Armoire Amoré: a Creative Storage Solution
Anyone who has traveled to Europe can likely give good witness to the abundant use of the incredible armoire in any typical European household, country inn, or cottage. Older European homes are notorious for their lack of closets and so the armoire plays a very practical role in the everyday needs of household, as it has for centuries.
Oppositely, in the United States, the armoire has been pushed aside for large master walk-in closets and cumbersome plastic storage tubs that warp and off-gas in the heat of summer attics or collect dust in a dank basement corner. Yet Americans still continue to seek additional viable storage options. So we ask:
- Who doesn’t need practical storage in their home?
- Shouldn’t that storage become a pretty addition to your design aesthetic?
Of course, we come across many armoires in our line of work. Some armoires are primitive Americana pieces while others are exquisite works of fine furniture craftsmanship. We believe that although often erroneously thought of as "out of vogue," the armoire is still as relevant in today’s modern design trends as it was in yesteryears — with one major caveat: We are not referring to the cheaply-made, assembly-required, particle board TV center "armoires" of the late 20th century in this category -- perhaps the reason that the traditional armoire got a bad rep in the first place.
A Little Background
Armoires have been around for centuries and its current name has its roots in French cabinetry for holding arms (muskets, rifles, pistols, etc.) ... think “armories.”
They were (and are) typically comprised of a cupboard with two doors and several interior shelves. Earlier versions would have been called “presses” ... think "linen press."
For instance, take a look at this pair of Swedish style linen press cabinets:
Over the centuries shapes and sizes or armoires evolved based on design trends and artisan embellishments. Today, at least in the United States, armoires can be used to store bedding, clothing, home office set-ups, and more.
Again, true armoires should not be confused with the TV storage cabinets of the 1980s and 1990s. Although these cabinets are oftentimes styled to look like an armoire, we are not including them in this blog.
What to Consider When Shopping for an Armoire:
Size and scale
Armoires come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are massive and others are more demure. If you want an armoire to make a positive impact in your room’s design, make sure that it is the right size for the space.
Form and function
While you always want to find a piece that suits your design aesthetic, you also should consider its usefulness. Pieces that are pretty, but impractical will quickly become an impediment to your home versus a piece that is both pretty and functional.
When shopping for an armoire, imagine it in your home. Imagine what things you might store there. Imagine how easily (or not) you will be able to place and retrieve the items stored inside.
Whether a piece is primitive, vintage, or contemporary, you want to make sure that your chosen armoire will stand the proverbial test of time. Armoires that have centuries under their belt may still have plenty of time ahead of them. Look beyond the charming chips and wear that come with normal use over time. Some antique and vintage armoires may be entirely too rickety to hold anything other than the air inside so be sure to check the piece.
- Is it still sturdy?
- Does it have in-tact framing?
- Does the frame rack when gently pushed?
- Is it constructed of solid and strong wood?
- Are the shelves inside sturdy enough to support whatever you plan to store (one or two sheet sets vs. a whole household’s extra bedding, table linens, and towel sets)?
So whether you're looking for a functional but pretty storage piece or need a statement piece for your space, take a second look at the beauty, versatility, and utility of the timeless armoire. What's your armoire amore?