How To Decorate A Buffet, Sideboard, Console, or Other Flat Surface

A step-by-step guide for decorating a buffet, sideboard, or any flat surface like a pro. Learn how to transform this functional furniture piece into a room’s focal point.


Decorating sideboards and buffets in our dining rooms and other rooms in our home is so important! These are prime pieces of decor real estate that can show off our personality! Today I’m sharing easy ways to decorate a sideboard or buffet and useful, fabulous, and doable styling tips too!

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Let’s talk about decor basics and tips for decorating a buffet. These decor basics are invaluable so don’t skip them. They will make styling your buffet so much easier.

It does not take a lot of time or a great many things to decorate a buffet. With these helpful tips, you can style a buffet beautifully in minutes.


Most buffets and sideboards are wonderful areas to add pretty decor to your home and a big dose of your personality!

I thought showing you several different ways to style a buffet might be helpful. So I gathered up items to style a few different looks on our buffet in the living room.

A Quick History Of A Buffet

A buffet is a very versatile piece of furniture! Coveted for its long flat surface for decorating or serving food, a buffet is a great workhorse piece of furniture to own.

The word buffet is a French word that was adopted by the English to mean a place where a meal is served.

A buffet, typically a long cabinet, is a versatile piece of furniture originally designed to store and display dining essentials such as dishes, bowls, napkins, and serving platters, making it a convenient addition to any kitchen or dining room.

However, this well-rounded piece of furniture is also used in a living room and is called a sideboard, credenza, or console.

My White Buffet

My buffet has been with us in two houses.

Originally in the dining room at StoneGable, then came with us to the Tanglewood House and now resides in the living room.


At StoneGable, this buffet was a great storage area for all sorts of dishware and serving dishes. It also came in handy as a self-serve food station for guests. It was a dessert station for Christmas dinners, a salad and soup station for family meals, and countless other celebrations. It was used as a pop-up bar with trays of libations, mixers, and glassware, as well as platters of appetizers.

The buffet was near enough to the dining table to be handy and far enough away not to be crowded when friends and family were serving themselves.

When we moved to the Tanglewood House, we took it with us and used it in our very open-concept living room. The sideboard (because it is in the living room) stores some of my cake stand collection, books, vases, and bookends.

Our Tanglewood Home lends itself to an unfussy, airy, streamlined look, so I decorate the sideboard accordingly.

Decorating Guidelines


No matter your style, you can decorate a buffet like a pro following these tips.

Basic buffet decorating things to know…

  • add light layers to your buffet decor
  • a mix of larger and medium-sized items is preferred over lots of mini objects on a buffet
  • use faux blooms and plants liberally making sure they are very realistic
  • experiment and play with your accessories
  • less is more
  • keep a tight color palette
  • change things up often

Where To Start

The first thing to do when styling your buffet is to read this post all the way to the end! There is lots of information here that will be very helpful to you before you even put one thing on your buffet or sideboard. Once you have read the post from beginning to end then…

Start With A Clean Slate

It’s important to start will a clean slate! Remove everything from your buffet, sideboard, or other flat surfaces before you begin styling. And if you can, remove anything behind the buffet that is on the wall. The mirror behind the buffet is so big and heavy that I was not able to remove it. But if you have something you can remove, you should.

I’m going to encourage you to take pictures with your phone of each step as you decorate your buffet. It’s amazing what your phone will show you that your eyes don’t pick up! Blogging has taught me to take pictures as I decorate.

Before anything goes back on the buffet we should be familiar with a few interior design concepts that will make a big difference in the final way your buffet will look and feel.

Choose A Tight Color Palette

The number one way to create a beautiful cohesive look when styling a flat surface like a buffet is to choose a tight color palette.

Pro Tip

A color palette will create harmony between the items on a buffet and it will also help you choose things that complement the room your buffet is in.

It’s worth knowing your way around what goes into creating a color palette that adds to the beauty of your home. You might like to read How To Choose A Color Palette For Your Home.

