The new year has arrived with a flurry of snow and a welcome blanket of quiet. Guests have departed and with them, the clattering, chattering atmosphere of the holiday season. We can hear the sounds of our homes again, and get reacquainted with our schedules and things. If there is a single piece of furniture breathing a long satisfied sigh, it’s our sideboard. After weeks of steady entertaining–displaying seasonal décor, standing in as a “bar” or staging the overflow of Christmas Day dishes–the sideboard wins out for its utility, beauty and endurance.
This rock-star of a furniture piece comes from humble beginnings. Once a simple slab table sidled up to a wall, it saw the eventual addition of bookended cabinets for wine, water and other meal-related items. British cabinetmaker Thomas Shearer’s been given credit for the earliest design combining the flat surface and cabinetry into a single furniture piece. This concept later brought to perfection by the likes of 18th century masters Chippendale, Hepplewhite and Sheraton. The American sideboard saw its heyday in the 19th century when families began to dedicate a room exclusively to dining.
Mid-19th century American designs were most commonly straightforward. Three central drawers and matching cupboards, with four legs instead of six, less ornamentation. Many of our makers have embraced the clean and graceful lines of Shaker style. The first piece featured is a work from Walt Stanley and Brookside Woodworking, a contemporary interpretation of Shaker design. And from his studio catalog, Richard Bissell offers a four drawer sideboard that’s perfect for a country home (click through to view).
The aesthetic of the piece is largely driven by the selection of wood, responsibly harvested with particular attention to grain and color. It’s really versatile and fits well in a dining room, kitchen or even a wider entry way.
Pictured at right is Hawk Ridge Furniture’s Walnut and Maple server, with recessed panel doors, three drawers and bow front top. Guild Member Paul Donio tells us that this piece has been used in the traditional way, but also as a freestanding divider in an open-plan living space; the back is equally beautiful! It can be crafted in a single tone, or two tones as shown.
Because many of our members work in the Craftsman style, we couldn’t resist including this impressive piece by Bill Laberge. His Menikoff server pictured above was a custom work in Cherry with ebony inlay details and bookmatched doors and side panels. For a look at another Arts and Crafts-inspired sideboard, click through to Bill’s portfolio on our site.
Hepplewhite’s sideboards, produced in the late 18th century, were characterized by their graceful curved fronts and six slender legs, often with refined inlays and ornamentation. These originals are some of the most coveted antique furniture pieces so it is no surprise that a serious collector would commission in this style.
Steve Holman’s bow-front server at right was crafted for clients Roger and Linda as a contemporary interpretation of an 18th century classic. Holman channeled the Hepplewhite veneer with inlaid Cocobolo ringed by Mahogany cross banding to match the previously commissioned dining table.
So your sideboard may be a traditional piece where drawers and shelves hold flatware, serving dishes and linens. Or perhaps it conceals electronics and media equipment in a more multi-purpose space. From design concept to completion, you can work with our craftsmen to create a piece to suit your style and space that will house the elements of your choosing.
Tim Clark designed the huntboard above for a client in West Virginia. The traditional style fits in with their existing décor, which happens to include a handful of Tim’s Windsor pieces. It’s crafted in cherry and finished with a thin and worn black milk paint, which reveals highlights of the wood. The drawer interiors are pine, sealed with a coat of amber shellac and the back is ship-lapped poplar.
And although there are several more pieces we want to include (sideboards, part II?) we can’t go without this detail. To the right, Newfane craftsman Chris Ericson’s Werner Sideboard, hand-planed until the cherry shimmers. A classic construction with a trio of central drawers and matching side cabinets, it features Ericson’s signature ‘branch’ detail.
Have a look through our cabinet collection; handcrafted pieces by some of Vermont’s finest studio makers. Each listing reflects the maker’s experience and influences whether Shaker, Early American, Mission, Craftsman, Art Deco, Mid-century, Modern or completely original. Pick a favorite, contact us!. We’d love to know where your sideboard lives and how you use it. We are always looking for inspiration and feedback from our friends, fans…and future clients. www.vermontfurnituremakers.com