While a sideboard is a practical and useful storage piece in your dining room, it also presents a terrific decorating opportunity. Although your dining table is likely the focal point of the room, it is necessary to keep it free of decoration, with the possible exception of a centerpiece, so that you can set and use the table at any time. However, you can decorate a sideboard and let it remain that way almost indefinitely.
With a traditional decorating scheme, you can go as simple or as formal and ornate as you like. One idea is to keep it simple and symmetrical, with a beautifully framed mirror hung on the wall above your sideboard, and matching silver or gilded buffet lamps flanking each end. Add to these pieces for a more elaborate, decorated look. Some ideas include a tasseled table runner, a grouping of curvy, sculptural finials, a topiary floral arrangement or a pedestal bowl filled with fruit.
"Shabby chic" is all about casual charm. While it's similar in style to traditional, shabby chic pieces are typically worn, antiqued or distressed. The color scheme is often pale. Pieces such as old ceramic urns, bird cages, antique figurines and sterling silver photo frames look lovely on a shabby chic sideboard. On the wall above the sideboard, hang an antiqued mirror, a group of charming old prints, hand-painted china plates, or for something different, framed embroidered fabrics.
Take design cues from the styling of a sleek, contemporary sideboard, and keep its decor clean and uncluttered. Rather than piling on the candlesticks, flower arrangements and figurines, choose one or two larger, dramatic pieces. Asymmetrical but balanced arrangements work well with contemporary style. Consider leaning and layering several simple paintings on the sideboard against the wall, and adding a large vase or a tall sculpture. Other ideas include a large, asymmetrical wall mirror flanked on one side by a piece of pottery in a single, bright color, and on the other by a hand-blown glass lamp.
If you don't like to pin yourself down to a specific decorating style, fill your sideboard with an eclectic selection of interesting items. The key is to use items that you absolutely love and that contrast each other nicely. It's also fun to mix in an unusual conversation piece or two. For example, start with a piece of wall art that was painted by a friend or handed down from a relative. Candlesticks purchased on a trip overseas add meaning and interest, as does a clay bowl made by one of your children in elementary school. Items made for other purposes also add interest. Try placing a garden gnome on your sideboard in place of a traditional figurine, hanging a violin on the wall or filling a beautiful flowerpot full of fossils.
A sideboard is a wonderful spot to display holiday decor. You can go all-out and replace all your day-to-day decor with festive holiday items, or leave the basics in place and work in a few holiday pieces. For Christmas, some ideas include replacing the mirror or wall art with a large wreath and flanking the sideboard's ends with topiary Christmas trees. For Hanukkah, replace your usual lamp or candlesticks with a menorah. At Easter, replace the fruit in your pedestal bowl with pastel ceramic Easter eggs, or at Halloween with mini pumpkins. A cornucopia spilling out fall fruits and vegetables looks lovely at Thanksgiving.
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