A Hutch vs China Cabinet. What’s the Difference?
For many people, it can be confusing to determine the difference between a hutch and a china cabinet. While they aren’t a one-for-one replica, both are in the same vein of furniture types, and it can be easy to mistake one for the other, especially if you don’t know what to look out for.
However, even though the two pieces share many similarities, they are not identical. A china cabinet is used as a way to display your valuable dishes and cutlery, while a hutch is capable of so much more.
What is a Hutch?
Ask anyone you know about a china cabinet, and a sizable portion will have a pretty solid understanding of the furniture piece. Now, ask those same people about a hutch and watch how many hands go down. Unless you’re someone that’s versed in the different pieces of cabinet furniture, there’s a good chance you yourself may be a bit confused on what a hutch is and what makes it so special.
A hutch is a multipurpose cabinet that can be used in virtually any part of your home. Unlike china cabinets, which are largely single pieces of furniture meant solely for displaying formal cutlery, a hutch normally is made up of two separate parts.
The top portion of a hutch is known as its freestanding unit and can vary from design to design. Some are display cases, while others are just cabinets. In some cases, this top portion of a hutch can be both. The lower half of a hutch is much closer to a standard cabinet design, with drawers, countertops, and cabinet space.
A hutch has a considerable amount of versatility, able to operate as a china cabinet, a standard cabinet, a display cabinet, or something of a mix between all three.
There are also specifically named china hutches, which operate as hutches used to display china items while also having space at the bottom for standard cabinet items. You can also find kitchen hutches as well as buffet hutches, each with its own particular use and function.
Welsh Dressers & Early Hutches
Originally used in the 18th and 19th centuries, hutches were made with an additional built-in desk that could be sat at. These hutches would have an area cut out for a person’s chair.
In the UK, a china hutch is generally known as a Welsh dresser. It is also known as a pewter cupboard or a kitchen dresser. This is largely due to the item initially being made and used in Wales and often in other welsh areas, like North Wales and parts of Scotland.
What is a China Cabinet?
When compared around the world between the two, china cabinets are much more well-known. This is largely due to the popularity of the similarly named “china” dinnerware, also known as porcelain ceramics. Historically, because many porcelain items were so beautiful in their design, having a way to display that beauty as a regular aesthetic became very important. This created the need and popularity of china cabinets.
These pieces of display furniture are generally headed in a formal dining room area or in a living room. They have, in some cases, been seen in kitchens and even some display room areas. They are made up of a single glass-paneled wood frame with several display shelves in order to present the porcelain dinnerware items.
In recent years, the use of china cabinets has somewhat expanded in terms of their use. Whereas originally, china cabinets were literally cabinets that displayed your china between meals, they have now started to be used in ways not too dissimilar to a hutch. In many homes around the world, china cabinets have largely become formal display cases for their china items. For these instances, the formal dinnerware is meant solely for special occasions rather than for normal dining experiences.
These cabinets are now being used to house and display other items outside of china as well. This can include pictures and trophies as well as crystal glasses or different wines and hard liquors.
Which is Best For You?
Now that you know a bit of the difference between the two pieces, it’s important to know which is best for you and your home.
Formality vs. Versatility
A hutch and a china cabinet can often offer two very different experiences based on what you are looking for.
A hutch is generally the less formal of the two. Whereas a china cabinet is most likely to be used for quality items or formal dining, a hutch is just as likely to hold dinnerware as it is to hold photo albums or movie collections. This makes a china cabinet more useful for special occasions or engagements as well as formal get-togethers. Suppose you are someone that is interested in entertaining guests, putting your prized items on display, or simply having a very aesthetically pleasing kitchen or dining room. In that case, a china cabinet may be ideal for you.
Conversely, if you are looking for something that is a bit more versatile and open to change, a hutch is worth getting. This is because, while not as formal, you have a wider variety of items you can house as well as places you can house your hutch. For the people who are more interested in having a display for their storage, a hutch may be the best thing for you, regardless of what that storage is.
While they may seem very similar at first glance, a hutch and china cabinet are very different in their history and overall design and usage. One is typically meant to display formal items in the kitchen or dining room, while the other is meant as a display for a host of different items and can be used in any room of a home.
However, the biggest takeaway is that both are excellent for their intended space and aren’t inherently better than the other. Which you prefer and are interested in will be determined by what your own home and situation require.
No matter what you decide on, investing in a display for your items can really give your home’s personality a chance to shine through and stand out from everyone else.