Create a Balanced Design


Because a buffet is a long narrow flat surface, it is important to think about balance when decorating it.

Think of balance as adding things to an equal-arm scale or teeter-totter. When we decorate, we want to strive to make the scale as balanced as we can. In other words, if we draw an imaginary line down the middle of a buffet, the items on one side of the buffet have about the same visual weight as the items on the other. The items do not need to be the same, but they need to have about the same visual weight.


We access the visual weight of everything we see. It’s just something our eyes do. Trust your eyes! Finding the perfect balance on a buffet is not hard. You may just have to move things around until you feel that the decor on either side of your buffet looks right. Knowing about Visual Weight will make you a better decorator!

Why Balance Is So Important When You Decorate is a very helpful post when decorating things like buffets or anything else in your home. In this post, we also discuss concepts like symmetry and scale and proportion.

Vary Heights

When displaying decor on a buffet or sideboard, it is important to vary the heights of objects to make the display more visually appealing!


Our eyes love to move from one item to another and when they can travel up and down over objects they deem what they are seeing as interesting and attractive.

When the height of items displayed are all the same size this looks dull and boring and uninteresting to our eyes.

So make sure to vary the heights of objects you are using to decorate a buffet.

The Magic Of Threes


Did you know there is magic in threes when it comes to decorating? There is! Our eyes search for things grouped in threes. There is lots of science behind the rule of three and why we love things grouped in odd numbers but for our buffet styling let’s just say we should have at least one group of three on our surface to be decorated!

There is, however, a right way and a wrong way to create a group of three. Think about creating a visual triangle.

Visual Triangles


A visual triangle is a perfect way to group three items together to be pleasing to our eyes. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Choose items with different heights so they make a triangle. Layer the smaller items slightly in front of the tallest item if you can.

Groups Of Items Can Be Divided Into Threes


Did you know that items grouped closely together can act as one on a buffet? Just see the image above!

Our eye often captures a group of decor items as one thing!


tulips and candlesticks on a white buffet

Texture is something we should always be thinking about no matter what we decorate. Our eyes have the ability to perceive how things feel. Rough, silky, fluffy, and shiny. When styling a sideboard be aware of the textures you are adding. They should be varied.

Use The Wall Space Behind The Buffet


The wall space, like the flat surface of a buffet, is decorating gold! So putting something as a backdrop up on the wall is a must! Add a mirror (like I did), shelves, art, or architectural elements to the wall.

I just changed out a big clock on the wall behind the buffet for a large, lightly antiqued 16-panel mirror. I’m enjoying how this mirror opens up the room and also reflects not only light but the items on the buffet.

I sometimes lean a smaller picture on the buffet in front of the mirror. I count this as part of the wall decor. Right now I’m enjoying a little picture of cut oranges I have leaned against the mirror for an added layer of decor.

a picture of oranges

Anchor Items

Anchor items are items that you will probably not change as you style your buffet from season to season. Think about what will stay the same no matter how you decorate your buffet.


Anchor decor usually works best at the end of a flat surface.


Lighting is probably the most common anchor decor. Most of us do not change a table lamp too often. If you have a dining room sideboard you might want to use buffet lamps that are tall and skinny. They were made for a buffet they do not take up much room. And they highlight the food or drinks on a buffet by shining pools onto it.

A pair of sconces hanging on the wall on either side of a buffet make a beautiful upscale statement. Putting them on dimmers will make it easy to adjust the light.

Beautiful Accessories And Accent Pieces

One of the best parts of styling a buffet is adding accessories and accent pieces to the top of it!

When you have hung a mirror or artwork on the wall behind a buffet and put the anchor decor in place on the buffet, now is the time to decorate with beautiful home decor accessories! Below are some tried and true items that are popular on a buffet.



Using something organic will give life to the display you style on a buffet. We all love flowers and know how they can liven up a room! Make sure to use something, big or small, that is alive or looks like it is.

I love using real and faux organics when I decorate.

There is nothing like the real things. I found these tulips at the grocery store and knew I would use them on the sideboard. They not only add a punch of color but demand our attention!

