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When was the last time you shopped for an armoire? Many people think armoires and wardrobes are big, bulky, and don’t fit into the style of modern homes. Century Furniture, who has hundreds of thousands of products, only has two armoires in its entire line, because they simply don’t sell. In contrast, we recently visited Restoration Hardware’s 90,000 square foot, five-story megastore in Manhattan’s meatpacking district, and they had many on display. So the question is, are armoires still relevant?

From Past to Present

The armoire used to be considered a highly functional and beautiful addition to one’s home or castle. When we think of armoires, our first thought goes to the classic French wardrobe that dates back to the 17th century. It usually had shelves concealed by two large doors and was mostly used for clothing and linen storage. Previously, chests had been used for storage, but the height and functionality of the armoire seemed so much more practical and useful in the times before closets. Later on, drawers were invented and were added to the bottom of wardrobes, outdating chests altogether.

With the creation of the closet, there became less of a need for armoires and wardrobes. But fast forward to the 20th century, when the armoire became retrofitted and used for storing the now old-style tube TVs, due to their depth and bulkiness. Unfortunately, this period of time was relatively short-lived, and now everyone has flat screen TVs that are wall-mounted. Stereo equipment has also gotten a lot smaller. Once again, the shift in technology has made the armoire less useful.

Photos: Jay Greene Photography

Photos: Century Furniture

Modernizing the Armoire

Nowadays, many of our clients have been downsizing. They’ve been trying to get rid of their armoires and wardrobes, only to find that very few people want them. But don’t give up all hope! We have plenty of ideas of how to incorporate this classic piece of furniture into your home. Going back to its roots, an armoire is still a wonderful storage piece for clothing and other household items, like games and hobbies. You may also find it to be a convenient addition in a mudroom to place children’s book bags, coats, and shoes.

If you have an armoire that you’re unsure of what to do with, consider transforming it into something new. Need a compact workspace? Turn your armoire into a desk or computer station, which can be especially useful in a small apartment. You could also turn your armoire into a small bar in your home. Add glass shelves, lighting, and even wallpaper inside for a delightful surprise.

If Restoration Hardware is still producing several designs of armoires and wardrobes, then maybe there is a budding revival after all. We don’t know what the ultimate destiny of this piece of furniture is, but we are certainly interested to see how they will fit into modern homes. What are other uses you can think of for an armoire?

Photo: Baker Furniture

Photo: Bernhardt Furniture Company

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