June 18, 2018

What is a Credenza?

First, let’s define credenza. A credenza is sometimes referred to as a sideboard, server, or buffet and, less frequently, a console. Which term is used is primarily dependent on the use this piece of furniture is being put to. However, in modern usage, a credenza is the term applied to a sideboard or a “closed cabinet for papers, office supplies, etc., often of desk height and matching the other furniture in an executive’s office.”

A credenza has a long flat top and lots of storage space below. Sometimes a hutch is added to the top of the credenza to give it additional space and functionality.

Origin of the Credenza

Credenza Definition

The term credenza comes from the Latin word credentia meaning belief ortrust. This is the same root that gives us credibility, credit, andcredence. This derivation may seem odd until we look at the original purpose of the credenza. In the sixteenth century the act of credenza was the tasting of food and drinks by a servant in order to test for poison. Later the term was used for the room in which this tasting took place and then to the furniture that held the food to be tasted. As a piece of furniture the original credenza was simply a rough table draped with a piece of cloth. This table took an actual architectural form with legs and decorations somewhere in the early 14th century.

Centuries later, the credenza or sideboard became more architecturally sophisticated and the term came to be applied to any piece of furniture used to display, or store objects likely to be used in a particular room.

Is it a Credenza, a Sideboard, or a Buffet?

While each of these pieces of furniture once had a specific purpose, the terms credenza, sideboard, buffet, server and even console are now used interchangeably by many furniture stores, cabinetmakers, and by the general public. Differences that once defined each of these are now overlooked except in the antiques market.

The one thing that still serves to differentiate these pieces of furniture is its placement in a room. A buffet is frequently found as part of a dining room set while the term credenza would more likely be applied to a similar piece of furniture found in an office setting.

Features of a Credenza

A credenza is a relatively long and low piece of furniture used for storage. The typical credenza has short legs and a flat table-like surface beneath which you will find cabinets and drawers. Some credenzas come with a hutch for additional storage and usually feature a variety of shelves.

Credenza Uses

A credenza is a useful piece of furniture for both the home and office. In the home, a credenza is traditionally found in the dining room where it can store and display tableware or keepsakes and be used to lay out food during gatherings in an inviting and open eating arrangement. However, more recently these useful pieces of furniture can be found in hallways, foyers, and family rooms. The great combination of storage and flat surface makes the credenza a useful addition to just about any room.

In an office setting, a credenza is used as a secondary workspace for storing and organizing papers and other items likely to be found or used in an office, conference room, or boardroom. In addition to a flat surface, a credenza may contain cabinets, shelves, drawers, and filing area. This additional workspace can be an extremely convenient way for people to spread out papers and materials they would otherwise not have room for on their desks. And the credenza also creates an accessible storage area to help to keep the workspace tidy.


Benefits of a Credenza

The credenza is one of the most versatile pieces of furniture for use in the home or at the office.


In the Home

With clean lines, a flat surface area, and easy placement against a wall, the credenza makes a terrific TV stand. The plentiful storage on the bottom can be used to house your DVD collection and those messy remote controls.

Set out or display your best china on a credenza in the breakfast nook or dining room.

Having a party? Set out food and drinks on the credenza. Plates, utensils and napkins stored in the credenza’s various drawers and cabinets are readily available to the hosts and guests without having to constantly go into the kitchen.

A credenza is a great piece of furniture to have in a large foyer or entryway. Place seasonal decorations or flowers on top and use the bottom for storing those items that always seem to be lying about, waiting for a home.

In the living room or study, a credenza can be used as a place to set out your sound system. If you still have records, tapes, or CDs, the bottom cabinets make a perfect place to store and organize your recordings.

With a flat surface on top for setting out toys or games currently in use and lots of storage underneath to tuck away the messier items that tend to find their way to a heavily used room, a credenza is a wonderful addition to a family room or playroom.

There are plenty more benefits and uses for having this marvelous piece of furniture in your home.


At the Office

Not only is the credenza beautiful and useful to have at home, it also does wonders in an office.

Added to the side of a desk, a credenza offers additional workspace and storage for the busy employee or executive.

Layout reports and handouts for easy access on a credenza conveniently situated against the wall in the conference room.

Keep the executive offices clear of papers and office paraphernalia with a credenza. Put a lamp, photos of the kids, or other personal decorations on the top and organize and store documents underneath.

A credenza can be useful in the front waiting area of a business, offering a place to put and store magazines while at the same time adding dignity and class to the room.

Two Types of Credenza

Storage Credenza

Any credenza without a file drawer is considered a storage credenza. These can be used to organize and hide from view items that would otherwise clutter the surfaces in a room such as a dining room, an office or a conference room.

Office Credenza

A credenza with file drawers is not normally seen in a home setting and is considered specifically to be an office credenza.

From dining room to family room, from office to boardroom, the credenza offers style with purpose. These useful pieces of furniture come in a wide variety of looks and sizes and are frequently seen sitting against the wall in a conference room, or paired with a desk for additional storage. This decorative and adaptive piece of furniture fits in well in many rooms, situations, and usages.


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