Feature Furniture: Wardrobe

Leland Thomasset

June 24, 2021

2 min read

We all know what a wardrobe is: a giant cupboard for clothing and/or a portal to the mythical realm of Narnia. But just where did this piece of furniture come from? When did built-in closets take over? And how did Aslan learn to talk?


The wardrobe as the western world knows it originated (like most furniture) from the European middle ages. For the longest time a wardrobe, or “wardereube,” referred to an entire room dedicated to storing a wealthy nobleperson’s collection of garments. 

It wasn’t until hundreds of years later that the wardrobe became a standalone piece of furniture. During this time, the typical wardrobe consisted of two parts--a larger compartment for hanging clothes and drawers to lay clothes flat. In wealthy estates, the wardrobe would be made with elaborate detailing and plenty of fancy embellishments. 

By the 1800s, wardrobes were an essential part of daily life. Across Europe and the fledgling United States, people were transitioning from a communal or collective lifestyle to a more individualistic one. This meant households would want individual belongings and clothing which in turn meant required more individual storage space. Mass production of things (including clothing and furniture) ensued. And designers each started to add their own flavor. The first wardrobe with mirrored doors appeared during this time, as did full-length doors that concealed the inner drawers. The American oak wardrobes, as befits the country, were absurdly large, with floor to ceiling storage.

By the late 1800s built-in closets were advertised by landlords to make their apartments more appealing to tenants. And those built-ins have only increased in size and storage space over the years. Somewhat ironically, the wardrobe went from room to furniture to larger furniture and now back to room.

Wardrobes Today

Not every living space comes with enough built-in storage space. People--especially those living in urban centers--continue to purchase wardrobes for additional clothing storage. So even today, freestanding wardrobes abound! 

But the wardrobes of today come in all shapes and sizes and styles. Shop around for the perfect piece or order one custom made to your desired dimensions and with your desired finishes through Baru

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