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Wardrobes – A Rich History of Storage

May 2019

sliding wardrobe

Sliding wardrobes as a storage solution have probably been around longer than you think.

Where does the word wardrobe come from?

The word wardrobe appeared in the English language in the early 14th century. It originated from Old French words warderobe, wardereube and garderobe, in which “warder” meant “to keep, to guard” and “robe” meant “garment”.

The choice of kings and nobles

A wardrobe is a standing closet used for storing clothes. The earliest wardrobe was a chest and it was not until some degree of luxury was attained in regal palaces and the castles of powerful nobles that separate accommodation was provided for the apparel of the great. The name “wardrobe” was then given to a room in which the wall-space was filled with closets. From these cupboards and lockers, the modern wardrobe with its hanging spaces, sliding shelves and drawers, evolved slowly.

Evolution of the wardrobe

In the nineteenth century, the wardrobe began to develop into its modern form, sometimes incorporating a hanging cupboard at each side, a press in the upper part of the central portion and drawers below. The modern wardrobe differs in one respect from the historical one in its partitioning: there are often smaller compartments on either side with shelves as well as a middle space made up of hanging pegs and drawers – the latter being a modern addition.

The penultimate step in the evolution of the wardrobe was taken when the central doors, which had previously enclosed merely the upper part, were carried to the floor, covering the drawers as well as the sliding shelves, and were often fitted with mirrors. In the UK, a more affluent option is custom-made wardrobes, which are designed and built around the size and shape of the room.

Sliding Doors

Sliding doors were first used in the first century in Roman Houses. Archaeologists have found evidence of sliding tracks for doors dating back to Pompeii, Italy. Sliding doors are the perfect addition to any space saving wardrobe. You can now even add soft close options to control their closing speed and add a feel of luxury to any sliding wardrobe door design.

Not just for wardrobes

Sliding doors have not just been used for wardrobes, Shoji (traditional Japanese doors) have been used as room dividers in Japan since 14th Century BC. In contrast to modern sliding doors that you would put into your sliding wardrobe, these doors are paper thin held together by bamboo or wood. The addition of glass and metal to sliding doors has meant that they are now more robust, more durable and have the ability to let more light into a room.

Fun fact: An armoire is a wardrobe that is wider than a grown adult’s ‘wingspan’, while a wardrobe is smaller.

My Sliding Wardrobe

My Sliding Wardrobe are a leading specialist in bespoke, handmade custom sliding doors and wardrobes. Our wardrobes are created to the highest standard with style, quality and affordability in mind. All of our custom sliding doors are made with high quality glass, mirror and woodwork finished in contemporary metal framework in a range of styles and designs. Use our exclusive and unique 3D online builder to create your perfect wardrobe.