The Differences Between a Dresser and a Chest

Differences Between a Dresser and a Chest

Both the dresser and the chest are vital pieces of furniture in a home. Many things make them similar, such as their ability to hold items inside of their structure. However, it may be difficult for some to tell the difference between these two unique pieces.

There are a few vital differences between the dresser and chest, some of which include:

  • The size of each
  • The location of each item in the home
  • The cost 

These, among others, set the dresser and the chest apart in the world of furniture.

Keep on reading to learn more about the differences between dressers and chests. For anyone decorating their home, it is critical to understand what sets these apart. That way, you can use them for their intended purpose and maximize the space in your home.

Size Variations

The first big difference between the dresser and chest is the size that they come in. While both can be large, the dresser and the chest vary in dimensions. This item can be critical if you have a specific space that you want to fit a piece of furniture inside. A dresser may sit better in a location where a chest cannot fit at all.

We will go over the average sizes of each piece to demonstrate the contrast more clearly. They are two very different items, and the size makes that clear. Each can fit inside a room differently and in varying places depending on the space available. They are not interchangeable.

Size of a Dresser

The average dimensions for a dresser are around 30-40 inches tall and 55-65 inches wide. A typical dresser is bulkier than a chest. They are short, wide, and deep, allowing for a bit more space inside. A basic format includes six to nine drawers, is about waist height, and is between three and five feet wide.


The dresser is this height because:

  • Bend is minimized: This height allows a person to access the drawers without bending over too much. This benefit can prevent back problems, even in the later years of life.
  • It permits ease of access: The height of the dresser allows items to be put inside the drawers easily. There is no need to struggle opening drawers and cabinet doors.
  • Items can be placed on top: The size of the dresser allows items to sit on top without a problem. This perk can come in handy for storage or getting ready in the morning.

The size of the dresser allows all of these items to happen. It is very convenient, especially for those who will make the most out of the dresser’s many storage capabilities. The dresser’s size was formed with the intent to hold many items.

The typical structure and size of a dresser are very different than that of a chest. We will go over the dimensions and size of a chest so that you can see how it varies from the dresser. This trait will help you tell which is which if you are out looking for a piece of furniture for your home.

Size of a Chest

The chest is often taller than the dresser, with legs that add to its height. A chest is narrower than a dresser and comes in a column format, rather than lying sideways like a dresser. One row of drawers makes up its entire structure, and it fits better in small spaces. The average dimensions for a chest are around 44-60 inches tall and 30-40 inches wide. It contains about three to five drawers, a little less than the dresser.

Chest Of Drawers
Chest Of Drawers

The chest is this size because:

  • It is all drawers: The chest’s structure is based around the drawers, not the top of the piece. It is a stall stack of storage rather than serving other purposes for the user.
  • Ease of access: The size of the chest allows access to all of the drawers, both on the bottom of the item and the top. At an average of five drawers per chest, everything should be within reach for the owner of this item.

The size permits these items to happen, based on the placement of the drawers and the height. Of course, this can vary from piece to piece.

As you can see, the height, width, and depth vary quite a bit. The dresser is shorter and bulkier, while the chest is taller and skinnier. You will see how these contribute to other factors as we continue to compare the pieces. Size, including height and width, can affect many other things as well.

Cost of Each Piece

A dresser and a chest vary in price. This gap might influence a potential buyer on the decision that they make. There are strong reasons why each is priced the way that it is. The average prices tend to be fair for these items, though it is still vital to do your research before purchasing.

We’ll discuss the variations in price between the chest and the dresser. They serve different purposes, so they will each pull a varying amount of cash from your pocket. You will often get more features the more money that you pay for a dresser or chest.

Cost of a Dresser

A dresser is the more expensive of the two pieces. On average, its price range settles between $400-$2500. Many solid dressers can be found for the lower-end price, through splurging may give you a few more features. Depending on your lifestyle, this may be worth it.

A dresser typically settles in this price range because:

  • It is intricate: The dresser is most often more detailed than the chest of drawers. Depending on the style it is created in, a dresser can have intricate carvings and delicate legs that might drive up the price.
  • It is full of features: The dresser has more features for a person to use when they are preparing for the day or relaxing. We will go over a few of these a little further on.
  • It is useful: The dresser can perform multiple functions at once. The more something can do, the more expensive it will be for a consumer.

All of these can make the dresser more expensive than the chest of drawers. The more it can do, the more money it will draw from your pocket.

Of course, other items can contribute to a rising price. The materials, intricacy of any carvings, and even the knobs can make a dresser more or less expensive. There are a lot of things to consider when deciding why a dresser has been priced the way that it has.

