How to Use a Chest of Drawers in Any Room of Your Home

Vintage style console.
Neziha Kalı Ertuğrul / Getty Images

A chest of drawers, also known as a bureau or a dresser, is one of the most functional, and many times stylish, pieces of furniture to own. Tall or short, narrow or wide, a chest of drawers can be used for much more than storing clothing. It can hold a multitude of small household objects to help give you a cleaner, more organized space. It's a piece on which you can explore your creativity, too, by refinishing, decoupaging, or rearranging the components to design a whole new look.

Here are a few ways to take advantage of a chest of drawers, as is or refurbished, around your home.

In a Bedroom

Chests of drawers typically store folded clothing in a bedroom. But there are more ways to use dressers, whether it's in a primary bedroom, guest room, or a child's sleeping space.

  • Use a low chest of drawers as a bedside table.
  • Put a bureau in a large closet to better organize your accessories and clothing.
  • Use a chest of drawers as storage at the foot of your bed; the bureau should be a little lower than the top of your mattress.
  • Dedicate a small chest of drawers in a guest room for a houseguest to tuck their personal belongings.
  • Use a chest of drawers in a child's room as a toy box.
  • Take out the drawers of a bureau you no longer want, add casters and use as under-the-bed storage containers.

About This Term: Primary Bedroom

Many real estate associations such as the Houston Association of Realtors and some national builders, have classified the term "Master Bedroom" as discriminatory.

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Child's Room Chest

The trick for using a chest of drawers in a baby's room is to choose a design that can grow up along with your child.

In the Living Area or Family Room

The beauty of a chest of drawers is you can move it from a bedroom to a living space without much fuss. There's no need to buy expensive furniture when you have a perfectly good dresser than needs a new home in another room. Consider these uses for a bureau in the living room or family room:

  • Place a small, waist-high chest of drawers between two chairs or at the end of your sofa to serve as an end table.
  • Use a long dresser as a console table placed at the back of your sofa; use a dresser that's either the same height or lower than your sofa's back.
  • Fill a chest with puzzles, games, art supplies, or books in the family room.
  • Use a low, long chest of drawers as an entertainment center to hold a television; drawers can hold electronic accessories.
  • Turn a chest of drawers of any size into a bar; remove one of the drawers to fit or make a wine holder or rack.

Remove Busted Drawers

Remove busted drawers and replace them with baskets for a decorative look without having to fix the broken parts. This works best where there's a wood bottom to support the baskets.

In the Dining Room or Kitchen

You may think a chest of drawers only works in a farmhouse or cottage-style kitchen, but the look works for just about any style space, even a contemporary design. A vintage mid-century modern chest of drawers brings a cozy, warm touch to an otherwise ultra-modern kitchen, for example. Here are ways to incorporate a chest of drawers into a dining area or kitchen:

  • Use a long, low chest in the dining room as a sideboard, using the top for serving buffet style.
  • Set up a chest in the kitchen as a coffee station or coffee bar, storing coffee, tea, pods, cups, and spoons in the drawers.
  • Create a kitchen island with a waist-high chest of drawers; install hooks and rails on the sides for potholders, utensils, and towels.
  • A smaller chest in the dining room offers a place on its top to set up a tea service, desserts, a floral arrangement, or seasonal decorations.

Add Casters for Rolling Storage

Whether you use your chest of drawers as a bar, kitchen island, or for another storage solution around your home, consider adding casters to the bottom. Add a handle to the side for easier mobility.

In a Foyer, Mudroom, or Porch

In a matter of minutes, a chest of drawers can declutter your foyer, mudroom, or porch (add your laundry room, too). Why rely on mitten trees or boxes to corral the mishmash of seasonal gear when you can throw everything into the spacious drawers of a dresser?

  • Create a more functional foyer with a chest of drawers to hold seasonal items such as gloves and scarves while placing keys and mail on top.
  • Give each family member their own drawer in an entryway or mudroom bureau. Kids can keep homework organized while adults can store bills, tools, or electronics. Keep a basket or decorative box on top for mail and notes.
  • Keep a chest of drawers on a covered porch for a serving station and storage for outdoor needs, such as grilling utensils and placemats.

In a Home Office or Workroom

Who isn't working at home these days? If you are, or you need extra space for projects and crafts, take your displaced chest of drawers and put it to work for you. Luckily you don't have to abide by cubicle rules; you can personalize your office with your own style.

  • Transform a bureau as a credenza for files and office supplies.
  • Alter a chest of drawers as a writing desk by taking off the front piece of the top drawer; use the surface for writing or to hold a keyboard.
  • Use a bureau to store gift wrap supplies, bolts of ribbons, tags, scissors, pens, and scotch tape.
  • Store in a chest items you need for your crafts and hobbies, such as painting supplies, sewing notions, fabrics, or scrapbooking supplies.

A Way to Add Shelving

Add more storage space to a bureau by placing a hutch or bookshelf on top of the dresser. The pieces don't need to match. Secure the top piece to the dresser or bolt it to the wall for stability and safety.

In a Bathroom

If you need some style in your bathroom, consider adding a chest of drawers. Use a chest of drawers in a bathroom in two ways: as a chest for linen storage or repurposed to hold a vessel sink or drop-in sink.

For either purpose. choose a chest of drawers that will withstand the moisture and humidity, especially if it's in a space with a shower or bathtub. (You can get away with any type of dresser in a powder room, but still beware of potential leaks.) If you're refinishing a bureau for a bathroom, it's best to use a water-resistant sealer and an anti-mildew coating to make sure the wood won't warp or crack. Newer dressers made for bathroom vanities use are usually kiln-dried to ensure they won't become damaged.

Best Bet for Sinks

Choose the right chest of drawers to turn into a bathroom vanity. It should be solid wood to hold the weight of a sink (and water).