What is the difference between a wardrobe and a closet?

A wardrobe can be used to store clothes that are used in everyday life.

There are several differences between a wardrobe and a closet, including appearance, intended use, and where the garment is typically placed. A cabinet can be any piece in a wide variety of furniture used to store utensils and kitchenware or other items for display; these include plates, china, religious items and small items of clothing that can be folded. During medieval times, cabinets were used to display items that showed the wealth of the owner. Wardrobes are a specific type of closet used to store clothes that fold easily or are used for everyday use. Closets are typically placed in living rooms or kitchens, while wardrobes are placed in more private spaces such as bedrooms.

Cabinets can be used to store kitchen items such as plates, glasses and cutlery.

Looking closely at the two pieces can provide clues to help distinguish between a wardrobe and a closet. During the 18th century, the freestanding closet typically had four doors at the top and three drawers at the bottom. Kitchen cabinets – then and now – are smaller and simpler, consisting of just one or two doors with shelves inside. A wardrobe also only has one or two doors, but it is quite large and usually has a mirror attached to at least one of the doors.

A wardrobe is just one of several types of closet that have evolved over the years. The development of this piece of furniture stems from the hanging press and the linen closet. Both the hanging press and the linen closet are types of closets used to store bedding or small items of clothing. A wardrobe stores clothes that need to be hung up or worn every day. During the 18th century, the wardrobe was used to store clothes that were heavy and easily wrinkled.

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Location is also important when identifying between a wardrobe and a closet. Freestanding cabinets are placed in areas of the home frequented by visitors, such as the living room or entryway. Built-in cabinets are most common in the kitchen. Wardrobes can be freestanding or built-in, but are typically found in more private areas within the home, such as the bedroom, attic, or a quiet hallway.

A wardrobe and a closet are similar types of storage furniture. Both are square pieces, which can make it difficult to tell the difference between a wardrobe and a closet. Taking a closer look at the characteristics of storage pieces and identifying their use and where they are positioned can help to distinguish one from the other.

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