Armoires & Wardrobes

New, Vintage and Antique Armoires & Wardrobes


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Armoires & Wardrobes

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Clever storage is always in vogue—hence the endless appeal of armoires and wardrobes. Relatively constant fixtures since Medieval times, these weighty, free-standing cabinets have endured for centuries thanks to their abundance of storage, unmatched by virtually anything short of a tooth-and-nail closet. Originally designed to stow linens, most wooden wardrobes and armoires come outfitted with two doors that open French door-style to reveal a hanging bar for clothes. Bare-bones models will sometimes contain only the bar, while more endowed designs are likely to possess a stack of drawers under the bar, ideal for squirreling away foldable items.

The armoire closet has undergone many iterations since its inception. In the Middle Ages, these designs were known as “presses.” Similar to the models of today, presses were used for stashing clothing, including robes. Presses were mostly composed of wood, and typically showcased ornate woodwork, which earned them showpiece status in the castles and manors in which they resided. Over time, regional versions of the antique armoire emerged. In Italy, the concept transformed into the linen press. In the Netherlands, the kast—essentially, a huge cupboard. In France, they became a place to stockpile weapons and defense gear. The current iteration of the wooden wardrobe, a large, free-standing cabinet intended to function as a makeshift closet, surfaced in France in approximately the 17th century.

Beginning in the 1980s, bedroom wardrobes began breaking out of the bedroom and taking on more tech-driven tasks. Namely, housing hardware like TVs and computers. When TVs and computers underwent a slim-down in the late 2000s, these wooden wardrobes were cast aside in droves. For a time, it seemed plausible that the armoire closet had seen its day. And yet, the quest to curb clutter never ends. Coming back from the brink of extinction, armoires and wardrobes have been reimagined as a trimmer, more compact version of the standing closet. Special details like caning, parquet inlays, and even glass-paned doors have ushered in a new ara for the bedroom wardrobe. Their shapes have also transformed. Rather than a standard-issue box, many models are coming to market with domed tops, a design element that helps to soften their overall appearance.