Versatility, it’s what we want in our home. if you are just starting out and making your first purchase or you simply want to update, an English chest is your friend. The classic proportions and clean lines blend with a variety of styles. A good looking chest can enhance a hallway, define a bedroom, and anchor a living room or a den.
Here is an example of a traditional English Chest that will stand the test of time.
Let’s discuss what you are looking for when you are in an antique store or rifling through an estate sale. Height matters and ideally the height should be between thirty five to forty two inches. Too tall and you will be limited in placement, too low and the chest will not fill the space properly. Width can vary but due to it’s classic lines, it will usually be within two to three inches of the height. If the chest is too wide, the pulls or knobs will not line up properly and you will lose the symmetry. The depth will be between eighteen to twenty one inches.
The wood will most likely be mahogany or pine which are the most common materials from the 19th century. Earlier chests from the 1700’s are made out of walnut and the patina alone will make you pull out your wallet. The Victorian period experimented with painting them to fit their idea of lush and abundance. The second image is an example of this late 19th century, and today remains fresh and sharp.
Here is an example that I would love to run into, right now it’s located outside of London.
The first two images are bowfront chests as they make a slight outward curve which adds a touch of interest to the silhouette. Plain front chests are more common, and a fun detail is the pull or knob. The handle indicates it’s period, but you will know immediately if it’s an original by the price tag. Before you purchase open the drawer and peer inside, as you will probably find repaired screw holes or bigger ones than the original pull. Unless you are Leigh or Leslie Keno, replacing the drawer pull is not a bad thing, as they usually find old pulls that have aged which maintain the appearance.
Here are a few examples of chests making an impact in a well designed home.
The yellow birds are pretty fabulous as well.
On the far wall, this light blue version fits the bill.
While out shopping for the perfectly proportioned chest, if you find a commode style this good looking. Go ahead it’s okay.