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Antique armoire must-have for Baton Rouge home

Empire armoire, note columns on either side of doors. (photo: google image)
Empire armoire, note columns on either side of doors. (photo: google image)

Browsing through all the wonderful antiques stores in our area is a thrilling experience. There's so much from which to choose and we have so many knowledgeable dealers offering splendid selections. How to decide what is the quintessential piece for the modern Creole home?

The most useful antique item any home can contain is an armoire. An armoire provides such great storage - and not just for clothes or the television. Of course, you can outfit it for a wet- or dry-bar but think of your dining room, too; how lovely for linens, candles, glasses and over-size serving pieces.

For our area, the ideal piece is nineteenth century, the era when Baton Rouge and River Road reached peak wealth and prominence; it should be imported, naturally, from France. As you shop the area's antique market, try to identify the various historical styles and discover which one best fits with the furnishings you currently possess, or the style you plan to achieve.

Napoleon heavily influenced the Empire style of furniture (1804-1815); you'll find it boldly symmetrical and our predecessors loved its look with Greek revival architecture. Look for mahogany and rosewood with touches of ebony and notice protruding columns on the outside of doors and casings.

Following the Napoleonic era came the Restoration period, also known as the Charles X era (1815-1830). From this period you may select an armoire that marks a return to softer, more delicate carvings but note that work will still be ornately decorated. Again, rosewood and mahogany predominate.

Next time we'll examine the eras of Louis Philippe and the Second Empire as well as the French Belle Epoch as we continue shopping Baton Rouge for the perfect antique armoire for your home.