What is a Break Front?

A break front is a piece of furniture with a central section that protrudes beyond the sections flanking it.


In the world of interior design, a break front is a characteristic feature that can be found in various pieces of furniture, such as cabinets, bookcases, and sideboards. This term specifically refers to furniture that showcases a central section, which projects outwards, beyond the alignment of the flanking side sections. This design element creates a distinctive profile and adds depth and visual interest to the piece of furniture.

The break front design not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of a furniture piece but also can add functional advantages. For instance, the protruding central section might offer additional storage space or contain special features like a desk, a display case, or more elaborate shelving. This architectural element dates back to Georgian and neoclassical styles, where it was often used to add grandeur and sophistication to room interiors. Today, break front furniture can bridge traditional and contemporary styles, offering a timeless appeal that complements a wide range of interior decor.


A break front bookcase might be used in a home office to add elegance and to store books and decorative items, allowing for a combination of practical storage and aesthetic display. Similarly, a break front buffet or sideboard in a dining room can serve as a focal point, offering both storage for dining essentials and an area to display treasured dishware or art objects.


  • What differentiates a break front from other types of furniture?

    A break front is distinguished by its protruding central section, which sets it apart from other straight-front or uniformly aligned pieces of furniture.

  • Are break front pieces of furniture considered modern or traditional?

    Break front furniture can be both modern or traditional, depending on the design and styling. They have historical roots but can be adapted to suit contemporary interiors.

  • Can I find break front designs in both large and small furniture pieces?

    Yes, break front designs can be found in a variety of furniture sizes, from large bookcases and cabinets to smaller credenzas and sideboards.

  • How does a break front design affect room layout?

    A piece of furniture with a break front can serve as a focal point in a room, potentially dictating the layout and flow by drawing attention and providing a visual anchor.

  • Is it difficult to find break front furniture today?

    No, break front furniture is available from both antique dealers and modern furniture retailers, offering a range of styles to fit different interior design preferences.

  • Can a break front design be custom made?

    Absolutely. Many furniture makers offer custom design services that can incorporate a break front style into a piece that meets your specific dimensions and style preferences.

Practical Application

When incorporating a break front piece into your interior design, consider its potential as a statement piece that can add depth and interest to a space. Position it where it can serve as a visual focal point, such as against a main wall or in a central area. Additionally, take advantage of the unique structural features for organized storage or display purposes. Blend it with your room's overall theme by choosing a break front that complements your existing decor, whether that means selecting a piece with historical significance or opting for a more modern, minimalist design.