Buying Guide: China Cabinets
Types of Curio Cabinets
Curio cabinets come in all shapes and sizes. The size of the cabinet will largely depend on the size of your collection. A wall curio cabinet may be the perfect accent piece in a dining room to display a collection of salt and pepper shakers. If you've always wanted a curio cabinet but didn't think you had the room for one, a corner curio may be the ideal space-saving solution.
A standard curio cabinet is typically freestanding, is available in a range of sizes and is constructed to hold heavy objects like large china pieces or metal trophies. Standard curios generally have mirrored backs and glass sides. They can include such features as interior lighting, lockable doors, adjustable shelves and plate grooves.
Wall Mounted Curios
A wall mounted curio cabinet, as the name suggests, uses wall rather than floor space, making it a great choice when you just don't have the room. Designed to hold a small selection of collectibles, a wall mounted curio is a self-contained unit that can be mounted on the wall of virtually any room in your home.
Corner curio cabinets have many of the same features a standard curio does, but is designed to fit in the corner of a room. If you have an awkward shaped room in your home, a corner curio is an ideal way to utilize what otherwise might be dead space. A corner cabinet is also a good way to create a focal point in a room that may not already have one.
A clock curio combines the charm of a grandfather clock with the beauty and practicality of a standard curio cabinet. The stunning result is an accent piece that is multi-functional and appealing. Some manufacturers offer curios that have battery-operated clocks, so you won't have to worry about placing the cabinet near a power outlet. Especially the ones that incorporate the works of a grandfather clock into the cabinet design, a clock curio has a heirloom appearance you will appreciate for many years.
Curio Cabinet Styles
Commanding attention with rich, lustrous finishes and decorative and structural elements, traditional style curios reflect the philosophies and customs of past eras. Usually made of wood, traditional style curio cabinets include elegant features like pediments, broken pediments, pilasters, carved accents and inlays. A traditional curio cabinet, especially if it is crafted from genuine woods, is a possession you will want to pass along from one generation to another.
Transitional curio cabinets have many of the same architectural decorative elements such as crown molding and broken pediments that traditional style does. However, with transitional style furnishings ornamentation is simpler and decorative detail is less elaborate. A transitional style curio cabinet is elegant and sophisticated and can be typically found in deep espresso.
Contemporary curio cabinets have smooth, clean lines and use geometric forms in unique ways. They are typically made from light wood finishes or a painted look in neutral colors like white, beige and black. A contemporary curio might be made of wood, with brushed nickel or chrome accents. A contemporary curio will give a room a calming, uncluttered appearance, with its relaxed lines and minimal decorative elements.
Country style curio cabinets have unique designs that range from charming to enchanting to rustic. A country curio can retain a distinctive period flavor like Mission, Shaker or English Country. It can include decorative elements like beaded molding, scalloped aprons and wainscotting. A country style curio is ideal for someone who likes a more traditional feel without elaborate or formal ornamentation.
Curio Cabinet History
Cabinets especially designed to display curiosities have been around for several centuries. Emerging out of the 1500s during the height of the Renaissance, ‘Wunderkammern’ or cabinets of wonder originally referred to rooms that were designed to showcase the curiosities discovered by scientists, artists, explorers and other enlightened minds of Europe . The treasures they held and the way the curiosities were arranged drew attention to the world in ways never before considered and demanded that the viewer question and rethink the world as they currently perceived it.
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as the scientific community became more analytic rather than eclectic, the Wunderkammern were scaled down in size , and adapted to store the special collections of the royal and aristocratic families of Europe that were no longer strictly of intellectual or academic interest. They emerged as pieces of furniture, bulky and oversized. Curio cabinets, as they became known as, were now being used for aesthetic purposes, housing items of interest only to the collector.
Today the same still holds true for the modern curio cabinet. Emerging from traditional methods of cabinetry into mass production, the contemporary curio cabinet is designed to display those items of interest or of value to an individual collector. Curio cabinets, also known as simply curios, are generally made of wood and glass and are available in a variety of furniture styles, from traditional to contemporary.