Bombe Chests Are Stylish Accent Pieces

Antique Louis XV style bombe commode, corner table and gueridon

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A bombe chest, just because of its name alone, exudes an exotic but elegant allure. It comes from French, meaning "curved." That's just what it means when you call it a bombe chest – its curves are its defining aspect. Bombe chests bulge outward in the front and on the sides and then curves in at the base.

This style of chest is a 17th-century French design. You can find antique bombe chests, reproductions of the antique style, and even occasionally a bombe chest that has a more contemporary look. 

When determining the style of a bombe chest, look at other features besides the curved shape for clues. A bombe chest with ball feet is more traditional, while a contemporary-looking one might have longer legs and have a brightly painted or more modern finish.

Bombe chests are available in different finishes as well. You might see them in varnished wood, distressed wood or painted, sometimes with designs. Bombe chests often are in the chinoiserie style, which means being treated with lacquer and Chinese motifs.

Decorating Ideas

Use a bombe chest to turn up the volume in any room. Since bombe chests come from the French tradition, they are usually part of a traditional-style decor.

They might be in a living room that also contains a curved-frame sofa covered in velvet, King Louis XVI side chairs, or French-style wing-back chairs. An ornate Oriental or Persian rug covers the floor, and accessories tend in the ornate direction, with some made of brass. 

For a more eclectic style, use a traditionally painted bombe chest as an accent piece in a room with a plain-colored sofa with soft and full down cushions, club chairs covered in a print fabric that picks up the color of the chest and a glass and metal coffee table. 

Bombes make great side pieces in a dining room because of their strong storage potential. Use with low-key traditional furniture so the spotlight shines on the bombe chest. Chinoiserie makes a statement, and the colors can inform your color scheme in the room.

Foyers, of course, are at the top of the list for uses for bombe chests. Since foyers generally have little other furniture, you have a relatively free hand. Just be sure that the chest is harmonious with the colors and styles in the rooms in view from the foyer and fits with the decor of the house overall. The chest also should fit nicely in the foyer, size-wise, and not block the door or take too much space in the walking area.

Bathrooms make an unusual location for a bombe chest. This strong style turns a bathroom into something original, with its signature shape and often interesting painted treatment. You can use it for storage or as a vanity. You'll need a plumber to fit it for use as a vanity. But you will have the coolest bathroom in the neighborhood.

Bombes turn a bedroom night table into a focal point. Paint the bombe to pick up a color in print throw pillows, duvet cover or curtains for a custom and striking look.