The difference between a sideboard and chiffonier is often hard to determine where both were very popular during the Victorian era.
A sideboard during the Victorian period could often be the most costly and prestigious piece of furniture in the house and was where much of the plate, glass and silver of the family could be displayed. Functionally it could also be used for serving food in the dining room.
The sideboard was often constructed in one of the many revival styles used during this period from Italian Renaissance, to Elizabethan, Queen Anne, Rococo and also Regency which perhaps remains today as the most remembered style of antique sideboard. Many Victorian manufacturers of these pieces actually cannibalised wood from much earlier sideboards to create an authentic look and of course because of mass production and machined decoration these were made in great quantities. Sometimes they were described as dressers or buffets as well as sideboards.
The chiffonier is slightly different. It was generally lower in construction with closed door fronts and was often very elaborate. French in origin, it was basically a commode with doors and hidden drawers but it was its particular style that perhaps differentiates it from the sideboard to create a quite particular piece of antique furniture.
Leaning heavily on French styling, the chiffonier was adapted to the Victorian taste and could frequently become a talking point; cupboard fronts often had exotic silk panels with brass grills, glass and fine veneers. It was generally less functional and more showy that the sideboard. Designs on these chiffoniers, like the sideboards, differed greatly. Some were beautifully constructed and elaborately decorated where other much cheaper chiffoniers were only stained rather than veneered although still designed to impress.
Now you know the difference between a sideboard and a chiffonier, fine examples of these pieces of antique furniture, sideboard or chiffonier, can be found in Preston, Lancashire, around Cumbria and other UK antique dealerships.
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