How to Stage a Buffet Table

how to stage a buffet table

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Traditionally, a buffet is a dining room feature, for holding dishes during a meal.

However, these days, the versatility of the buffet has been recognized and it has become commonplace in other areas of the home too.

Often with integrated storage, and a wide, flat surface, buffets and sideboards are incredibly practical, yet they also provide an opportunity for styling, and creating a stunning visual display.

You don’t need to be a professional designer to know how to style a buffet table. With a little inspiration, some carefully chosen props, and perhaps some of our top tips, you too can have a buffet that you will love and others will admire.

In this guide we share some of our top buffet decor ideas, so you’ll know how to decorate a buffet table next time your home staging client needs theirs decorated!

Let’s get stuck in…

Begin with a blank canvas

It’s easier to imagine the overall effect when you don’t have anything in the way, so if your buffet or sideboard already has items on it, remove them, so you can see the space you have to work with and more easily visualize the end result.

Think about functionality

While you want your surface to look beautiful, it may also need to be functional, so it’s important to incorporate any practical aspects into your design. Do you need to include a lamp because the area is too dark? Will you use the surface for food dishes? Is it a spot where you will want to leave your purse or keys? You can then conjure up innovative and chic ways to incorporate this functionality into your design, without compromising on style.

See the bigger picture

When you’re focused on styling your buffet, it can be easy to have tunnel vision and see nothing but the surface you’re working with. But you need to take a good look around you. Are there accent colors from the room you can use in your design? Does your room have a particular theme that you could extend to your buffet? Would a rustic or cottage style be a good match, or is a chic, glamorous style more fitting?

Less is often more

It’s easy to get over-excited when you’re decorating your buffet table and keep adding more and more of your favorite items, but eventually, all those items will blur together, and the impact will be lost. It’s also worth remembering that the less you have on the surface, the easier it will be to keep clean or to move if you also use the surface for other purposes such as serving food from. So choose your pieces carefully, and keep it simple, to let each item shine.

Choose beautiful items that you love

So when you’re only displaying a few key things, you’ll have an idea of your color scheme or the type of items you’d like to display, but it’s wise not to attempt to shoehorn anything into your design, simply because it fits a theme or it’s the right color. You’re going to be looking at this display every day, so it needs to make you smile whenever you see it. So only put out objects that you truly love. Or perhaps treat yourself to something new such as a pretty vase or picture frame.

Plants and flowers always work well

If you’re struggling to make your buffet look interesting or it seems a little dull, take your inspiration from the natural world. A vase of flowers will always add the wow factor, or, if you find tending to fresh flowers too much trouble, opt for a high-quality artificial alternative. Dried flowers can also look great, particularly if you have a rustic-styled room, or you’re putting together a display specifically for the fall.

Take height into consideration

Having objects of different heights certainly looks very appealing, and gives your display a designer style. Taller items may be a lamp, a tall candlestick or a sculpture. Middle-sized objects such as a framed picture or a plant can be added close by, then lead the eye down to smaller objects such as a trinket box or attractive dish.

Avoid the trap of similarity

It can be tempting to put objects together because they have something in common.  Perhaps they’re all the same color, or you have a collection of metallic or wooden items, but this can create a display that just seems a little lacking, the eye isn’t drawn in any particular direction. So you need to make a focal point and add in a piece that stands out from the crowd. A brass candlestick amid your wooden ornaments, a blue glass fruit bowl as a centerpiece for your silver picture frames. Consider color, material, and texture, and ensure you have a mixture. We’re naturally drawn to textures, so a display that includes shiny textures, alongside, rough textures, fabric or reflective surfaces, will bring interest to your buffet styling.   

Consider a trio

There’s just something so visually pleasing with items in a set of three, at differing heights. Whether this is three items the same, such as a set of candlesticks or ornaments, or a selection you’ve curated yourself, for example, a tall vase, a neat stack of antique books, and a low tray. Done right, these trios come together, to become something greater than the sum of their parts.

Don’t forget the backdrop

When you’re putting together your buffet design, don’t be so involved with the tabletop that you fail to pay attention to the immediate surroundings. You can truly lift the scene with a mirror that reflects the light, or some beautiful artwork, chosen to complement the objects you’ve selected for your buffet.

Add a fabric runner for instant color

If you’ve put together some carefully chosen objects, beautifully arranged, with a variety of heights and textures, and still you feel the overall effect is somewhat lacking, then a quick fix to add extra interest is to place a fabric runner along the length of your buffet. This works particularly well if all your items are a similar color to the paintwork on your buffet. Grey items on a grey buffet can look stylish, but if you’re not careful, they can also look boring and dull. By adding a colorful runner, you bring a sense of fun and style to an otherwise plain scene.

Next steps

We’ve got a few other guides that you might be interested in, particularly our dining room staging guide, and our guide to staging the dining room table.

Read those next if you need to know more about this particular room, otherwise, take a minute to check out the range of home staging courses we offer here at the Home Staging Institute.

Take care!

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