How To Find The Right Chest Of Drawers For Your Space
How To Find The Right Chest Of Drawers For Your Space

How To Find The Right Chest Of Drawers For Your Space

A chest of drawers is one of the most functional pieces of furniture you can own. To help you narrow the search – and avoid making an expensive mistake – we asked Georgia Metcalfe, founder of French Bedroom, to answer our questions.
By Georgina Blaskey

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What should a good chest of drawers be made from and why?

There’s a reason the oldest antiques are made from solid wood – they’re built to last, so opt for hard woods such as oak, ash or mahogany if you can. Wooden drawers are quiet, too, and soft to open, plus wood is natural, sustainable and widely available.  

How should you assess the quality and durability before making a purchase?

Check the framework. The sides and base should be made of a solid and durable material, and not one that will shrink in heat, nor absorb moisture during the wet months. Also, ensure the joinery is dovetail, meaning the connection of the front and sides is optimum. Dovetail is the strongest of all joints; the interlocking resists being pulled apart, holds together without glue, and also looks attractive from both the interior and exterior angles.

Is it possible to marry functionality with aesthetics – if so, how?

Consider the shade and texture of the surface, as it will take up a large piece of visual ‘real estate’ in your room. If you’re choosing wood, ask yourself is the surface raw wood, painted or stained? Wood has such inherent beauty – the organic grain (especially the medullary rays within oak) really enhances the natural beauty and quality of such a wonderful material. Ash is also a solid choice, and over time it will weather to develop a rich patina – plus, no two pieces are ever the same.

Consider the usage, too. If you’re going to put hot tea or coffee on the top of it, ensure it can withstand high temperatures. Likewise, if you drink cold drinks that generate condensation on the outside, check if the paint can withstand water marks. Coasters are key but check the quality of those too. In fact, anything you place on the surface should be run over your palm first to check for any hard edges that could scratch or mark your new furniture.

Do drawers always need to have runners?

Modern drawers have runners, yet the more traditional method is simply wooden drawers within a wooden carcass framework. Bear in mind that runners reduce the width of the drawers, as the mechanism itself takes up space. 

Is it more useful to have different sized drawers?

I think so – it allows you to use them for myriad things, be it underwear, t-shirts, jumpers or jeans. For jumpers I’d recommend no shallower than 20cm, and for underwear, they don’t need to be any deeper than 20cm. That said, the consistency of same-height drawers can be more visually pleasing, as there is an automatic horizonal symmetry.

Are you a fan of drawer liners?

Yes – not only do they keep your items freshly scented, but they act as a barrier between the wood and your clothing. Plus, when you clean the drawers, you can simply remove the liners and shake them out.  If you don’t want to use a scented liner, then brown kraft parcel paper is a good alternative, and the matching tones will look good, too.

Are there any specific design styles or trends worth considering?

Classic pieces that are handmade and hand-carved will last for decades. Handmade is always better, too – the care that goes into the design can’t be replicated by a machine. To ensure longevity of ownership and use, choose a style that will grow with you over the years – from first home to forever home. Also, think carefully about the hardware. In the same way as a bag, the hardware is where the quality will show.

Are there any care or maintenance tips people should be aware of?

If you have soft deep carpet, using furniture saucers or leg covers will prevent denting, and there are a wide range available – from wood to brushed brass or even clear plastic. Natural wood always benefits from a polish but stay away from sprays. Natural beeswax cream is a joy to use – it’s like a deeply moisturising furniture face mask for your wooden furniture. 

Finally, do you have any organisation or storage tips?

It works to have your folded items of clothing stacked at a very slight angle, with the top piece set furthest back. You will be able to choose your clothes without lifting the whole pile out of the drawer. Store the heaviest items (jeans or bedlinen) in the lower drawers to avoid the drawers slipping, or in the worst case, the chest tipping over when the drawers are fully open.



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