The workhorse of my bedroom is my antique English pine armoire! Measuring in at 66.5” W x 22.5” D x 91” H, it is a large beauty that grounds the approximately 20-foot high, vaulted ceilings in that room, but it is not just a beautiful piece. It stores many household items. What exactly is it storing? Well, I love seeing how people practically use antiques in their homes, so I thought it would be fun to give you a look inside of my antique armoire and answer that question.
[Affiliate links are used in this post. As an affiliate for a program (including being an Amazon Associate), I get a small commission (earn money) from qualifying purchases made through the included links, at no additional cost to you.]
Are Armoires Out of Style?
First of all, you might be thinking “Armoire! Aren’t those out of style?” The answer is “yes” and “no.”
The deep armoires of the 1980s and 1990s made to hold the thick box televisions are outdated simply because our televisions have become slimmer and wider. Today’s televisions will not fit in them. However, considering that our floor plans have transitioned to a more open concept layout (for now, as the pandemic has shifted desires), rooms today could still hold these outdated, deeper armoires quite well spatially. The intended purpose of the furniture would need to shift and potentially the aesthetics updated, but they could work.
The armoires with more age—those from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries—that are made of solid wood, carvings, and possibly hidden compartments are far from outdated. Then, as now, these pieces command a presence in a room, are good investments, and are functionally great for storage.
Where Should I Put My Armoire?
If you are lucky enough to inherit an antique armoire or find one on your antiquing adventures, know that they can be quite versatile if you have the space. You can use them in a bedroom, living room, bathroom, office, or practically any room that will house the piece and needs storage. I chose to put my antique English pine armoire in my bedroom simply because that room is the largest in the house with the wall space to hold that piece of furniture.
What Can I Do With An Old Armoire?
I chose the armoire before I decided how I would use it. What can I say? Antique pine (English, scrub, heart, or otherwise) is a weakness of mine! Besides the wood type, I liked the two, deep bottom drawers, and the fact that the previous owner had added additional shelfing inside. That shelfing was a game changer for the versatility of this piece.
With their ample size, armoires offer the space for a wide variety of storage solutions. Below are several suggestions for how to use one, but the possibilities are endless:
Most people are aware that armoires can be used to store clothes, as has been their use for several hundred years. When a room lacked a closet, an armoire was a solution.
Originally, my antique English pine wardrobe only had the top shelf. A rod would have run from side to side underneath this shelf, allowing for clothes to be hung. With our new home having two primary closets, we did not need to use the piece for this purpose specifically; however, I do have our Christmas pajamas and some seasonal clothes tucked away in the bottom drawers.
If you have a small closet in your home, an antique armoire is an excellent solution to be able to expand your wardrobe. If that had been my solitary need for this antique English pine armoire, I would have stored a particular season’s worth of clothes in it, while the other season was in my small closet. For example, I would have my winter clothes tucked away in the armoire—bulky sweaters would be perfect on that top fixed shelf, pants and long-sleeve shirts would have hung from a rod, and the bottom drawers would be great for shoes and pajamas or undergarments.
If more storage for clothing is your goal, an armoire is an obviously excellent solution.
Hide Your Television
The concept of tv armoires from the 1990s has merit. If you can find an armoire wide enough to hold a modern flatscreen television, this is an excellent solution for hiding it.
When we decided the antique English pine armoire was going into the primary bedroom, the goal was to use at least a portion of it for our television and accompanying electronics. While having our television visible in the common areas of the house does not bother me, I did not want it as the dominate feature or centerpiece of our bedroom. I wanted this space to feel more peaceful, restful, grounded, and less distracting.
Fortunately for us, the previous owner had installed pilaster strips and shelves, and he drilled holes in the back of the armoire for wires to run. (TIP—The Home Depot sells paneled lumber that works perfectly for shelves in a deep armoire, and you can just ask them to cut it with their panel saw in store, making adding shelves to a piece of furniture easier than you might have thought.)
To make sure the inside of the armoire was as aesthetically pleasing as functional, the size of our television was selected based on the visual space that needed to be filled. Besides the television, we added a thinner shelf to house our secondary speaker, Blu-ray player, and cable router as well as a few DVDs. This was easy enough after locating some universal clips for the pilaster strips online.
A third idea for how to use an armoire, particularly in the bedroom, is to store linens. This idea came to me after battling for a few years with my small linen closet. I knew I needed another solution, especially as someone who loves mixing and matching linens.
I used the top and bottom two shelves for linen storage in my antique English pine wardrobe. Quilts went above the television and below it, with the lowest shelf being used for sheets and pillowcases. My thinking with the sheets on the bottom shelf is they would be easier to access on a more regular basis. I arranged them in baskets and labeled them in a way that would allow making a pretty bed easier—extra pillowcases, white sheets, colored sheets, patterned sheets.
Additional Uses for an Antique Armoire
Besides using my armoire to store clothes, linens, and hide my television, I also used it to hold my “breakfast in bed” tray when it is not being used. All of those examples are specific to my armoire being used in a bedroom, but armoires can have many other uses depending on the location.
Here are some other suggestions to ponder for your antique armoire:
- Keep the doors open (or remove the doors) and use it to display an antique collection.
- Store books.
- Create a home office inside of it—use a waist high shelf for your standing desk surface, organize your files and inventory inside with bins and baskets, or hide your printer.
- Put it in your sewing room and use it to store fabrics.
- Create a hostess station—store table linens, extra serving pieces, or tabletop décor.
- Put it in a playroom or kid’s room and store toys, especially those large ones that never seem to fit anywhere.
How to Decorate an Armoire
Once your use of your armoire is figured out, you might wonder if you should decorate it. Should you put something on top of your armoire? I did! I would caution you to be mindful of scale. A larger piece or collection of larger pieces will look better than a lot of little items. You want to stay away from a “cluttered look” that many tiny items will give you. For example, I used a large dough trencher. My goal with this piece in the future is to add florals and plants to it or some sort of seasonal décor. (Speaking of the seasons, for the holidays, you could add wreaths with ribbons hanging from the doors or hang stockings from the knobs.)
Related Posts, Pages, and Sources
- If you are looking for more organizing sources, check out my Organization Shop Page.
- You can also head to the “Organization” board on my Amazon Storefront for more resources.
- If you are looking for more organizing inspiration, check out these posts:
- If you are looking for more inspiration for using your antique pieces, check out these posts:
An Antique English Pine Wardrobe for Bedroom Organization
No matter the room, no matter the use, an antique armoire is a piece of furniture worth investing in. If you are needing a lot of extra storage and some character in a space, an armoire has great appeal. Consider it for storing clothing, linens, electronics, books, toys, and more.
What room and usage could you see for an antique armoire in your home?
If you are inspired to purchase and/or organize an antique armoire, I would love to see your completed project. Be sure to tag me @inheritedadco in your photo.