What Is a Credenza? And How to Tell The Difference From a Sideboard or Buffet Table

Shop confidently for dining room furniture as we break down everything there is to know about credenzas, sideboards and buffet tables.

Price and stock could change after publish date, and we may make money off these affiliate links. Learn more.
December 21, 2020

Shopping for new dining room storage is challenging enough without having to decipher all the different codenames for cabinets. What is a credenza? Is it the same thing as a buffet? And how do you know that you're choosing the right storage unit for your space?

Per usual, we're here to clear up the confusion. Throughout this article, we're sharing exactly what makes a credenza, sideboard and buffet table unique and pulling in some of our favorite pieces, so you can view clear examples and shop confidently.

Credenzas: Explained

Back in the day (read: the 14th century), the term "credenza" referred to a decorative piece of dining room furniture where servants would sample food and drink for elites. The idea was that if the noble family's meal had been poisoned, which was a very real threat at the time, the attempt on their lives would be discovered prior to serving. Thus, Italians called the cabinet credenza, which translates to "belief" or "confidence."

Today, credenzas are largely used for storage purposes and have become almost interchangeable with sideboards and buffet tables — though there are a few crucial differences. Credenzas are typically long and low to the floor, with no legs or very short legs. They also tend to have sliding doors or sleek ones with no obvious pulls.

Sideboards: Explained

Sideboards, on the other hand, are slightly taller (about waist-high, with no legs or short legs) and more versatile. For example, a credenza would be too low to double as an entryway table, but a sideboard could easily work in the foyer or in the living room behind your sofa. Another fail-proof way to spot a sideboard in the wild? They have cupboards that extend to the floor and might come with a hutch for displaying personal items.

Buffet Tables: Explained

That brings us to the buffet table. Just as the name suggests, these units are intended for buffet-style spreads — so they're nice and long like your credenzas and sideboards, but taller with more noticeable legs. They are also found and used exclusively in dining rooms.

Next Up

Drew Barrymore Just Launched the Most Beautiful Living Room Collection — And It's All Under $1,000

The new Beautiful by Drew Barrymore Living Room Collection at Walmart features coffee tables, side tables, chairs and more, with many pieces costing less than $300.

The Best Desks for Every Style and Budget

Find the right tabletop for every need, from homework stations to ergonomic computer desks.

We Found a Dupe for That Pottery Barn Pouf

Get the look for a third of the cost.

The Best Furniture to Buy on Amazon for Every Room

Style your space without spending a pretty penny.

10 Best Flatware Sets for Every Style and Budget

Polish off your dining table with these gorgeous stainless steel, matte black and gold flatware sets.

20 Cute and Stylish Wall Calendars for 2023

From calendars with vintage-inspired art you can frame next year to large reusable acrylic wall calendars and everything in between, hang up one of these cute wall calendars and get excited for all the new things to come in 2023.

We Found a Dupe for Those Trendy Bistro Chairs

Score the timeless French look for $100 off.

If You Need a New Mattress, Look No Further Than Nolah's Labor Day Sale

We're talking hundreds and hundreds of dollars off top-rated, fan-favorite mattresses and bedding, including our favorite mattress topper for side sleepers.

12 Stylish Sleeper Sofas for Every Budget in 2024

In need of extra sleeping space for guests but don't have a guest room? Rest easy with these top-rated pullout couches.

I Own a Lovesac Sofa – Here’s What You Need to Know Before Buying One

Considering buying a modular sofa? Here’s everything you need to know about Lovesac’s modular sectional sofa.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.

On TV

Mexico Life

7am | 6c

Mexico Life

7:30am | 6:30c

Mexico Life

8am | 7c

Mexico Life

8:30am | 7:30c

Mexico Life

9am | 8c

Mexico Life

9:30am | 8:30c

Mexico Life

10am | 9c

Mexico Life

10:30am | 9:30c

Mexico Life

11am | 10c

Mexico Life

11:30am | 10:30c

Beachfront Bargain Hunt

12:30pm | 11:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

House Hunters International

8pm | 7c

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.