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Are China Cabinets Dated? Yay or Nay

By 08/17/2011January 28th, 201762 Comments

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I recently bought a sideboard for my dining room (I still need to find lamps, etc which is why I haven’t posted it yet). I certainly had room for a china cabinet but I didn’t buy one because it would have made the space look smaller. Plus what I love about a sideboard is that you can put lamps on top of it with artwork or a mirror above it.

In all the homes I’ve been in over the years, I notice them less and less. So I’m wondering, are they dated? I don’t have a strong opinion (are you shocked?) about them other than to say I think they belong in a big house with large spaces.

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I do love the creative use of this one as a linen closet at the top of the landing in this house!

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What do you think? Do you have one? What do you keep in yours?
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  • Maureen @ Modecor says:

    Hi Maria, I, like you have a sideboard in my dining room that I custom designed. I wanted ito be able to reuse in different spaces in different places, for different purposes. I also have, however, an antique step-back cupboard in my dining room that is used for displaying some larger serving pieces and our wine glasses. In 30 yrs, I have never owned a china cabinet and don't miss it. My mother and two sisters have always had china cabinets. I guess it is a personal taste decision.

  • Kim @ Savvy Southern Style says:

    I have an old one in the master bath for towels and toiletries since we have no linen closet and I do have one in the dining room that will be getting painted gray much like the one you showed.

  • Torie @amishhome says:

    I love china cabinets, hutches and sideboards or buffets. But I do agree with you that they are good in larger spaces. I tend to like the more simply designed hutches as they can be utilized for more than just china and stemware.
    We have an old built in that we re-purposed and use it in our living room for electrical components, books and media storage!

  • Jane says:

    I do not have one…I have a sideboard…and a wall of shelves that I want to have partially closed in for more storage. However, when I move my dining room into the larger living area (something I do, periodically) I NEED the size of a "china cabinet". So what I am looking for is an interesting storage cabinet which can double as a china storage (I have tons of dishes – my addiction!) I will probably need to have this made…to get what I want.

  • Squeak says:

    Now that you mention it, I haven't seen many china cabinets around either. Perhaps because they take up so much room visually or perhaps because they are so expensive.

    I don't currently have a sideboard or a china cabinet in my tiny dining room. However, I'm looking for a beautiful sideboard/dresser because, like you, I want to display a pretty lamp (among other things) on top of it.

  • Anonymous says:

    We have one as we have 5 sets of china and silverware and no built-in storage.


  • Cindy says:

    Hi! I love china cabinets re-purposed. Usually painted, new hardware. Towels, old books, etc… And I've used them in retail spaces for display. Funny I can't bear to see them in wood finishes loaded with china, though! Too grandam!

  • Cindy says:

    Um – I meant Grandma. Wasn't grand am a car?!

  • Karena says:

    I don't have one right now. I think it depends on the style and the display of china etc in them, llove the painted look!


    Art by Karena

  • KDot says:

    I have two and I'm not a grandma; I'm only 29! One is for my teacups and the other for crystal and china. Maybe there is a little old lady living inside of me. 🙂

  • Molly @ The Nesting Game says:

    I do have one. It was a wedding gift from my husband and I love it. You can see it here:

    I think often with china cabinets they are hulking and enormous. We wanted a smaller piece–a vitrine–with lots of glass and some character. It works great for us and I love being able to see my china every day versus having it all squirreled away for the 1 or 2 days a year I use it.

  • Katy says:

    Ok, i used to be all about china cabinets but I'm kinda over it now. I like sideboards, I like open shelving, I like hanging plates on the walls..
    but china cabinets I only like now when they are used to store towels or something (like that last picture you posted).
    Not sure why!

  • Coley says:

    I'm suprised you don't have an opinion!! haha 🙂

    I still see them everywhere (mostly with a gross oak wood finish and filled to the brim with knick knacks…) but I think they can look amazing when refinished and used untraditionally.

  • Karen says:

    I don't think it's the China Cabinets that are outdated… It's the China itself. I know more women than not who have no interest in it. They didn't register for it when they married and could care less now. If you don't have China, there's no need for a China Cabinet.


  • Ms.JayQue says:

    I think it depends on the style of the room and the china cabinet. Personally i don't like the look in dining rooms…I think for the most part it's outdated. we just built and my husband thinks a china cabinet would be great in our dining room. I, of course have other plans…I just need to figure out how to tell him…LOL

  • Donna Frasca ♋ says:

    It's a must! I have my fine china and collectibles in it and it matches my 1926 dining room table. I bought the table in Pittsburgh and the cabinet here in CHarlotte.

