A chiffonier (or cheffonier) may be used to describe at least two types of furniture. Its name comes directly from a French piece of furniture, the chiffoniere. 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.
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.
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.
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. It is also one half of the American portmanteau piece of furniture called a chifforobe.
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