In any home, a chest of drawers can be readily overlooked. They are useful and functional, helping us to hide our clutter. But such useful furniture can also be beautiful objects that enliven a room and enrich your home. A good chest of drawers is about a lot more than storage.


There are few pieces of household furniture more essential and overlooked than a chest of drawers. They lack the glamour of a dining table or a beautiful chair. But drawers are essential for organisation and storage in our busy lives. They hide our possessions and help bring order into our lifestyles. That has always been the role of furniture with a storage function. But even in its earliest days, for some people, this kind of furniture was also about making a statement. The perfect chest of drawers combines both function and form. Drawers in any form serve not only a practical purpose, but they can also help to both define a space and say something about you. Empress Homewares has a wide range of drawers. You are bound to find the perfect piece that suits both your home and your budget. And whether it is a solid timber drawer or a beautiful bone inlay piece storing your most precious possessions, there is a long history of drawers having both a decorative and functional use.

An evolution from chest to the chest of drawers

Many households, particularly those with an eye for older pieces of furniture, will have a chest. Chests come in various shapes and sizes but they were amongst the earliest pieces of furniture for storing items. You can see some examples of chests at Empress Homewares, such as the antique Tibetan box chest. In the mid-17th century, some chests included drawers in the base. These were the forerunners to our modern chest of drawers. By the end of that century, the old-style chest had evolved into the chest of drawers. Typically, they had several wide drawers on the bottom and a pair of smaller side-by-side drawers on the top. This is a style that has since lasted through the centuries. Today, you’ll find many examples of this style at Empress Homewares, including the exquisite black and white bone inlay chevron chest of drawers.  While the DNA of contemporary drawers is clear, there have been some changes along the way. Chests were portable, and they had handles. Modern drawers are not designed to be portable. They are designed to be a useful way to store your household effects. The old template of wide bottom drawers and smaller top drawers have also changed. While you’ll still find them, you’ll also see many drawer combinations. The squat block footings that lifted the old-style chests off the ground have transformed into more elegant footings that are both functional and decorative.

White or black, the chest of drawers adapts to fashions and tastes

Over time, the traditional look of drawers changed. The typical chest of drawers comes to your midriff, features horizontal drawers and a flat top surface. If you reduce the height to waist level and place a mirror on top, you have a dresser. There have been examples over the years where the big wide drawers have been replaced by a series of smaller drawers, more suited to jewellery, utensils, and valuable household effects. Drawers have traditionally been made of wood, but what type of wood is used usually depended on where and when the drawers were made. A good example would be walnut drawers. Walnut has highly prized as a household furniture wood in early 18th century England. Decorative finishes have also changed over the centuries. In the 18th century, Chinese style fretwork known as chinoiserie was included on many chests of drawers. This striking decorative style featured small straight bars crisscrossing one another at oblique angles. During the Regency period, furniture became heavier and darker. Partially projecting columns called pilasters were popular on chests of drawers in this era. Later, in the Victorian era, traditional handles came back into style.

The raw beauty of walnut chests of drawers to striking bone inlay chests

Empress Furniture elevates drawers to a thing of beauty. There are many raw wood chests and chests of drawers, all with decorative front panels. The lack of adornment and rawness is striking. On the other hand, there are the highly decorative bone inlay drawers. You can still store your te-shirts in them, but these drawers are items of beauty. The black floral chest of drawers might take your fancy. It goes against the typical design of drawers. It has three rows of drawers. On the two bottom rows, rather than the typical single long drawer, there are two drawers. On the top row are three drawers. At first glance, it might appear a highly decorative black and white drawer but get close and you’ll see the exquisite bone inlay. This chest of drawers has been handcrafted in India using ethically-sourced camel bones. It could be the most beautiful piece of furniture in your home.

Chest of drawers is an overlooked but beautiful piece of furniture, now available in Adelaide

Empress Homewares has some of the finest drawers in Adelaide. Whether you are in the store in Norwood or looking online, you’ll see examples that touch on the many characteristics of drawers over the centuries. They span from the earlier styles like the Ashtanga chest of drawers in which you can see the squat characteristics of the traditional chest. You’ll recognise the traditional low set rectangular shape and the old-style ball feet.  Or you can admire something contemporary like the Morton chest of drawers. This piece might have its origins in old-style chests, but you would not know it looking at the elegant metal footings, square shape, large drawers, and antique mirror honeycomb panels. The humble drawer may often be overlooked, but this is a piece of furniture with a long history and fine pedigree. While the basic structure of drawers has remained the same over the years, taste and fashion have seen different decorative finishes come and go.

With their selection of unique and decorative chests of drawers, Empress Homewares in Adelaide continues this trend. Visit us for more

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