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Our guide to buying a chest of drawers
How Out There Interiors can help you in your quest to find the perfect chest of drawers:
So, you’re on this page because you’re on the lookout for a new chest of drawers, or maybe even your first chest of drawers. Shopping for furniture on the internet can be a minefield. There are thousands of furniture retailers out there, and thousands of different types of chest of drawers to choose from. Out There Interiors (who’s website you are looking at) is a very progressive furniture company. We believe in offering original, high quality chests of drawers but without the mark-ups you have come to expect of this type of furniture. Although we have a small, glittery showroom in West London our primary aim is to give our customers confidence in purchasing online. Online sales and delivery is what we do best, so we want to give you the maximum amount of information about each chest of drawers in order for you to feel confident about purchasing from us.
If you take a look at the majority of our chest of drawers product pages (the page with the description and price) you will see testimonials (towards the bottom) from customers have purchased the exact same chest of drawers you are looking at. These are all 100% genuine and are a pleasure for us to read. Each chest of drawers also features a link to a page about its quality towards the bottom of the product page, along with links to our returns policy details and matching items. The individual chest of drawers quality pages are very valuable. They answer many questions about the quality of each chest of drawers, and include typical features and characteristics of each piece; basically what to bear in mind when purchasing.
We are of course on the phone to answer your questions Monday – Friday 9:30 – 18:30, so if there is some information missing regarding a chest of drawers just give us a tinkle and we’ll be happy to help. In the meantime we have written the following guide in order to assist in your purchase of a new chest of drawers. We hope you find it useful.
What to consider when buying a chest of drawers
The first thing we think it’s important to do when considering a new chest of drawers is not to be sheep. There are too many people out there being safe with their furniture choices and it makes for very boring homes. We have all grown up looking at chests of drawers in Furniture Village and the local pine furniture store. It doesn’t mean we have to continue to purchase each chest of drawers in the manner. Just because your friend, neighbour, mother or father bought their chest of drawers in Havey’s or Marks and Spencer doesn’t mean you have to. Here at Out There we want you to think outside the little boring box when it comes to your new chest of drawers. Taking a risk with a unique chest of drawers doesn’t have to cost the earth anymore, and the difference a chest of drawers with wow factor will make in your living space is worth it every time.
Don’t be frightened of taking a risk with your chest of drawers. (We are normal too).
We are not interior designers here at Out There. (We do business with many), but in general we are a few every day individuals who like to look at (and sell) furniture with wow-factor. We don’t consider ourselves particularly creative, or think you have to be in some sort of ‘inspired’ social circle in order to have a unique and interesting home. Fundamentally, just because you have 2 kids, a dog and a semi in the Midlands does not mean you can’t buy a rare, imaginative, unique and eye-catching chest of drawers for your bedroom, especially when you consider our prices.
Want a cheap chest of drawers?
What do you think of when you hear the phrase cheap chest of drawers? Veneer? Cheaply constructed drawers? Uninspiring design? All true. And what do you expect to pay for such an item? £10, £50, £100? In today’s aggressively priced market this is all we would expect to pay for a chest of drawers with the above ‘qualities’. But in reality, when you look at ‘cheap’ or ‘value’ chest of drawers websites, you’ll see hundreds of mediocre, boring and cheaply manufactured chests of drawers for over £200. When you consider that you can purchase our fabulous"Liliana" silver embossed chest of drawers for £200, it’s hard to imagine why you wouldn’t go for this option over the pine equivalent. Here at Out There we aim to provide great value luxury, and that’s just what we do with our chest of drawers range. You no longer have to be boring due to lack of spends. Our aim is to allow you to live like a princess (or prince!) on a budget.
