An armoire is a type of wardrobe — or is it the other way around? Both are types of furniture used to keep clothes in, but does that make them the same as a dresser? What is an armoire, and how is it distinct from a wardrobe and a dresser?
An armoire is a large, ornate piece of furniture. It’s a large cupboard typically used to store clothes and personal items. Larger than a wardrobe or a dresser, it has several shelves and drawers. It can be an extra storage space in bedrooms, living rooms, and other areas.
Read on to learn more about what an armoire is.
Also, for an excellent two-door Armoire, take a look at South Shore Versa 2-Door Armoire with Drawers on Amazon for its price and great reviews:
What Is an Armoire?
An armoire refers to a large, ornate piece of furniture. It’s a large cupboard generally used to store clothes and personal items. An armoire is larger than either a wardrobe or a dresser. Armoires have several shelves and drawers. They can be an extra storage space in bedrooms, living rooms, and other areas.
It is a tall, large 2-door freestanding cabinet, essentially a cupboard, that is typically movable. Typically, it contains hanging space, shelves, and occasionally drawers.
Brief History of the Armoire
Boulle Designed Armoire in Late 17th Century France
The armoire was designed in late 17th Century France by André-Charles Boulle, cabinetmaker to King Louis XIV. It was initially used to store weapons and armor. Its name is derived from the Latin word armorium, a chest for storing armor. As armoires became more popular, people began using them to store other large items, including:
- Tapestries, and
Originally Tall and Wide
Armoires were initially built to be massively tall and wide. It did not have feet and was for storing larger items. Crafters redesigned them as narrower, taller, and less massive by the Renaissance period. They then included built-in sections for hanging clothes.
Wood as the Original Material
Original French armoires were built from wood and had ornamental carvings, paintings, and embossing. Their highly artistic and decorative quality, combined with their practicality, made armoires very popular. They were regarded as showpieces in homes and castles.
Essentially considered as status symbols, the wealthy would own extravagantly-designed highly-ornate armoires. At the same time, those in the French countryside would hold simpler and less-detailed ones.
Constantly Evolving Design
The design of the armoire would constantly evolve throughout the years. Its dimensions would change. Additional features were added, including:
- Shelves, and
- Hangings for clothes.
Their overall shape and style would keep apace with the changing fashions.
Available Armoire Types for Several Purposes
Today, there are several different types of armoires in a variety of styles. They are used for numerous purposes. Also, they are prized as much for their decorative value as for their usage.
Armoire vs Wardrobe
If you look up the definition of an armoire, it is given as “a wardrobe or movable cabinet, typically one that is ornate or antique.” On the other hand, if you look up wardrobe, it is mentioned that another word for it is the armoire.
Some even consider an armoire as a type of wardrobe and vice versa. Even so, just the mere fact that such distinctions were made only indicates that, maybe, there is a definite difference between armoire and wardrobe.
Similarities Between an Armoire and a Wardrobe
Before we go into the difference between armoire and wardrobe, let’s look at their similarities:
1. Both Large and Bulky
Armoires and wardrobes are both usually large and slightly bulky. They’re typically built with two doors that open outwards. A wardrobe is equipped with a rail for hanging clothes, which an armoire sometimes has. They both usually have shelves and drawers as well.
2. Storage for Lots of Things and Equipped With Mirror
Aside from storing clothes, they can also hold accessories and toiletries on the shelves. It’s common to have mirrors attached to the insides of the doors. This doubles as a prepping station for people to fix themselves up.
3. Usually Made from Wood
An armoire and a wardrobe are usually made from wood, such as mahogany or oak. There are modern versions made from wood veneer or plastic, which are less costly. But they may not have the same look or sturdiness as real wood furniture.
Difference Between Armoire and Wardrobe
As to their differences, the wardrobe is usually much simpler in design. Even if the wood is paneled, the piece is generally quite plain. In contrast, armoires, especially antique ones, are often intricately carved and crafted.
