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Why every home needs a vintage sideboard (and seven innovative ways to put them to good use!)

What is a sideboard and why the hype behind vintage models?

Sideboards are among Vinterior’s most sought after vintage designs. Other popular forms of storage – cabinets, dressers, chests of drawers – are quickly being eclipsed by this sleek cousin. For those unfamiliar with the term, what is a sideboard? Popularised by mid century design, the sideboard is an oblong, relatively low storage unit which, more often than not, stands on elegant tapered feet. Not to be confused with console tables, which provide the same surface space but do not come with the handy bonus of extra storage!

sideboard vintage danish scandinavian mid century teak highboard storage unit

The 1960s produced the most famous sideboard designs

Popular sideboard models are those arising from the 1960s. The sleek, minimalist contours of the mid century modern aesthetic lend a timeless quality to furniture and it makes a great investment when choosing significant pieces for your home. Sideboards also come in a variety of shapes and sizes, meaning that they provide essential – yet stylish – pockets of storage for even the most compact of spaces. Perfect for city homes as well as more spacious country abodes! 

Pinterest has done much to boost the status of vintage sideboards – think gleaming teak models adorned with house plants and a carefully curated array of homeware accessories. A glimpse inside most homes of boho-style lovers will reveal a sideboard paired with a stylish armchair and a weathered antique rug

A bohemian living room. Image credit: @myscandinavianhome 

The joy of sideboards is that they work beautifully with so many different styles and tastes. From impressive traditional room scapes filled with lofty antiques to a striking, minimalist contemporary home or cosy bohemian digs, there really is a characterful vintage sideboard for every budget, lifestyle and taste. 

Which sideboard brands should buyers look out for?

G-Plan certainly excels in sideboard design but there are many other models out there by individual designers. Danish designer Ib Kofod Larsen has produced many distinctive sideboards which are generally longer in width for both G Plan and Danish brand Faarup, whereas his peer Børge Mogensen is known for creating stockier, more cuboid designs. Celebrated brand Ercol also boasts a distinctive collection of sideboards, which are usually made using luminescent blonde woods like elm, beech and ash.

How to assess the quality of a vintage design

For finding a vintage sideboard on a budget, there are countless options from lesser known brands. British furniture manufacturers Meredrew produced an attractive array of sideboards during the 1960s and 70s. No matter the brand, the key is to look for good quality manufacturing. Modern sideboards use many of the same materials that were used in the mid century period but very often only the components are made in a factory – responsibility for assembly has largely been passed to the customer.  Ease of assembly is now the overriding factor in how an item is made, rather than the long-term strength and usability of the piece. 

What goes into the making of a sideboard

Unfortunately this creates weak spots in modern designs. For example, where the joints of a mid-century piece might be dowelled and glued with a high strength adhesive and left for hours to dry, a modern piece will use a quarter turn of some screws to make the same joint – easy to assemble, but nowhere near as strong. In similar fashion, mid century furniture typically uses proper recessed hinges on their doors, whereas a modern piece is very likely to use low quality kitchen cabinet style hinges which push into pre-drilled holes. These hinges tend to sag after a while, and the holes they sit in create an area of weakness, leading to doors falling off at the least provocation. Vintage dealers should be able to point out these more subtle indicators of a design which means that the sideboard has been built to last. 

So, onto the fun part. Now you have a sideboard – what should you do with it? Read on. 

Seven innovative ideas for using sideboards

In homes of any size, sideboards are employed as an artful surface space for styling accessories. Providing the perfect place for mixing high and low culture, personal trinkets with objets, use a sideboard to showcase your most treasured belongings. However, your sideboard can surpass decorative opportunity to meet more practical needs. Here are but a handful of ideas on how to get the most of your sideboard…

1. Use the sideboard to prop up artwork

For renters unable to hang framed pictures, a good alternative for elevating artwork is to lean them against the wall atop a sideboard. Choose a piece of statement artwork – such as a giant framed print – or scatter smaller frames together. Lending the space a bohemian, artistic feel, this alternative to hanging imagery will appease any nervous landlords without preventing you from living in a characterful home.  

2. Repurpose your sideboard as a bathroom vanity unit

A dreamy sideboard turned vanity unit seen on @carpendaughter

Another innovative way to use a sideboard is to repurpose it as a vanity unit, providing extra bathroom storage. Vintage finds in the bathroom seem odd? It might not seem like the usual approach to kitting out a new bathroom. Recent times, however, have seen an inspiring rise in people choosing to incorporate vintage chic into their bathrooms. Moving away from costly fitted cabinets, many have travelled down the alternative path of sourcing a vintage storage unit and transforming it into a stunning vanity unit for the sink. This is not only cost-effective, it is also a brilliant way to lend spades of character and individuality to your bathroom. Be gone, generic plastic cabinets and hotel style bathrooms! No matter the size of your bathroom, click here for a full guide on how to install a sink on top of a sideboard or storage unit.

3. Turn the sideboard into a drinks cabinet 

Throwing a cocktail party? Gather friends around for a stylish drinks do and produce a sparkling host of – ideally vintage, of course – cocktail glasses from your mid century chic sideboard. It lends a pinch of 1960s glamour to the experience! If you do not own a vintage bar trolley, which are also growing in popularity, then a sideboard is a great place to house your favourite drinks rather then letting them grow dusty in a kitchen corner. 

