Antique Furniture Terminology Explained

O.K. - so you like shopping for antique furniture and you have fun doing it but perhaps feel kind of dumb because some of the terminology is too say the least, unclear.

Following is an explanation of some of the more common confusing expressions which we hope will save you some possible embarrassment and definitely some time.

A Buffet And A Sideboard

These two are basically the same thing although the French (wouldn’t you know it) define a ‘buffet’ as a small sideboard used for storing dishes.

However, the fact is that they are both used for storing dishes and one’s serving utensils are stored below both of them and in addition they both have a flat surface above to both display and to offer an area from which to serve prepared food.

Some buffets and sideboards have large mirrored backs and have display shelves attached whereas others have no back at all.

Although they are basically the ‘same’ thing you might perhaps want to bear in mind that a buffet might in fact be a little smaller than a sideboard but you shouldn’t and please don’t over concern yourself with this one.

Chest Of Drawers, A Highboy Or A Chiffonier ?

Since a ‘highboy’ is basically a tall chest with a legged base and chiffonier is a high narrow chest they are both ‘technically’ chests of drawers. The ‘chiffonier’ however will sometimes have a swivel mirror attached to the top as well.

The Difference between Armoires and Wardrobes

The ‘armoire’ which was originally produced back in medieval times to hold amour is once again gaining widespread popularity and for good reason because they are now used for containing and storing everything from bedding to hi-fi equipment.

Both an armoire and a wardrobe have doors and contain a rod for hanging clothing but an armoire will generally tend to be a little larger and perhaps a little more ornate, whereas a wardrobe will have a more simplified look.

In general it is only the seller who will make a distinction between the two.

So what is a Chifforobe?

A chifforobe is a very versatile piece of furniture that combines a wardrobe and a chest of drawers thereby giving much more versatility than either of them has alone.

A chifforobe most often features a clothes cabinet with a door built on to a small chest of drawers and will most be topped with a swivel mirror and for those lacking in space a chifforobe might offer a perfect solution.

So what did you learn?

You learned that there are no major differences amongst the above items and that you should feel free to ask an online seller to describe what he is selling in greater detail.

If you live in a confined environment however you might want to seek out a ‘chifforobe’.

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