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Why Are Sideboards so Low? (Explained for Beginners)

You often see sideboards in dining areas, foyers, living rooms, and even hallways. Each of their styles and widths differs but have you noticed that most of them have short legs?

Why Are Sideboards so Low?

Sideboards are so low because they are designed to be long and deep storage furniture. They are additional elements in the room so they should not clutter the area. Their lower surfaces are easier to reach. Another reason for the short legs is

spacing out the furniture for proper air circulation. 

5 Reason Why Sideboards Are so Low

Sideboards are so low in height for the following reasons: 

The Low Size Allows for More Utility

With a short height, the surface becomes easier to reach. In a dining room, a sideboard’s surface is usually for displaying extra meals and dishes when guests are over.  Other times, you can keep decor items like flower vases, candles, etc.

If you’re using a sideboard elsewhere in the house, like in the foyer, the low size of the sideboard makes taking keys and wallets off of a low surface quicker. In the living room, you can mount your flatscreen TV and have the display at eye level.

It’s Sturdier

A sideboard’s main function is offering a storage space. That’s why it has deep cabinets. In some models, the bottoms touch the floor. Extra cutlery and china that you only bring out for guests go inside the sideboard cabinets. 

A low size is optimal here because being horizontally wider provides more sturdy support to the legs. You can store all kinds of things without worrying about the furniture skewing or dipping from too much weight.

It Keeps The Furniture Proportionate

Sideboards make the room look less cluttered overall by providing additional surface area. You place dishes that you want to bring out to guests later, like dessert after dinner.

So, having a sideboard that is substantially taller and longer than your dining table may not be ideal. Compared to the dining table, your sideboard should only be a few inches taller. 

Read more, What size sideboard do you need for dining room?

Of course, exceptions exist since the interior design is composed of many factors. For example, a similar piece of furniture called the buffet has longer legs than a sideboard. It can look perfectly proportionate even if it’s much taller than the dining table.

However, sideboards are distinguished from buffets due to their short legs. They are versatile, so you’ll see them in foyers and living rooms as well. In general, low sideboards look better next to other furniture. 

The Room Needs Enough Air Circulation

A cramped room is not the most pleasing to the eye and it can also feel claustrophobic. All furniture should be comfortably spaced out in position as well as height. 

An Oversized Sideboard Would Be an Eyesore

As an item of low furniture, sideboards take up less space. When walking into a hallway, you don’t want to see any furniture blocking your way. That’s what makes a low sideboard a great piece for the foyer!

What Height Should a Sideboard Be?

Ideally, a sideboard should be about 36 inches tall. This is the best height for reaching items on display, which is why it’s also the standard height of a counter.

Most brands build sideboards in the 34 inches to 38 inches range

When choosing, compare the height of your dining table with the sideboard. Dining tables are generally 28 inches to 30 inches tall. The few inches difference makes the sideboard look proportionate next to them.

Where Do Sideboards Go?

Sideboards are versatile pieces of furniture so it’s no surprise that you have so many choices in where you position them. While you can get creative, the position mainly depends on the usage.

In a dining room, where the sideboard traditionally goes, they are placed against walls. The dining table is in the center and the sideboard should be on one side of it, spaced out by 24 inches. It’s close enough to reach but far enough for the room.

If the table is rectangular, the longer sides of the table and sideboard should be parallel.

In a living room, sideboards are either facing the couches or beside them. When you mount a TV on the sideboard, it goes opposite the couches. But if you’re only looking to store items, it’s best to keep it out of view and to the side.

In a hallway, sideboards are placed along the walls so they don’t block the way. You might also see one at the ends of a corridor with decorative items to keep space from looking empty.

In a foyer, it’s usually by the area you would keep a coat rack. It’s to offer homeowners and guests a place to keep their keys.

Choosing Between Low and High Sideboards – Which One Is Better

Choosing between low and high sideboards is easy if you can figure out your priority. 