  • The enchanted home says:

    I had a beautiful antique china cabinet that was huge, and beautiful but I didnt' like the way it loomed over the dining room, though it was a beauitful way to display all my beautiful dishes! I much prefer a sideboard above which you can hang a gorgeous mirror, put two stunning lamps on and then add your own personal vignette…guess its a matter of personal taste but it does seem like I am seeing them less and less.

  • Lynette says:

    I have one, currently a dated wood and loaded with china. I hate it. It is dated. These comments have given me a WONDERFUL idea…paint it and move it to the office….for scrapbook and sewing supplies. I was going to do some builti-ns at some point, but this will work for a few years. Brilliant.

  • Susan Seale says:

    I have a a sideboard and a china cabinet in our diningroom. It's a very large room in a 100 year old house. The china cabinet was my mom's and a gift to me when I got married. It was almost black…a very dark stain. It looked heavy and depressing. I painted it a creamy almost white color on the outside. Inside it was painted gold. I store my fine glassware in the cabinet. I love having it and would use it for other purposes if I had to…in a bathroom or hallway.

  • CalypsoInTheCountry says:

    I have one and it is great for storage but I wish I had a big sideboard instead. I am tired of the look in my dining room especially since my china cabinet and table match – what was I thinking 12 years ago?…

  • Sheila Zeller says:

    Right now I think they are dated, but like most things, I'm betting the pendulum will swing and their time will come once again. I inherited an antique sideboard, and so my china cabinet had to go… and I gave it away rather than even try to sell it because they are such a tough sell right now. Hmmmm… love the linen closet storage idea too. Maybe I should have kept it afterall 😉

  • Anonymous says:

    I have a side board with open shelving on top. No Glass.
    The bottom is used for decor storage and the top for display. Also, we don't own it. But if I did, I do not think I would display it.

    I think the glass look may be dated, at least for me.


  • Cote de Texas says:

    well it depends on the style i guess. but no, as an element i don't think they are. maybe. ahahah… not sure!!!!!!

  • Naturally Carol says:

    Personally I think they are dated when they are the 'traditional' china cabinet. I love the upcycled china cabinet you've shown there being used as a linen closet and I also love other glass cabinets like upcycled office furniture used to house china!

  • The Devoted Classicist says:

    Although I have no objections to the display of porcelain in the dining room, I do not like the use of a breakfront bookcase, antique or reproduction, for that purpose. So that is a qualified "nay".

  • Kim@Chattafabulous says:

    I still have one and continue to use it. I love seeing all of my pretty crystal and china pieces on display — reminds me of special times! I also have a sideboard I use for serving and a place to display beautiful lamps!

  • Hi Maria. What a great question. I don't think we see them much because in part, I think, we've lost the art of entertaining in our casual society. Not right or wrong, just maybe the way it is. Personally, I love them, though I am so over mine. In fact, never really loved it. I would love to replace it with one more rustic, with a painted finish. Something collected looking. I've got a formal streak in me that won't let go!

  • Barbara Bussey {The Treasured Home} says:

    While I have a curio cabinet, for the "pretties" but no china cabinet. I DO love the picture you found of the cabinet used for towels, etc. That light fixture! And striped walls!
    Maybe painted out, as in the picture would be less overwhelming than a dark wood.

  • Marla says:

    I just saw the comment on 'A Perfect Gray' with a pic of a grey and pink china cabinet, then read your post! Ha, what a juxtaposition! I use a Japanese tansu to hold table linens, and prefer that look. I must admit if I had a china cabinet it would be tempting to fill it up with clutter, so like the clean look of the tansu. I probably should add that my dining table is custom made of an old Japanese screen, with a glass table top, so the tansu particularly fits.

  • Barbara@HausDesign says:

    I have a sideboard but also have a large Chinese Wedding Chest that I bought in Asia several years ago. I use that to store linens and large platters and love the versatility of that compared to a traditional cabinet…right now it's in my living room even though the contents are for the dining room…love the versatility!

  • Joanie says:

    I have had a sideboard for 30 years and still love it. However, I do think a china cabinet can be beautiful in the right spot. I prefer to see them filled with beautiful items, not an entire set of china and stemware displayed as place settings. I am also a big fan of using it for a book case, filled with wonderful books and accessories.

  • Sjn says:

    I couldn't fit one in my Dining Room when we first married, then I couldn't afford the one I wanted, and now I have a sideboard like you. I've always thought they were great for display and storage. I love their use in unexpected places like the hallway you posted here.

  • SmalltownOntario says:

    I have one and love it! We have always had a dining room, and use it almost every night. If you have one use it!

  • Tricia Heliker says:

    I have a beautiful John Witticomb china cabinet that I put a bid on at an estate sale years ago. Turns out it was too overpowering for the dining room so I use it in a room on the second floor for books and display pieces. The bottom half is wonderful storage for my shelter magazines. I found another china cabinet (smaller scale) for my dining room. I also have a buffet in the dining room and a fireplace with mantle so a taller piece is a nice variation. I love the amount of storage they offer and like having some of my things at eye level. Bending over and getting down on my knees is not as easy as it used to be.

