How to Dress a Sideboard for Maximum Impact

Finding the perfect furniture to suit your style and remain practical is tough. But the style choices don’t stop there. A versatile and practical piece of furniture, sideboards are a mainstay in many of our homes. Traditionally a storage dresser with cupboards and sometimes drawers, they’re a working piece that can make everyday tasks work easier when used right.

We know that an empty surface in your home simply begs to be decorated, so we’ve put together a guide on how you can bring a sideboard to life and make it much more than a functional item. Keep reading to learn the best tips on how to dress a sideboard for maximum impact, achievable on any budget and suited for every taste. 

How to Dress a Sideboard for Maximum Impact infographic

How to dress a sideboard

A wooden sideboard with a frame, decorative item and lamp on it

The rule of three

A key design principle that home stylists use again and again, the rule of three ensures that you can group accessories in a way that’s instantly pleasing. Whatever the reason, groups of three are simply so aesthetically pleasing! Place three matching vases or complementary candle holders, spaced evenly or grouped together, to enjoy the effect. It’s the magic number after all.

Seven plants on top of a sideboard


Add life to your sideboard

Taking inspiration from the outdoors is always sure to lift the mood of any room, and Spring is the perfect season for floral adornment. If you’re keen on green, choose potted plants, making sure first that your sideboard gets some natural sunlight. 

For shady areas, fresh cut flowers let you flex your styling muscles as you create changing displays throughout the season. Give them centre stage on your sideboard for the biggest impact. Not sure you have the time for that upkeep? Why not invest in some silk or dried flowers that can stay there all season instead?


A sideboard decorated with items in a symmetrical display


The symmetrical look

Many sideboards are designed with symmetrical doors, drawers and fittings. Echo the symmetry in the display above to give a sense of deliberate style and overall balanced calm. If you’re charmed by an ornament or elegant dishware, invest in a matching pair and place them evenly on your display. You can even pair plant displays to make the symmetry consistent throughout.


A photoframe resting on top of a sideboard


A personalised feel

Your home should always feel like it’s unique to you, not a showhome that’s beautiful but empty. Add prints that say something about who you are to your display. Photographs of loved ones are never a design faux pas - carefully select a few favourites and frame them well to ensure they match your look. If you can’t hang frames above the sideboard, prop them against the wall at the back for a casual feel.


Teacups and sauces and teapots on top of a sideboard


Food for thought

Traditionally, sideboards were an essential piece of dining furniture used to store kitchenware and serve food from. If you’re inspired to keep it vintage, you could use your sideboard during dinner parties to serve pre-dinner hors d’oeuvres and nibbles. 

In between parties, give a nod to the function by displaying your most stylish glassware and dining sets. Depending on your sideboard’s style, you can achieve a country kitchen feel with kitchenware on display, or a more decadent deco look if you opt for drinking glasses of all shapes and sizes.


An assortment of decorative trinkets and items on top of a sideboard


An accent to catch the eye

You’ve got a perfectly set look with accessories that match together to create a calming look, so now it’s time for something that stands out from the crowd. Choose carefully thought out, brightly coloured accessories. Try stacked dishes, placing one bright decorative plate in a display of differently sized white dishes. Or add coloured glasses dotted amongst the clear.

If you don’t do bright shades, metallics are a perfect way to lift neutral displays and add a pop without dramatic colour. Stick with one colour of silver, gold or rose gold for a timeless look, or mix all three for an eclectic style. 


A tall frame and vase with a leaf in resting on top of a sideboard


Add height

Differing heights in your display allows many pieces to get attention without looking cluttered. Start from the wall with taller pieces like large candle holders and layer items that get smaller as you work towards the edge of the sideboard. 

You can choose to place the tallest item centrally and have heights flow out from this point, or alternatively place matching tall items at left and right and vary heights in between. The differing heights create intrigue for the eye and keep this looking like a stylish display, not just practical storage.


A yellow 3-wick candle in a glass jar on a sideboard


Indulge your senses

We believe no interior design is truly complete without taking care of other senses, and of course we’re talking about scent! It’s easy to pop fragrance into your display subtly, with SmartScent sticks that can be placed into vases or photo frames.

Or perhaps you want the light of a candle to be part of the look? Our selection of styles lets you go for subtle placement or centre stage, whatever your taste. Carefully consider what fragrances match the aesthetic you’ve chosen, complementing the look and changing with the seasons. 


An assortment of liquor bottles on top of a sideboard

Home of happy hour

Really want to go all out with the party feel? Make your sideboard into a permanent home bar by creating a drinks display. Start with your favourite liqueurs and spirits and add classic bar mixer items like cocktail fruit, sugars and syrups. Cocktail shakers, stirrers and a couple of recipe books complete the look with style. Add martini glasses and coupes, plus an ice bucket and scoop that can be filled when you’re using the bar. 


A sideboard with a picture frame and canvas painting hung above it


Explore the space above 

Don’t forget to step back and consider the whole space when you’re decorating any furniture tops. The wall display should work in harmony with your accessories, and can even add extra space if needed. Match your chosen display with the right prints and artwork. If you’re opting for a vintage feel, source reproduction art from the era online.

Floating shelves are an extra addition that gives the dual benefit of extra space for your favourite accessories, plus a unique way to create interest for the eye. Consider whether you prefer a symmetrical placement, or a stepped set of three. For something unique, stack two deliberately off centre shelves and place artwork next to them on the wall. 




Ready for more inspiration for your home this spring? Visit our Master Feature to find the latest trends and styles you need in your home. Plus shop all our latest accessories, direct to your home online.

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