How to Create a Beautiful Cabinet Display

By on June 29, 2015, in Soft Surroundings

As more and more homes are built or renovated to eliminate walls and have an open concept, the need for well-designed and beautifully functional display cabinets is growing. Storage that supplements closet space and cupboards, and cases that add to traditional built-in cabinetry are design options that are often overlooked, but shouldn’t be. They can truly help keep the open look looking open!

Any room in the house can benefit from a display cabinet. They’re not just for dining areas any more. Take the master bath, for example. A display cabinet with closed storage on the lower half and open storage at eye level can be put to great use here. Store the unsightly stuff like hair dryers and ugly bottles behind the cupboard doors, and display beautiful perfume bottles, soaps, colorful combs, even clear mason jars containing colorful ribbons and clips on open visible shelves.

70914 Our gorgeous Millau Cabinet is a good choice for this area. The upper shelves can be closed behind the solid birch doors but they can also easily be left open without taking up a lot of space. The Millau has a petite footprint because it’s a corner cabinet and a handy addition to the master bath.

Another room that would welcome the Millau Cabinet is a screened in porch or enclosed patio. These rooms often have stories to tell, but nowhere to tell them. By that we mean they’re great spots for displaying artistic collectibles, treasures from your travels and, of course, books to relax and read.

The Millau is inspired by the Gustavian design movement, which began in the late 1700’s in Sweden. It features light painted wood, in white or a soft grey, and a distressed patina so the age and character shines through. These are some of the many reasons why our Millau is perfect for a porch with cool French country style.

Often, finding the best display cabinet for your needs has more to do with what you have to display than the actual room you’ll place it in.

During our shopping escapades through Europe, Asia, India and all around the US, we’ve encountered displays of nearly everything under the sun! From the traditional to the very eclectic, almost anything goes.

Your collection of heirloom china, colorful Pyrex or Fiesta dishes cries out for an open shelved or glass door display cabinet. We’ve also seen cabinets with charming displays of vintage linen and lace, 1940’s and ‘50’s floral tablecloths, and folded antique quilts inside. When colorful or textural items like these are stacked neatly in a neutral colored cabinet they pop like candy in the candy case.


64127_2 Even towels can be displayed creatively to invite the eye and stay close at hand. First, fold them into manageable sized rectangles then roll them into tube shapes. Stack the rolls so the end of the spiral is facing outward. A collection of six or eight rolled towels in pretty pastel or jewel colors stacked on a shelf in our elegant Fantine Linen Cabinet looks delightful against the neutral verdigris or taupe wood of the cabinet.

One of our customers told us of a surprising and brilliant use for the Fantine Cabinet—she displayed her prettiest shoes in it! Lining the shelves she arranged her cutest, most colorful suede pumps, shiny patents, sleek snakeskins, loafers, flats, even neon running shoes. Open the door and they were all waiting and ready to choose!


70139Our exquisite Mont-Dauphine Cabinet is the quintessential display piece. The inside is painted a rich grey so anything placed on its upper shelves is set off superbly. The front doors of the Mont-Dauphine are hand-painted a mellow taupe to gently contrast with the body of the cabinet but not overpower the items displayed inside.

This versatile cabinet can adapt to almost any room and hold everything from serving pieces and silver collections to Lego creations and sun-bleached sea coral. Imagine how breathtaking it would look this holiday with the room lights dimmed and filled with glistening silver, mercury glass vases, and our indispensable flameless candles scattered within.

Consider switching out a few of the shelves of display pieces in your cabinets to celebrate the seasons. Our flameless candles illuminating the shelves of Mont-Dauphine decorated for Halloween (with black cat and mini pumpkin figurines, orange glassware or plates, and pieces of candy corn strewn about on the shelves) is easy and fun to do. And a little spooky too!


Do’s and Don’ts with Display Cabinets

One of the most common mistakes is to use a display cabinet as storage. Cabinets with glass fronts or open shelves are made for showing off beautiful things the same way jewelry is displayed or fine china is featured in a store. It should never be crowded or stacked; contents should be arranged like art. So put the opened mail or the catalogs you plan to get to in the enclosed bottom portion of the cabinet, out of sight.64645

Our Selma Secretary is both display cabinet and writing desk, and ideal for exhibiting travel curiosities, beautifully bound books, framed family photos, or sculptural artifacts like architectural fragments in the upper portion. Still, there are plenty of cubbies, drawers, and enclosed cupboard shelves above and below the fold-down writing surface to store those less attractive items.

A tip for displaying books: arrange a grouping vertically, and then place six or eight books horizontally. This technique adds interest and variety and the horizontal books act like bookends, keeping things neat and organized. In French homes, you’ll often see books arranged according to the color of their spines. For example, all the bright warm hued spines of orange, red and gold are grouped together with the cool toned spines in their own space. Positioning books in this way makes the whole picture more like a mosaic painting when you step back and take it all in at once.




Color can be used to advantage when displaying pottery, china or glassware too. If you have a collection of shiny all-white pitchers, bowls or plates, consider a darker, rich colored cabinet like our walnut finished Maldives as their case. It will “frame” the white dishes and give them presence. If you have vivid dishware, like vintage green jadeite or red Bakelite utensils perched in blue Ball jars, display them in a neutral colored cabinet like our Maldives in taupe.

Position the biggest piece of anything in your collection first, and give it center stage in the cabinet. Don’t stack plates and saucers on top of each other. Instead layer saucers between the cups about three times upward. With all of the cup handles lined up, this approach gives the display a sculptural feeling and makes reaching for a cup and saucer much simpler. We also think it avoids chips and accidents.


Invest in a few plate stands or easels. They’ll give you piece of mind, especially if your china is your grandmother’s (or just a great find at the latest flea market.) Plate stands come in a variety of sizes so it’s easy to layer a dessert dish in front of a dinner plate and give the big picture more depth.

Last but not least consider showing off your precious pieces in a cabinet that is more like a flat display case. Our white distressed Collector’s Vitrine Table is very popular for a lot of reasons. The linen lined shelf is surrounded by thick, tempered, beveled glass. And the top is hinged to easily take things in and out. It’s a grand option to display special jewelry, antique watches, and even vintage purses as one of our fans did.

Feel free to let us know what treasures you have to display and how you displayed them. We’d love to hear your ideas. Just send them our way in the comment section below. Thanks!