However, don’t discount faux flowers or plants. Especially the ones that are fool-the-eye real! They can have the same attention-getting drama as their real counterparts with a lot less fuss. Read How To Make Faux Flowers Look More Realistic for the best faux flower tips.

Here are a few organics that make great additions to a buffet…

  • a bunch of seasonal greens or flowers
  • faux greenery
  • topiaries
  • moss balls or moss in a large bowl
  • a low bowl of succulents
  • plants
  • a trio of the same potted plant

Candles And Lanterns


Candles and decorative lanterns are natural fits for a buffet. They add height and when lit add beautiful pools of soft golden light. They create ambiance and look beautiful!

They also add a different texture to a buffet display.

Bridge Decor

It’s a good idea to add a little something to bridge the decor on one side of a buffet or flat surface to the other side. And here is an easy way to do that as well as the exception to the visual triangle rule.


Three decor items that are similar and about the same size can work as one to make a beautiful bridge between the left and the right decor on a buffet.

This is a pretty look if you need something to add to the middle of your buffet decor.

Other Buffet Decor

A buffet or sideboard is the place to let your personality shine! Add decor you love and that is meaningful to you. Here are examples of decor you might like to use…

  • low sided baskets
  • beautiful bowls
  • trays
  • books
  • bookends
  • pictures
  • a sculptural piece


A buffet or sideboard is a useful piece of furniture for displaying decor on it’s top flat surface and for storing items in drawers and behind closed doors. These are perfect places to keep things you need out of sight.

Decorating A Buffet Quick Guide

Here is a quick guide for decorating a stylish buffet…


  • Step 1 – Hang art or a mirror on the wall behind the buffet
  • Step 2 – Add Anchor Decor
  • Step 3 – Add tall decor
  • Step 4- Add accessories that vary height, balance the decor on the buffet, use the rule of three, adds texture, and work with your color palette.
  • Step 5- Don’t let your display collect dust. Change the decor frequently.

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FAQs About Decorating A Buffet Or Sideboard

Think about putting taller and larger items at the ends of a buffet. Things like a grouping of tall candlesticks, a lamp, or a large urn with real or faux flowers.

The five most important things to put on a sideboard are lamps, something organic like flowers or a plant, something personal, something tall, and something hanging behind it.

The storage in a buffet is the perfect place to keep things that you want close at hand but may not have any other place to keep them. If the storage area has glass doors display items like you would a bookcase.

Don’t forget to pin this for later!

A step-by-step guide for decorating a buffet, sideboard or any flat surface like a pro. Learn how to transform this functional piece of furniture into a focal point for a room.

Decorating a buffet can be a fun and stylish way to add your personality, beauty, and function to any room it is in. Remember to change the decor on your buffet from time to time to keep it fresh and interesting. Follow these easy designer concepts and buffet decorating tips to style your buffet like a pro.

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  1. Connie Abbott-Foster says:

    I love all your buffet schemes. My buffet is longer than yours and it stumps me because things look far apart. Any ideas for this situation?

    1. Pull the decor in from the sides of the buffet. We don’t need to decorate the buffet to the ends if it is long. Give that a try.

  2. Marylynn Swartz says:

    Love your style. I’m getting a new 80” long dresser. Can’t begin to think how to style it. Tall buffet lamps? I don’t know how to put things together.

    1. Just remember Marylynn, you do not have to decorate the entire length of a piece that is so long. Start from the middle and work out. It is okay if the ends aren’t decorated, probably better.

  3. Patty Hietpas says:

    I love the white pots with handles on the side board. Where can I buy them?

  4. MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!) says:

    Yvonne, you always have such helpful info. Thanks for always sharing ways to decorate our home. We appreciate you so much.

  5. Hi! Where did you get the mesh lamp? Love your set-up. It definitely inspired me 🙂

    Thank you!

    1. I found the mesh lamp at Pottery Barn years ago. I don’t think they carry it anymore. Sorry!

  6. Jessica Klein says:

    Where did you get this buffet?! I love it!

