Antiques Blog

French Armoires…More Than Just a Closet.

In the past, Armoires were usually relegated to the bedroom of the house. In France, they’re still used just about everywhere you go. Of course, France is saturated with character homes that can date back several centuries still with the original furnishings intact. You’re guaranteed one of these beautiful Armoires in every bedroom of these residences if they were built before the 20th Century.

Typical South of France Maison.

Typical South of France Maison.

But Armoires in France aren’t restricted to houses or bedrooms. In French homes you’ll see Armoires used in any room where storage and decorative appeal is required. Like this photo below of an elegant Parisian apartment. Not only does it provide much needed storage but the decorative element is undeniable. (I also LOVE the floors).

Louis XV Style Armoire

The beautiful white distressed Louis XV style Armoire is not only decorative but a wonderful storage unit. We sell many Armoires at the Antique Warehouse.

Here in North America, buy a home or apartment and you’re almost guaranteed a built in closet. It may be the size of a postage stamp, but a newly constructed residence will always have one.

Although closets could occasionally be found in North America, they didn’t come into common use until after World War II. Today they’re viewed as a basic necessity, like indoor plumbing, and it can be quite a nuisance if you’re in an old house that’s missing one.

Not only do french armoires provide capacious storage and fantastic versatility, but their design impact is just what’s needed when you want to add some elegance and interest to an otherwise characterless room.

Painted French Armoire

A painted French armoire can give a lightness and a focal point of interest in any modern construction.

Not only does an armoire provide storage, but it’s a high-impact decorating tool. Although armoires were originally used in the 16th century for storing weapons (thus the name armoire, from the old French armarie), by the 17th century their use was expanded to include the storage of clothing and linens. This exemplary old French version is used classically in a bedroom. Its imposing presence grabs your attention and sets the tone.

Louis XV Painted Armoire

This beautiful Louis XV painted armoire is one of the nicest designs around.

And speaking of setting the tone, the elegant and ornately carved French Armoire can look sensational in a dining room. Paired with a French crystal chandelier the look creates a refined atmosphere that would make any hostess feel like she’s entertaining in Paris. You can put anything in those armoires, be it table linens, a bar, collections of dishes and crystal, a stereo playing cool jazz, classical or cool ambient tehcno.

Carved French Armoire

 

One of the nice things about these elegant pieces of furniture is that they are usually made to completely disassemble. (not always the case with Armoires from England) The doors lift easily off the hinges, the crown and base are usually separate pieces, and the sides and back will come apart in many sections.

Empire Armoire

the Empire armoire the man is taking apart for shipment to us will completely disassemble into about 10 or more pieces. You can see another armoire Louis XV in the background almost completely apart.

Small Armoires

Small Armoires look wonderful in the bathroom and provide much needed storage space.

Elements of Armoires can be used for a multitude of purposes. I personally took the doors off one armoire and replaced regular boring closet doors in an entry way in my home with a pair of walnut Louis XV doors. The look is fabulous and everyone remarks on their beauty. I didn’t refinish them either preferring to the leave the rich tonal qualities of the highly french polished walnut.

I found the below photo on the internet where a contractor had taken an armoire or buffet or French cabinet and created ‘cabinet facings’ in a kitchen. (see below). The look is splendid and rich!

Kitchen Cabinetry

Imagine the cost if you tried to have this custom made today.

In another example of adaptability, here an antique armoire has been expertly incorporated into bedroom closet storage. It definitely adds warmth and character.

Armoire Storage Closet

 

Storage Armoires

Look how much storage these armoires have. I’ve even retrofitted these pieces to fit big screen TV’s. This particular designer reversed the placement of the doors so they remain open and the decorative ‘fronts’ remain exposed.

Louis XIII Walnut Armoire

Look how interesting this Louis XIII walnut armoire looks in this modern environment. There’s no beams, crown mouldings, or chandeliers in this space. The interest and charm is created by the use of a few antiques.

Clearly armoires, be they French, English, Spanish or otherwise clearly have a multitude of uses. The idea is to decide where you’d like to incorporate these wonderful pieces into your home. Visit us in person or online and see the selection we carry here at The Antique Warehouse Vancouver. We ship anywhere!

Thanks for reading!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

604-324-3661

email: [email protected]

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