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Inspiration: Buffets and Sideboards of the Modern Variety

Ever wondered what the difference between a sideboard and a buffet is? Me, too. The thing is, we needn’t have bothered ourselves about it. A sideboard and a buffet are basically the same piece of furniture serving the same purpose. Some people consider the buffet to be simply a smaller version of the sideboard, but in terms of functionality? No difference.

Others assign a name to this particular piece of furniture based on the room in which it resides – in the dining room, it’s a buffet, while in the living room, it’s a sideboard.

Sideboards and buffets have both traditionally been used as a place to store dishware and silverware (and sometimes linens) while food was displayed and then served on top. But today, a sideboard or buffet might be used for almost anything. And even back in the day, my grandparents’ beautiful buffet held not only linens and napkin rings, but also records.

Whatever you call them, sideboards are buffets can be very useful pieces of furniture, especially if you are the sort of person who has a vast collection of cloth napkins and pretty tablecloths and themed table runners for every season and holiday. Why? I’ve found that unless you have a great big linen closet, those sorts of things end up sadly tossed in a basket in pantry or tucked into a kitchen drawer without much thought to how wrinkled they’ll become.

But whatever you keep in your sideboard or buffet, here are some pictures of modern furniture buffets and sideboards that would look great in just about any room of the house. Enjoy!

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Furniture Lust: Industrial Yellow Heaven On Wheels

Awesomeness on wheels

I was browsing furniture with my daughter the other day, and I was so proud when she zeroed in on this gorgeous wheeled coffee table that looked like it came straight out of a barn and said “I will buy that for you, mama.” But it’s not all about the farm for yours truly – I’m also enamored by all things pulled off the factory floor and out of the warehouse. Like this sweet yellow coffee table on wheels that was crafted from… something used to wheel other things around. I love the original yellow paint that’s just the right amount of old and crunchy, the wheels, and how it balances out the softer, more traditional furniture in the room.

What do you think? Should industrial furniture stay in the seat of industry, or is there a place in the home for factory cast-offs?

A Mix of Modern and Traditional by Vicente Wolf

I am loving the big chunky farmer’s table smack dab in the middle of this otherwise very modern dining room by designer Vicente Wolf! Sometimes I look at my own house and realize that you couldn’t call it modern or traditional or cute or any other thing, really. My house is a mishmash of new and old things I’ve acquired and made over time, and things I’d love to replace but can’t afford to, and I do my best to make everything look nice together. I like how it’s turned out so far, though I’m always changing this or that. So if you’ve ever wondered why I love contrast so much, part of it is that I have to or I’d go crazy!

Contrast = Cool

What do you think about mixing old and new and modern and traditional and maybe something bright and shiny and expensive paired with something awesome you found on the side of the road? Because I love it. To me, a space full of awesome mixed treasures – arranged and chosen with some care, of course – is so much more fun and inviting than a perfectly coordinated and homogeneous space.

Tree Stump Side Tables

There’s not much to say about tree stump tables, other than the fact that they exist, they can look pretty awesome, and if you’re so inclined, creating a DIY tree stump side table isn’t that difficult (as demonstrated beautifully over at Nesting Place last month). The look pretty good painted:

Spotted on http://www.raenovate.com

But many people chose to leave them au natural, and rightly so:

Better Homes and Gardens is down with the stump

In a pinch, you can even use a tree stump side table as a seat:

Great for... unrolling your blood-spattered parchment paper?

For the DIY tree stump side table, you could do like the author of Nesting Place and just grab something left behind by the tree services guys, but I’d worry about the possibility of creepy crawlies riding in along with the stump. Plus, you want something a little drier than a fresh cut log, so I’d recommend opting for something found at the firewood depot, like Karen at the Art of Doing Stuff did.

Sure, it’s a little rustic, but I really like this kind of thing when paired with other furniture that’s decidedly non-rustic. Whatdya think… too outdoorsy? Or just right?

