference between a credenza, a sideboard, a a buffet, and a console?

Honestly, there's not a whole lot of difference between these furniture types, and the names are often used interchangeably for them.

In general, credenzas are a bit shorter in stature, and usually sit right on the ground or have very short legs. They also usually have a nice amount of surface space on the top to display decorative items or use to serve food.

A sideboard offers plenty of storage—including, often, additional shelving or display space in a hutch on top. If your sideboard has a hutch, you can't take advantage of it for serving or displaying food.

A buffet has a low profile like the credenza, but usually has longer legs and a bit less storage space. It may also be longer and wider, as its mission in life is to allow you to serve food.

A console is a similar height to the buffet, and has the same long legs. Generally, a console has less storage, and is used often behind a sofa to offer a place to put lamps and other decorative items.

Related: 10 Ideas for Organizing Your Dishes, According to Pros

Alternative uses for a credenza

Credenzas are right at home in the dining room, but they can be also be used pretty much anywhere where you need additional storage, and an easy-to-reach spot for displaying items. Here are a few spots where a credenza will fit right in.

As a sofa table

Increase the storage available in your sofa table by using a credenza instead. That'll give you plenty of drawers, doors, and shelves to keep books, cozy blankets, board games, and other essentials right at hand.

This works best for living room arrangements where the sofa and credenza are floating away from the wall. (Because who wants to have to pull the sofa out to access their favorite books?)

As a TV stand

If you haven't mounted your TV, a credenza is a great place to display it—as long as you get one that's long enough to fit your TV! The storage space beneath can allow you to hide game consoles and other TV tech (along with those pesky wires), and store a movie or game collection alongside it.

For office or craft room storage

Credenzas offer plenty of easy-to-access doors, drawers and shelves to hold all your crafting supplies or files and tools. In fact, in many offices, you'll see credenzas placed right behind the desk for storage.

Related: 20 Home Office Ideas That Will Make You Want to Work All Day

Just make sure you have a great organization system in place, so you don't end up with piles of papers or files that'll make your office space feel cluttered.

In the entryway

Credenzas are an ideal way to help organize and elevate your entryway—especially if you choose one with a lot of closed storage. You can keep hats, bags, shoes, and other accessories behind doors or in drawers to help keep the area tidy.

Related: 7 Genius Ways to Decorate an Entryway Table

And if you don't have a drawer for your keys and mail, you can always place a sleek tray on top of your credenza to stash stuff you drop as you walk in the door.

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