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10 Different Types of China Cabinets

A collage of different china cabinets.

Despite its name, China cabinets did not originate in China. The first china cabinet was built in the 17th century England for Queen Mary, who loved collecting “china” or fine pieces of porcelain ceramics that came from the East. She employed craftsmen from the Netherlands to build her custom cabinets so she can display her collection of Blue and White china patterns.

Soon, furniture makers started building varieties of china cabinets that spread throughout Europe and America. Thomas Chippendale became the most popular cabinetmaker in the 1700s. Aside from Chippendale, some of the most popular styles are Queen Anne and the Vernacular style.

A. Types

1. Traditional China Cabinets

Traditional China Cabinet

Traditional china cabinets are the most typical type of china cabinet that you will find in someone’s home. These are going to be absolutely beautiful pieces that you will be proud to display in your house.

People use these ornate cabinets to help highlight special things and it can provide a significant amount of charm to whatever room you decide to place it in. Of course, most people decide to place their fine china plates inside of these cabinets but you will also see people displaying other items of interest inside of them.

Almost all of the traditional china cabinets that you will find will be made out of wood. There are some exceptions but these are going to be a bit on the unusual side.

The design of a traditional china cabinet is made to be very extravagant. It is supposed to stand out and draw the attention of the eye. You buy these types of cabinets as an attention-grabbing decorative piece so it makes sense that it would be as luxurious as possible.

The look of these cabinets is very old-fashioned in comparison to the other styles that are mentioned on this list. The features may be more pronounced than in many of the other designs.

Prominent accents and inlays are very typical of these types of cabinets. If you want something that gives you a charm that spans across ages, then this is going to be a very good purchase.

The traditional china cabinet that is being used as an example here is very nice overall. It has a dark cherry finish and will really stand out in your home.

This is going to be a very pricey decorative piece to purchase but it is something that can stand the test of time if you take care of it properly. If you love the beautiful design of this cabinet, then you’ll be able to incorporate it into your design style with ease.

2. Contemporary China Cabinets

Contemporary China Cabinet

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Contemporary China cabinets take a completely different approach to design than the traditional ones mentioned above. These china cabinets are going to be less ornate than the traditional ones but they can still look very nice.

You will find that these cabinets are more cost-effective as well. The way that they are made allows them to be produced more easily so that cost is passed on to the consumer.

Lighter types of wood are used to make contemporary china cabinets, making them easier to move around. They will still be able to help you decorate whatever room you place them in but they won’t be quite so garish.

There are many people who prefer the more subdued appeal of a contemporary china cabinet. If your design philosophy is on the modern side, then this is going to be the type of china cabinet that makes the most sense for you.

Some of these cabinets will have ornate parts that help it to stand out. Many of the most popular designs are sleek and have solid colors, though.

A nice light wood finish will be used on some and others may wind up being painted black or white. It is up to you to decide whether you want to go with a more natural wood look or something that goes fully modern with its sensibilities.

This china cabinet right here is very affordable and it looks really good overall. It features double doors with glass so that you can display your favorite plates or other important items.

This will look good in just about any modern kitchen or dining room. It lacks much of the flair of the traditional china cabinet but it may fit in better with your personal sense of style.

3. Country China Cabinets

Country China Cabinet

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Country china cabinets are perfect for when you want something with a lot of decorative appeal but want to avoid things being too gaudy. If the traditional china cabinets seem too over the top for you, then a country china cabinet might be the perfect option.

It falls somewhere between the traditional style and the contemporary style in terms of looks. This is certainly more decorative than the contemporary options on the market but it won’t be quite so pronounced as it is with traditional cabinets.

You will be able to make great use of these types of china cabinets in most rooms of your home. If you have things set up very formally in your house, then an elegant decorative piece such as this is going to look just right.

It will have an elegant appeal that will garner some attention while still being very formal. The decorative flourishes used on these cabinets are usually things such as stenciling or interesting designs on the feet of the cabinet.

This country-style china cabinet here is a perfect example of how nice they can be. You can see that it isn’t quite as complex in its design as the traditional options but it still has a ton of visual appeal.

This is a solid wood china cabinet that will stand up to regular use over the years too. It can become a regular part of your home and will be great for highlighting special items or dishes.

You should know that the cost of these china cabinets can be quite pricey. When you buy one that is made out of solid wood, the price is going to be similar to that of a traditional china cabinet.

It won’t be quite so affordable as the contemporary options but there are some less pricey versions out there. Take your time to find the country china cabinet that fits within your budget the best while also providing you with the right style.

4. Transitional China Cabinets

Transitional China Cabinet

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Transitional china cabinets are going to be most similar to the contemporary china cabinets in their design philosophy. These types of cabinets are far less ornate than most of the other options.

They don’t stand out quite as much but they do still provide a certain type of charm to a room. People use these in more practical ways than many of the more expensive types of china cabinets.

You can usually find a nice transitional china cabinet at a reasonable price. There are some of them that will be a bit more expensive but the price ranges won’t be quite so high as the traditional china cabinets.

These pieces are designed to fit in with your other pieces of furniture. This makes a nice transitional china cabinet a good fit for even a living room setting if you want to make use of it.

