An antique bedroom dresser is the highlight of many collectors' bedrooms. Since these pieces of furniture were usually sturdy and were not in the main living area many of them survive in excellent condition.
Most antique dressers which you will find will be from the Victorian era or later. Bedrooms in the colonial period usually had blanket chests for storage rather than dressers. There were some very wealthy Colonial families that owned a Bombe chest, a rounded dresser on short legs; but, these are expensive and somewhat rare.
Here is a quick guide to identifying antique dresser styles.
Victorian Style Dresser
The Victorian dresser was often small and delicate looking. It generally had no more than three drawers. The body of the dresser often sat on legs and was topped with a mirror. Some of the later Victorian dressers had marble tops, and heavy carving in the same style as the Victorian era in which it was manufactured.The Victorian style was popular up through the 1920s. You can read more about Victorian interiors at Victoriana.
Arts and Crafts
The Arts and Crafts style began to be recognizable as a furniture style in the last decade of the 1800s. By 1915 it was popular and found in many homes. This style is defined by wide drawers and hammered or cast metal details around keyholes. The dresser typically sat on the ground.
Art Deco dressers mimicked everything about the Art Deco Style. The carvings were precise and rounded with a very modern look. Wood was often lighter than in previous eras. The drawer pulls were stylized as well.
Art Deco was popular from the 1920s through the 1940s although it changed slightly during this time.
The Eames era and midcentury modern furniture took on a sleek style. Blonde woods were often used and pieces were streamlined and slick. Charles and Ray Eames, who were man and wife, not brothers as some suppose, revolutionized furniture making with their ability to transform plywood into fanciful furniture shapes.Midcentury furniture was popular in some form from about the 1940s through the 1970s.
Choosing an Antique Bedroom Dresser
Choosing an antique dresser can be difficult. There may be numerous choices in your area. Here are some things you will want to consider.
Style of the Room
What is your room style? Is it Colonial, Victorian, or country? While you don't have to choose a dresser that matches the era completely it is important to get one that compliments the room in which it will be placed. While an eclectic mix can work well in some rooms, mixing some styles, such as high Victorian style with an Eames Era dresser will probably not work together due to the vast differences in the style.
How much do you have to spend? There are many simple, turn of the century dressers that can be found for less than $200 at local antique stores, thrift shops, and even on eBay. Decide how much money you have to spend before you set your heart on an expensive dresser such as an Eastlake piece that costs a small fortune.
Look at the piece carefully to determine the condition. Take the drawers out and examine the dovetailing. Check to see if there have been repairs done, or if the piece has been refinished. If there are new repairs or the dresser has been painted or refinished it can lose quite a bit of value.
On the other hand, an antique dresser should look antique. If it looks too perfect it may be a reproduction. Some of the things to expect on antique dressers are:
- Irregular fading in the wood
- Mirrors that have spots or reflect oddly
- Carvings that may not be exactly the same since that is difficult in handcrafted pieces
- Chips to the edges
- Normal signs of wear and tear
When it comes right down to it, your preference matters most of all. Choose something you love and you will always be able to fit it in somehow.
Where to Find Antique Dressers
It is best if you can find a dresser that you like locally. This gives you the ability to check the condition as well as look for potential problems. Some places you might check are:
- Antique shops
- Thrift stores
- Furniture resale shops
- Garage sales
- Craigslist postings
- Newspaper ads
If you can't find what you want locally then you can look online at well known and trusted websites like:
Finding the perfect antique bedroom dresser for your room may take some time. Be patient until you find the piece that speaks to you. It will be worth the time you waited.