Ever wondered what sets a chest of drawers apart from a dresser? It might seem like they’re the same thing, just under different names. However, these common pieces of furniture have distinct characteristics that make them unique. Read on, as this article dives into the key differences and how to choose the one that suits your needs best.

Design and Style

When it comes to design, a chest of drawers is typically taller and narrower, with the drawers stacked vertically. This design of a rattan drawer chest allows for more storage space without taking up too much room horizontally. On the other hand, a dresser, also known as a lowboy, is usually wider and lower to the ground, often with two or three rows of drawers side by side.

The top surface of a dresser is often larger, making it suitable for displaying decorative items or holding a mirror. As for style, both can range from traditional to contemporary, but dressers often come with attached mirrors, adding to their functionality in bedrooms. The choice between a chest of drawers and a dresser largely depends on the available space and your storage needs.


In terms of functionality, both a dresser and a chest of drawers serve as storage units. However, their design influences their use. A chest of drawers, with its vertical structure and numerous drawers, is perfect for organizing small items like socks, underwear, or accessories. Each drawer can be dedicated to a specific category of items, making it easy to find what you need.

On the contrary, a dresser, with its horizontal layout and wide drawers, is more suitable for storing larger items such as sweaters, jeans, or even extra bedding. The broader surface top of dressers also provides a spot for everyday items like keys or wallets, or for bedroom essentials like a mirror, lamps, or beauty products. Thus, while both pieces offer storage solutions, your choice should depend on what items you need to store and the amount of floor space available in your room.

Storage Configuration

These units can be configured to accommodate your needs better, and this can be done in various ways. These are the following:

  • Small item dividers
  • Stacked or layered storage
  • Drawer inserts and organizers
  • Folded clothing
  • Drawer liners
  • Lingerie drawers
  • Hidden compartments
  • Shoe storage
  • Accessory drawers
  • Vertical file storage
  • Customize sections

When it comes to storage configurations, a chest of drawers often offers a vertical arrangement of numerous smaller drawers, making it ideal for categorizing and storing small items like socks or accessories. In contrast, a dresser typically features a wider, horizontal layout with fewer but larger drawers.

This makes dressers preferable for storing larger items like sweaters or bedding. The top surface of dressers can also be utilized for everyday items or decorative purposes.

Size and Shape

The size and shape of a chest of drawers and a dresser significantly differ. Generally, a chest of drawers is taller and slimmer, opting for a vertical storage solution. Its shape is ideal for rooms with limited floor space, as it provides ample storage while minimizing the footprint.

Conversely, a dresser is broader and shorter, spreading storage horizontally. Its wide and low profile offers extensive countertop space, perfect for displaying decor, placing mirrors, or organizing daily essentials. However, it requires more floor space, making it a better fit for bigger rooms. Ultimately, choosing between the two comes down to your room’s size, layout, and storage needs.

Mirror Inclusion

Typically, a chest of drawers doesn’t include a mirror, due to its taller, narrower design which doesn’t lend itself as well to this feature. On the other hand, dressers often come with a mirror attached. The mirror usually sits on the broad, flat surface on top of the dresser, reflecting the room and providing a handy place for users to check their appearance.

This makes dressers a popular choice for bedrooms, where they offer a dual function as both a storage unit and a vanity. However, it’s important to note that these are general rules, and both dressers and chests of drawers can be customized to include or exclude mirrors according to individual preferences.

Aesthetic and Decorative Features

When it comes to aesthetics and decorative features, both a chest of drawers and a dresser offer unique elements. The prior, due to its tall, slender structure, often presents a more formal, sophisticated appearance. It can serve as a visual focal point in a room, especially when crafted from materials like mahogany or cherry.

Conversely, a dresser, with its low, wide profile, tends to convey a more casual, inviting atmosphere. Its expansive surface area is apt for displaying personal mementos, family photos, or decorative lamps. The presence of attached mirrors in many dressers further amplifies their decorative potential, doubling as a vanity space in bedrooms.


So, now you know the differences between a dresser and a chest of drawers. Consider your space, storage needs, and aesthetic preferences when choosing between the two. Remember, the right piece can not only keep your items organized but also elevate the look of your room. Happy furniture hunting!