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The Charm and Aura of an Antique Wardrobe

An antique wardrobe has a patina in both finish and history. It stands before you as a strong, functional, and durable survivor of perhaps centuries. It’s nearly impossible to look and touch an antique wardrobe without a feeling of awe at the secrets that it holds, the stories it could tell. But, aside from the antique wardrobe’s antique aura, is it in any way a better choice to bring into your bedroom that a brand new wardrobe that has been finished or painted and made to appear as though it were an antique? There are advantages and disadvantages to either type, but in the end, it comes down to a personal decision. All you need are the facts.

If the general look of the wardrobe is your only concern, a new wardrobe with the antiqued or distressed finish is probably the way to go. There is no sense of history associated with its purchase, but it satisfies your functional need and fits in with your chosen bedroom style. If your criteria for wardrobe selection are that straightforward, you’d be foolish to spend the extra money for a fine antique wardrobe.

A fine restored antique wardrobe, most likely oak, will be considerably more expensive that a new wardrobe that may look similar. The cost may be based solely upon the condition and quality of the piece, but may increase exponentially if the wardrobe’s provenance involves a famous place, person, or event.

When you buy an antique wardrobe you are buying a bit of history, but you are also helping to keep the Earth green. How so? No new trees will be cut down to make your wardrobe. That may not be a prime consideration, but it is an interesting and beneficial side effect. Quality of workmanship is also an important consideration. Modern wardrobes, unless custom made by a skilled craftsman, are mass produced in factories where ease of production and cost efficiency rules.

Chances are that a genuine antique wardrobe was lovingly created by a master craftsman. Each joint was custom fit, not to within broad tolerances mandated by today’s manufacturing processes, by to exacting specifications. Normally unseen woods, such as those used in drawer sides and bottoms, and rear panels, are usually made from woods of higher quality than are used in the modern manufactured pieces.

Carvings of legs and panel designs will most likely be hand hewn and more intricate than what might be found on modern traditionally styled wardrobes. Being hand done, each carved surface will be unique to that particular wardrobe.

As far a storage configuration is concerned, today’s wardrobe storage choices are not new innovations. Two-door, three-door, and sliding door wardrobes were standard designs centuries ago. Most of the new furniture with the designs we call traditional, are simply updated copies of the classical wardrobes that graced homes in past times. Wood stains, although undoubtedly chemically different, offered the same colors and surface finishes as are available today.

It’s clear that the decision to buy an antique wardrobe rather than a new unit, involves more that the consideration of cost. It’s a very personal choice that is readily understood by all antique lovers, but difficult to explain to those who view furniture through a strictly utilitarian lens. Don’t try to explain. If it’s what you want, buy it.