The time honored armoire is a grand addition to any space. A beautiful focal point that provides interest to a space, but also, well hidden and much needed additional storage to those of us dwelling in smaller spaces.
The origination of the armoire dates back somewhere before the 16th century, in the Dark Ages in France. The word “armoire” is a French term that loosely describes any type of wooden cabinet with shelves. It also refers to the word “closet”. Interestingly, it is said that the word “armoire” most likely relates to the latin “arma” which means “tools”. The secret is out to those of us that never knew this! The rich and long history in France of the armoire trails back to the time when skilled artisans stored the tools of their craft in these furnishings. Indeed, pride in their craftsmanship continued for these cabinets used for tool storage could certainly be considered works of art throughout history. These hand crafted cabinets were an individual art form. Often, they would bear the signature mark of the craftsman through a certain design carved in to the wood. It is also said that they are the descendant of chests. In their rich history, armoires are also credited for holding weaponry! Again, who knew?
And what of its use today? Prior to the 20th century, most homes did not have the luxury of closets. Clothes were contained in wardrobes, cabinets and dressers. For those with lesser means, hooks on the wall would suffice to hold their small collection of clothing. Imagine! It is said that the luxury of a separate space, such as a closet, was not experienced except by the extremely wealthy. Interestingly, the rooms that could be deemed as ‘closets’ contained more wardrobes, cabinets and dressers! Who knew? A bit more history to add to this is the debut at the beginning of the 20th century of Sears Roebuck’s “Chiffonier”, a French furnishing featuring drawers and rod to hang one’s wardrobe. Sears proclaimed that their “Chiffonier” was the first furnishing that was designed to gather both folded and hanging clothing. The difference between the Armoire and the chifferobe? An armoire or ‘wardrobe’ typically has two doors that open to storage on top and have long drawers or shelves at the bottom. A chifferobe is a combination of a tall and narrow chest with drawers or shelves for both purposes, side by side.
The Armoire or Chifferobe have had a tremendous impact to the those dwellers with limited space or lack of closets. Storage in a moveable closet! A perfect combination for those in small city apartments or more vintage homes that lack space and storage. These engaging pieces add interest and structure to any room. Indeed, a focal point. The intricately carved and inlaid wood armoires of centuries ago have given way to many different materials and styles, including the glamourous mirrored style! With the varied styles and modern spin on these cabinets, there is certainly a style for everyone.
Rethink this substantial cabinet. It can certainly hold a multitude of goods and serve a multitude of purposes. Your own personal secret when the doors are closed. But rethink to use the armoire with the doors open! The secret will certainly be out- this considerable piece will have great purpose in any space! Hidden storage with style and substance, indeed.