It should be noted that these options seem to work better with modern types of décor. It will depend on your own personal decorating philosophy and the type of look that you want to achieve inside of your home.

Either way, you should know that these cabinets will have less elaborate designs and will usually feature a sleek look. You will most often find these china cabinets in white, black, or solid wood colors.

This one is very cost-effective and is available in black and walnut or white and oak. Either option is going to look really good in your home. People who want to have an appealing china cabinet without having to break the bank will find this piece to be very appealing.

It looks good while not costing an outrageous sum of money. If you are shopping for a china cabinet on a budget, then you should give this one some consideration.

B. Features

1. Locks

China cabinet with a lock feature.

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Having locks on your china cabinet may seem unnecessary to some people but it can actually be a really useful feature. Some people enjoy having locks on the cabinet because they want to keep their valuable items safer.

Others like it because they need to keep their children from curiously opening the china cabinet doors. Either way, this is going to be something that you will want to look into.

Being that most people put expensive plates or glasses inside of these china cabinets, it is a good idea to keep them locked up. These types of plates and glasses are generally very fragile and it doesn’t take much to break them.

If you have children, then their curious opening of the door could lead to them getting hurt. You definitely want to avoid any problems such as this so locking doors are certainly beneficial.

The types of locks that are used will differ depending on the cabinet that you buy. Some cabinets will allow you to lock just particular sections and others will have you lock the entire cabinet up.

Many of these china cabinets lock using standard keys but there are some modern designs that feature child safety locks. Whatever route you decide to take will help you keep both your children and your expensive china safer.

If you have an existing china cabinet that you would like to add a lock to, then it won’t be too difficult to do so. You can add your own simple lock to the china cabinet doors to get the same benefits.

Some people won’t want to attempt this out of fear of damaging the china cabinet, though. If you aren’t confident that you can add a lock without harming your china cabinet, then you may want to find one that already comes with locking doors.

2. Doors

China cabinet with doors.

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Of course, doors are a very common feature that you will see when purchasing china cabinets. It is probably a bit more common to see china cabinets that feature doors than to find ones with no doors.

Regardless, this is one of the first features that you will want to consider when shopping for a new cabinet. If you want to have doors on your cabinet, then you will need to specifically seek out a cabinet that has them.

Doors can come in many different styles too. Some china cabinets will feature two doors and others will have several small doors. It depends on the overall design of the cabinet and how many compartments it is set up with.

This particular china cabinet features four doors overall. The two doors at the top are standard and will allow you to display different items. The bottom doors act as cabinet space for you to make use of.

3. Plate Grooves

China Cabinet with plate grooves.

Plate grooves are a really nice feature to have when you are going to be displaying fine china plates. These grooves will be built into the shelving and will help you to display all of your different plates.

It is safer to use a shelf with plate grooves than it is to try to set a plate up without some type of stand. People who own china cabinets without plate grooves may wish to buy some type of stand to keep the plates more secure in the cabinet.

There is no need to buy anything extra when you have a china cabinet with the plate grooves included, though. This china cabinet comes with very nice glass shelves that have the plate grooves built right in.

You’ll be able to display your favorite plates right away and will love the overall look of the cabinet. If you plan on displaying plates specifically, then you should really look for a cabinet with this feature before making your purchasing decision.

4. Interior Lights

China cabinet with interior lights.

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You will also find china cabinets that come with included interior lights. This can be a really neat feature that will provide some extra visual flair to the cabinet during the evening.

When things start to get dark, you can switch on your lights in the china cabinet to really accentuate the items that you are displaying. It’s a neat feature that many people love to make use of.

This isn’t an entirely necessary feature as you could simply make your own interior lighting inside of your china cabinet. It isn’t likely going to be a feature that makes or breaks a purchase for you.

It is just something that is an interesting and desirable little extra. The lighting in this china cabinet here is recessed and it looks really good in action so it can be worthwhile.

5. Adjustable Shelving

China cabinet with adjustable shelving.

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Not all china cabinets are going to come with adjustable shelving. Some of the china cabinets on the market are going to be much more rigid and the shelving will be in a fixed state. If you want to be able to display some larger items and some smaller items, then being able to adjust the shelving will be really nice.

You should think about what you want to do with your new china cabinet before you purchase it as it may be really smart to have one with this feature if you plan on doing certain things with it.

This china cabinet here is very beautiful and it comes with three adjustable glass shelves. There is another wooden shelf that will remain in a fixed position too.

This should allow you to display just about anything that you would like inside of the china cabinet. It will give you plenty of room to work with so it should be a great purchase for anyone who is in need.

6. Mirrored Backs

China cabinet with a mirrored back.

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China cabinets that feature mirrored backs are very sought-after. If you want to be able to display your plates or other important items in the best way possible, then this will be a good feature to make use of.

The mirrored back can really help to accentuate and highlight the things that you place inside of the china cabinet. This will make it so that you will get the most aesthetic appeal that is possible out of your decorations.

This large china cabinet right here is an excellent example of how a mirrored back can help to accentuate your display pieces. It has a large mirror on the back that will help people to see your items better than ever before.

This has a very traditional Asian look and will appeal to fans of Eastern decoration styles. It is very pricey and may be outside of many people’s budgets but it is a great china cabinet that has an undeniable charm to it.