BEDROOM FURNITURE - WARDROBES, CHESTS AND WASHSTANDS
Wardrobes, commode chests, and washstands were among the personal furnishings
normally found in the early American bedroom. Fitted inside with shelves and pegs,
the wardrobe was used to keep clothing and linens, and there was usually a drawer under the doors for extra storage. Because wardrobes were so
large - frequently over 6 feet tall - they were generally constructed in
sections so that they could be taken apart and moved relatively easily.
Before indoor plumbing became relatively common in the late 1800s, washstands and
commodes were absolute necessities in the bedroom -- not
so now, but they still make attractive antique bedroom
Washstands were tall, two-tiered tables that featured an upper shelf with a hole cut in it to accommodate a basin and pitcher. A lower shelf or drawers
held a chamber set, which included a soap dish, toothbrush cup, and shaving mug.
Commode type antique chests or commode washstands were case pieces that served the same purpose as
the simpler table-type washstand. The commode consisted of a top section that was built like a chest with a lift-up top. The deep well inside was used as a washstand, where a basin and pitcher were kept. A drawer beneath the
well stored a razor, a soap dish, and towels. A bottom section featured a cupboard, in which the lidded "slop jar" (used to hold dirty wash
water) and the chamber pot were stored.