We needed a capacious  cupboard  to house sporting gear – tennis rackets and balls, pool paraphernalia and games.  The idea was to have something free standing, self contained with deep shelves, that looked good in its own right.  So we tracked this one down on the Kings Road. It was during the recession and the dealer had had enough, was selling up and we did well with this piece – and a few others.

Technically an armoire is the French term for what we call a wardrobe – essentially a  free standing clothes hanging closet, originally made for households without  dedicated dressing rooms, or clothes hanging rooms.  However many of them have a drawer approximately half way up which divides the space, making it more useful for folded items than hanging. So an armoire is also perfect as a linen cupboard, or linen press.

This one is very French and from Provence –  typical of the style and colouring  we’d expect to find.  The paint is the original colour-  it does look a bit as though it could have been artificially aged in this photo, but it isn’t, and doesn’t in reality. It’s been well loved and well used. The inside has the typical drawer with shelves above and below.

These big cupboards are often the traditional wedding gift and known as marriage cupboards, primarily to hold the brides own lovingly prepared handwork – her trousseau. This is the stock of sheets, pillowcases, bedcovers and table linen that she and her female relatives have been working on and planning for manyyears, for this very occasion.

Large  cupboards as freestanding pieces of furniture are found  the world over in one form or another and under one name or another.  Each culture has their own distinctive style  that is fairly easy to recognize. The overall dimensions, the depth and configuration, the decoration, the colours, the closure mechanism  and the legs are all keys to where any cupboard we see might have come from.

Traditionally  each household would have just the one big cupboard – a prized possession – to hold both linen and clothing – one storage space catering for the whole families needs.

In the small saffron growing communities tradition it’s said  that  at Christmas Mass you can tell who’s had a good season by the smell on the overcoats.  Premium quality saffron – the most highly aromatic and intensely coloured –  provides, in a few short days,  the livelihood for a many families  and the dedicated harvesting neighbourhood who come together to handpick  the  delicate stigmas.  The crop is both rare and precious, with safe, warm storage essential –  where better than the solid, dependable, family wardrobe?