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Antique Cabinets – Great Pieces for Storage or Display

Many antique cabinets survive longer than contemporary ones, thanks to expert artisans in the previous centuries who make not only aesthetically impressive furniture but home articles that stand the test of time. Old-fashioned cabinets differ in appearance and design depending on their eastern or western influences.

Antique CabinetsPHOTO BY FLICKR.COM/QUINET

Antique Cabinets - Eastern and Western

Old-fashioned cabinets made in China can be distinguished by their height. Because the Chinese would sit on the floor instead of chairs and high tables, antique cabinets were also leveled down so they would be easy to reach. Their designs feature intricately cut curves, accurate joinery and elegant lines. They would also paint calligraphy on the cabinets for additional effect. Antique cabinets from England and France in the earlier centuries are characterized by elaborate inlay and parquetry designs, glazed doors and lion legs. One vintage cabinet that originated in Europe is the credenza, which usually has no legs and is used as a bookcase.

Antique Wardrobe - Additional Information

During the 16th century, cabinets in England were primarily made of oak and had round or bulbous legs. Antique wardrobe evolved in the 17th and 18th centuries into spacious storage places for women’s thick, multilayered dresses. Craftsmen also began to add more detail on the carvings of this type of furniture. In the 19th century, cabinets and other home furnishings were greatly influenced by Gothic, Rococo and Neoclassical designs. Art Noveau was also a popular style in this era. Antique wardrobe from the early 20th century was commonly built from finer woods such as walnut, mahogany, rosewood and cherry. In the succeeding decades, cabinet makers resorted to teak and pine as they created contemporary designs.

Antique Cupboard - Functions

Cabinets like the English livery cupboard, which gained popularity in the 17th century, are bulky, sturdy types that are meticulously carved but are not designed to expose food, utensils, textiles and other household implements. To deviate from these, some designers innovated an antique cupboard whose panes and doors were made of glass, so that household owners can showcase their fine china and other preferred displays. In Europe, this came to be known as the China cabinet. Spanish style cupboards became useful to colonies as linen cabinets, while others with sleek designs gained popularity as liquor cabinets. Wooden cupboards that were kept in the dining room for storing tableware were kept narrow to maximize room space.

Written by Dennis Patterson

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