The commonality of many bedroom casegoods is that they are made as a matching set. A bedroom suite collection general consists of: nightstands, dresser, high chest, bachelor chest, wardrobe/armoire, lingerie chest, media chest (TV unit), and with some manufacturers, a make-up table and possibly a butler’s stand. Each piece has its own individual purpose but ultimately each unit is made for storage in a bedroom environment. We will talk about these individually to get a better idea of their primary use and the subtle differences between the units.
Knowing your room size ahead of time will be a tremendous advantage to planning out your bedroom furniture. Having an accurate floorplan will make your selection process go much faster if you are aware of what you can fit into the desired space.
- Nightstands – This item is discussed in the “How to Buy a Nightstand” article.
- Dressers – They come in all different heights, widths and depths. Typically it is a set of pull-out drawers with many configurations available.
- High chest/chest – Very similar to a dresser but is typically narrower in width and higher than a standard dresser.
- Lingerie chest – They are a tall and narrow, usually 15” to 20” in width and are higher than a dresser or a high chest. Five to seven small compact drawers is typical.
- Media chest – Generally they are about the same size as a standard chest however, they have an opening in the top drawer position so that the user can slot in their cable box and DVD player. Often the top position has a glass front so that the remote controls can connect with the TV without having the electronic units sit out in the open. Some manufacturers make a drop-down drawer front so that the chest has a consistent finish throughout. The TV then sits on top of the unit or gets wall mounted.
- Wardrobe/Armoire – These two units are very similar in purpose. They are mostly over 66” tall and 36” to 48” wide and 18” to 24” deep. They are a stand-alone unit, some on legs and some on a floor base, to store a variety of things in the bedroom. A true wardrobe is for hanging clothing from a coat rod in the top of the cabinet with a hat shelf above. An armoire usually has storage, drawers or doors, in the bottom of the unit and doors on the upper section with the option of coat rod and hat shelf or adjustable shelves. They are many versions available, but you need to see if the collection you like has the correct configuration you require.
- Bachelor’s chest – These are a set of pull-out drawers that are simply lower than a standard chest unit. Most often the top of the unit would be 30” high and all other dimensions the same.
- Make-up table/Vanity – They are typically 42” to 66” wide and 30” high with varying depths, depending on the manufacturer and the shape of the unit. A bowed top unit would tend to be deeper than a standard unit because of the front-to-back measurement from edge-to-edge. Most often drawers are down both sides of the unit (like a desk) with a centre drawer and a mirror.
- Butler’s stand – There are two versions of the butler’s stand. One is a counter (sometimes with fold-up legs) about 16” to 24” that sits in a room for putting your suitcase on while unpacking it. Another type is a unit that you can hang your slacks, shirt, tie, and jacket on and it looks like a guy made of wood, but with no head. These are great if you want to keep creases out of clothes and to be prepared for the following work day.
Of course, there are always other versions of these units that different manufacturers have added their own little twist on to create something unique. However, this list above will give an suitable overview of what most companies are offering today.
Check the construction of every aspect of your desired bedroom suite. The units should feel heavy and strong right from Day One. While in the showroom; lean, push and pull the units so you get a feel if it’s strong enough to last ten years, at least. Check all the joinery to see if the connections are glued and screwed, wherever possible. Check the underside of the units to see what, if any, reinforcing has been added. Check the backside of the units to be sure that the backing material isn’t just 1/8” thick particle board.
Most importantly is the opening and closing of the drawers. Do they pull all the way out so you can easily access your belongings? Are the drawers deep enough to handle all of your items? Are they easy to open and close? Do you like the feel of the hardware/handle? Can you pull a drawer out of the unit and easily get it back into the unit? You need to do this at the showroom to be sure that if you ever have to remove a drawer, you know to accomplish that task. Are the drawers on pullout glides? Are they sturdy? What are the glides made of, plastic or metal? Are the drawers loose and wiggly while they are in the out position? Are they four sided drawers with fronts or three sided with finished fronts? Are the drawers dovetail connection front and back, front only, or butt joints. Are all the possible connections glued and screwed? Remember that the reason you purchase these units for the bedroom is to store all of your belongings in, so make sure they function efficiently.
The same inspection should be applied to the doors of the unit, if applicable. Check to see if there are adjustable hinges in case they need to be leveled in the future. Are the doors easy to open and close? Do the doors line up square? Are the shelves thick enough to support the kind of weight you plan on adding? Are the shelf pins plastic or metal? Are they easy to pull out and change to a new height if required? Make sure that if any adjustments can be made, that you are aware of how to do it.
With hundreds of styles, shapes, colours and materials to select from you shouldn’t have a problem finding a set to your liking. No matter what construction material you chose, the most important determining factor is the product’s strength. Is it built like a tank so that it’s solid and rigid, or is it somewhat suspect? Always keep in mind that furniture will not get tougher the longer you have it in your home. If it’s wiggly, keep looking.