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Dressers Buying Guide
Dressing Up: Choosing a Dresser to Complement Your Décor
You might be tempted to think that a dresser is just a dresser and any old new one will do. But in a bedroom, the dresser is the second most important focal point, the bed being the first. In addition to its more practical function of providing storage options, a dresser esthetically grounds the room. In order to find the one that's right for you, you will need to determine how much room your want the dresser to have, what you want it to hold and any special functional and/or organizational features you want it to have.
Before You Begin
Decide where you would like the dresser to go and then take measurements. Don't forget that you will have to open and close the drawers. To open them easily, you will need to take into account the depth of the dresser and then add an additional 10 to 12 inches to make allowances for when a drawer is extended.
Select a dresser that will comfortably fill the space; you don't want one that is too big or too small.
Decide what you will mainly be using the dresser for. Do you want to keep just clothes in it or would you like to be able to store a combination of jewelry and other small accessories in addition to clothes?
How many drawers do you want the dresser to have and what size should they be? If you want to store a combination of items, the dresser should include drawers of different sizes.
When you are adding a dresser to an already furnished room, select one that is the same scale as your current bedroom furniture pieces. For example, if the nightstands and mirror are oversized, then the dresser should be as well.
Determine the features you would like the dresser to have. If you intend on storing sweaters or seasonal bedding, perhaps a dresser with cedar-lined bottom drawers would be useful to you.
Dressers are available in a variety of styles, drawer sizes, shapes and finishes. Will you be sharing the dresser? The shape of the dresser will largely depend on the available space in the room, in addition to who will be using it on a regular basis.
Make a budget even if you are purchasing just the dresser. Not only will it define how much you want to spend, it will help you to focus on what's important to you, such as quality, type of finish, custom hardware, etc.
It's Made of Wood but is it Real?
Quality and durability depend on how it’s made and what it is made of. A well-made dresser uses sturdy construction techniques such as glue and clamp, dovetailing, dowels and screws instead of staples. However, what the dresser is made from is the most determining factor in the product's overall quality.
Genuine wood dressers are constructed from timber, which is cut from the trunks of trees like pine, mahogany or oak. The timber is graded and then it is used to make products. Timber can be produced from hardwood or softwood trees, referring to whether or not the tree is deciduous (sheds its leaves) or coniferous (doesn’t shed its leaves/needles). The most durable material for furniture, dressers made from real wood are typically more expensive than engineered wood products.
Rubberwoods, also known as Asian hardwoods, parawoods or tropical hardwoods are from Southeast Asia. Furniture made from rubberwood is considered to be ecologically friendly since the tree was used to produce rubber before it is harvested. When rubberwood is properly cured and treated, it is just as strong and durable as other hardwoods. Often, a dresser will be made of composite or engineered wood but the legs, tabletop and drawer fronts will be crafted from rubberwoods.
Engineered woods, also known as composite woods, are made from recycled wood products. These materials are mixed together then processed by using heat and pressure to glue the wood fibers together. Medium density fiberboard or MDF is commonly used to make furniture because of its strength and versatility. Since it is produced from recycled materials, MDF is more affordable than genuine woods, while being just as strong and durable. When a dresser constructed from MDF has a veneer finish, it has the appearance and feel of real wood.
Laminates are typically used as a type of finish for bedroom furniture because they are easy to care for and stain-resistant. They can be a solid color, patterned or have a simulated wood grain surface. Laminates are produced by pressing layers of materials, such as wood and plastic, together. The surface of the laminate is sealed with a thermosetting resin before it is applied to the piece of furniture, usually made of some kind of engineered wood.
Wood veneers are made by removing cross-sections of wood in thin slices. These slices are then glued to the piece of furniture, typically constructed of some type of engineered wood, using heat and pressure. Since the veneer can be applied to any smooth, flat surface, it is an economical way to make furniture and gives it the texture and appearance of genuine solid woods.
The word "finish" is used as a general term for any chemical when applied to furniture. Chemical applications can be roughly divided into three main categories: stains, paints and finishes.
A stain contains pigments. When applied to the surface of the piece of furniture, the pigments tint the wood.
Paint, containing colored pigments, do not permeate the surface, but rather sits on top of the wood and forms a protective coating.
A finish is generally a clear, sealant that either sits on top of the surface or permeates the wood surface. Six common types of finish are oil, varnish, polyurethane, shellac, lacquer and water-based finishes. Any one of these can also contain color pigments for added texture.
Style is a direct reflection of your likes, dislikes and other expressions of your personal tastes. The style or styles you select for your home also influences the mood or ambience of each room. It also defines the room and gives it its character by harmonizing individual pieces.
Traditional style has its roots in fashions, trends and social customs of the past. Recognizable by stylized motifs, intricate carvings, lustrous finishes, flowing lines and ornate, architectural ornamentation such as moldings and carved pilasters, traditional encompasses a number of sub styles that reflect specific historical periods such a Jacobean, Queen Anne and Victorian. A traditional dresser typically has a formal or stately appearance.
Contemporary style is an expression of current fashion trends. Contemporary furnishings have smooth, clean lines, use geometric forms and mix different materials together to emphasize texture and create visual interest. Furniture is often constructed of light to medium finished woods and then paired with metal, ceramic or stone accents. A contemporary dresser gives a bedroom a calming, uncluttered appearance.
Modern and contemporary are often used interchangeably, but they are two different styles. Modern design emerged in the second half of the twentieth century and reflected the new technologies, materials and philosophies of the Machine Age. To emphasize form and function, furnishings are often asymmetrical, with sleek and polished surfaces and are stripped of all decorative detail unless it is an inherent part of the design.
A transitional nightstand has both a sophisticated and understated appearance. Transitional style bridges the gap between the traditional and the contemporary. It utilizes lines and curves. In many ways, it resembles traditional furniture, but a transitional style night stand, for example, is less formal and decorative accents are pared down and appear somewhat more relaxed.
While rooted in traditional design based on the trends and customs of the country or region of origin, country style reflects how these traditions were adapted to new environments. The emphasis is on natural elements and rustic motifs. Country furniture ranges from casual, with milk-painted or natural wood finishes to more formal country stylings, with detailed moldings and intricate scrolls.
Other Helpful Hints
When there are young children in the home, consider purchasing a dresser with rounded corners and wood knobs as opposed to sharp corners and metal hardware.
For smaller-sized rooms, choose a dresser that is shoulder height rather than waist height. The footprint will be smaller while delivering a comparable amount of storage space.
If you have purchased a dresser with the wrong drawer configuration for your specific storage needs, purchase drawer organizers for one or all of the drawers. It will be cheaper than buying a new dresser.
When adding a dresser to an already furnished room, to avoid purchasing one that might clash with the existing design of your bedroom, remember these simple decorating rules. If your décor is contemporary, select a design with spare lines, in a light to medium finish. For a more traditional feel, choose one that has a lot of ornamentation and a dark, lustrous finish.
If you would like to buy a mirror for your dresser, keep in mind that the shape of the mirror should be in proportion to the size of the dresser. For the mirror to be the proper scale, it should be large enough so that it can be centered above dresser with not too much or too little space on either side.
Don't banish a dresser to just the bedroom. Dressers and chests are a great way to make a bathroom or hallway even more functional, while utilizing "dead" space.