How to Style a Sideboard Like the Pros

In my (humble) opinion, I believe the sideboard is probably one of the most underrated pieces of furniture, often overlooked in the style stakes to it’s bigger cousins, the dining room table and the all-important sofa. But the sideboard is a master of practicality. It can be a beautiful piece of course, but not only that, it’s storage capabilities are near endless.

How to Style a Sideboard like the Pros

Used in it’s most widely accepted environment, the dining room, it can house the collection of china you only use on special occasions, the oil cloth table covering you use when the kids are getting messy with crafts, the assortment of mugs you’ve picked up on your travels, the linen napkins that come out at Christmas, the extra set of cutlery when guests arrive. In the living room, it becomes the only piece that can actually take ALL the kid’s toys, a stylish solution for an overflowing DVD collection, a place to store your extra cushions. In nearly any room in the house – whether that’s a hallway or the kitchen or even in a bedroom – the additional storage is always a welcome addition.

But are you also missing out on creating something a little special with your sideboard?  While we may lavish attention on other areas of our homes, neglecting the top of the sideboard can be a missed opportunity. Allowing the day’s post, stacks of old magazines or the clutter of the day to pile up on it’s top can only be described as a crime against a most wonderful piece of furniture so why not give it the attention it deserves?


Styling the top of your sideboard needn’t be a minefield of decorating decisions, however. It’s a small area upon which to flex your styling muscles and try out a few new things. You can suit your arrangement to nearly any style you desire – whether you love a more rustic country look, crave something minimalist or modern, or like a touch of the eccentric and eclectic and pretty much anything in between.

sideboard styling tips

Whatever you choose to place on top of your sideboard, however, should be a reflection of you and your personality. It should really be seen as an opportunity to tell the story of YOU. Whether that’s a collection of photo frames from family holidays or a make-shift bar area, the space is there to interpret however you please.

What you will want to keep in mind, however are a few tips to make sure you share that bit of personality in the most aesthetic way you can, considering whether you prefer something more organic and asymmetrical or if you prefer a calm and clean symmetrical display.


Symmetrical displays are perfect for a more formal look or to convey an air of elegance. The dining room is a great place to create an elegant display with either twinned lamps on either side or perhaps two large vases filled with flowers or branches. Your brain understands and interprets symmetry very quickly which means it’s easy on the eye and there is an innate sense of calm that is conveyed immediately.


Asymmetrical displays have a bit more energy and interest and as such, will contribute to a more casual approach in your décor. Think about what you wish to display and how it conveys your personality in the objects you place on top.

Rue Magazine sideboard styling with record player

Whether you choose a symmetrical or an asymmetrical display, the objects you use and the height and scale of them play an important role in the final look.  You can create height by stacking books and placing objects or plants of various sizes on top and you can consider playing against that height with tall vases, lamps and collections of photographs or art.

With objects of different heights on the surface and hanging art above it, your eye has an interesting line to follow and this variation of height allows it to take in every piece on display. Without that variation in height, the collection reads as quite “flat” and your eye will simply stagnate along the straight line created.

sideboard styling

You also want to ensure that you vary the scale and size of your objects and layer some in front of the other, with larger objects at the back and smaller items at the front. A single stream all lined up like little soldiers will again appear uninteresting so consider layering artwork against the wall, with larger or wider objects at the back and smaller items layered in front of it to vary the depth of the accessories.

amber interiors styling sideboard with plants

And finally, don’t forget to consider mixing up your textures – rough with smooth, glossy with matt, natural fibres and metals – all of these variations create interest and layers in any display.

Check out our entire range of sideboards here.

I hope you’ve found my tips today helpful! How do you style your sideboard?