What is a Canterbury?

A Canterbury is a type of portable, open-topped furniture designed to hold sheet music or books.


A Canterbury is a piece of furniture that emerged in the late 18th century, with its popularity peaking in the Victorian era. It typically consists of a set of open-topped and slatted dividers resting on a lower shelf, supported by four legs, often on casters. The dividers create compartments used primarily for storing sheet music, magazines, or books in an organized manner. Some Canterburys also include a drawer beneath the compartments for additional storage.

The design and material used in a Canterbury can vary widely, ranging from simple, unadorned models to elaborately carved pieces with intricate details, showing influences from various design styles. The most common materials used are wood (mahogany, rosewood, or walnut), but metal and other materials can also be found depending on the style and era. Canterbury's convenient size and portability, combined with its elegant appearance, make it a versatile piece suitable for various interior settings, from traditional to more contemporary spaces.


While originally designed for storing sheet music, the Canterbury has found new life in modern interiors as a stylish solution for organizing magazines, newspapers, and small books. Its compact size makes it perfect for placing beside a sofa or armchair, acting as a functional yet decorative piece. In addition to its primary function, the top of a Canterbury can serve as a display area for decorative objects or be used to hold items like remote controls or reading glasses.


  • Can a Canterbury be used in contemporary interiors?

    Yes, despite its historical origins, the Canterbury can seamlessly fit into contemporary interiors, especially models with simpler designs or those that utilize modern materials. Its utility and elegance offer a timeless appeal that transcends specific design eras.

  • Are Canterburys still made today?

    Yes, Canterburys are still being produced today, with some manufacturers creating replicas of historical designs, while others offer modern interpretations that adapt the original concept to suit contemporary needs and aesthetics.

  • Can I customize a Canterbury to match my interior?

    Absolutely. Many furniture makers and craftspersons can create custom Canterburys, allowing you to choose materials, finishes, and details that complement your interior design.

Practical Application

When integrating a Canterbury into your interior, consider its placement to enhance both its aesthetic and functional value. It works best in living rooms, reading nooks, or near a music area, where its storage capabilities are most beneficial. To ensure it complements your space, select a Canterbury whose material and design align with your room's overall decorating principles and elements. For a more personalized touch, consider accessorizing it with items that reflect your personal style or the room's theme.