What comes to your mind when you think of an “armoire”? For me, it recalls a 17th-18th century French royal bedroom with highly elevated ornaments, furniture, and decoration. Is this what comes to your mind too? If so, you are right in a sense, but we will come back to that later.
Armoire is most commonly, just like a regular wardrobe, used for storing clothes in bedrooms. However, there are specific differences between an armoire and a wardrobe. In this article, we will go through the questions; what is an armoire? What are the differences between a wardrobe and an armoire? The evolution of armoire and lastly the uses for an armoire.
What Is an Armoire?
We can answer the question “how to spell armoire?” before making the armoire definition. Armoire is pronounced as ärm-ˈwär. Then, what is an armoire (ärm-ˈwär)? Armoire is a tall free-standing cabinet with two doors that usually hide shelves and sometimes drawers.
Armoire is moveable and mostly contains a hanging space for clothes. Like other cupboards or storage units, the armoire came into existence due to a basic need: storage space. The tricky thing here is what people used to store in an armoire when it was first invented.
The History and Evolution of Armoire
Clothes were not the only reason for storage needs. People needed a storage unit to store various items such as tools, linens, weapons, and rugs. It was the case with armoire. So, the armoire was not always used for storing clothes like it does today. Initially, it was used to store arms, weapons, and tools.
The name “armoire” may have come from the Latin word “armorium,” meaning a chest for storing armor. Armoires in their earliest forms were dated in medieval times.
Who invented armoire? This piece of furniture is thought to be first used in the 16th century, and many excellent examples had detailed carvings on it resembling Flemish design. The earliest forms of the armoire were massive.
They did not have any feet and were placed directly on the floor. Armoire furniture was sometimes decoratively painted inside and out. Some had elaborate carvings and embossing on them. By the Renaissance, the armoire became narrower and taller in size. It was not until the 17th century that armoire was used as wardrobes or clothespresses.
Over time the armoire evolved, and their purpose and look changed. In the late 17th century, nobles started storing their extravagant clothes in armoires. Hanging clothes in armoires was an advantage for them as they prevented the expensive clothes from folding. Perhaps the most influential and deluxe armoires were designed by André-Charles Boulle, the cabinetmaker to Louis XIV in the late 17th century.
Eventually, the armoire evolved into what it looks like today. Feet were added, drawers and shelves were implemented to some to organize and store clothes. And as a matter of fact, today you don’t need to be from the nobility or have extravagant clothes to have an armoire. You may find armoires for different purposes and in different sizes. However, before diving into the uses of an armoire, let’s consider the obvious use of an armoire first: as a wardrobe.
Armoire vs. Wardrobe
Armoire and wardrobe are very similar pieces of furniture. And sometimes it may be difficult to tell the difference between them. Both have a similar structure of closed doors. Also, both armoire and wardrobe are used to store clothes.
Then, what is the difference between a wardrobe and an armoire? Usually, an armoire is a bigger piece of furniture, and it is more ornate than a wardrobe. Moreover, armoires typically have shelves along with hanging rails. In contrast, wardrobes, in general, are mostly designed for more hanging space. Of course, today, wardrobe designs change according to needs.
Differences in Usage
Another difference is that in contrast to its bulky structure, the usage of an armoire is quite flexible, while the usage of a wardrobe is solely for storing clothes. As armoires come in different sizes, people have been using them in their house for not only storing clothes but also for different storing options.
This is because armoires have two doors to hide away items inside and thus provide a much formal and tidy look from the outside. It is hard to do the same thing with wardrobes since unlike armoires, wardrobes are smaller in size and include less and smaller shelf space.
Differences in Design
The difference between an armoire and a wardrobe can be observed just by looking at their visual design. Often both an armoire and a wardrobe are built from wood, which can be oak or mahogany. Even though nowadays there are cheaper wardrobes made of veneer or plastic, they are less sturdy.
In general, wardrobes have a plain and somewhat basic look with wood panels, hanging rail, shelves, and drawers. Whereas armoires have always been more ornate and quite large. Antique armoires can be very expensive since mostly they are often carved, embossed, or delicately crafted. The simplistic nature and smaller size of wardrobes, on the other hand, make them less expensive.
What is an Armoire Used For
I have mentioned how armoires have been used as different storage solutions over time. Being a large, bulk storage space that can hide what you put inside with two doors, armoires make an excellent house decoration piece.
Because who doesn’t need more storage space, right? Plus, they have a unique antique look that can spice up the decor. So as a result, these qualities gave birth to such types of armoires as craft armoire, bedroom armoire, jewelry armoire, kitchen armoire, and living room armoire.
If you have crafts making a mess in a room with a pile of fabrics here and a clutter of sewing supplies there, a craft armoire can miraculously declutter the space. Some craft armoires can hide behind its doors more items than you can imagine.
Often the inside of the doors has hanging places or little shelves to put crafts such as thread cones, paints, and brushes. Other than the ones on the doors, armoires have larger shelves inside that you can use by storing your larger craft appliances. Additionally, some craft armoires include a desk surface that you can pull outside and use.
A bedroom armoire is precisely what you think it is; clothing storage. A bedroom armoire can be used to store clothes, bedding, and towels instead of a wardrobe. An antique armoire or an old wooden armoire can turn any bedroom into a rustic environment or even a French royal bedroom. Intricately carved or delicately painted bedroom armoires display expensive craftsmanship and thus elevate your bedroom decoration.
Some armoires have drawers rather than a hanging rail. These armoires resemble chifforobes, but leaner than them. And they can be used as jewelry armoire. Usually, a jewelry armoire contains a mirror inside that can be folded out.
Some jewelry armoires may have opening wings on the sides where you can hang jewelry, such as necklaces. You may find wooden armoires with a mirror door, small jewelry storage space, and two feet. This type of jewelry armoire may include small drawers and jewelry hanging areas inside.
A kitchen armoire is a great option to store kitchenware. You may use a glass door armoire to display your antique or chic dinnerware or use a wooden door armoire to hide away the cluttering appliances. A kitchen armoire can be used both in the living room and kitchen.
If you are more of a modern decoration type of person you may opt for a modern dining room console instead. Modern furniture store Doğtaş has elegant pieces of dining room sets that include a dining console that can store kitchenware and still preserve your high-end dining room decoration.
Living Room Armoire
The last type of armoire we will look into is the living room armoire. Living room armoires can be regular armoires with large wooden doors. You may store kitchenware, books, or even your family album in it! A glass door armoire can also be an attractive option to showcase your children’s trophies or the souvenirs that you collected.
Another great option to use an armoire in your living room is to use it as a TV stand. A TV stand armoire is large enough to hide a television inside. It may have doors or not. Often a TV stand armoire has a smaller cupboard or drawers under the TV area where you can store your cluttering belongings.
If you do not own a living room armoire or cannot find one, an up-to-date solution to declutter your living room is to opt for a TV stand with storage. In case you need different TV stand ideas to level up your living room decoration, we have a blog post on that particular topic.
In this article, we have covered what is an armoire, the history of the armoire, and the uses of an armoire. I hope you find this helpful and make good decorative use of your old armoire.