Armoires Travel From Ancient Rome to High-Style Storage

How we store our possessions, particularly our treasures, needs careful consideration. 1 storage solution, the armoire, has served people well for hundreds of years, and for good reason. Its development from ancient Rome through the time of King Louis XIII and the Victorian era has turned it into a versatile and practical piece. These days it’s easy to obtain an armoire to suit any area or resolve any storage problem.

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Roman roots. Now found in homes, auction houses and antiques shops all around the Earth, that the armoire came from rather humble beginnings. Nomadic Roman soldiers had storage for their weapons (arms); they developed and carried crude lumber storage boxes known as armoriums.

From the 14th century, most Western Europeans owned small chests — known as caskets — or larger coffers to hold jewelry and valuables. As smaller towns began to prosper, people felt more secure and settled enough to exhibit their possessions. At some point, the coffer was turned on its side and put on legs.

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Fixed armoires. You will find two types of armoires in the 14th century. The fixed armoire was simply a recess in a stone wall with doors. Even though some may not categorize this as real furniture, at the time these were widely utilized and recorded as armoires — particularly in churches and monasteries.

This armoire is such an eye-catching piece of furniture. It appears to be a grounded, solid piece while at the same time bringing a light, airy texture into the area.

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Freestanding armoires. Freestanding armoires, with single or double doors and enclosed drawers, were well known in the 14th century. These readily transported storage alternatives were usually regarded as the land of the landowner, though there is evidence that some were the private property of the home owner.

Medieval armoires were built to be practical, practical pieces of furniture. Sometimes medieval armoires had paint or gilding on them, but not frequently.

This armoire is a simple elegant design that connects the table along with the mantel together, grounding the room and giving it construction.


Renaissance armoire fashions. The ancient Renaissance saw the development of the behaut-deux corps (two-door cabinet), or so the armoire went from favor for a moment. However, the reign of King Louis XIII brought the armoire back to life, and also this piece began to dominate the furniture marketplace again. The new designs were made in rugged timbers, such as walnut, and had raised diamond patterns, geometric shapes and moldings at both the top and bottom.

This magnificent hand-painted antique Bavarian armoire shows similar durability and moldings.

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Manufacturing changes. French designers in the 19th century established armoires with Gothic and Renaissance flourishes, such as columns and carvings of vegetation, as the desire for these fashions continued unabated. Since national doors were smaller compared to those of the castles of the 17th century, these craftsmen had to get creative. The need to construct the armoire, dismantle it and reassemble it into its new home began a completely different approach to cabinetry manufacture.

This Asian-inspired armoire using its traditional shape sits comfortably within this contemporary setting, since its carved timber fretwork harmonizes with the fixtures around it.

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Upgrading to glass doors. The bibliothèque (literally “library”), an armoire with glass doors, was also popular throughout the 19th century. Used mainly in libraries and offices to show books back then, the bibliothèque now appears everywhere from sitting rooms to dining rooms to kitchens, showing off precious mementos.

This magnificent antique glass armoire utilizes different timbers and patterns to remember a time gone by, creating a beautiful talking point.

Do you get a beautiful armoire? Please share a photo and tell us where you found it.

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