Your Expert Guide for Buying a Solid Wood Dresser

real wood dresser

Dressers matter. They are an extremely functional piece of furniture that the more organized among us use daily. Thanks to their large size, their appearance has a huge impact on the feel of a space.

Despite their importance, it’s not uncommon for them to be overlooked when redesigning a bedroom. You won’t make that mistake, though, right? Dressers are so much more than a place to store your unmentionables.

A solid wood dresser can be clean and minimal in appearance, be a colorful statement piece, or have beautiful inlaid designs.

When you’re buying a new solid wood dresser, you want to make sure it serves your organizational needs while bringing the right feel to your space. Here’s our guide for how to choose the right solid wood dresser for you.

Is a Solid Wood Dresser the Best Option?

solid wood dresser drawer

We may be a touch biased, but in our professional opinion, absolutely. With solid wood, you will get a level of longevity that alternative materials won’t get close to. Your sturdy, beautifully crafted piece of furniture will withstand years and even generations of being abused.

Your solid wood dresser can change with you over time, whether you just want to swap out the hardware or completely refinish it.

Compare that to flat-pack furniture, which goes straight to the dump after a few years; bad for the environment and bad for your wallet.

Styles of Solid Wood Dressers

Solid wood dressers come in an almost endless number of styles to meet the unique organizational and decor needs of everyone. However, there are a few basics when it comes to what’s available that you will want to know.

We’ll cover the more common choices, which should help you figure out what features will meet your needs the best.

Dresser vs. Chest

All the options will fall into two main categories: dressers and chest of drawers.

Dressers are meant to be something you get dressed in front of. They typically have a long, wide top for you to set your clothes on, and some may have an attached mirror. On the other hand, chests are designed to maximize storage space, tall and narrow, so they take up minimal floor space.

However, they all serve the same purpose, so no one will mind if you forget this by the end of the article.

Gentleman’s Chest

A gentleman’s chest is a tall and wide combination chest that has a doored cabinet section along with drawers. The cabinet may have shelves or have rods for hanging clothes or ties.

Vertical Chest

This is your typical tall, fairly narrow chest of drawers. It’s a great option for people with limited space since it makes the most of vertical storage to reduce how much floor space it takes up.

Lingerie Chest

A tall, very narrow chest of drawers meant for smaller items. As the name implies, it’s perfect for undergarments. It is also great for jewelry, makeup, and other odds and ends.

Combo Dresser

A combo dresser is typically quite large and offers any combination of drawers and cabinets. The cabinets might have shelves inside, a rod for hanging clothes, or a combination of both. This is a great option for storing more irregular sized items like outwear.

Horizontal Dresser

The horizontal dresser is the standard wide, mid-height dresser with lots of tabletop space for trinkets, makeup, a TV….anything you can think of! They usually have one or two rows of drawers and are a great option for rooms that have a bit of space to work with.

Double Dresser

The double dresser is the horizontal dresser’s big brother. It is generally wider with plenty of storage space in the large drawers and often comes with a large mirror attached. This is perfect for larger rooms but can easily overwhelm a small space.

Finished vs. Unfinished Dresser

A wonderful benefit of buying a solid wood dresser (or any type of solid wood furniture) is getting the option to buy it finished or unfinished. It is an important option for ensuring the piece you end up with is exactly what you want.

A finished piece of furniture is sanded, painted or stained, and ready to go home with you. Furniture that is unfinished is the piece in its raw wood form, which you can finish any way you’d like or have the workshop do it for you.


You are going to know exactly what you’ll end up with because you will pick it out as is, and that’s what will be delivered. You will get to enjoy your new purchase as soon as you get it inside, without concern about having to do anything to the dresser yourself.

This is the perfect option for someone who can find exactly what they want in the showroom and who doesn’t want to be fussed with extra decisions.


If you buy your solid wood dresser unfinished, it will probably be cheaper than many of the finished alternatives. You will also get to see every detail of the piece: the beautiful wood grain, any blemishes, and the craftsmanship that went into building the dresser.

You get to decide how you want the finished product to look. A clear coat if you want to show off the natural grain, or you can stain or paint it any way you’d like. This is the way to go if you have existing furniture you want to match it to. If you don’t want to finish it yourself, you can have the workshop finish it the way you’d like.

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