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Emily Henderson

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by Grace de Asis
Emily Henderson The Fourth Artist Sothebys Parisian Apartment Pics 1
photo by tessa neustadt | from: staging my dream parisian hotel suite with sotheby’s

A couple of weeks ago, as I was salivating over Corbett’s bedroom from the Brooklinen reveal, I decided to Google, once again, one of my favorite EHD blog posts of all time—the Parisian hotel suite Emily did with Sotheby’s. It’s where I first laid eyes on that beautiful burlwood armoire pictured above that I’ve loved ever since. At the same time, on a completely unrelated note (my brain tends to go down very random rabbit holes but I don’t think I’m alone here), I was thinking about how much I missed the Chronicles of Narnia series (yep, the movie and book franchise from long ago). I want to be Lucy Pevensie seeing that intricately carved wardrobe, feeling like she’s scored the best hiding place of all time as she turns the latch on the door, sinking through all the fur coats and suddenly falling through fir branches onto soft, magical snow.

I must’ve somehow been trying to subconsciously manifest something about wardrobes and armoires because, in that same week, Arlyn asked me if I’d be down to write a blog post about them hot off the heels of the secretary desks article from a few weeks ago. Coincidence? I think not. And so now here we are. Let’s talk wardrobes, or armoires if you’re feeling fancy, and how to bring it into our modern day lives because even though likely none of us are currently living in a sprawling French chateau, these heavier pieces of furniture can be used successfully (and VERY chicly) in nearly every room of the house. It’s one of those pieces that are often overlooked, but let’s all agree to stop that right now and consider the armoire.

And just you wait ’til the end of this post because we’ve got an awesome roundup for you with both vintage and modern pieces in large and small scale and budget. I made sure to include options for every style and real estate space here. (Teaser: there are some INSANELY great finds in there that I’m secretly coveting for myself.)

Photo By Amy Bartlam. Design By Jette Creative.
photo by amy bartlam | design by jette creative

Sure, with a name like “wardrobe,” you’re thinking they have to be relegated behind closed bedroom doors. But we’re all for thinking outside the box around here at EHD and like to be trailblazers in anything if we can. We’re not in this instance, but we’re loving what we’re seeing from other like-minded people. Because really, armoires are essentially just cabinets for storing things so why can’t we use one anywhere and everywhere we need storage, right? Plus, because they take up more vertical space than horizontal, they’re great for smaller footprints.

A little fun fact about armoires: they started out as storage for arms (you know, like an armory where you get weapons from) and not clothes! There might’ve even been a time when they were used by cabinet makers as a place to store their tools, too. It wasn’t until much later on that the ruling French class thought to use them to hang their elaborate dresses and store their dressing accessories in. As with fashion today, the “fad” caught on with the lesser privileged French and they made their own less ornate armoires. That’s it for today’s history lesson. Let’s get to it!

Entryway

Emily Henderson Roundups Armoires Entryway Suzanne Kasler Interiors
image via 1stdibs | design by suzanne kasler interiors

I think a super ingenious way of using armoires is in entryways. It’s such an awesome way to make a statement and also so, SO smart. Huge coats that you want out of sight? Throw it in the wardrobe. Chuck in your boots and other work shoes that you don’t use often while you’re at it. All those drawers? Stash away purses, grocery bags, and even junk mail…new junk drawer, anyone? Think of it as one VERY large catchall for all the things that you need to grab or put down. It’s like having all the pros of a mudroom without having to build anything out.

Emily Henderson Roundups Armoires Living Room Regan Baker Design V2 1
image via lonny | design by regan baker design

Low on entryway space? You can do the same thing by placing a narrower armoire like in the image above right by your door, or maybe at the very end of your entry hall. The caning detail on those doors (from Colonel Shop) gives the illusion that the piece is a little lighter and it tricks your eye into thinking that it’s not your usual tall and imposing hunk of furniture. (Side note: GIMME ALL THE CANED FURNITURE. Who’s with me?)

Emily Henderson Roundups Armoires Entryway Amber Interiors
image via all sorts of | design by amber interiors

Of course, if you have a foyer with high ceilings and a beautiful iron staircase, a fully closed, distressed piece like the one used here in a room designed by Amber Interiors will still feel light enough while injecting a WHOLE heap of character (and stashing all the things you want no one to see).

