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What Is a Credenza?

The credenza can be an invaluable piece for the home office, media spaces, and more. Discover all the ways you can use a credenza and tips when shopping for one.

The word “credenza” sounds luxurious, alluring, and Italian – and it’s all of these things – and more. The credenza has come a long way in terms of functionality. In the 14th century, the middle ages brought more sophisticated but purposeful furniture design.

Originally, the credenza was used for food prep and acted as a food serving station in formal dining room areas. In fact, the word credenza is Italian and translates to “belief.” Interestingly, its original purpose was to test food before serving it to royalty to be sure it wasn’t poisoned. So, while the furniture has endured, the original purpose has not.

This history-rich piece of furniture has evolved over time. During the Middle Ages, the credenza became more luxurious, housing fancy dishes and showing a sign of wealth and opulence.

Today, the credenza has become a versatile piece of home decor. It serves a wide variety of uses in many rooms, including dining rooms, family rooms, and has earned a special place as home office furniture. The credenza has become the unsung hero that functions in any room in the house, including the home office.

We’ll discuss the following:

Difference between a credenza, sideboard, and buffet

• Uses for credenzas

• Styles of credenzas

• Tips when shopping for a credenza

Difference Between Credenza, Sideboard, and Buffet

Credenzas and sideboards are often used interchangeably when referring to a long side table. To make matters more confusing, the buffet gets included when describing this trio of functional furnishings. All three are similar, but each has its own slightly different characteristics.

Here’s a quick description of each of these furnishings below.

Credenza: The credenza is typically somewhat of a stout piece of furniture. Typically, these pieces have short legs and occasionally are without legs, and their shape is long and on the shorter side for height.

Sideboard: Sideboards have an English origin and were often found in affluent homes in the 18th and 19th centuries. These handy catch-all pieces commonly store everything from books to glassware to collectibles. They sit directly on the floor and typically have cabinet doors. These pieces can be simple or quite elaborate and decorative with carvings or painted wood.

Buffet: Many dining rooms are adorned with buffets. As the name suggests, these are wonderful pieces for setting out food on the flat top, and their style sports a longer leg and is often a combination of drawers and cabinets. They’ve long been a staple piece for dining room furniture.

Now that we’ve covered the differences between a credenza, a sideboard, and a buffet, let’s dive into all the great uses for credenzas.

Uses for Credenzas

The ways you can use a credenza are only limited by your imagination. These slick furnishings can blend with many different types of decor, and it seems they’re always just the right size for stowing things away or displaying your favorite items or photos.

Credenzas work anywhere that could benefit from more surface space and storage space — from trinkets to displaying travel treasures to a functional spot to put your home office printer.

Let’s cover some ways to use this versatile MVP of home furnishings:

Storage Cabinet

Whether you need a storage cabinet for a bedroom, a family room, or your home office, a credenza is a great choice for storage needs. Credenzas come in all shapes and sizes. Versatile credenzas with cabinets for storage make a great addition to any room if you want to stow away items for a clutter-free look and still have some open shelving.

File Cabinet

Who says your home office file cabinet can’t be stylish and functional? Some credenzas were designed with a home office in mind and come equipped with a file cabinet yet still provide extra surface space. You can even pair a credenza with an ergonomic office desk that provides an L-shape to customize the way you use it, similar to the L-desk.

Gaming/TV Stand

If you’ve been looking for a stylish TV stand, have you considered a credenza as a media center? Don’t overlook the credenza for this function — you can hang a large flat-screen TV above the credenza or rest it on top.

This function works great in a bedroom, home office, living room, or media room. Use the cabinets for DVDs, game controllers, or stashing accessories. It’s a great way to create a gaming setup that looks elevated and part of your standard home or office decor.

Home Office Essential Piece

Sometimes referred to as a “credenza desk,” the credenza serves many purposes in a home office setting. These pieces are great for extra storage solutions for home office paperwork and provide extra storage for phone chargers, office equipment, and more.

We offer a Credenza with a locking file cabinet for keeping valuables or confidential paperwork in its proper place. With a file cabinet, built-in dividers, open shelving, and plenty of surface space, this piece works as hard as you do.


Display Cabinet

Your home office should bring you joy, and one way to accomplish this is to surround yourself with your favorite people and things. A home office credenza with shelving can be a great way to display photos of loved ones, store decorative pieces or awards, or perch your favorite mug or anything else you wish to have on display and still provide extra surface area.


Multi-Functional Piece

Whether you have a sprawling home office or a small apartment where you work in an open space, a credenza should be multi-functional. It can double as an extra workspace, a bookcase, a display case, and even a mini buffet table. If you're tight on space but big on style, consider adding a credenza as a multi-functional furniture piece.


Dining Room Server

If you have lots of linens, serving dishes, and extra silverware, you may need a credenza. Entertain a lot? Like to cook?

A credenza goes a long way as a serving piece, a place to store table settings, and overall, a charming addition to the dining room. If you have an open floor plan, servers can act more like an all-purpose hutch or buffet table that blends artfully into the merging of multi-functional space.


Make an Entrance

Do you have an entryway? Credenzas have a way of taking an entryway from functional to fabulous. From stashing mail or a place to put keys or gloves or a display area for all your latest photos, credenzas have a place in the entryway. Dress it up with fresh flowers, or keep to a minimalist style with a small, sleek lamp.


Styles of Credenzas

No matter what your style is, there’s a credenza that suits it. Whatever interior design preferences may be, you can choose an ornate credenza that acts as the centerpiece or an understated minimalist piece that doesn’t steal the show but rather blends into your workspace and serves its purpose.

Choose from glass display cabinets, or opt for open shelving. Cabinet-style pieces are the most functional, with some type of cabinet doors.


Tips When Shopping for a Credenza

If you’re shopping for a credenza, there are a few tips to get you started. Start by asking the following questions to narrow down the type of cabinet that works best.


What Room Is It For?

Consider the existing room style and what other items are in the space to coordinate your piece:


Do I Need a Locking Cabinet?

This is an important one – if you’re planning to store personal paperwork or other important information, don’t compromise on a credenza that doesn’t have a locking cabinet.


Do You Want Open Shelving for Easy Access?

Some credenzas lack open shelving options and only have cabinet space. Decide if you want to easily access items or have more display areas.


How Many Drawers Do You Need?

Think about the items you need to stow away. Or alternatively, do you want a combination of drawer space and open shelving for flexibility?


What Finish Do You Want?

Consider the wood finish on other furnishings in the room. Do you want to contrast light walls and other light furnishings with a dark wood finish, such as walnut? Or does a light, airy woodgrain finish go better with the furnishings you have? And there’s always white, which goes with everything.

Also, don’t be afraid to mix and match wood colors to add contrast and design interest to the room. Pro tip: Mixing large wood grains and smaller wood grains and different woods can give a great rustic, chic style and can also be paired with urban styles. 



Credenzas have come a long way from their original purpose. Once known as an item typically owned only by the wealthy, these popular furniture pieces are not only beautiful but functional and widely accessible. With the shift to more work-at-home arrangements, people are investing in the furnishings and aesthetics of their home office.

Check out our office furniture collections, where you’ll find credenzas, ergonomic chairs, and adjustable desks.



Credenza | MetMuseu

Middle Ages | Britannica

What Is a Dining Room Sideboard and Buffet? | The Spruce

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