A chiffonier is a piece of furniture that is similar to a sideboard, but with some key differences. The size of a chiffonier is generally smaller than that of a sideboard. In addition, the entire front of a chiffonier is closed with doors or drawers, unlike a sideboard which has open elements.
The name chiffonier came from the French word meaning rag picker, which suggests that the chiffonier was often used to store all sorts of odds and ends that had no other sensible home. The chiffonier first became popular during Victorian times. The sideboard first became fashionable during this period, meaning that it can sometimes be hard to make the distinction between the two. Chiffoniers are often lower than sideboards. They are also usually more ornate, with elaborate, French styled designs that made them popular in fashionable Victorian homes.
Chiffoniers were used in various places throughout the home, notably in the dining room and in the bedroom. In the dining room they were used to store serving dishes and platters, while in the bedroom they were often used for lingerie and for bits and pieces that had no other logical home. Some chiffoniers also include a mirror, highlighting their usefulness in the bedroom alongside other types of bedroom furniture.
Chiffoniers are, on the whole, crafted from wood, with both antique and more modern pieces available. Woods such as rosewood were common when the chiffonier first became popular, adorned with handles and knobs that were fashioned from brass. More modern chiffoniers use a wider range of different woods, including woods such as oak, mahogany and more.