A chest of drawers, commode or lowboy is a piece of furniture that has multiple parallel, horizontal drawers stacked one above another. It is also called a bureau especially in North American English. A chifforobe (from chiffonier + wardrobe) is a combination of a chest of drawers and a wardrobe.
Commode, type of furniture resembling the English chest of drawers, in use in France in the late 17th century. Most commodes had marble tops, and some were fitted with pairs of doors. Andre Charles Boulle was among the first to make commodes. These early forms resembled sarcophagi and were commonly called commodes-tombeau. Although most French cabinet furniture at the beginning of the 18th century was heavy in form, outlines were gently curved, the sides of commodes being slightly convex, or bombe, and the front serpentin.
In the Louis XV period extravagant Rococo curves became fashionable, and surface ornament in ormolu became more flamboyant. The Louis XVI period brought more restrained forms. The carcass of the commode was given more rectangular lines, the legs being only slightly curved. Break fronts and the use of rectangular marquetry or parquetry panels became common. Later, straight, tapering, reeded legs, round in section, became the fashion. The 19th century commode was even more subdued in form and became a purely functional piece of furniture.
The French commode was copied with variations throughout Europe, through usually with less fine results. In Venice, for example, the bombe outline was carried to extremes, and decoration was usually gaily painted and lacquered.
In British English a dresser or a Welsh dresser has shelves in the upper section for storing or displaying tableware. In American English a dresser is a piece of furniture, usually waist high, that has drawers and normally room for a mirror.
Chests of drawers usually placed in a bedroom for the storing clothing, especially underwear, socks, and other items not normally hung in or otherwise stored in a closet and they have traditionally been made and used for this purpose. But they can actually be used to store anything that will fit inside and can be placed anywhere in a house or another place.
Various personal sundry items are also often stored in a chest of drawers. A typical chest is approximately rectangular in overall shape and often has short legs at the bottom corners for placement on the floor. It has a long history as one of the stand-bys of a carpenter’s workshop.
Most chests of drawers fall into one of two types: those which are about waist-high or bench-high and those usually with more drawers which are about shoulder-high. Both types typically have a flat surface on top. Waist-high chests often have a mirror placed vertically on top, which is often bought with the piece.
The chest came into widespread use especially in homes of the nobility in late medieval Europe. This type also known as a coffer was more or less a simple joined wooden box with a hinged lid. It may or may not have stood on feet. An early trasitional phase was the installation of one drawer beneath this main compartment.
A chest commonly wider than it is high and deep called Mule Chest. It has drawers in its base and a hinged top, beneath which there are either two short drawers or one long one. It was popular for 100 years in England and colonial America, introduced in England in the 1600.
A chest of drawers is fashionable storage for every room of your home. If there ever was a multi-purpose piece of furniture, a chest of drawers is it! It can be tall and narrow with lots of drawers on top of each other or short and wide with drawers side-by-side. It can be small enough to serve as a nightstand or large enough to hold a whole season of clothes.
A chest of drawers is almost as versatile as an armoire but you can not hang clothes or install a television in it. A chest of drawers can either serve as a decorative piece or provide lots of extra storage space wherever you need it. On the outside it is an interesting piece that occupies a large wall. On the inside it is a great storage space.
Whether it is decorative or utilitarian, whether the chest has 2 drawers or 10, the drawers can hold or hide a multitude of small household objects, giving you a cleaner, more organized space. But more than just the drawers are useful. The top of a tall and large chest is a great place to display plants, photos, and baskets. The top os a short chest is ideal for lamps, candles, books, televisions or display of flowers.
Think about your whole decorating scheme when you shop for a chest. Look at a simple pine chest if you are inclined to country style. You might consider a beautiful antique reproduction piece if your style is more formal.For a contemporary interior, a simple piece with clean, sleek lines will enhance your home.
Remember that you will have the chest of drawers for a long time and use it in many places regardless of what style or size you choose. So choose wisely and it will serve you well. Here is just a few of the ways this super-versatile piece of furniture can impact your home.
- In the Bedroom
- Place a chest of drawers inside the closet and store small things there, out of sight if you have a large bedroom walk-in closet. You will still be able to hang things above the chest if the ceiling is high and/or the chest short.
- It works well for a bedside table holding books and personal items of a low chest with 2 drawers. Place a lamp on top to shed a little more light on your late-night reading.
- Chests of drawers were originally made to store clothes and a bedroom is the logical place to find one. Small pieces of clothing naturally find a handy home here.
- In a Child’s Room or Nursery
- The chest of drawers is ideal if you are looking for a good way to organize your child’s space. Use one drawer to store books, one for puzzles, one for art supplies, and one for other small items. When there is a place for everything the room will stay neater while keeping the toys handy for whenever they are needed.
- To help free up more floor space in the room, place a small chest in your child’s closet. Store small clothes in the drawers and hang items above on the clothes rod.
- A chest of drawers topped by a pad and surrounded by a frame can do double duty as a changing table and storage chest. Diapers, towels, clothes and sundry items are convenient in the drawers below.
- In the Living Room or Family Room
- For storing workout gear, puzzles, games, art supplies or books, a high or low chest is perfect for a family room.
- A small, waist high chest of drawers serves well as an end table next to seating. The top offers more space than a traditional table top and the drawers offer storage for anything you do not want to find the couch cushions.
- In the Dining Room
- To set a tea service, floral arrangement, or seasonal decoration, a smaller chest offers place. The drawers are a perfect place to store silverware and other items.
- A long, low chest can take the place of a sideboard. Use the top for serving and store placements, napkins, tableclothes and trays in the drawers.
- In a Foyer or Mudroom
- The perfect small piece of furniture for a large foyer is a chest of drawers. Add a small side chair beside it. Use the drawers of the chest to hold gloves, scarves, keys, and mail.
- The perfectfor corralling hats, mittens, coupons, shopping lits and mail is a small chest at the entry.
- Each family member can have their own drawer for collecting papers, hats, supplies, tools, and homework with a low chest of drawers. A basket or decorative box on top holds mail and notes.
- In a Guest Room
- If you have a place to tuck their personal belongings, any house guest will be thankful. Reserve a drawer or two for occasional use, but use the other drawers for items you will use from time to time.
- This is also a great place to storage gift wrap supplies, bolts or ribbons, tags, scissors, pens, and scotch tape.
- Hobby supplies can find a home in a little-used guest room. A chest of drawers holds painting supplies, sewing notions, fabrics, or scrapbooking supplies. When guests arrive, just slide in the drawer.
- In a Bathroom
- It is perfect for bath supplies and towels when a small chest placed on a wall near the bath or shower. Place a basket on top for decorative bottles of shampoo, shower gel, and conditioner and fresh towels.
- A tall chest can hold all the things you would otherwise store in a linen closet, such as towels, washclothes, bathrobes, and hair supplies.