Low sideboards are better for reaching items on display while providing storage. Taller sideboards offer more vertical space for storage but at the cost of giving up the accessible surface area.

If you think you’ll frequently be taking items on and off the sideboards, a lower one is the better option. For maximum space, go for the taller one.

Keep in mind how it might look in the overall room, too. For example, if your room has a lot of space, a tall sideboard can help fill it up. 

What Should I Know About Sideboards With Long Legs?

Sideboards with long legs are easier to maintain and clean. You can reach the bottom portion and the corners better for dusting. Though, you should also know that a sideboard with long legs will make the top surface less accessible for displaying items.

What Should I Know About Wall-Mounted Sideboards?

Here is what you need to know about wall-mounted sideboards:

They are beautiful but harder to install.

Wall-mounted sideboards often called floating sideboards because of their lack of legs, offer a contemporary and minimalist aesthetic loved by many. 

Yet, they require special installation by a professional, so you can’t buy one and call it a day. But their innovative design makes the hassle worth it!

Your wall may need to meet specific conditions for installation.

Your walls will need to be fixed with railings, wall plugs, etc. to be able to hold up a piece of furniture. The weight distribution can’t be compromised on or you’ll risk the fixture failing to hold and cause an accident. Also while using it,

Your sideboard will be unable to support as much weight as a legged sideboard.

Usually, sideboards can easily hold enough weight to store your dining accessories. Regardless to say, one-sided support from the wall is not going to match up the four-legged support of traditional sideboards. 

Wall-mounted sideboards are more for decor rather than utility. So, it may not be the best idea if you think you’ll be placing a lot of heavy items inside. 

Does the Sideboard Have to Match the Table?

The sideboard doesn’t necessarily have to match the table but it may look more appealing if it does. For instance, if your dining table has a boho style, a contemporary and sleek sideboard would look awkward and out of place.

The main point is to create harmony between the sideboard and the table. The easiest way to do that is to get them in a similar style.

However, you can add more character to the room by going slightly different. A chic, wooden sideboard would look great in a homely apartment. 

Another point of note is that the sideboard should not match the height of the table. Homeowners like to differentiate the height of the sideboard and the dining table by a few inches because it adds better contrast and space for the room.

Read more in detail, Do sideboard, buffet or credenza have to match dining table?

What Do You Store on a Sideboard?

You can store just about anything that fits on a sideboard. Here are some examples:

  • Dishes like dessert that you want to bring to guests later.
  • Keep napkins, table covers, extra cutlery, and glasses in the cabinets.
  • Candles, flower vases, small potted plants, or other pieces of decor.
  • Mount a TV and place remote controls, sound systems, etc. within shelves in a custom sideboard.
  • A bowl for keys, refreshments, etc. for greeting people in the foyer.
  • Books, newspapers, and magazines.

How Can I Decorate My Sideboard?

Here are some key notes for decorating a sideboard:

Remember to Decorate, Not Clutter

A few elements of decor, such as a flower vase here and an artsy glass sculpture there, will look beautiful. But dotting many little items on the sideboard will make it look messy, so keep it simple.

Artificial Plants and Fruits are Okay, But Real Ones are Better

Nowadays, artificial plants and flowers look uber-realistic. Those are the ones to go for if you’re unwilling to use the organic ones.

Anything that you’re able to tell is artificial from an elbow’s distance away is not worth it. Succulents are widely available and easy to maintain.

Keep it Refreshing and Change It Now and Then

You don’t have to buy new decor fixtures every week, but you can keep things new by switching out the table cover with a new color. Or, if you have a flower vase, you can get different flowers. Little things like that go a long way.

The sideboard is great utility furniture. It can house your cutlery and china as well as display dishes, keys, decorative accents, etc. on its surface area. Its low size makes it ideal for all the utility and the decorative element it provides.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What Are Sideboards Made Of?

Why are Sideboards so Expensive?

How Big and High Should a Mirror Be Above a Sideboard?