A History of Dressers

Dressers are making a comeback and becoming a more common feature in many a household with no barrier when it comes to individual style.  But where did the dresser originate, what was it used for and why are dressers still so popular today?

A Brief History Of The Welsh Dresser

Welsh dressers were the first of this genre dating back to the 1600’s. Dressers were traditionally made from Oak, however this quickly evolved and dressers were constructed from a wide range of woods and and in many different finishes.

The original design was a two piece set up comprising of a sideboard bottom with cupboards and drawers combined with a top with open shelving.

Despite the name ‘Welsh dresser’ these extremely useful pieces of furniture were as common in Ireland (Irish dressers) and Scotland where each piece was adapted to suit local needs.  Those designed in Scotland for example would feature a porridge drawer!  This was tin lined drawer where porridge could be poured and left to set overnight.  The porridge was then sliced and served for those working the land.

What Dressers Were Designed For

Found in kitchens, dressers were originally designed for storing and preparing food. Dressers were found more commonly in wealthier homes where later on they took on a more decorative use.  As such they provided perfect storage space in the cupboards for dinner services.  The shelves were used for displaying pewter and fine crockery more for show than practicality.  It wasn’t until the mid 18th century that dressers began to appear in the homes of the middle class.

Dressers became ever more elaborate and decorative over time making them less likely to be seen in a kitchen as a utilitarian piece. They became more of a focal point to display ones best china in a dining room or hallway.  This was not so the case with affluent city dwellers who saw dressers as strictly for ‘below stairs’ and not something to show off.  Dressers were most common in cosy country cottages where they would be put in pride of place.

The Welsh Dresser Today

Today this decorative and useful piece of furniture may no longer be commonly referred to as a Welsh Dresser but is still used very much the same as it always has been; for storage or for show.  Only now style, appearance and the use of a dresser go hand in hand.  With a much wider range of styles to choose from the dresser is now a very desirable piece of furniture regardless of class, from industrial to contemporary  all the way through to the classic country style of old.  The only difference now is that we are less interested in the original wood look and often go for more shabby chic painted versions of the classic piece.

Dressers And Sideboards In The Orchard

The Orchard loves a dresser and our Old English Painted Dressers from the bespoke Old English Painted Collection has to be the most popular. Inspired by the traditional Welsh dresser look this piece comes in two different designs, the first based on a more traditional style with scalloped/curved edge fascia for a more ornate, shabby chic look.  The second features a more contemporary straight edge finish.


If Old English isn’t your style then take a look at these two alternative dressers from our French Country and French Brocante collections respectively.  Both are available in a choice of colours and the French Country Dresser is also available in two sizes.


If the full dresser look isn’t for you we also do a wide range of sideboards to suit almost any interior style.  From Vintage Industrial to Contemporary and the more traditional. You can view our sideboards here: http://www.theorchardhomeandgifts.com/search.php?criteria=sideboards



The Old English Painted Collection

Our entire Old English Painted range is handmade and finished here in England. Each piece can be customised and painted or stained to suit your style and colour scheme. Due to it’s intentionally rustic finish each item has it’s own characteristics, our timber features knots, nicks and occasional hairline cracks which are not filled or sanded out as we believe they add character to the piece whilst not comprising the structure or ridgity of a piece.

Our bespoke service via our workshop here in the East Midlands, an area with a rich heritage of cabinet making means we can make dressers and sideboards to any size and with any number of doors and drawers.  We can also incorporate solid wood, glazed or chicken wire doors on both the base unit and the open upper shelving unit.  Via our in-house paint finishing facility we can also finish each piece in a paint colour, stain or wax of your choice to suit your style.  We typically work with Farrow & Ball paints as we feel their heritage

Wherever you choose to put your dresser and however you choose to use it we’re sure that our traditional style Welsh dresser can more than accommodate your needs and tastes. Constructed with traditional dovetail joints in beautiful Canadian Pine with its closer grain, making it more durable than most commercially made high street furniture which tends to uilise European Pine.  Each piece comes complete with tongue and groove panels and doors hung from ornate, metal, aged bronze coloured hinges, this really is the perfect country style piece to complete your home.

For some dresser inspiration visit our Pinterest board: https://uk.pinterest.com/theorchardhome/


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