A Guide to Identifying Antique Dresser Styles

A Guide to Identifying Antique Dresser Styles

An antique dresser can be used in your home’s bedroom for basic clothing storage. You can also use an antique dresser in a dining room or formal living room as a place for table linen storage, games, and other items.

Start From the Floor Up

When identifying antique dresser styles, the first step is to look at the legs. Depending on the era they were built for, they may be on taller legs. William and Mary dressers, generally built from 1690 to 1730, tend to have long, spindly legs. In the past, it may have made them easier to clean under.

Brass hardware and silver inlays are also common in this style. If you’re looking for an antique for your home, a William and Mary dresser would be quite striking. Just be aware that the different metals may require regular care to keep it looking sharp.

Pay Attention to Hardware

There are types of antique dressers that feature striking hardware. The Sheraton furniture line, made from approximately 1700 to 1829, includes stamped brass hardware decorated with lion’s heads, for example.

If you find a Sheraton piece to use in your dining area, make sure you take a tape measure along. The drawers in the Sheraton line can be quite uneven; very short drawers can be lovely for storing your flatware, but odd-sized drawers can make other storage choices challenging.

Study the Carvings

Another tip for identifying antique dresser styles is to study the carving patterns and consider where the carving is located. Those who love florid design may want to study the Rococo style of antique dresser. These types of antique dressers are loaded with detail and may include gold gilding or custom paint.

The French Provincial style also features carving, often around the base and across the face of each drawer. These pieces are also curved and include a lot of flair as a stand alone piece.

One of the big differences between Rococo pieces and French Provincial pieces is the finish. Rococo pieces tend to have a darker finish, while French Provincial has a bit more of a light, cottage-style finish. Either can be a signature piece in your home, but Rococo items can look dull if not lit for the best effect.

Check for In-Laid Wood

Those who want a more modern look but still long for antiques will want to check out Art Deco dressers. These units tend to feature large curved areas; a round mirror may be built into the top, or the top edge may curve down to the first drawer front.

Art Deco dressers feature sharper angles in the detail of in-laid woods. Rich, warm tones of wood are all combined in a striking pattern, thanks to craftspeople with the ability to align veneers to great effect. If you want a dresser with serviceable storage but love the idea of antiques, Art Deco may be the way to go.

Using an antique dresser in your home, whether in a traditional spot or a featured location, is a wonderful way to personalize your space. Talk with a professional about the best way to clean and polish your piece. Light it with care.


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