Bedroom

Corbett Brooklinen 18
photo by sara liggoria-tramp | from: this organic, punchy bedroom might be our new favorite makeover

Here’s another fun little tidbit that I found out during my research: the hanging rods and side shelves/drawer combo that we see inside a lot of modern-day armoires were added by Sears. Yes, the same Sears that used to make those prefab home kits. Apparently, their chifforobe is groundbreaking in that it’s the first one to account for both hanging and folded clothes. Or so they said anyway. GREAT JOB, AMERICA.

Emily Henderson Roundups Armoires Bedroom Glass Armoire
image via remodelista | design by kbh

Okay so this one’s probably not for me (I have a tendency to, um, put all clutter in Amazon boxes and shove them in every closet and cabinet to be sorted through and disposed of “later,” #noshame and also #shame), but if you’re a little bit more organized than I am, I absolutely love this concept of a totally sleek and modern glass/metal armoire. 

This, of course, works for a contemporary space, but would also be great to see in an urban loft or even an apartment full of architectural character and classic panel work—I love a good juxtaposition. I can imagine someone who’s all about the capsule wardrobe (all the props to you!) having this bold setup… she’d be that totally put-together and chic #girlboss that I obviously aspire to be. If you get a glass armoire or wardrobe, please post photos and tag me in them so you can be my role model and I can live vicariously through you.

Emily Henderson Roundups Armoires Bedroom Built In
image and design via linda mcdougald design

Now this…could it possibly be the secret entrance to my Narnia? Some might say that this look is a stretch, but I’m a lot in love with how the homeowner built this armoire into their closet. While I do love the aesthetic of a wall of built-in closets, sometimes it has the tendency of looking too new build (which could be the look you may or may not be going for). Incorporate this slightly unassuming and almost austere vintage armoire into your design plan and now you’ve got yourself a unique moment that gives your bedroom a ton of character and charm. With extra storage space not just your clothes, but also extra pillows and bedding. Two thumbs up!

Dining Room

Emily Henderson Roundups Armoires Dining Jessica Helgerson V2
image and design via jessica helgerson interior design

This house by the ever-amazing Jessica Helgerson has been making its rounds on Instagram (and I’ve saved another vignette of this velvet green built-in sectional multiple times), but I didn’t see this shot of the dining room up until I was doing my research for this post. That right there on the right is definitely an armoire and it totally makes sense. China cabinet, armoire, same difference, right? What’s in a name? That which we call an armoire, could house linen and dishware just as well and all that jazz. (Bonus points for you if you can tell me who I quoted that from.)

In the project above, it looks like Jessica kept the original warm finish of the armoire which works in the space because, while the coffered ceilings offer a more traditional vibe, the ceiling’s fresh white paint and the other more modern pieces in the room keeps the dining room from looking dated. The key here is practicing restraint and going for more of a minimalist look so that the armoire stands out as lovely icing on the cake (that’s missing from the dining table obviously). If you already own a lot of traditional pieces, you can always balance it out by painting a vintage piece with a fresh pop of color. While I probably wouldn’t be able to bring myself to ever paint over a burlwood armoire, other more ornate pieces are a different story…especially if I got it for a steal.

Bathroom

Emily Henderson Roundups Armoires Bathroom Patrick Printy
image via elle decor | design by patrick printy

So many possibilities. In the bathroom, an armoire is instant storage for all your towels, bath mats, extra toiletries, robes…again without having to go through building anything out (I feel like I keep talking about that as a selling point, but I mean, who wants to actually have to involve a contractor, ya know?). Find perfect vintage piece, take home, put in your bathroom. Done. Now, you can have comfy pajamas within reach as soon as you get out of your relaxing, aromatic bath. (Fun fact: did you know the French deemed a wardrobe proper only if it fit “eight small men.” How very specific. And odd.) Again, not everyone can do it because of space constraints, but if you’ve got the space, why not?