2. Antique Armoires Are More Expensive
Because of their ornate look and larger size, antique armoires can be very expensive. At the same time, wardrobes are usually cheaper due to their subtle design and smaller size. In terms of cost, the wardrobe holds the advantage.
Expensive though it may be, the armoire’s larger size and shelf space also make it more versatile in terms of its function. The wardrobe’s smaller size limits the kind of items it can hold. At the same time, the larger armoire is spacious enough to accommodate a larger quantity of items.
It can contain objects as large as televisions, computers, and other electronic equipment. It practically doubles as either an entertainment center or a workstation.
Just open the armoire to gain access to the devices concealed within. Then, you can close it when you’re not using said equipment. In this round of armoire vs wardrobe, the armoire wins.
Armoire vs Dresser
Dresser Is a Small Table-like Furniture
The dressing table, abbreviated as “dresser,” is a small table-like furniture unit with multiple horizontal sliding drawers stacked one over the other. It usually comes with an affixed mirror.
Midget Version of an Armoire
Also referred to as a “lowboy,” the dresser is almost a midget version of an armoire. One would think that most people would favor the latter for its larger closet space. Another big advantage of the armoire is that you can hang clothes on it. At the same time, you can only keep your clothes folded in a dresser.
Armoire Makes a Space Look Smaller
Despite this, some would prefer the smaller dresser over the more practical armoire for purely aesthetic reasons. If one decorates a room with lower ceilings, an armoire might make the small space look even smaller because of its height. In comparison, the shorter dresser would give the appearance of a larger area.
Square footage is another factor that can determine whether you should get an armoire or a dresser. An armoire usually takes up less floor space than a dresser that offers just about the same or even less storage.
A Dresser Can Take up Space in Lower Horizontal Areas
On the other hand, a dresser can suitably take up space in lower horizontal areas, such as under a window or below a hanging painting. The choice of décor style could also decide whether an armoire or a dresser is appropriate for the type of look you want for your room.
In the contest of armoire vs dresser, armoire wins in practicality. But when it comes to interior design, there is perhaps no right or wrong answer. It all comes down to one’s taste and preference.
Again, what is an armoire? An armoire is a large piece of furniture – larger than a wardrobe and dresser. It has many shelves and drawers you can use to store clothes and other personal items in your bedroom, living room, and other parts of your house.
Types of Armoires
Again, the armoire is so flexible in its function that you can use it for purposes other than just keeping clothes. Here are some examples of different kinds of armoires according to their varying uses:
- Wardrobe Armoire
- TV Armoire
- Computer Armoire
- Children’s Armoire
- Jewelry Armoire
1. Wardrobe Armoire
Made from Wood
Let’s start with the most basic type of armoire. The free-standing wardrobe armoire is for storing clothes. But you can also use it to store bedding, shoes, purses, and other accessories. Wardrobe armoires are traditionally made from wood and often have decorative knobs, embroidery, and sometimes mirrors on the doors.
Get One With More Space for Hanging Clothes
When getting a wardrobe armoire, make sure that it is big enough to suit your needs. For instance, get one with more space for hanging clothes or additional shelves and drawers. You could also get one with unique features. These include the following:
- Interior lights,
- Drawers with satin lining for protecting delicate items, or
- Compartments for bags, jewelry, and other accessories.
2. TV Armoire
Park Television or Other Appliances
As its name indicates, a TV armoire’s purpose is to provide a suitable and stylish place to park your television. But you can store other appliances too, such as the stereo, speakers, cable boxes, and DVD players.
Storage for Films and Video Games
Not only that, but you can also keep your collection of films and video games. It is the centerpiece of the living room space, not just because it holds your entertainment system. But also because it comes in a variety of unique and stylish models.
Double Check the Armoire’s Size Before Buying
A TV armoire usually comes with recommendations for what TV size it is compatible with. When you’re buying an armoire, make sure that the size of your TV matches the recommended size.
Otherwise, either the stand of the armoire might not be strong enough to carry your TV. Also, the lack of space might cause improper airflow, leading to heating problems for your TV.
