Antique Chest of Drawers - Buyers Guide

Antique Chest of Drawers from LoveAntiques

Antique Chest of Drawers - Buyers Guide

Buyer’s Guide to Chest of Drawers

Below, you will find all you need to know when considering purchasing Antique Chest of Drawers, with some advice from one of our Antique Dealers and some Interior Designer hints and tips. 

Inside a Chest of Drawers

Five considerations when buying antique chest of drawers

Antique Dealers Advice

Luke Thomas, an antique expert at LT Antiques, specializes in selling antique chest of drawers.  He suggests the following five pointers when buying an antique chest of drawers.

  1. When inspecting the antique chest of drawers you wish to purchase pull out one of the drawers and look along the end of the drawer base in order to decipher whether the drawer base is constructed of solid wood or plywood. A solid wood constructed drawer is of higher value
  2. In order to determine the age of the chest of drawers, look along the side of the drawer to see if it is dovetailed; machine cut or hand cut. A machine cut chest of drawers would suggest that it was made post 1920.​
  3. Be careful to check the top of the chest of drawers for splits; a spilt in the top is hard to repair, although it is possible it may end up being costly, as you will need to employ an expert restorer to return it to its former glory.
  4. Ascertain whether there are any splits on the side of the chest of drawers, although this is not as critical as if there is a split on the top. Depending on where you wish to place the chest of drawers in the home, it may be possible to conceal a split of this nature.
  5. When pulling the draws out check whether they come out straight, if the drawer linings have gone they may drop and not slide smoothly in the chest.

The side of a chest of drawers


Five ways to incorporate antique chest of drawers into your home

An Interior Designers View

When purchasing antique furniture it is often an investment for a lifetime, especially when it comes to an item as durable and solid as an antique chest of drawers. Our resident interior designer suggests the following five considerations before acquiring such an item.

  • Size and SpaceIt is important to consider where the chest of drawers is going to sit in your home, the space in which it will be placed is paramount when you are determining what size chest of drawers you are going to purchase. What storage space do you require? Is it for the corner or centre of the room? These should be factors you consider before making a final decision.
  • A Focal PointAn antique chest of drawers can make for a great focal piece of design in your home. A statement chest of drawers can provide inspiration for which to base the style of your room, or if the room lacks other eye catching furniture it can fill the void in the design of the room.
  • Measure the AreaYou will need to ascertain how much floor space the antique chest of drawers will take up once you have decided where you wish to place it. This is of particular importance if the chest of drawers is going to placed below a mirror or window. It is often deceiving how much a chest of drawers can protrude into a room.
  • Construction - The quality of the chest of drawers construction is vital if it is to endure years of future use, it will determine how long it will last as a functional piece of furniture in your home. Chest of drawers were made from a variety of woods, the most durable being hardwoods such as walnut and mahogany, these are darker woods so be aware how they will sit in the colour scheme of your room.
  • Plain or Decorative - It is possible to purchase a highly ornate chest of drawers, with elaborate detailing, or to opt for a classic simplistic piece. Generally chest of drawers are waist or shoulder high, there are many styles to consider from Jacobean, to Art Deco to Art Nouveau. For a more elaborate chest of drawers Victorian furniture tended to feature elaborate carvings, with nature the main inspiration. Georgian chest of drawers are simpler, as are Art Deco items, which focus on geometrically simplistic lines. For a classical theme Regency chest of drawers are inspired by Ancient Greece and Rome.


More Information About Antique Chest of Drawers

The choice of antique chest of drawers is extremely broad, they are durable, practical, useful and well built whilst being attractive and providing timeless style in your home. It is possible to purchase a single chest of drawers or a pair, generally antique chest of drawers are made from wood. Pine antique chest of drawers tend to be a more affordable option, whilst those made from stronger, durable woods such as walnut, oak or mahogany are of higher value.

A Selection of Chest of Drawers |

There are a variety of styles of chest of drawers including Jacobean, Queen Anne, Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian, it is possible to purchase flat fronted, serpentine and bow fronted chest of drawers. Jacobean chest of drawers featured very detailed carvings and tended to have a darker finish, where as those in the Queen Anne style are elegant and graceful and often feature cabriole legs.

Georgian chest of drawers are slightly heavier and more ornate than their predecessors, with carvings and gilding often a feature. Victorian chest of drawers are darker, elaborate in their design and often very decorative, Edwardian chest of drawers are eclectic and elegant. As there are an abundance of sizes of chest of drawers it is possible to place them in different areas of the home, for example a small pair would look attractive in the bedroom, whereas a larger statement piece may be more appropriate in a dining room or lounge.


Extra considerations when purchasing antique chest of drawers


There are a number of practicalities to consider during your purchase including construction, quality, condition, size, storage space and if there has been any restoration of the piece. An antique chest of drawers is a versatile piece of furniture but be aware that the item may require structural restoration; the drawers may need repairing for instance. Also take note as to whether the handles and knobs are original; they may have been replaced due to years of use. It may also be necessary to re-stain the wood of an antique piece of furniture.

Environmentally Friendly

An antique chest of drawers can last a lifetime; these pieces of furniture if made by a highly skilled craftsman can endure the years, thus avoiding the need to purchase additional furniture in the future. Antique furniture is extremely environmentally friendly as there is no need to use additional materials and production facilities. Many antique chest of drawers were made from hard wearing wood so they will withstand the test of time.

Valuing Antique Chest of Drawers

In order to determine the value of the chest of drawers there are a number of factors that will impact the cost, these include whether the wood that the chest of drawers is made from is solid; are the drawers made from solid wood or plywood; are the drawers lining in good condition; are there any splits in the wood; are the handles original; is it machine or man made; has there been any restoration of the piece and is the condition of the patina of high quality. The grain on the drawers bottom can also help determine when it was constructed, if it runs front to back the chest will generally have been made in the early 18th C, whereas grain that runs side to side was made after 1750. Chest of drawers that are veneered are more coveted than solid wood and those featuring banding, stringing and carvings all enhance the chest of drawers appearance and increase its value.


When moving an antique chest of drawers it is best to use a reputable courier to ensure it is not damaged in transit. Keeping the drawers in the chest of drawers will also increase the strength of the chest of drawers when it is being transported. It is also an idea to add padding to the outer of the item in order to avoid possible damage. It may be useful to purchase insurance before the chest of drawers is delivered, therefore if it is unfortunately damaged you can be reimbursed.


Antique furniture does require care and attention, it is important to treat your chest of drawers in order to ensure it stays in the best condition. You will need to wax antique wooden chest of drawers, it will protect the wood, ensuring it does not dry out too much. If at all possible keep the antique chest of drawers out of direct sunlight; it may affect the colour of the chest of drawers. Rooms with central heating or places that are particularly humid may also dry out the wood.

The number of antique chest of drawers available to purchase is endless, whatever your requirements there is an item to suit every buyer, whether you are looking for a chest of drawers that dominates a space and provides ample storage or a small decorative piece purely to admire.