A chiffonier, also chiffonnier, may be used to describe at least two types of furniture. Its name comes directly from a French piece of furniture, the chiffonier.[1] The French name, which comes from the French for a rag-picker, suggests that it was originally intended as a receptacle for odds and ends which had no place elsewhere.[2]

An American chiffonier

British chiffonierEdit

In British usage, a chiffonier is similar to a sideboard, but differentiated by its smaller size and by the enclosure of the whole of the front by doors.[3]

It was one of the many curious developments of the mixed taste, at once cumbrous and bizarre, which prevailed in furniture during the Empire period in England. The earliest chiffoniers date from that time; they are usually of rosewood – the favorite timber of that moment; their furniture (the technical name for knobs, handles, and escutcheons) was most commonly of brass, and there was very often a raised shelf with a pierced brass gallery at the back. The doors were well panelled and often edged with brass-beading, while the feet were pads or claws, or, in the choicer examples, sphinxes in gilded bronze.[3]

American chiffonierEdit

In North America, a chiffonier is quite different. There it refers to a tall, narrow and elegant chest of drawers, frequently with a mirror attached on top.[2] It is also one half of the American portmanteau piece of furniture called a chifforobe.

In mediaEdit

  • A chiffonier is mentioned in chapters 4 and 18 in Gene Stratton-Porter's last novel The Keeper of the Bees (1925)
  • It appears five times (chapter 2: once, chapter 3: three times, chapter 13: once) in the novel The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger.
  • The retired courtesan Madame Armfeldt in the Stephen Sondheim musical A Little Night Music sings the couplet "In the castle of the King of the Belgians/ We would visit through a false chiffonier" in her first-act song "Liaisons."[4]
  • Mrs. Alma Wheatley from Netflix mini-series The Queens Gambit refers to a chiffonier when she tell Beth to get the supplies needed to take care of her first period. However, this appears to be her bedside night table.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Charles, Boyce (2014). Dictionary of Furniture (Third ed.). New York: Skyhorse Publishing, Inc. ISBN 9781628738407.
  2. ^ a b Chiffonier, Oxford dictionaries
  3. ^ a b   One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Cheffonier". Encyclopædia Britannica. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 22–23.
  4. ^ Sondheim, Stephen (2010). Finishing the Hat (First ed.). New York: Knopf. ISBN 9780679439073.