Furniture units used for storage are often lumped into one category. Hutches and china cabinets are common victims of this, with their names often being used interchangeably.
Don’t worry, no one expects you to become furniture experts (that’s our job!), but knowing the main differences between the two options will help you cut down on the trial-and-error of finding the perfect piece for your needs.
Deciding Between a Hutch and a China Cabinet
The main question to ask yourself is whether you are looking to display items or keep them hidden. Hutches are designed for storage and function, though some designs have glass cupboard options for favorite possessions you want to put on display.
If showing items off is your main goal, from action figures to fine china, then a china cabinet is purpose-built just for you. They typically have a more formal feel than hutches and are found only in dining areas, where hutches provide more flexibility. However, it all depends on the style you go for.
A hutch is a multi-use piece of furniture that can look at home in almost every room, though they are most often found in kitchens and living rooms. They typically consist of vertical storage with multiple shelves and/or cupboards built on top of a buffet-style storage unit. A buffet has been used for hundreds of years as a way to serve food to guests and store dinnerware. However, more modern designs make them suitable for everything from display cases to TV consoles.
There tends to be a wider variety of design features for hutches which makes them more versatile than china cabinets. You can find hutches with glass cabinets and use them for displaying your favorite items as you might with a china cabinet. However, you can get more storage items to suit your needs, whether it’s displaying ornamental items or storing all your household extras.
Hutches make excellent use of vertical space, so you’ll get plenty of storage compared to the small amount of floor space they consume.
China cabinets are making a comeback, and they mean business. The glass-front display cabinet was often associated with older households, but they have rapidly been growing in popularity again across every interior design style.
They differ from hutches in that they are typically one piece instead of two, and are made more displaying prized possessions instead of hiding them away in storage. They vary in size, anywhere from a narrow single-door cabinet to large, commanding full-wall units.
China cabinets are named after their main purpose; displaying and protecting fine china. The cupboards have glass fronts, though they may have solid drawers and cabinets at the bottom for storing additional china. Grandma’s antique teacup collection is not the only decor worthy of display, of course.
As china cabinets grow in popularity among more modern interior design styles, their use has become more versatile. Many people choose china cabinets for displaying art, trophies, figurines, and souvenirs. They are an excellent way to show off your favorite belongings without having to dust them all the time.
Buying a New Hutch or China Cabinet
Once you’ve decided which option will work the best for your needs, it’s time for the really fun part. Shopping! As with all solid wood furniture, you have some choices to make. A lot of choices, because there are units available to suit every taste and need. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, get in touch with us about having something custom made.
Make sure you carefully measure the area your new hutch or china cabinet will go, so you don’t end up playing an un-winnable game of Tetris. Take note of what you’ll be putting in your new unit, whether you’ll be storing a few prized vases or every spare blanket in the house. This will give you an idea of how many display cupboards, solid cupboards, and drawers you will need your unit to have.
The best thing about buying solid wood furniture is that it is timeless. It can be refinished as your taste changes and repaired to keep it looking great for generations.
Should You Buy a Finished or Unfinished Unit
Any time you want to add a new piece of solid wood furniture to your home, you have the option of buying it finished or unfinished. For an in-depth look at the differences, you can check out our guide to buying unfinished furniture here.
Unfinished means the unit is still waiting on that important last step; applying varnish or stain to give the unit its final look. This has a number of benefits: it will be cheaper to modify than a finished piece would be, it will be cheaper to buy, you can see the craftsmanship that went into building the furniture, and you can finish it in any color you’d like.
Plus, it can be a fun project!