China Cabinets

Many a dining room or kitchen has a china cabinet as its focal point. This beautiful and useful piece of furniture is prized for its ability to show off family heirlooms, antique curios, and your finest dinner plates. This type of furniture has been a fixture in elegant homes since at least the late 17th century.

What materials go into making china cabinets?

They are traditionally made out of wood. These woods include:

  • Cherry
  • Oak
  • Mahogany
  • Pine
  • Maple

The wood can be solid or engineered. With engineered wood, the highest quality wood is a veneer placed over layers of inferior wood that have been pressure bonded together.

  • Nearly all china cabinets have glass windows or open shelving through which you can see the household china and curios.
  • Some cabinets have a hutch or cupboard on top with large glass doors and a bottom or buffet.
  • There are one-piece cabinets with glass-fronted doors that have display shelves inside.

How big are china cabinets?

A cabinet can be big enough to take up an entire wall and nearly reach to the ceiling, or it can be small and modest. These small cabinets don’t have a cupboard or hutch but just a bottom with glass paneled doors. Similar display furniture can fit snugly in a corner of the dining room. They are often curio cabinets or display cabinets.

What are the cabinet styles?

Since they’ve been around for so long, this dining room furniture comes in many styles. They can be rustic with distressed wood and simple carvings or wildly ornate. One Tuscan-style cabinet has an elaborately carved crest, a scrollwork freeze, pillars at the corners of the hutch, wrought iron hardware, and lion’s claw feet. Other styles are:

  • Modern: This type of cabinet might have sliding glass doors on the hutch, a buffet with peg feet, and simple, anodized aluminum hardware.
  • Oriental: A china cabinet such as this has dramatic black and gold lacquer and glass shelves. It could have a golden top that resembles the roof of a pagoda and mother-of-pearl bas-relief accents on the buffet.
  • French Provincial: This style is a simplification of the ornate Louis XV or Rococo style. Though beautiful, it lacks marquetry or lavish carving.
  • Georgian: This style is named after the kings of England who reigned from 1714 to about 1811. More modern cabinets than the antique china cabinets made at the time, Georgian cabinets can be identified by their massive build, spaciousness, and breakfront construction. This means the central part of the hutch is either advanced or recessed in relation to the two ends. They may also have bowed fronts and broken pediment tops. Mahogany is a common wood for these sturdy furniture pieces.
  • Rococo Style: A display cabinet made in this style is full of ornamentation. They may be made of exotic woods and have gold leaf accents made into the shapes of roses and acanthus leaves.