What’s the Difference Between Curio & China Cabinets?

What is the Difference Between China and Curio Cabinets

Posted on 01, December, 2015

Last Modified on 30, August, 2023

Many people misunderstand the difference between curio and china cabinets. It's easy to see why; both types of display cases allow collectors to proudly highlight their valuables while avoiding damage from long-term or improper storage. However, there are a few key factors that separate these two types of cabinets.

The main distinction between the two is that china display cabinets generally feature a solid wood construction with glass in the front, while curio cabinets usually have glass panels along the sides as well as the front. China display cases allow collectors to show off the front of their specialty dinnerware and crystal. Curio cabinets can be used to present many different kinds of collectibles and aren't specific to chinaware. The glass side panels add that extra visibility, which is perfect for featuring the many angles of your collectibles. It is important to note, however, that some china cabinets do have glass along the sides although it is not as common.

What is a China Cabinet?

China cabinets are mainly used for presenting fine china. Instead of leaving your great grandmother's heirloom-quality china in a dusty old box in the basement, you'll want to show off the valuable dinnerware in a nice looking cabinet. China cabinets traditionally have closed sides that keep the viewer's focus on the front of the collection. The reason for not having clear sides is that collectors usually want to call attention to intricate details on the porcelain and glass items themselves. Plate display easels are frequently placed on the interior shelves of the cabinets to position the china in this vertical fashion. China display cabinets can be, and often are, made of the same material as curio cabinets.

What is a Curio Cabinet?

While china cabinets are used for a certain purpose, curio cabinets can be used for displaying just about anything. These cabinets typically feature clear glass panels on the sides to allow for full viewing of collectibles. Cases with side viewing are especially popular for objects that you don't want being handled. The clear front and sides are also great for collectible items, like wood carvings, figurines, and dolls, that have 360 degrees of detail. Essentially, the only distinguishing factor between curio cabinets and china hutches other than the glass sides is the purpose for which they are used.

Types of Curio & China Cabinets

Type Description
Corner Cabinets A space-saver that utilizes an unused corner space, while creating an eye-catching display.
China Cabinet Hutch Standard shelving with addition cabinet draws & storage that can also store non-display items.
Wall Mounted Curio Cabinets Intended for saving space or to keep out of reach of children. Perfect for displaying small items.
Standard Curio Cabinets A standard curio cabinet is your normal floor standing curio / china cabinet with multiple shelves.
Console Cabinets Console cabinets are floor standing cabinets with shelves that are usually shorter and wider. This is great if you have decorations that you want to place on top of your curio cabinet.

Which Cabinet is Best for Your Room?

Choosing the best display case for you really comes down to what you will be using the cabinet for and where it will be placed. An attractive attribute that both cabinets can have is a mirrored back. This creates depth and the ability to see the back of your items. Side and top lighting is available on many cabinets, which is perfect for illuminating your collectibles in an attractive way. One more feature that you might want to think about is the type of wood used for construction. Natural woods look great, and with the right stain or finish they can really bring your room together. Collectible display cabinets made from the same material can even vary based on the accents and molding in the woodworking, so be sure to consider that when making your choice. The final decision comes down to the style you prefer. Look at the color, shape, size, and other features mentioned to pick the most beautiful and functional model for your home, office, or retail store.

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