  • Linda @ a design snack says:

    I have both. I use the enclosed bottom section of the china cabinet for my china. The upper houses a few family items and a few interesting things — no china. The sideboard houses table linens, candles, a few odd things. The only thing on the sideboard is an antique samovar.

    Our house is oldish and the dining room is big so the pieces work. If the room were any smaller one of the pieces would have to find a new home.

    I think sideboards, in any style, are quite useful for storage and entertaining. A glass fronted china cabinet can be a visual mess if one feels the need to jam every shelf with something. I like to see fewer items.

  • Diane Stewart says:

    I think it depends on how much "stuff" you have, and whether or not you have the room. I have both a sideboard and a china cabinet, and still use them since I have lots of stuff. The sideboard is a vintage family piece in the dining room, and the china cabinet is a rustic, country painted piece in the living room. The china cabinet brings variety in a room with a lot of wood, and fills the space since the ceiling is high. I think of downsizing and getting rid of things, but for now, the storage is needed.

  • proudgrits11 says:

    Maria- I definitely associate china cabinets with women more my grandmother's age. I would LIKE to think that the china cabinets are becoming extinct–at least the traditional types, used the traditional way–because the baby bommers, Gen Xers, etc. are actually USING our china! We wear pearls with jeans now, too–gasp!! 🙂
    I also think they're best used in traditional dining rooms–which (at least in Arizona) are also losing popularity to the "great room concept," where it's hard to fit a china cabinet.
    The "open shelving" and buffet/sideboards allow us to keep our pretty pieces out, where they're fun to look at and easier to use.
    I'd love to inherit my grandmother's hutch–but I'd definitely do a fun, painted finish on it! 🙂

  • Zoe says:

    Hi Maria,
    I do have one, but I use it in our bedroom. I've dressed it like a fine linen store to show off our bed linens, pretty soaps, and other lovelies.

  • Marlo says:

    I chose a sideboard for the same reasons as you – I felt a china cabinet would make my small room look and feel smaller and I like dressing up the sideboard with lamps and either a mirror or art, I chose a mirror to reflect more light.

  • Gracie Anne Design says:

    I like china cabinet if the space can handle it. I purchased one and it fit our old house very well. When we moved I knew right away that the china cabinet had to go.

  • MzMannerz says:

    I'd say no, because every furniture store still sells a version of one. If they were dated, they would go the way of, say, Hoosier Cabinets – you wouldn't find them for sale in retail stores.

    And, like a Hoosier Cabinets, dated doesn't mean bad. Matter of taste.

  • Mairi says:

    My china cabinet comes in two sections and I presently have the bottom half as a sideboard and the top half is going to get short legs added to it for a low profile cabinet in another room. 2 for 1.
    I like the clean look of out of sight china now. Instead of display I use a nice white Irish linen panel behind the glass doors so that there is just a hint of china visible through it. The china gets used regularly since every day is an occasion 😉
    Great topic…

  • seanymph says:

    My ex got mine in the divorce but I had both and loved them both. In the house Im in now, I didnt have a china hutch so I use an entertainment ctr as one. It actually fills out the wall quite nicely and I can see my china on the shelves. Since I dont have a sideboard now , I just a folded gate leg table. The one I have had doors on each end so I can still use it to store some things. And I can still decorate the top like I would my sideboard.

  • Judy says:

    So, is a china cabinet the same thing as a china hutch or curio cabinet?
    I have a sideboard and I know nothing about the above mentioned except hearing people say the have one or the other.

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  • Ideezine says:


    China cabinets are being reinvented for other rooms and used for other things. What's old is new again only more modern uses for storage. Butler pantries are on the rise and accessory closets to hold linens, tableware, settings, and sesonal table and party decor.


  • Kathy says:

    Sideboard – yes; china hutch – a resounding no.

  • PT says:

    I think china cabinets are great and I will def get one if the space in my new apartment allows it. It's a classic piece of furniture that will never be totally outdated, regardless of trends.

  • Rebecca says:

    I have a corner one that fits our dining room. There is not room for a side board there but the china cabinet gives me much needed storage. I am so glad I have one. Our eating area has a sideboard that is a fun piece of fruniture. It is such a nice place to change with the season.

    Just like you are starting to see more brass, styles come and go. A china hutch, especially an antique one, can add a lot of charm to a room. Then again there are those that were never that lovely to begin with – any piece that is in good taste can always be enjoyed. It does not have to be "in Style".

  • Lazy Gardens says:

    I have three of them, and a sideboard, each with a specific purpose.

