Best Buffet Tables

Updated July 2021
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
30 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
118 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best buffet tables

Buffet tables are usually thought of only as dining room furniture, but they can be pressed into service anywhere in the home. Their traditional function is to provide extra storage for servingware, silverware, and fancy china used for special occasions, with the top available for extra serving space during dinner parties, but there is no reason to limit yourself to those uses.

With today’s trend toward more casual entertaining, buffet tables are less likely to hold fancy or infrequently used china and instead serve as a display spot for collectibles, plants, or artwork. Still, when organizing a get-together, it’s undeniably handy to have a piece of furniture that’s perfect for setting out drinks, desserts, and main courses.

Shopping for a buffet table can be confusing. There are many options to choose from, and there are other pieces of dining room furniture with similar names and purposes. Our buying guide has what you need to know about choosing the right buffet table or other serving table for your dining room, and we’ve included a few of our favorites to get your shopping started.

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buffet table
Buffet tables typically have half cabinets, while buffet cabinets have full cabinets that extend to the bottom of the furniture.

Key considerations

Dining room furniture

While the terms “buffet table,” “buffet cabinet,” “china cabinet,” and “hutch” are sometimes used interchangeably, and they may have similar functions, each is a different piece of furniture. To make things even more confusing, when used in parts of the house other than the dining room, the same pieces of furniture can go by different names.

Buffet table: This is usually between 3 and 6 feet wide. The top is typically wood, but it might be covered with a sheet of glass, granite, or other hard surface to provide a convenient surface for serving food. It typically has two or three small drawers side-by-side at the top, but a buffet table lacks storage cabinets underneath. Most often there is one open shelf along the base of the table and short cabinets suspended below the drawers, leaving the center of the piece open, though you’ll find variations on this design. When used outside the dining room, a buffet table is often called a console table. Buffet tables usually have short legs, although some that lack a lower shelf have longer legs.

Buffet cabinet: This is also usually between 3 and 6 feet wide, with two or three small drawers side-by-side at the top. Open shelving or, more commonly, shelving hidden behind doors, makes up the bottom of the piece and serves as storage for china or serving pieces. Like the buffet table, the top is usually wood that can be covered with glass, granite, or another hard surface. When used outside the dining room, a buffet cabinet is often called a sideboard. Buffet cabinets can have no legs or very short legs.

China cabinet: While they do have similarities, a china cabinet is distinguished from a hutch by being a solid piece of furniture rather than a cabinet with a separate shelving unit on top. The shelves of a china cabinet typically have glass doors, while a hutch usually has open shelves, or small glass doors over just the upper portion. China cabinets usually have a storage area at the bottom and shelves on top.

Hutch: A hutch is basically a set of usually open shelves on top of a buffet cabinet or buffet table. There might be small doors over part of the piece, depending on the style. Country or traditional hutches are designed so that only the shelving unit’s sides and back sit on the buffet, leaving most of the buffet cabinet’s top surface available for serving. Though the word “hutch” refers only to the shelving unit on top of the buffet, the term is often used for the entire piece of furniture.

You can use your buffet table to show off artwork, houseplants, framed photos, or collectibles.

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Style

When it comes to choosing the right buffet table, the biggest consideration is your preferred style of décor. Buffet tables are available in a tremendous range of colors, styles, and designs, so whatever your favorite style, there is a piece that will work in your home.

Country: Many decorating themes fall under the umbrella of “country,” but all share a welcoming, warm feel with a relaxed style, worn or aged furnishings, and a great deal of wood. A distressed wooden buffet table, hutch, or cabinet is a classic country style, and there is no need to limit it to the dining room. Use your country buffet table to show off a collection of earthenware pottery, Colonial bowls or serving pieces, or your favorite collectible ceramic farm animals or decorative plates.

Mediterranean: Another broad decorating term, Mediterranean style embraces Old World flavor with rich shades of gold, terra-cotta, and orange sparked with bright accents of blue or yellow. Ornate wrought iron embellishments are common, and the furniture is generally dark, heavy wood. The overall look is warm and worn with a sophisticated elegance. When not using your buffet table or cabinet for entertaining, you can use it to display a collection of majolica pottery or Italian ceramics.