How to spot a quality chest of drawers
Material is the most important thing to consider when it comes to buying a quality chest of drawers. Here at Out There we sell nothing but GOOD QUALITY furniture but we refuse to be precious about material. Our lovely chunky solid wood chests of drawers are exactly that: solid wood. Acacia is a hardwood from (you guessed it) the Acacia tree. It has beautiful markings and is very heavy. If you want a solid wood chest of drawers then you cannot go wrong with a chest from this range, it will survive a nuclear war. But is surviving a nuclear war really that important with a chest of drawers? Sure, solid wood chests of drawers look and feel lovely, but they can be boring, and really, unless you’re going to be storing half a ton of encyclopaedias in your bedroom chest of drawers, then solid wood is not necessary to produce a high quality chest of drawers.
Our glass chests of drawers for example are not manufactured from solid wood and yet are all superb quality. Mirrored chests and glass chests in general are almost always manufactured with a wooden structure. The glass is then secured to the wooden frame creating the look of solid glass. Our mirrored and black glass chests of drawers are all manufactured using the highest grade hardboard you can buy. It is extremely strong, tough and durable and the perfect base for all that spectacular glass. We do not use oak or other solid wood to build the frames of our mirrored and black glass chests, this would unnecessary and ridiculously costly, and to tell you the truth we have never come across a glass chest of drawers (of any kind) manufactured from solid wood. Even the top, top end of the (stupidly overpriced) market will use a composite material. Hardboard is a perfectly acceptable and reasonably priced alternative to solid wood which makes a top quality chest of drawers.
Fibreboard is in general criticised openly, but many people don’t understand the benefits of engineered wood. Yes, we all know that handy Andy can bash together an MDF chest of drawers in a matter of minutes which looks great on the TV and then falls apart the minute the camera crew leave, but fibreboard in general has done wonders for the furniture industry, and a fibreboard chest of drawers should not be frowned upon without understanding the facts:
There are three main types of fibreboard: Particle board (chip board) , Medium density fibre board (MDF) and hardboard. All three are used widely in the furniture industry to create chest of drawers in particular (the foulest of the foul) chip board. Almost every chest of drawers you buy from Ikea or similarly priced high street store has a particle board (chip board) base with a wood (or alternative) veneer on top. The below image look at all familiar?
How a typical cheap chest of drawers is manufactured.
This is how cheap chests of drawers are manufactured. The wood veneer (a piece of real wood usually no more than 3mm thick) is secured onto the top of the particle board, creating the impression of real wood. It goes without saying that an ‘MDF’ chest of drawers is much stronger than a chest of drawers manufactured from particle board. It is twice the density and weight. A hardboard chest of drawers is stronger still. Hardboard is actually stronger than many naturally occurring real woods, so should never be criticised as a manufacturing material. Ok, it doesn’t make a very pretty chest of drawers on its own, but combine it with glass, embossed metal finishes and mahogany carving and you’ve got a high quality, mouth-watering chest of drawers at a fraction of the usual price.
We may stand by our decision to use high grade composite materials but one thing we don’t touch with a barge pole is Veneer. Veneer is not cool. It doesn’t look like wood, it doesn’t feel like wood, and can be the reason your chest of drawers falls apart (in the case of veneer drawer bottoms). If you really want a wooden chest of drawers buy solid wood chest if you possibly can. The nearest thing we get to veneer is the black silk finished plywood you find on the back of our glass chests of drawers. We use this material as it goes against the wall and allows you to drill or cut through the it in order to feed hair dryer wires and other electric cables through.
Now we’ve educated (or bored) you with the lowdown on chest of drawers materials, here’s some more things to look out for when assessing chests of drawers:
Chest of drawers drawer runners
Possibly the second most important aspect of your chest of drawers is ease of use. We’ve all used a chest of drawers which is a pain, with drawers that are clunky, heavy and difficult to slide in and out. It’s infuriating and something you really want to avoid, especially if purchasing a large chest of drawers with small handles such as our glass and mirrored chests. This type of chest of drawers require drawer runners, not only to take pressure off the (usually delicate) handles, but also to ensure that the glass is elevated from the drawer bottom, ensuring that the glass drawer fronts do not chip as you open and close them. Here at Out There the vast majority of our glass and mirrored chests of drawers feature top quality drawer runners. These are the ball bearing runners which attach, to not the bottom but the side of the drawers. They ensure the drawers slide smoothly in and out without any effort.