How to Be Hip With the Reeves Design Louis Collection

I’m having an ‘I want’ day – ever had one of those? It’s partly a matter of circumstance, as all kinds of situations conspire to show you awesome stuff (often it’s awesome stuff you can’t afford). And of course, it’s also a matter of attitude. You have to be in the right frame of mind to have an ‘I want’ day. On an ‘I want’ day, some stuff that would normally evoke nothing more than admiration now temps you mightily.

And so what is it that I’m wanting today? A REEVESdesign Louis Collection dining table!

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Build. Unbuild. Build. Sit.

Fun and function are not mutually exclusive in these “Cojines Cojines” cushions by Nani Marquina. Colorful building blocks and floor pillows come together in this cushions with small magnets that let you connect them any which way – longer, shorter, whatever you want. Unicolor? Multicolor? It’s up to you!

I love stuff like this. Superfun!

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Terminology Time: Knole Sofas

Like many people, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the specifics of furniture. I see something, I like it, I can’t afford it, so I write about it here. The end. But a little education can go a long way when one is at the designing stage of outfitting one’s home (which is when one needs knowledge and imagination more than money). With that in mind, I thought it might be fun to go against the grain and spend at least some time thinking about the specifics of furniture. And writing about, since that’s what I do!


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First on the list: The classic Knole sofa (or Knole settee). When I say classic, I mean Jurassic because you don’t see many new Knole sofas in furniture shops. First made in the 17th Century, with the original having been produced sometime between 1610 and 1620 for the Knole House in Kent, it was not intended to be a comfortable seat for one and all, but rather as a formal throne upon which royalty would have sat while receiving visitors.


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The main defining features of the Knole sofa are the adjustable side arms that rise as high as the back, deep seating, and the carved finials in the rear corners. Those are what make the Knole sofa’s side arms adjustable, actually, for the side arms are tied to the back of the sofa with decorative braided fabric, as shown below. It’s quite distinctive, but also quite old fashioned, so I’m not surprised that the Knole sofa is slowly going the way of the dinosaurs.


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High Style With a Mistaken Identity

A bench of mine recently called it quits, committing furniture suicide by casting off one of its own legs. Once upon a time, I purchased that bench to match a writing desk given to me as a present when I published my first book. I wanted not just somewhere to sit, but a piece that would match the desk itself, which had brilliantly curved legs and a dark cherry finish. In looking for that perfect match, I discovered that my writing desk had been crafted in the Queen Anne style. Naturally this inspired me to want to find out more.

The cabriole leg is one of the most recognizable features of the Queen Anne style of furniture, but it’s not the only defining element. Queen Anne furniture is often marked by a carved cockle shell or fan motif that appears on the front of a chest or on the curve of an iconic Queen Anne leg. Frequently found in the dining room on tables and lowboys, the Queen Anne style of leg can also be found on dressing tables, writing desks, and benches.

queen_anne_furniture

I tend to think of Queen Anne furniture as being delicate, but that delicacy is oftentimes an optical illusion caused by the curvature of the legs or the scalloped edging on a sturdier piece. That’s not the only thing just a tiny bit strange about Queen Anne furniture, however, as I discovered in an article at Osborne Wood.

Who would have thought that a mistake in identifying the proper origin of a single table leg would result in arguably the best known furniture style of the world today–the Queen Anne? You see, it was really the Chinese who inspired the cabriole legs and the Devonshire legs. Although mistakenly attributed to England’s Queen Anne period, the nomenclature remains today. Carefully researching the history of the ‘Queen Anne cabriole legs’, we find that it most resembles the William and Mary styling of the late 1800′s. Thanks go in great part to William Thackeray’s novel The History of Henry Esmond, Esq., A Colonel in the Service of Her Majesty Queen Anne. Thackeray eluded to the Queen Anne style of architecture, but failed to give many particulars. So, readers and craftsmen devised their individual interpretations and labeled these different styles ‘Queen Anne’. Thus was born the many variations of the Queen Anne styling appearing today. Although quite a misnomer, the Queen Anne leg has certainly taken its place in the world of beauty and design, even if it does have a bit of an identity crisis.

Learning about one’s furniture is fascinating, no?