    1. Hi Debra, the clock above the buffet is an old clock I painted white and the lamp was from Pottery Barn years ago. It is no longer in stock.

  7. Can you tell me the height of the mesh lamp as well as the stacked baskets on the buffet? Also, do you have a source for the baskets and the antique white clock? Thank you!

    1. Hi Mark,
      I took all that decor down, so I’m sorry I don’t have that info. The basket was found locally and I painted the clock. Hope this is helpful

  8. I love your white buffet decor ideas. Could you show some ideas for buffets (lovely antique) that are dark wood, please. I am the fortunate recipient of my grandfather’s dining room set … beautiful table, and both a short ( 41″) and
    long (78″) buffet. I have antique silver candlesticks on either end of the buffets and on the dining room table but am looking for something else to add or something different in these three places. Thank you. Barbara

    1. Barbara, I don’t think the color matters it’s more the style! Your buffet would look beautiful with a big bowl of flowers (real or faux)in the middle of it. Hope this helps.

  9. I love the way you use anchors and switch up with different items and textures. I have a wall that goes up about 36 inches above the buffet, and then there are three windows that go up to the ceiling. My dilemma is what to put on the wall as a backdrop for the items on the buffet.., any suggestions?

    1. Keep it simple because the windows probably act as a “mirror” or focal point. Try adding a large real or faux plant in a pretty urn on one side of the buffet and a low basket with some dishes in it on the other side. Hopes this helps.

  10. I have three great pieces that operate as dining hutches and furniture for the dining area, which the living room is open to. My best arrangement has been having the three pieces, which are different but work together very well, and help with storage I do not have in my small kitchen next to the dining area. It is not crowded, and I do not think anything competes with the look of the dining table. I have my plants on two of the three pieces, and I have stuck to the tight color palette you recommend (listening to your advice). I did mainly white, green, and tan or copper. There are French doors that the dining table is centered on, and that leads outside to the deck. The green trees look very pretty, and it feels spacious with the French doors allowing natural light in. I have been removing clutter to donate from all areas of the house, and I am mainly not displaying little knicknack type items.

    In the house as a whole, in the main area, I do have the tight color palette you advised. Everything flows together well, and the house feels pretty to me. I mix using real plants and quality fake ones, and dried ones I bought. It feels like in the main room it looks right and does not draw clutter.

  11. Hi how could you decorate a very long buffet with photo frames?

    1. Hi DJ- I would layer several frames in one area of a buffet. Use different size frames. I wouldn’t scatter them across the buffet. I think they would look too visually busy. Keep your best photos in a grouuping. Hope this helps.

  12. Where did you get the mesh lamp and the baskets at the other end of the buffet?

    1. I found it at the Pottery Barn about 6 years ago. I have not seen the lamps on their site for awhile. Sorry I can’t help you more.

  13. Judy Musselman says:

    Where can this buffet be purchased?

    1. Caroline Mason says:

      There are some great ones that are similar on Wayfair. I just ordered one.

  14. I love your style. I have an antique family buffet with a small mirror across the back and then a small shelf above it. Right now I have 2 small candlestick lights on each side of the shelf across the top. Do you have any different suggestions for an antique buffet or would you stick with the recommendations you have already shared. It is wood. Thank you.

  15. Those are wonderful ideas for buffets and tables. My challenge with my buffet is that it is up against a half wall, with and open arch above, which you can see through to the foyer, which has a console table with a mirror above. The console surface usually has either a large green arrangement or in the fall, a dried arrangement. I have a photo and a candle to accent, although often just the large arrangement. So I don’t want what is on the buffet,( that can be seen from both rooms) to compete. I am sensing something low like a dough bowl or similar shaped basket would be the answer. Would you have another suggestion? I don’t have lamps on either the buffet or the console table.

