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What is a Highboy Dresser?

This is a close look at a navy blue highboy dresser with silver button stud handles.

Did you know that highboy dressers have been used for centuries? In fact, in America, these pieces of furniture became a popular feature in the mid-1700s due to the influence of Queen Anne. Having a highboy dresser means that you have one of the most versatile and stylish pieces of furniture in your home.

You can use it to accentuate your bedroom or use it to add more balance to your living room space. It doesn’t matter how you plan on using your dresser. The main thing is ensuring that it’s in prime condition and decorated accordingly.

Knowing a bit of history and the styles that have evolved over the years to influence your furniture piece should benefit you. Keep on reading to learn more interesting things about your favorite piece of furniture to add more character to your style.

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What is a highboy dresser?

Did you know that a highboy dresser is derived from the missed translation of wood in French? The name became common in the late 1600s. It was common for you to find a highboy in most homes during colonial America.

This is a close look at a vintage varnished highboy dresser with brass handles.

It highlighted the integration of British interior fashion with a uniquely American style that focuses on maximizing space and design. These types of highboy dressers would have more than 8 drawers at times. The following are the 3 popular types of styles that this era gave rise to with highboys.

1. The William and Mary highboy

This highboy dresser is one of the earliest designs in American history. It is known for its less curved legs when compared to other designs.

2. The Queen Anne highboy

In the mid 18th century, highboys that were made from elegantly carved mahogany became popular. These flat-fronted highboy dressers were designed with curved legs and would sometimes have various ornamental brass drawer handles.

Nowadays, the common name that you should use for this ancient piece of furniture is a chest of drawers. The common features of your highboy dresser are two sections. Your lower section is usually wider than your upper section. The thing is your furniture is in fact made up of two separate pieces.

For your convenience, they’ve been combined to give you a decent-sized dresser. You may have noticed that it generally consists of 6 drawers that are divided into these two sections. Your base is the main chest of drawers.

The second narrower chest with drawers is then added to create what is also known as a chest-on-chest. This is also what distinguishes your highboy dresser from the similar tallboy. The latter is a piece of furniture that you’ve likely seen. It consists of a wardrobe on top of your bottom chest of drawers.

Sometimes your manufacturer may include a side shelf to make more room for your items.

Your serpentine-shaped dresser is usually flat-fronted. However, as time went on, the designs started changing. This is why you may see that the latest chest drawer versions have a curved pediment. Additionally, they come in various shapes and designs with creative keyholes that have decorated brass and sophisticated legs with different finishes.

How to decorate a highboy dresser?

A close look at an antique varnished highboy dresser with intricate carvings and iron handles.

Your dresser is usually the second largest piece of furniture, after your bed, in your room. As a result, it goes without saying that it should play a significant role in how you style your space. It sets the tone for anyone entering your bedroom.

However, bad habits and busy schedules can impact how you keep the top section of your drawer decorated. If you’re tired of seeing pieces of mismatched jewelry, toiletries, and unread books that are piling up on your dresser, you’re not alone. Having a messy dresser can affect your overall mood and how you rest when you enter your bedroom.

This is why these 5 easy tips should help you to style your dresser and your room simultaneously.

Start by cleaning

The most basic step towards cleaning any messy space in your room is to clean. You should remove everything that’s on the top of your dresser. Ensure that you wipe any grime and use appropriate cleaning techniques to remove any dust particles. Put everything that doesn’t belong there in a box that you should sort out as soon as you’re done.

Set a center stage

If your aim is to improve the visual balance in your room, you should try hanging something large and attention-grabbing on the wall above your dresser. If you can’t think of anything at the moment, use a mirror that’s big enough to give you the aesthetic feel that you’re hoping to achieve.

Add tall accents

Now that your space is clean, and you’ve set a center stage, you should consider adding a tall piece of furniture next to your dresser. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. A simple yet tall bedside lamp can do the trick. However, if you’ve already got one of these in your room, you should consider something like a tall houseplant or a decorative pillar candle.

Add a decorative piece

Once you’ve figured out how you want your dresser to look, you should think of adding a decorative element. A tray is a great way to corral your small collectibles and toiletries instead of the mess that you had before. Your tray should have a strong style and make a statement. Think of gold hues and reflective materials for your tray.

How tall is a highboy dresser?

This is a white antique highboy dresser with a counter, bronze handles and glass panels on its cabinet doors.

A highboy dresser is quite tall when compared to the standard height of your common dressers. A typical dresser is approximately 54 inches tall. On the other hand, your highboy dresser can go up to an estimated 110 inches tall.

The height difference is shocking, but you should remember that your highboy is made up of two sections that are stacked on top of each other. In the old days, you could find a highboy dresser with more than 6 drawers as a standard item. Nowadays, you may have to ask your manufacturer to add more drawers to achieve an aesthetic that closely matches the styles that were evident during colonial America.

Frequently asked questions about a highboy dresser

What is a highboy dresser used for?

Your highboy dresser is usually an ideal way to maximize your space. It not only adds functionality to any room, but it can also enhance the style that you want to illustrate in your home.

What is considered a highboy dresser?

The general appearance of your dresser is what makes it a highboy. So, if you have a very tall piece of furniture that is divided into two sections, with the upper section narrower and the bottom a wider design, then you should have a highboy dresser.

However, it’s easy to confuse your highboy dresser with a tallboy. In fact, some people use the terms interchangeably. However, there are some distinctive features that make these very different furniture pieces.

What’s the difference between a highboy and a tallboy?

The style of a highboy and tallboy can be similar. It depends on the manufacturer. However, the main distinction between the two is that the former only has drawers. Whereas, the latter has a drawer section and a wardrobe.