by Dr. Lori Verderame
Originally called kas (case furniture), armoires provided an important function as storage pieces prior to the widespread introduction and use of closets built into bedrooms and other rooms of the house during the 1600s and 1700s. These free standing closets were used to store clothing, linens, textiles, and other expensive yet necessary household items.
A famous painting by Pieter De Hooch called the Linen Cupboard shows an early example of the armoire or kas being traditionally used. While antiques armoires were highly sought after some years ago with values ranging from $5,000 to $50,000, the form has fallen out of favor recently.
The traditional armoire experienced a collecting spike in the 1980s when people were using them for both bedroom and linen storage as well as to hide the television set that was positioned in the master bedroom. With the introduction of flat screen TVs, the armoire market took a nosedive with buyers leaving the market. Today, armoires are useful pieces and quite lovely but to use for storage but most armoires are not longer used to store a TV set. Now, armoires have returned to their original function as a piece of storage furniture.
How to Identify an Armoire
Armoires, depending on their origin and age, may have mirrored doors, locking mechanisms, interior doors, rods for hanging clothing, etc. Double or single door armoires are both popular with collectors. Those armoires that are oversized or have been reconstructed in some manner–new drawers inserted or shelves removed–are less desirable. Armoires are available in various woods including mahogany, oak, walnut, fruit woods, etc. Early European armoires typically extend to heights upwards of 8 to 10 feet.
Request an online appraisal of your armoire from Dr. Lori.