It's time to rethink that obsolete armoire; here are some creative new uses

It's time to rethink that obsolete armoire; here are some creative new uses

Whatever happened to the armoire, that lovely piece of furniture designed for days gone by when rooms were not equipped with closets?

I love armoires in the French style — some with carved details and others with molding designs decorating each of the doors. By the 1980s, armoires had made the transition from their original purpose for storing clothing to being used as home-entertainment cabinets.

I designed many a master bedroom with a handsome armoire to house the television, with the back of the cabinet's interior upholstered in Pierre Deux fabric. We even covered the shelves with fabric. With armoires made of pine, we sometimes went with a coral color accented with white trim, or with white trimmed in blue and coral.

Today, with televisions that seem large enough to cover entire walls, the armoire has lost its pride of place — relegated, perhaps, to the garage to hold hoses, paint cans and garden tools. So sad.

But if you are an armoire aficionado, here are some design ideas that may intrigue you.

Think of adapting the doors for use as a headboard for a bed. Perhaps they measure just the right size for a queen-size bed. If the doors are tall, they might even reach the ceiling. In hotel rooms in Graduate Columbia hotel in Columbia, South Carolina, I've seen headboards that extended toward the ceiling and featured beautiful colors and designs. Fortunately, they weren't all tufted upholstered designs, which I find coffin-like.

If you are even more creative, you might use an armoire, sans doors, as a bookcase. This adaptation works well in a room where you might otherwise have to build bookshelves. I could easily see such a painted armoire, for instance, in a child's bedroom. You'll likely need to adjust the shelves — or add new ones — to accommodate the size of the books you love. Perhaps paint the frame and interior a color that will suit your room — even bright red or sunshine yellow.

I've even seen some folks turn an armoire — the style with just one door — on its back to serve as a coffee table topped by a sheet of clear glass. I saw one such table painted white with the molding gold-leafed.

You might even repurpose an armoire into a drinks cabinet. Or, with the help of a good carpenter, an armoire could be cut down to serve as a sideboard, again topped with glass.

We all know that the armoire is never coming back as a place to store clothing. Closets in new homes today can seem the size of bedrooms and are designed to beautifully store shoes, accessories and hanging apparel of all lengths.

But for those creative types — or their designers — who have found ways to salvage the once ubiquitous and stylish armoire, I applaud you. It's always fun to give new life to old furniture — and what a conversation starter your repurposed armoire might be.


  • Mary on

    Amen! During these work at home times, why not repurpose a medium sized armoire into a desk? I have a lovely Chinese style armoire about five and a half feet tall, open area above, two capacious drawers below. I had a friend install a retractable surface that extends out beyond the drawers, perfect for a desk that can be locked up when not in use. Just make sure the surface is sturdy enough to hold a desk lamp. Armoires are forever!

  • Lynn Taylor on

    “Thank you” for revising the many practical uses of this important piece of furniture!

  • Ben Wolford on

    Many years ago I used an armoire as addition kitchen storage. I bought little wire baskets to insert in the lower built in shelves meant for electronics. I used those baskets to store canned goods and dry items like rice. I purchased peg board and covered it in light batting and a lovely toile fabric. Those boards were then attached to the backside of the doors. I used that space to store cooking tools that were small such as measuring spoons, whisks etc. I used the main shelf to store my microwave and my flour, sugar and other dry goods one might find on a counter. Lastly I added a closet rod at the top and purchased s hooks. I used that rod to hand my pots and pans from.

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