Living Room

Emily Henderson Roundups Armoires Lr Casa Quinta Da Corte Pierre Yovanovitch
image via remodelista | design by pierre yovanovitch

Remember when Emily Gilmore stealthily decorated Rory’s dorm room at Yale? That’s an armoire as their TV entertainment system! When built-in closets became more popular, people’s use of armoires shifted and they started being used to put things like TVs, radios, and even computers out of sight. Obviously, now with our gadgets becoming flatter and smaller every year (thanks, Apple), we’re not suddenly about to go back to storing our tiny TVs and laptops in huge cabinets. But any storage is great storage and it’s a hot commodity, people.

Look at those pretty cabinet doors. Behind them, you can stuff out-of-season throws or blankets, holiday decor, even an extra set of bedding for out of town guests, or maybe your Settlers of Catan…right within reach of your sleeper sofa.

Emily Henderson Roundups Armoires Pass Through Living Entryway V2 1
image via bridget ambrose

And get the most bang out of your furniture piece by having them serve dual purpose. In the image above, the homeowner placed it between the living room and entryway so now it can serve as a catchall for BOTH spaces. Feel free to shove your junk and clutter into them whenever surprise guests show up at your door (who does that??).

BONUS INSPO: Hotels are a great source of design inspiration and this one from Hotel Peter & Paul in New Orleans is no exception.

Emily Henderson Roundups Armoires Bedroom Peter And Paul Hotel
image via hotel peter & paul

Have fun with your piece. If you find one for cheap and you don’t like the finish, you can always paint it over, sand it down and refinish it. Like what Hotel Peter & Paul did in their armoires above. They either painted or stained it and added those almost cartoon-like 3D effects. When I first saw it, I thought it might’ve been a render or some computer graphic, but no, all the armoires in their guest bedrooms have this design. It’s a quirky but fun detail that balances out the more traditional elements in the room. I’m all for it and I’d love to see your guys’ own take on it.

OKAY, now it’s time to get shopping if you’ve been convinced you need an armoire in your home. Below are several roundups, by price, of our favorite armoires that you can use for ANY of your storage needs, not just clothes and not just in your bedroom. If there is a vintage one from Chairish (SO many amazing vintage and antique options, FYI) or Etsy that you’re into, be sure to scoop it up fast because those are one-of-a-kind. Also, don’t shoot the messenger, but before I completely let you go, I’ll tell you this: these armoire picks are a little more loose, meaning that some might actually lean more towards a wardrobe/tallboy dresser or a china cabinet, but their presence in the room will give you armoire vibes. Here ya go, ENJOY, and tell me in the comments below which one you get!

Emily Henderson Roundups Armoires 500 And Under V2

1. Idasen Cabinet | 2. Vintage Fancher French Provincial Style Armoire | 3. Manhattan Comfort Liberty Large | 4. Joy Vanity Jewelry Armoire | 5. Contemporary 2-Door Wardrobe | 6. Armoire | 7. Antique Wardrobe | 8. Tvilum Diana Wardrobe | 9. Nordmella Chest

Emily Henderson Roundups Armoires 500 To 1500 V2 1

1. Vintage Retro Armoire | 2. Mid-Century Chifforobe | 3. Marte Storage Cabinet | 4. Carved Wood Armoire | 5. Arch Wardrobe | 6. Peninsula Armoire | 7. Gentilly Armoire | 8. 1920s Art Decos Style Armoire | 9. Entertainment Armoire | 10. Grain Wood 3-Door Armoire | 11. Merriton Armoire | 12. Muse Cabinet | 13. Alba Wardrobe | 14. 1930s Art Deco British Wardrobe | 15. Astoria Wardrobe | 16. Vintage Chifforobe | 17. Carson Carrington Armoire | 18. Vintage 1920s-1930s Chifforobe 

Emily Henderson Roundups Armoires 1500 To 3000 V2

1. Mid-Century Walnut Armoire | 2. Hensley Armoire | 3. Danish Modern Bow Front Corner Cabinet | 4. Freestanding Cabinet | 5. Hudson Chifforobe | 6. Portland Carved Armoire | 7. Grove Armoire | 8. Gracia Cane and Wood Wardrobe | 9. Danish Mid-Century Armoire | 10. Burl and Chrome High Chest Wardrobe | 11. Carved Thalia Armoire | 12. Colette Driftwood Armoire | 13. Modern Wardrobe | 14. Mid-Century Armoire | 15. Maison Armoire | 16. Mid-Century Walnut Armoire | 17. Array Highboard | 18. Keane Wenge Armoire | 19. Fallon Cabinet | 20. Linear Two-Door Armoire | 21. Burl Wood Armoire Dresser