Our Eleanor mirrored chest of drawers displaying the drawer runners.
Our solid wood chests of drawers do not need drawer runners. The smooth, professional and slightly waxy finish of the acacia wood chests allows the chunky drawers to slide in and out without need for extra help. The small hardboard drawers of each embossed silver chest of drawers (and the majority of our French chests) although less smooth, are lightweight and very easily manoeuvred.
Chest of drawers handles
If the chest of drawers you are considering features one small knob handle in the centre of a large drawer, always, always, always ensure that your handles are screwed on and not glued onto the drawer front. Yes, a lot of ‘fixed’ handles are perfectly acceptable, but all you need do is overfill, or pull it a little too hard one day, and the handle breaks off. What can you do when this happens, other than contact the retailer for a spare drawer, or attempt to glue the handle back onto the chest yourself? The spare drawer option is often impossible if the chest of drawers was handmade, as drawers are seldom universal and you may purchase or acquire a spare drawer after several months of waiting only to find that it doesn’t fit properly. Many people opt to glue the handle back on which achieves the right look, but the chest of drawers will never be as good as new and more often than not the handle will continue to come unstuck until the whole chest needs to be replaced.
Screwing in the handles on a glass chest of drawers
Glued on handles aren’t really a good idea, but one of the reasons some retailers may prefer glue on handles on glass chests of drawers is because customers often crack the glass on the front of their newly purchased chest of drawers by screwing in handles too tight. If you do purchase a glass chest of any kind be mindful of this. As mentioned above replacement drawers are hard to come by and not guaranteed to fit. Rubber washers are supplied to protect the glass on the front of all our glass drawers but these will not prevent the glass from cracking should the handles be overly tightened. We give this information verbally to everyone who purchases a glass chest of drawers from us over the phone, and we also produce information stickers which grace the boxes of each glass chest of drawers.
Chest of drawers drawer linings
Another thing to think about when purchasing a chest of drawers is the interior of the drawers. We think drawer lining tends to be a bit overrated here at Out There, but you should consider what the inside of the drawers will look and feel like before purchasing a chest of drawers. The image above of the mirrored chest drawer runner clearly shows the black silk finish of the drawer on this chest. A silk finish is important as rough wooden edges can snag delicate clothes. Each black glass and mirrored chest has a clean, professional interior as shown in this image. It is the perfect interior for a large, modern chest of drawers. Our more quirky pieces of furniture, should as our metal embossed chests, almost all feature a fibre lining of some sort. We are striving to get each embossed metal chest of drawers lined with black velvet, but due to the quirky nature of this range of chests this is taking time to achieve. If purchasing an embossed metal chest expect a lining of micro fibre, velour or velvet in either black or burgundy. If you’re considering a French chest of drawers expect a painted interior in the same colour as the outside of the chest. The paint is always gloss/coated ensuring a smooth, professional interior.
How to add wow factor with a chest of drawers
A chest of drawers is a big and dominating object in a bedroom making it an easy statement maker! Eye-catching chests like our pink French chest of drawers “Princess” look awesome in pairs as large bedside tables. We have seen the black French chest of drawers “Amanda” used on the male side of the bed, and the pink chest of drawers used on the female. This is a simple, cheap and effective way to achieve a fashionable, character-full bedroom that people will love. One thing that’s brilliant about modern fashion and interior design is that things don’t have to match anymore. Your chest of drawers doesn’t have to match your wardrobe in order for your room to work well. A chest of drawers can be a feature in its own right; demanding attention in plain room. This statement look can easily be achieved with a metal embossed chest of drawers, a fabulous French bombe chest in an eye-catching colour, or a magnificent mirrored chest of drawers.