  16. Hi! Where did you get the two tiered round rattan looking boxes? Thanks!

  17. Where did you purchase the clock above the buffet?

    1. Hi Sandy, I found this clock a decade ago at Khols. It had a dark brown frame and I painted it.

  18. I love these ideas? Where did you find the lamp with the burlap lamp shade and silver base?

    1. I found this lamp at HomeGoods over a decade ago. Sorry I do not have a source anymore.

  19. Yvonne, I like the arrangement on the first buffet shown, could you please tell me where you bought the lamp and Vase. Thank you Roslyn

    1. I found the lamp locally and the urn is from Pottery Barn. Hope this helps.

  20. CarolBinTX says:

    Looking at my buffet in my dining room and other flat surfaces in my house, you can tell, I’m an avid follower of yours! The latest instruction that I’ve embraced is “less is more”. It was difficult to put away some of the smaller things, but I did it and it looks great!

    I have a question for my dining room buffet. My mirror is much too long for the buffet, but it’s one that I had already, it’s very pretty and it goes with the decor in the room. To remedy the longer mirror dilemma, I added a small marble topped table next to the buffet so that the mirror spans both pieces (I can feel you cringing!) I do have another, more square mirror that I’d need to paint, but I wouldn’t have a place for the longer mirror AND I would require my husband’s help in moving everything around and rehanging the mirror…he hates change and procrastinates like crazy, so that’s the reason why I haven’t done this. Maybe if YOU tell me that I need to make this switch, I’ll get it done!

    1. If you need permission to hang the other mirror then this is it! I think, from your comment, you know what mirror you should use. If you love the long mirror, keep it. But when you look at it and know that it is wrong then it is worth the change. And I did cringe a little bit and then I read your comment. I laughed so hard!!!! You are a darling!

  21. Maureen (Max) Tuff says:

    I always appreciate your blogs and the design references throughout.
    Can you please share where that mirror behind your buffet is from.


      1. Good morning,
        I’m considering this mirror for a spot and wondering . . . from the website pics the overall look seems warm. On a scale of 1-5 how warm/yellow would you consider the overall look to be? Are there any greenish undertones coming out?

        1. Hi Kim, this is such a beautiful mirror! It has a little bit of antiquing, however the mirror is not nearly as antiqued as the image on the Pottery Barn site. I would say it is a 1 1/2 on the scale. The antiquing is a light gold-ish that is lightly sprayed here and there. It’s a beautiful effect. You can see my mirror here:

  22. Love your paneled mirror above the console table. Can you tell us where you found it?

      1. Which size do you have?

        1. Hi Maria, can you tell me what you want the size for? I’ll be happy to answer.

  23. Thank you for such a helpful, well thought out post! I have the very same mirror in my dining room, hung over my grandmothers antique buffet. I can’t tell you how validating it is for me, LOL, that you also chose the same mirror for your home! 🙂 The mirror is much more beautiful in person than in a photo, too, with an aged, vintage look to each mirrored pane. Yes, it’s pricey, but as you’ve pointed out, we don’t change a mirror often. It was well worth the cost, and I also note how easy it is to decorate with this mirror as a backdrop. Every lamp, candleholder, arrangement and other piece of decor I’ve placed in front of this mirror has worked easily. I love your ideas, as always. Happy spring!

    1. Pam, I so agree. This mirror was certainly a big splurge. But it is a big part of our decor. I’m so glad you like your mirror as much as I do.

  24. I would love to read this entire post, however one of your blog videos with ads was running the entire time and took up half the screen is my smartphone. I could not find a hide button, even after turning sideways. I hope you can fix this issue. I read many, many blog posts, save though I understand the need for you to monetize your content, in my experience the videos can be hidden.. (I could silence but that was it.). I hope you can resolve this, as I have read your content in the past and love it. Thank you. Debbie

  25. Hello,
    which style is this buffet? I want to find one for my home in Venice ( Italy).
    I will really appreciate any suggestion.
    I love your blog.

  26. Very nice how-to post!

  27. Even tho I’ve read this before I have now pinned it. Good reminders and rules to follow!

  28. Where did you get that gorgeous mirror? Trying to figure out how to decorate my buffet and I love this as a starting piece!