Emily Henderson Roundups Armoires 3000 To 5000 V3

1. Linear Armoire | 2. Cane Wardrobe | 3. Shale Wardrobe | 4. Cuzco Bleached Yukas 4-Door Cabinet | 5. Walnut Armoire Dresser | 6. Besson Deeluxe Cabinet | 7. 1970s Brutalist Wardrobe | 8. Blackbird Cupboard | 9. Mid-Century British Colonial Cabinet

Emily Henderson Roundups Armoires Over 5000

1. Inside These Arms Armoire | 2. Rosalind Cabinet | 3. ZZ Cabinet | 4. Kapelle Armoire | 5. Contemporary Brutalist Style Wardrobe | 6. D45 Tullia Armoire | 7. Maggie Cruz Home Calzada Armoire | 8. Charles Pfister for Baker Primavera Wardrobe Dresser | 9. Frame Cabinet

For more furniture shopping, be sure not to miss our curated SHOP page with all our favorite pieces right now. It’s like going shopping with Emily for your home (for real)!

  1. I’m totally on board with wardrobes as well. The ones I end up pinning like mad (and aren’t in this round up) are antique Scandinavian / Gustavian cupboards . There is something about their simple lines and pared back colours that make my heart sing. I end up studying the pictures intensely trying to work out what it is about the aesthetic of elaborate and simple that makes them look so good. I’ve come to the conclusion they stand out best when contrasted against new furniture and aren’t swamped by a mountain of other antiques.

  2. I end up studying the pictures intensely trying to work out what it is about the aesthetic of elaborate and simple that makes them look so good. https://freerobuxcodes.net/

  3. I’m a believer! In an old house with limited closets… I use them all over. In a bedroom we have sweaters and jeans folded in one, in hallway outside of bathroom it’s our closet for extra health and beauty items plus towels, one (actually a pie safe) in the pantry for food storage and another in our informal dining for serving baskets, trays, pitchers, etc

    1. i have a pie safe in one of our bathrooms for extra storage! we love it there.

  4. We have one with adjustable shelves inside by Universal that we use as a pantry and it completely changed how our kitchen functions. It’s definitely an overlooked option!

  5. I definitely read this as “why you should be using ARMORIES” and thought ‘well that is a bold stance…’ Definitely agree armoires > armories for every room!

    1. Ha! I mean technically they’re the same thing…at least in the olden day definition of the word. 😉

  6. I always like to go to 1st dibs for things like this- they have some beautiful ones in a range of prices. https://www.1stdibs.com/search/furniture/?q=armoire

    1. Yes they do and I love them so much! But also very expensive 🙁

  7. I have used one for years for clothes, but last year when we moved- it went to the finished basement and has been transformed into amazing LEGO storage! Making me one happy Mama–we were being taken over by Legos!

  8. I love armoires, and you can often find them for free on Craigslist too, because they’re so big a lot of people can’t move them with them!

    1. I can remember the early days of the Antique Guild, and they had these HUUUUUUGE armoires they’d bring over from Europe. You’d have to have an equally huge room to hold it!

  9. These are so great to buy secondhand. They are ALWAYS for sale on EBTH, Facebook and Craigslist and in such a wide variety of styles. Love!

  10. My local secondhand furniture store has a dozen of these – vintage and gorgeous. Some are abandoned parts of bedroom sets it seems. If you like these, definitely look secondhand!

  11. HA! I’m currently working on the renovation of a local police department building and we have custom-designed “armoires” for all of the detectives’ offices to house their gun safes, vests, gun belts, and extra uniforms. I never made the connection with armories before, but in this case it makes perfect sense that we’ve been referring to these as armoires! BTW, the antique English armoire I have in my living room holds all of the family games for the grandkids.