Hanging or standing a complimentary mirror above or behind a chest of drawers is a way to boost its wow-factor. Use unexpected decorative mirrors for that fashionable, modern eclectic look, or go for a complimentary mirror for a more uniform look. Both will add drama to your chest of drawers making it an instant feature rather than a necessity.
Although in today’s progressive and individual world matching furniture is no longer a requirement of nice bedroom, having a matching bedroom set of furniture including chest of drawers, bedside tables, dressing table and wardrobe can be one of the easiest ways to make a room come together. A mirrored, metal embossed or black glass chest of drawers is the best option to choose from should you want matching furniture. Purchasing a chest of drawers from an established range of furniture such as our mirrored furniture range with silver handles can help you achieve an enviable, uniform look with matching colours, shapes and handles.
This leads us nicely to the sensible decisions section of the guide, which will hopefully help you to make an informed but bold choice when purchasing a chest of drawers. As mentioned in the previous paragraph purchasing a chest of drawers from an established range will ensure that even if you only want ONE chest of drawers, you will be able to compliment it with matching furniture at a later date should you move the chest into another room, relocate or change your decoration. Here at Out There we have many returning customers, who come back after a year or so in search of the matching bedsides or tallboy to a chest of drawers they bought several years previous. It would be annoying if purchasing a mirrored chest of drawers as a one-off to find that you couldn’t create a set out of it for a bedroom a few years down the line. Without this assurance you run the risk of the chest becoming a spare part around the home, and incidentally being sold or given away. This isn’t really a deal breaker, after all how many of us think this long term with regards to furniture? But it is a consideration if undecided between a few chests of drawers. Our advice is to go with the chest of drawers which has the most amount of matching furniture.
Will your chest of drawers stand the test of time?
As mentioned above it’s good to know that you can add to a chest of drawers as the years roll on should you require matching pieces. We all know there’s no accounting for taste, so whether you still like your chest of drawers in a few years time is totally down to you, but you can be assured that our chests will stand the test of time in terms of quality as mentioned above.
Another way to ensure your chest of drawers stands the test of time is to reinvent it. There are loads of articles on reinventing a chest of drawers in the numerous home interior magazines you can buy. A recent article in Living ETC talks you through four ways to reinvent a chest of drawers, from repainting it using various techniques (easily done with a French chest of drawers), or adding casters and letters to create something unique and versatile.
Will the chest of drawers be big enough?
A chest of drawers can be a deceptive object. Sometimes it can be difficult to ascertain how much storage space a chest of drawers actually has inside. At the time of writing we have not completed all of our specification drawings, however soon we will have a technical drawing of each and every chest of drawers on the website, detailing the dimensions in detail including the internal dimensions of the drawers. An example of how a chest of drawers can be deceptive is our ‘Simone’ mirrored chest of drawers which looks (at face value) a lot larger than the ‘Duchess’ chest of drawers, but when you look at the interior drawer space you see that the wideboy chest (we’ll do terminology later) has almost an extra drawer worth of space hidden within. It’s a question of how the drawers are laid out, and it’s not always immediately obvious when looking at a chest of drawers.
Don’t go too big with your chest of drawers
However, when considering the size of your chest of drawers do your best to avoid a chest which is too big, especially too deep. Modern bedrooms are often on the compact side and as we all want a BIG bed these days (understandably) the space between the bed and the walls is precious! If space is an issue for you don’t be tempted to go for a chest of drawers which is too deep. You risk the chest dominating the room and a lack of space anywhere is very annoying. Drawer space isn’t everything. If space is an issue there are always clever ways to boost your storage, including ceiling high shelving and ottoman beds.
