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What Should I Consider When Buying an Antique Armoire?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2016
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Armoires were once considered necessary furniture in many homes. During the middle of the 20th century, newer architectural designs for homes included more closets, making the storage device more or less obsolete. However, in recent years, the armoire has made a comeback. If you are in the market for a good quality antique armoire, there are a few essential factors you need to think about before making your purchase.

In times past, armoires were constructed in many different sizes and styles. They also often sported a wide range of decorative hardware and other visually interesting elements. When an antique armoire catches your eye, the first thing to do is look at the condition of the wood very closely. Ideally, you will find the sides, top, bottom, and doors to be solid and free of any deep gouges or scratches. Don’t be too concerned about surface scratches; those are to be expected and normally can be covered with relative ease. As long as the wood components of the armoire are in good condition, the piece is worth a closer look.

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Choosing the right size and style for your space is also important. An antique armoire that is too small for the area you have in mind will only look lost and somewhat overcome by the rest of the room. By the same token, an armoire that is too big for the space will be extremely imposing and throw the symmetry of the room completely off base. Take along a measuring tape so you can check the height, width, and depth of the armoire. This will prevent you from purchasing a piece that ultimately will not work in your home.

In terms of style, go for vintage furniture that will work with the other design elements of your room. If you have oak furniture in the space, go with an antique armoire that is constructed with oak. Should the room be a study in clean simple lines, choose an armoire that is somewhat plain in design rather than a piece that is extremely ornate. This will keep the furnishings and color scheme in harmony and make the room more inviting.

When you find an antique armoire that seems to be just what you need, check to see if the piece has been professionally appraised. It is not unusual for an antiques dealer to have documentation that establishes the pedigree of old furniture for sale. If the piece has not been appraised, consider having an appraisal done before paying a great deal of money. When an expert is called in to appraise antique furniture, it sometimes is discovered to be a very good copy of an original, but not really worth the asking price. Keep in mind if you still like the copied piece, the appraisal may cause the shop owner to decrease the price.

A last consideration is the hardware on the antique armoire. Ideally, it will be original and in excellent condition. As with the overall design of the armoire, hardware may be very elaborate or very simple in design. If at all possible, try to go with hardware that will enhance the look and feel of not only the armoire but also the rest of the room.

Above all, take your time when shopping for an antique armoire. Along with antique stores, don’t forget to check out of the way thrift shops, junk shops, and flea markets. You never know when you may come across a piece that will be exactly what you need after a small amount of restoration work.

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