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What is a Welsh Cupboard?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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A Welsh cupboard is a piece of wooden furniture generally found in kitchens. It was originally designed for use as a preparation station for food during the cooking process, but the Welsh cupboard has also been used purely as a decorative item upon which good china or other items could be displayed. It features a base with a cabinet or cabinets built into it, as well as one or two drawers. A work surface like a tabletop is built on top of the drawers, and then several shelves are built above the work surface.

The size and precise design of a Welsh cupboard will vary according to the builder's preferences, but utilitarian models tend to be fairly plain in terms of visual presentation. The cupboard was originally intended for cooking, and aesthetics was not at all the goal, so simple designs often prevailed. As the Welsh cupboard became a staple of kitchen aesthetics, builders began to accent their designs with more decorative flourishes, higher quality woods and stains, and larger overall footprints. As time passed and kitchen technology progressed, the Welsh cupboard ceased to be a functional workspace and was instead a decorative focus for a kitchen, dining room, or even living room.

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The materials used to make the cupboard were most often different types of wood. Pine was commonly used because it was inexpensive and in great supply, though as the cupboards became more ornate, other woods such as mahogany, oak, and even cedar were used to enhance the look and durability of the structure. The designs changed as well, as some Welsh cupboard models eschewed lower cabinets and instead featured open shelves down low. The higher shelves might be enclosed and feature doors, while others might be semi-enclosed, featuring a solid back and sides while remaining open in the front.

Over the years, it has become common to place a Welsh cupboard in a dining room and stock it with the finest china in the house. The cupboard and china thereby became a focal point for the dining room, especially when the fine china was not in use. If the china was being used for meals, the beauty of the cupboard still remained, adding to the aesthetic and comfort of the room. Some homeowners store other decorative items on the shelves to enhance the look and feel of a room, while others keep the cupboard in the kitchen and use the shelves for more utilitarian purposes.

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