Also, don’t let a lack of storage dictate your choice of chest of drawers. As mentioned, there are literally loads of ways to maximise storage out there. As it’s a helpful (and never ending) thing to write about journalists are always writing articles about storage. Pick some home interior magazines and you’re bound to get some ideas which will help you justify the chest of drawers of your dreams.
When is a chest of drawers not a chest of drawers?
Answer? When your chest of drawers holds a surround sound unit! Sometimes it’s just impossible to find the right piece of furniture for your space. Especially when it comes to TV, HIFI and Living room furniture. Chests of drawers and bedroom furniture seem to be more readily available, and come in many more shapes, sizes and colours than TV units. For this reason, don’t be afraid of using a bedroom chest of drawers in your lounge to store something unusual. Chests can be reasonably easy to customise with basic DIY knowledge. The easiest and most common way to manipulate a chest of drawers is to cut the back and bottom of the drawers out. You can do this relatively easily with a jigsaw drill. Cutting these sections out of the drawers allows you to still slide them in and out, but releases the space within. A chest of drawers is not quite the perfect, but a very effective hideaway for unsightly electrical equipment. It’s great to know that these things are achievable when all you can find to fit your space is a chest of drawers!
Chests of drawers – probably the most misspelled phrase in history.
We had to write a paragraph about this! It’s amazing how many people spell ‘drawers’ wrong. So much so that we have a page on our website dedicated to chests of ‘draws’. It’s a very understandable misspell after all. We have had some rather amusing misspells and misinterpretations over the years however, the one two which amused us the most were ‘chester draws’ (easily done actually)! And ‘toyboy’ for tallboy (not quite so easy)!
Terminology and styles of chest of drawers
This leads us nicely on to chest of drawers terminology which is another area which confuses us here at Out There. A ‘tallboy’ chest seems to describe any chest of drawers which is taller than it is wide. A ‘wideboy’ chest is exactly the opposite. These phrases must have originated from a chest of drawers manufacturer or retailer who coined the phrase, and they have caught on and taken hold within the chest of drawers industry. French chests are wonderfully confused. A ‘bombe’ chest describes a chest of drawers with a bowed front. This type of chest originated in France in the early 1700s has been popular ever since, (never more so in today’s ‘French furniture crazy’ market). Many people confuse the term bombe chest with Bombay chest, assuming that they are the same thing, when in fact a chest of drawers from Bombay in India is completely different to the French Bombe chest of drawers. Then there is the numerous (and often ridiculous) ‘Louis’ chests, which are usually bombe chests of some description. It is often impossible to tell whether a certain reproduction French chest of drawers is a Louis xiii, a Louis xiv, a Louis xv or a Louis xvi. For those of you who are just as confused as we first were when we started reading these chest of drawers descriptions, Louis XY and Z ruled France between 1560 – 1792. They were very influential (especially Louis xiv) in the furniture world, and a lot of the chests of drawers we see and admire today began life under their rule. French furniture companies love to use the ‘Louis card’ when describing a chest of drawers, but most retailers don’t understand the history (neither to we, but we don’t pretend to), and very often a reproduction French chest of drawers is a hybrid of styles which simply looks aesthetically pleasing.
In terms of our other chests of drawers, each Indian chest of drawers is wonderful examples of how an eye-catching and unique chest of drawers doesn’t have to cost the earth. The embossed silver chest of drawers (Mercedes, Leanne and Kendra) are shiny, tactile and lightweight. They make perfect chests of drawers for the hallway or lounge. The metal embossed and painted glass ranges include some wonderful decorative chests which are guaranteed to turn heads and create a feature in your room. A glass chest of drawers is the ideal way to create an opulent and luxurious bedroom. Be it a mirrored or black glass chest of drawers, they both exude glamour and have plenty of storage space due to their clean straight lines.
Whatever style of chest of drawers you choose we stand by our initial statement. Don’t be a sheep. Don’t be overly cautious. A risk won’t cost the earth, you are on OutThereInteriors.comwhat's this? See our Facebook page
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