Throw a bash like it’s 1955
Image: sammydvintage.com

4. Transform your sideboard into a stylish media unit

No-one who is serious about creating a characterful home is a fan of the Black Box. Sitting squat and ugly in the midst of an otherwise beautifully styled living room, the television is a difficult piece to weave discreetly into a space. Not to mention the cables! A sideboard might just prove to be the distraction required to draw attention away from unsightly electronics. With storage capacity enough to hold even the most all-singing-and-dancing tech suites, sideboards can contain everything from DVD players to audio equipment and gaming consoles. UX designer Anna, from the Vinterior team, has used her own 1940s drinks sideboard as a music desk, for storing her shellac, record player and gramophone. Genius! 

5. Use the sideboard as a book shelf!

Running out of shelf space for your books? Avid readers can stack favourite titles in neat arrangements on top of a sideboard – coffee tables are very often used for the same purpose. This is ideal for chunkier books, which tend to fit awkwardly into a bookcase anyway. Art catalogues, textbooks, photography journals – stop cramming them into nooks and crevices and provide easier access all in one by having them to hand via your trusty sideboard. This lets us enjoy the beauty of books too, rather than stowing them away where no-one can appreciate the eye-catching cover designs! If you do not mind the really bookish, my-home-is-becoming-a-library look, take a leaf out of book lover Carolyn’s book (no pun intended) and stack paper titles in lovely wobbly piles. 

Piles of well-loved books on @theslowtraveler

6. Store shoes in a hallway sideboard 

Hallways can be a tricky part of the home to style, especially with furniture. Unless you are blessed with a spacious, airy entrance way, then any furniture you place in there is going to have to work hard! As the first space which greets you upon coming home, you want to step inside and instantly feel relaxed and a cluttered hallway will achieve the exact opposite. Avoiding this is easier said than done however, with bags, coats, shoes and other everyday paraphernalia quickly filling up the area. More often than not, hallways take on an awkward, narrow shape which can also make it difficult to find furniture which fits. Fortunately the form of many sideboards is also long and narrow, meaning that you can maximise storage without having to install anything too bulky and cuboid like a cabinet. The extra surface space also leaves ample opportunity for handy pieces like a wrack for post, bowls for keys and plenty of storage within for hiding away shoes! 

7. Use it to home your chinaware 

To and fro-ing plates full of food from the kitchen to the eating area can sometimes be a hassle. One traditional use for sideboards is in the dining room as a place to house your favourite china. They are also handy for hiding odd bits of mismatching dining ware – just pull out what you need when the occasion calls for it. Likewise, excess glasses which no longer fit into the kitchen can be stored tidily away in the dining room. Still got space? Indulge in some other pretty dining accessories, like napkins or vintage tea cups.

And now for styling all of favourite home accessories…

Over time, we have seen vintage fans do many different things to make the most of their sideboards. After all, a well-designed vintage sideboard is no piece of wallflower furniture and should be enjoyed in all its glory! Here are some inspiring styling ideas we have come across along the way.

To showcase souvenirs

Do you have an abundance of memorabilia picked up on your travels? Instead of interspersing them throughout the house, why not turn them into a collection and showcase them on your sideboard? Enjoy reminiscing with your family and friends over memories evoked by seeing all of these trips represented together. 

Create a gallery of your favourite photos

Are your walls getting a bit congested? No bother. Make cherished memories and loved ones a central feature in your home by gathering up your most treasured photographs, postcards and images for display across the top of your sideboard. 

Show off your collection of thriving succulents 

Is there anything more impressive than keeping the houseplants alive? Hardy as they are, this rule still extends to succulents! The cartoon-esque quality of succulents make them a playful form of home decor. Show off your green fingered prowess by displaying your small army of succulents with pride of place on the sideboard. By all means, do not hold back from using it to home a full blown jungle of big houseplants too. 

Spiky friends will happily reside here. Image: fallfordiy.com

Style candles on your sideboard 

Follow the Danes and go fully hygge by bringing an abundance of warm candlelight into your home. There is something very soothing about combining ambient light with natural materials, like wood. Treat yourself to a scented candle in a ceramic holder and enjoy the soft glow! A pair of vintage candle holders will also look beautiful, less is more as the Scandinavian adage goes! 

Make an artistic statement 

Complement the pared back, minimalist qualities of most mid century sideboards by gracing yours with a striking piece of statement artwork like a modernist sculpture or eye catching desk lamp. Industrial lovers can’t fail to appreciate the angular contours of the famous Artemide or Anglepoise lamps; others might prefer a more sculptural model. Alternatively a beautiful artisanal vase overflowing with flowers is always a pleasure to see when you arrive home.

Feeling inspired? 

Browse through our collection of vintage sideboards here and find your ideal model. No matter the budget, you deserve a sideboard which is skillfully manufactured and made using high quality natural materials. Let us know what you find by tagging us on Instagram @vinterioruk!

Shop all sideboards here.

Title image credit: fallfordiy.com

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