    1. Ha ha! That’s hilarious that it’s apparently still a thing today. Love it!

    2. That is such a fun idea! We should get those for our staff at http://www.staydryroofingservices.com

  12. I love armoires!! My 2 old English Pine armoires have been with me for 30 years. Over the years I have parted with just about every piece of furniture except these 2 armoires.

  13. I have a vintage pie safe I use for linen storage.

    1. what is a pie safe, I must know?!?

      1. https://www.google.com/search?source=hp&ei=m_ckXe2sN6fB0PEPgI-ZyAg&q=pie+safe&oq=pie+safe&gs_l=psy-ab.3..0l10.1205.2660..3396…0.0..0.359.752.8j3-1……0….1..gws-wiz…..0..0i131j0i10.zMBLWmqGRak

        must be a place to keep your pie safe! 🙂

      2. A pie safe was used in kitchens of the past to store the just-baked pies in a safe place where they could cool without going soggy. They have doors on the front but ones that are ventilated in some way — punched tin or mesh screen of some sort. This allowed air flow so that pies could cool and keep the crust crisp but would keep them safe from the flies. I have my grandmother’s mint green pie safe from her farm house. It still has the date and price on the back — 1926 and sold for $2.99. It is fully collapsible and a downright treasure. I have used it in the dining room, the kids’ rooms and now it is a linen “closet” in the guest bath. My daughter has already “claimed” it for inheritance so I know it will be cared for another generation in the family.

  14. I wish i had room for more wardrobes. In the bedroom, where there is floor space, the celings are too low and in the downstairs, they’re no floor space! shout out to 1920’s 1 1/2 story bungalows.

  15. I had a small armoire that probably was intended to be in a front hall, since it had an iron umbrella/walking stick rack inside the door. When we finally did an all-out remodel of our townhouse, my contractor took that armoire and fitted it into the space where the old, builder grade, crappy storage across from my sink was. I now use it for linen and jewelry storage. Perfect!

  16. We have some family Henredon pieces that have floated around and I can’t let them go because I (once upon a time) saw the wardrobes on Ruby Lane for $2000+ each. Marie Kondo would not approve of this reason but seeing this reaffirms my decision to not let them go!
    I can’t wait to get ours moved in. They are monstrous but so stately.

  17. I’m not that old, but I can remember when everyone bought these to house their clunky TV, VCR, stereo and DVD and CD collections! Have encouraged so many clients to let go of theirs over the years lol. The only reason we still have ours is that a charity pickup truck driver said it was too big to haul away! You’ve rounded up some great ones here. In revisiting this kind of piece, I lean towards the ones that are on skinny legs. They feel different from the 90s armoires 😉

    1. I bought one of those old TV armoires on Craigslist and had my husband add shelves where the TV was supposed to go. Perfect vertical storage in my kids’ playroom, and it was a steal since few people need them for boxy TVs anymore.

      1. That’s a great hack, Allison! 🙂

        Another one that I saw in my research was people re-outfitting their vintage armoires into a wet bar (complete with a bar sink). It looked awesome and charming.

  18. I had an extremely old solid oak armoire with handles made from old nails. I moved it with me from place to place when I was in my 20s and lived in all kinds of weird rooms that never had enough storage. I gave it to my sister before I knew that she planned to cut the bottom off of it to use it in her kid’s room 🙁 That cabinet survived for over 200 years before it met such an ignoble end.

  19. Great post. So many fabulous options.

  20. I’m going to take my armoire to the nursing home should I ever need to go there. It’s amazing and as a designer I used to sell tons of them and for some reason they fell out of fashion. Thank you for giving them some love

  21. i’ve always loved armoires and inherited my great aunt’s wardrobe! my family has always used them for non-clothes purposes. we’re doing a phase 1 kitchen reno later this year and i’m hoping to snag an old corner entertainment center armoire for cheap to turn into a big appliance garage situation.

  22. Hey! I just saw that burlwood cabinet featured in the first photo FOR SALE for a mere 80 bucks!! On offer up here in Los Angeles. I love it but live in a studio apartment already full of furniture. I just thought I’d give anyone who might see it and love it a heads up!!! (I was searching for a cabinet and it came up in that search)

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