    The small one holds a collection of Indian pots and other artifacts. It was my great aunt's, and it's one of her few pieces to have survived the SF earthquake.

    The largest one holds seldom-used cooking things near the kitchen that I don't have room for, and the cat sleeps on the top of it.

    The third one is storing office supplies in the office.

    And the buffet holds the game collection, and more art.

  • Anonymous says:

    I generally don't like them. Sideboards and buffets are so much more practical (providing a space to put things on). But tall dining rooms do need some height. Our dining room ceiling is 12 feet high but I went with oversized art instead. It's more my style.

  • A-L, says:

    I have a china cabinet and a server. The china cabinet holds china, glassware, alcohol, linens, etc. The server holds more serving pieces. We entertain a lot, and we also like to do more formal entertaining. The china cabinet & server were my grandmother's, and that was one of the challenges while house-hunting. Finding a dining room that could fit them without looking squished!

  • Peggy and Fritz says:

    I love them. I have a white one from my shabby chic days – I put it in the garage and recently pulled it out and put it in my dining room. It's mixed with other vintage pieces and my farm table. I love it. I pulled it out because I was running out of room for my wine glasses. I love them used in other rooms such as bathrooms and filled with towls and beautiful pieces or using them for a collection such as colored glass, etc. Love them. I think they are timeless and classic.

  • Cc Cooper says:

    I think that China cabinets are probably more passe because house werent’ built with much cupboard space. Now that there is more cupboard space, China Hutches/Cabinets are not so necessary to have. Also fewer people entertain as much and seldom use good China. Although there is nothing more beautiful than a gorgeous formal hutch with beautiful china and stemware in it.

    • Leah says:

      I couldn’t agree more! I have a beautiful, perfect condition dining set (hutch, and sideboard included). We formally entertain frequently, and love seeing the awe on our friends faces when we treat them to a traditional 4 course meal on our fine china. We live in southern california, but the “southern” girl in me will never leave.

  • Sandy says:

    I love china cabinets! I like sideboards too. I have an eat-in kitchen and needed something for one bare wall. I love china cabinets because I’m always changing the displays according to the season. It’s a lot of fun for me and a way to be creative.

    Just last week, my husband boutght me a vintage shabby chic looking cabinet! I love it!


  • susan says:

    i had a huge china cabniet for was one of those that lit up to display the china inside and was very chice in its time. it was made out of some kind of dark wood im not sure what kind.recently i decided to redo my diningroom,i wanted to downscale and update whitch did not include leaving the cabniet it was just to big,dark and dinning room now has a more updated sideboard and i have alot more room and everything iooks much heres the thing. i dont think china cabniets are dated i think its just some of the styles of some of the older ones that are.

  • Christine says:

    Judging by the lack of selection at the stores around me, I would say they are getting dated. I need extra storage and I have been shopping for a china cabinet to coordinate with our dining room furniture – so far with no success. I am considering going with a large, sleek curio cabinet instead.

  • Andrienne says:

    I have a china cabinet in my new home its bulky but I love it. My other half hates It. It was not passed down to me by my family I bought it about 15 years ago an I’m not sure what to do with it ….Help

  • Leah says:

    I know this is an old thread, but couldn’t help but comment on it. First of all, I love the repurposing of china hutches/sideboards etc. With that said, I’m a 35 year old, married woman, who has a fierce traditional/entertaining streak and a husband who loves antique furniture. We were in need of a larger dining room table, and I came across a 1954 formal, cherrywood dining set (table, chairs, hutch and sideboard) for $500. All in PERFECT condition! For me the the hutch is perfect. I have my grandmother’s china and silver, my own china, silver and stemware, my grandmothers tea set and tea cups she collected during her world travels. These things make sense in this hutch from the same era. The difficulty that I have, has been balancing out the rest of the room. I didn’t want the room to look as if you stepped into a time capsule from the early 1950s. With the help of a designer friend, I’ve incorporated more modern accessories, lighting and wall hangings, and repurposing antiques from the same era, with a modern twist. So I think for us, it suits us perfectly.

  • SLuzardo says:

    I just bought a large one….Filled it with Royal Albert China and Some Crystal…It is not however in the Dining Room. Since they are generally thin I placed it on a long wall in a hallway that faces the living room. So when lit you can see it from the living room and with a mirrored back it is huge. Everyone comments on it…I say they are in.

  • melanie says:

    we bought a house and i was going to buy this china cabinet that the owner didnt want but his son took it. i was crushed cause the owner let him take it and put it in a storage unit. My husband said we weren’t going to get one cause they are expensive so i found mine on craiglist for 200. Also included a buffet. I was so excited and still am. i can store so much silverware and sweep out things during the hoilday

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