British Colonial: The elegance of Victorian England meets the exotic, tropical flair of India, Africa, and the West Indies in the British Colonial style. Blending elements of dark, formal wood with accents of wicker, rattan, or bamboo, this furniture is both sophisticated and whimsical. Your good china will be right at home on a British Colonial buffet table, or you can liven it up with fun tropical accents.

Contemporary: Sleek and without unnecessary embellishment distinguishes the contemporary style. Typical are buffet tables with simple, geometric lines minus ornate carving or accents and finished in black lacquer or dark wood accented with chrome or glass. Your modern buffet table will look best displaying a simple piece of contemporary sculpture or beautiful, streamlined plates and glasses.

Traditional: As the name suggests, the traditional style is not trendy, bright, or quirky. Furniture is usually matched, with classic designs and mid-tone wood. The style is symmetrical and comfortable without being overly relaxed. Your traditional buffet table or cabinet is well suited for displaying fine china and serving ware, or you can use the top of the buffet table to show off a collection of antique teacups, teapots, or fine wine glasses.

Transitional: Transitional is a style somewhere between traditional and contemporary, not quite as ornate or formal as traditional and not quite as streamlined as contemporary. The compromise makes transitional furniture a good choice for almost any décor.

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DID YOU KNOW?
Most buffet tables are made of wood, usually with glass cabinet doors.
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Buffet table prices

Inexpensive: Budget furniture that costs less than $300 is often made of particleboard or lower-quality wood. Don’t expect the smoothest finish or the longest life from this furniture. Still, if your budget is limited, you can find a nice buffet table that serves its purpose and looks good while doing it.

Mid-range: The sweet spot for a quality buffet table is $300 to $1,000, where you’ll find the widest choice of styles, colors, and materials. Expect good-quality furniture with drawers that operate smoothly, sturdy hinges, and no imperfections in the finish.

Expensive: Spend $1,000 or more and you’ll find the highest-quality buffet tables made of exotic woods with unusual designs or finishes that will last for many years.

There’s a buffet table to match any decorating style, so you’re sure to find one that works well in your home.

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Tips

  • Add a hutch. Even if you use your buffet table for storing good china and serving pieces inside the cabinet and drawers, you still have the top waiting to make a statement in your dining room. Add a hutch, and you have even more space to create a display of vintage pitchers, mixing bowls, or plates; souvenirs from your travels; delicate teacups and teapots; antique cookbooks; your favorite collectibles; family heirlooms; or framed photographs.
  • Add a large mirror or picture. If you have a large buffet table, center a large mirror or picture on the wall behind it to create a balanced, attractive focal point for your dining room.
  • Use the top to display items. Display a few pieces of your best serving pieces or a piece of treasured artwork. A small lamp on one side can balance out two or three smaller pieces on the other side. Add a vase full of flowers, a few pillar candles, or a few collectibles to finish off the display.
buffet table 3
Traditionally, buffet tables and cabinets were used to hold fancy dishware, serving pieces, and drinkware.

FAQ

Q. What are the most common materials for buffet tables?

A. The most common material for a buffet table by far is wood. Some styles have glass doors over the lower cabinets, and some contemporary styles have metal legs rather than wood. The back of your cabinet should be solid wood or quality plywood, not particleboard. A quality piece of furniture has a back attached with screws, not staples.

Q. What’s the best size for a buffet table?

A. The best size buffet table is the one that fits well in your dining room, but there are some guidelines to help you shop.

Depth: As a general rule, a buffet table is around 20 to 22 inches deep, which provides enough room to set out multiple serving bowls and platters.

Height: Buffet tables are between 34 and 38 inches high, which is tall enough for guests to comfortably serve themselves while standing at the buffet.

Length: When it comes to length, there are buffet tables as short as 40 inches and longer than 75 inches, so choose the piece that best suits the size of your dining room and your entertaining needs.

Q. Can I use a buffet table as a media console?

A. Absolutely! A buffet table makes an excellent spot to perch your television, and you can use the drawers and cabinet space to hold accessories such as remote controls, video games, and other electronic devices and accessories.

 

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