Ah, the armoire, such a misunderstood piece of furniture. In most of our lifetimes, we have associated the armoire with a place to house our televisions and media equipment; but this piece actually dates back to the 1500’s. The definition of an armoire (pronounced: “arm-wah”) is a cupboard with drawers or shelves underneath. Webster’s dictionary defines it as “a tall piece of furniture that usually has two doors and is used to store things”. They have been used in European homes for centuries. Older homes were not built with closets, and homeowners had to get creative about making the most use of limited space, As a result, the armoire took the place of the closet for storing clothes and other personal items. This is quite a contrast to many of the spacious homes I visit in Milton, Alpharetta, Chateau Elan and other North Atlanta communities; these master bedroom closets are very generous in size and have almost become rooms unto themselves. The armoire really started becoming misplaced in the past several years as televisions became wider and slimmer. Our existing armoires have become too small to house these new media monstrosities. Now, most new homes are built with pre-wiring over the mantel to allow for the placement of a flatscreen TV. Although I am not a fan of this, I am certainly aware of the trend. Many of the more dated and unattractive armoires are finding their ways to local thrift stores or consignment shops as homeowners no longer have a place for them. Before you write off this piece of furniture, however, I would like to share with you some of the new styles I am seeing that breathe new life into this mainstay. I also have some new ideas for using an armoire in your home:
- A Linen Chest– Placing an armoire of the right style and scale in your bathroom is a beautiful way to store your extra towels, linens and toiletry items. This armoire pictured from Bernhardt Furniture has a pale ivory finish that has a decidedly soft and somewhat feminine appearance.
- A Jewelry Cabinet- This Pale Tartan Armoire designed by Alexander Julian for Jonathan Charles Furniture is an example of a mid-century modern style that would add a touch of flair to any home, especially a master bedroom. It is a perfect example of fashion meeting function. It is tailored like a finely made suit with attention to every detail. The exterior sports a weathered tartan appearance with custom-cast buttons that act as door pulls. Open it up, and it reveals accent lighting, pull-out drawers, door hooks that would provide a wonderful space for some of your cherished items, lingerie, ties, scarves, etc.
- A Bar- A cabinet that is designed to house glassware would be an ideal way to set up a bar in your living area for entertaining. The stylish piece would be functional when open for guests and equally attractive when the doors are closed. Global Views has created such a piece! This armoire/cabinet is the perfect blend of Art Deco glam and Mid-Century chic. The rich, warm mahogany veneers contrast beautifully with the ivory leather padded upper cabinet. Antique bronze nail head trim adds a nice accent. The pocket doors slide into the cabinet so as not to obstruct traffic flow during parties.
- A Hall Cabinet– Many of today’s homes are spacious in design with open floorplans and soaring ceiling heights. What better way to store your collectibles or rarely used china and crystal than in an exquisitely designed armoire? Look for an empty wall or niche, perhaps even a wall in a large dining room or entry way to place such a place. I love this elegant Louis XVI style armoire by Karges. This company is known for producing exceptionally high quality pieces of furniture with beautiful craftsmanship in every detail. The Cheshire mahogany and antico bollo metal leaf trim speak towards tradition and elegance.
- A Secretary- A great way to avoid accumulating paper clutter on your kitchen counter is to provide a place to store household papers, bills and notes. This Biedermeier style armoire from Chairish.com is an example of using a true vintage piece of furniture in your home. The fall front reveals a fitted interior with ebonized details as well as a hidden drawer. I recently discovered Chairish as an on-line resource for one-of-a-kind curator approved vintage goods; they act as a resource for private owners looking to sell their antiques and buyers looking for a unique vintage piece.
- A Craft Cabinet- An updated armoire is a great way to organize your craft and project materials. This could also be used to store paper, bows and other gift wrapping items. Who says it has to be boring? This piece from Bernhardt would add a transitional look to your space and could blend with more traditional or contemporary pieces. The walnut veneers and raven finish give it a rich, warm feel. The decorative quatrefoil design over antiqued mirror glass adds a little bling to any room of the house.
I hope I have helped to give you a fresh look at armoires. They can be beautiful pieces of furniture in any home and any style. Many furniture companies are placing on new emphasis on these pieces … they are not going away. Oh yes, and they also still work well to house televisions and media equipment!
Love Where You Live!