Armoires are timeless and versatile antique furniture pieces that can add character and functionality to any living space. With their elegant doors, intricate woodwork, and ample storage, armoires are ideal for decorating with antiques. Here’s an in-depth look at how to incorporate these antique beauties into your home decor.

A Bit of History

Armoires have a long and storied past, first gaining popularity in France during the medieval period. The name “armoire” comes from the French word “armure” meaning armor. Originally used to store weapons and armor, armoires eventually transitioned into household storage furniture.

Throughout the Renaissance and Baroque periods, armoires became more ornately decorated and featured detailed carvings and marquetry. It was during the 18th century that armoires reached the height of popularity as elegant showpieces for clothing and linens. Different regional styles emerged, like the flattened bombe armoires of France and the tall, slender English wardrobe cabinets.

Today, antique armoires are highly coveted for their beauty and functionality. Finding a true antique armoire from the 17th-19th centuries takes some hunting, but they can make a majestic addition to any home.

Styles of Antique Armoires

There are a few main styles of antique armoires to look for when you’re decorating:

  • French – Ornately carved with a flattened bombe shape, usually two doors on top and drawers below.
  • English – Tall and slender in design, sometimes with an arched pediment top and intricate veneers.
  • Dutch -Similar to French style but even more embellished, with curved or scalloped aprons.
  • Renaissance – Architectural and geometric in style, often made of walnut or oak.
  • Country French – Rustic and simply decorated armoires from French farmhouses.
  • Italian -Flashy painted decorations and gilded accents on many Italian armoires.

Knowing the stylistic details helps identify authentic antique armoires from different regions. Condition and small imperfections also hint at an armoire’s antiquity.

Incorporating Armoires for Style and Storage

The ways to decorate with antique armoires are endless – they work in so many rooms and design aesthetics. Here are some top uses:

Living Rooms

An armoire tucked in a corner adds symmetry and balance while providing storage for linens, TV equipment, or barware. Place lamps or plants on top to create a decorative focal point.

Dining Rooms

Use an armoire to store and display china, silver, or table linens. The doors can conceal the clutter while allowing you to highlight decorative dishes.


Armoires provide hidden storage for clothing and accessories. Position one near the bed in lieu of closets. You can also use a double-door armoire as a room divider.


Place a stately armoire near the front door to establish an elegant first impression. Use it to store hats, scarves, and bags.

Home Offices

An armoire introduces antique flair to a work area. Store office supplies, files, and electronics behind closed doors.

Kids’ Rooms

Opt for a whimsical painted armoire to contribute stylish storage for toys, games, and clothing.

Design Styles to Complement Armoires

Antique armoires integrate seamlessly into many interior design aesthetics:

  • French Country – Armoires feel right at home against whitewashed walls and rustic wood antiques.
  • Shabby Chic – A distressed painted armoire pairs perfectly with faded florals and chippy painted furniture.
  • Traditional – Mahogany or maple armoires contribute gravitas and elegance in formal spaces.
  • Rustic Farmhouse – Simple oak cabinet armoires complement worn wood, galvanized metal, and textured linens.
  • Vintage Eclectic – Armoires pop beautifully against bold wallpaper patterns and add storage for collectibles.
  • Coastal – A weathered gray armoire contributes beachy storage for seaside inspired rooms.

Tips for Styling with Armoires

When using an armoire for decor, keep these tips in mind:

  • Spotlight the armoire as a focal point with lighting and furniture placement.
  • Fill it with decorative objects, baskets, books, or neatly folded linens.
  • Show off the interior woodwork by leaving doors cracked open.
  • Add molding, trimwork, or paneled walls to complement architectural details.
  • Place a sculpture, lamp, or plant on top to accentuate the height.
  • Hang a large mirror or artwork behind to reflect light and colors.

With their commanding presence and utility, armoires are prized antiques for decorating. Let their historic charm and versatility shine through by making an armoire the statement piece of your room. Express your style by choosing armoires with finishes and carvings that speak to you. Then integrate these antiques confidently by following fundamental design principles. Armoires are keepers that get passed down for generations, gracing homes with their timeless beauty and endless decorating possibilities.

Frequently Asked Questions About Decorating With Antique Armoires

What are some tips for styling an antique armoire?

  • Spotlight it as a focal point with strategic lighting and furniture placement. Fill it with decorative objects, neatly folded linens, or baskets. Show off the interior woodwork by leaving the doors cracked open. Place accessories like lamps or sculpture on top.

How do you incorporate an armoire in a small space?

  • Use a slender vertical armoire that tucks neatly into a corner without dominating. Opt for a petite country French style in a breakfast nook or kitchen. Add molding or trimwork to help it blend into the architecture.

What are the best rooms to use an armoire?

  • Living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, entryways, home offices, and kids’ rooms are all excellent spaces for incorporating an armoire both decoratively and functionally.

What should you avoid storing in an antique armoire?

  • Avoid storing anything that could damage the interior, like sharp objects or corrosive chemicals. Also avoid overly humid environments that may warp the wood over time.

How do you restore the interior of an antique armoire?

  • Carefully clean the interior with a wood soap and water solution, out of direct sunlight. Make any needed repairs with wood glue or fillers. Remove any insects or pests. Apply a new sealant like shellac if needed. Line the bottom with cedar or acid-free paper.

What are French, English and Dutch style armoires?

  • French armoires have elaborate carved detailing and a flattened bombe shape. English styles are tall and slender with intricate veneers. Dutch armoires have very embellished designs like curved aprons.

Can you turn a wardrobe into an armoire?

  • Yes, wardrobes and armoires are very similar. To make a wardrobe more “armoire-like”, add molding, carved detailing, or distressing to make it feel more antique. Swap out the handles for decorative ones.


Antique armoires are treasured for their timeless style, antique charm, and incredible versatility as both decor and functional storage. When decorating with these beauties, consider their historical background and regional designs to choose an authentic style that suits your space. Armoires integrate seamlessly into so many design aesthetics, from French country to coastal chic, adding a commanding focal point. Strategically place them and fill their interiors to highlight these pieces. With the right armoire, you can achieve elegance along with abundant storage and display space. Let them infuse your rooms with antique appeal.