A dresser is a piece of furniture which is similar to a sideboard, but also has shelves above for storing and displaying crockery. A bedroom chest of drawers is often called a "dresser."
A chest of drawers, also known (especially in North American English) as dresser or bureau, is a piece of furniture which has multiple parallel, horizontal drawers stacked one above each other. A chifforobe (from chiffonier + wardrobe) is a combination of a wardrobe and chest of drawers.
Chests of drawers have traditionally been made and used for storing clothing, especially underwear, socks, and other items not normally hung in or otherwise stored in a closet. They are usually placed in a bedroom for this purpose, but can actually be used to store anything that will fit inside and can be placed anywhere in a house or another place. Various personal sundry items are also often stored in a chest of drawers. It has a long history as one of the stand-bys of a carpenter's workshop. A typical chest is approximately rectangular in overall shape and often has short legs at the bottom corners for placement on the floor.
Chests of drawers often come in 5-, 6-, and 7-drawer varieties, with either a single or a double top drawer. The chest illustrated at right would be described as a '2 over 5 chest-on-chest', the latter term deriving from the fact that at one time it would have been made as 2 separable pieces. They are commonly made of wood, similar to many other kinds of furniture, but of course can be made of other materials. The inside of the drawers can be accessed by pulling them out at the front side. It is often placed so that the back side faces a wall since access to the back is not necessary. The lateral sides of are also usually made such that they can be placed against a wall or in a corner. Although they can be plain in appearance, chests of drawers can also be made with a fancy or ornamental appearance, including finishes and various external color tones.
Most chests of drawers fall into one of two types: those which are about waist-high or bench-high and those (usually with more drawers) which are about shoulder-high. Both types typically have a flat surface on top. Waist-high chests often have a mirror placed vertically on top, which is often bought with the piece. While a user is getting dressed or otherwise preparing their grooming, he or she can look at themselves in the mirror to check their appearance. Some users may keep lamps for lighting on top of either kind of dresser, and decorative items or photos are sometimes added for appearance.
Historical Information of the Dresser
A predecessor to the chest of drawers, an early 19th Century American painted pine blanket chest. In late medieval Europe the chest came into widespread use, especially in homes of the nobility. This type, also known as a coffer was more or less a simple joined wooden box with a hinged lid. It may or may not have stood on feet. An early transitional phase was the installation of one drawer beneath this main compartment. A number of early pieces from the seventeenth century are extant of oak manufacture from England, and corresponding seventeenth century pieces of French walnut have survived. Some of the early surviving English specimens are from the Charles I period. Nutting ascribes the earliest piece in his Furniture Treasury to "before 1649".