Ensure the TV Armoire Has Back Panel Openings
Aside from that, make sure your TV armoire has back panel openings for wire and cables. It should also have sliding shelves to access wiring and components quickly.
3. Computer Armoire
Ideal for People Who Work from Home
Ideal for people who work from home, the computer armoire can turn any room into an instant home office. Specially designed to fit in any small space, you can convert any corner of your living room, bedroom, or dining room into a convenient workspace.
It’s the perfect workstation setup to install your computer or laptop, printer, fax, and other office supplies and equipment.
Ensure That It Has Enough Storage for Your Supplies
When choosing a computer armoire, make sure that it has enough drawers and storage holders to hold your supplies. The back panel should also have openings for the cables and wires of your computer and other devices.
Double Check the Height
Also, consider if the height of your computer’s shelf is at a comfortable viewing distance. Your keyboard should be at a suitable size to allow you to work with no problem.
4. Children’s Armoire
Space for Children’s Toys, Clothes, and More
With the variety of specialized armoires manufacturers produce to cater to every need, it’s not surprising that there should be one for children. Armoires for children are a convenient place to keep not only your kids’ clothes and blankets neatly.
But also their toys, books, backpacks, hats, and other accessories. They come in several vibrant designs, so you can easily find one that will match the style of your child’s bedroom.
Think of Your Child’s Safety
When buying a kid’s armoire, always keep your child’s safety in mind. Ensure that its finish is free from lead paint and that its coating won’t peel or flake. The door hinges should have safety latches to keep the doors from slamming your child’s fingers. Drawers should have a mechanism that prevents them from being pulled completely out.
Choose One That You Can Attach to the Wall
You should check whether the manufacturers attached the hardware, such as doorknobs, securely. Also, you should attach the armoire to the wall using safety straps so your child wouldn’t accidentally tip or push it over.
5. Jewelry Armoire
Smaller and Not Very Deep
Often a fixture in bedrooms and walk-in closets, a jewel armoire enables you to keep your precious jewelry and accessories in one place. It has storage options designed especially for the jewelry of every kind, such as shelves for bracelets, rings, earrings, and others. Jewelry armoires are usually smaller and not very deep but can also be larger.
Jewelry armoire comes in various styles, including:
- Over-the-Door, and
- Chevy (Combination of jewelry and mirror storage).
When getting a jewelry armoire, make an inventory of your jewelry first to determine the kind of storage you need for the type of jewelry you own.
Here are a couple of fine armoire recommendations available from Amazon.com:
- South Shore Versa 2-Door Armoire with Drawers Gray Maple, Traditional
- Powell Jewelry Armoire Wood, Silver Mirrored
1. South Shore Versa 2-Door Armoire with Drawers Gray Maple, Traditional
This is a contemporary style armoire with two large drawers and four storage spaces with three adjustable shelves. Each shelf can support up to 25 pounds of clothing, linen, books, and other items.
This armoire comes with step-by-step instructions and is not complicated to assemble. It is sturdy, has a great design, and is worth its price.
2. Powell Jewelry Armoire Wood, Silver Mirrored
This is a modern design jewelry armoire with a silver and mirror finish. It comes with three smaller top drawers and four larger ones below for convenient jewelry and accessory storage.
The Powell Jewelry Armoire looks fancy. It is small, which is an advantage since it can fit anywhere in your room.
Conclusion – What Is an Armoire [Armoire vs Wardrobe vs Dresser]
An armoire is a large, ornate piece of furniture. It’s a large cupboard typically used to store clothes and personal items. Larger than either a wardrobe or a dresser, it has several shelves and drawers. It can be an extra storage space in bedrooms, living rooms, and other areas.
While it is frequently identified with a wardrobe, the armoire has since transcended its original purpose of just storing clothes. A versatile furniture unit, it can contain different types of items and serve different kinds of functions. It surpasses both the wardrobe and the dresser in size and scope.