Cost of a Chest

Though a chest can cost close to the same amount, it is more often than not cheaper than a dresser is. The price range of a chest falls between $200-$2000. It is less practical than a dresser in many cases, so most people aim for the lower end of the range when looking for a chest that will fit their space.

This piece typically falls in this price range because:

  • It is simpler: The chest is less intricate than a dresser. After all, it is often just a tall stack of drawers that sit in the room.
  • It serves fewer purposes: The chest is made for storage. It does not have many other practical purposes, so it is worth less than the dresser to many.
  • It is mostly made up of space: Most of the chest is space. As stated, it is just a stack of drawers on top of each other in the simplest sense.

All of these items can help to determine how much a chest of drawers costs. As with the dresser, if it can do more, it will cost more. These pieces often cannot do as much as dressers can.

As you can see, the price difference between a chest and a dresser can be rather massive. They can both hold items, but often the dresser can be more practical than that. Spending more on a dresser may be worth it because you are going to get more out of it than you will the chest. If storage is your only goal, however, a cheap chest might be a better bet.

Placement in a Room

As with most furniture, there are places in the room that are better to place a chest and a dresser than others. For both, these tend to contrast. There are a few points of overlap, but there are locations that will suit one but will not work for the other.

We will go over each of these placements and why they work best for that particular piece of furniture. If you only have one spot in your room for a piece of furniture, this might impact whether you decide on a chest or a dresser.

Placement of a Dresser

The dresser is often one of the main focal points of a room, as they tend to be more intricate and complicated than a chest of drawers. Thus, they are rarely in the corner of the room. Dressers sit right out in the open, displayed for anyone to see. This location can vary depending on the setup of a room.

Some of the most popular locations for a dresser to sit inside a room includes:

  • Right across from the bed to balance out the room, toning down the size of the bed
  • In the center of the wall next to the bed, if there is a good amount of space between the bed and the wall
  • Under a window, if there are no accessories or additions on top of it

All of these are great locations for a dresser in a bedroom if the available space permits it. They will allow you to get the most use out of this popular piece of furniture.

The chest has a different placement inside a room. Rather than being the star as a dresser is, the chest operates a bit differently. We will go over this next so that you can understand yet another item that sets these two apart.

Placement of a Chest

A chest of drawers is not the focal point of the room. More often than not, this piece of furniture is placed close to the corner. It falls in the side of the room where it is out of the way. It keeps things hidden so that other pieces of furniture can shine within the space.

Other locations where a chest might include:

  • Next to the bed, where the drawers can easily be reached
  • Inside a walk-in closet, where it is out of sight until it is needed
  • Inside a smaller closet, where the doors can be opened to access the items inside the drawers

All of these are common places that people put a chest inside their homes. There are other locations, but these will operate the best in almost any space.

As you can see, the placement of a chest is more secondary than that of a dresser. A dresser can serve as one of the focal points of a room, while the chest is often pushed off to the side and forgotten. This view does not have to be the case, but it works best in a small space. You want to maximize your room, so making the chest secondary is often necessary.

Does a Dresser Need a Mirror?

We also need to talk about the additions that can be added to the dresser and the chest. One of the most popular additions to a dresser is a mirror. Does the dresser need a mirror? Can a chest of drawers have a mirror, or does it not work in the same way?

The answers to these questions will come next. We’ll also talk about a few of the other additions that you can place on each of these pieces. This bonus is one of the items that varies the most between the two in a bedroom setting.

Additions on a Dresser

A dresser can have a million additions placed on top of it. For those that use mirrors to get ready in the morning, you can add a mirror on top of this piece to create an all-in-one space to get ready in the morning. Since it often sits in the center of the room, it is a perfect piece of furniture to add some extras if you would like.

A dresser does not need a mirror. Some of the other additions that you can place on top of a dresser include:

  • A television if you enjoy entertainment at night
  • A painting if you want an extra item of décor to accent the dresser
  • A jewelry box or other practical items if you don’t want massive extras

Any of these items can go on top of or hang on the wall that the dresser is pressed against. It’s a versatile piece of furniture that can adapt to anything placed on top of it. It is the perfect height for sitting when getting ready, for viewing television that has been hung on the wall or placed on top. The chest is a little bit different.

Additions on a Chest

Since the chest is so tall, you can’t place anything on top of it. It is not practical, and it is hard to see. If you place your chest inside a closet, there isn’t any point in putting items on top since you will not be able to see them daily. You especially cannot place a mirror on top of a chest, as you will be unable to look into it.

There are a few things that might work well on top of a chest. These include:

  • A small television if you do not mind looking up when you are watching
  • A vase of flowers if you are still able to see them on top of your chest
  • Small items that you want to hide from the rest of your room

If you want to put something on your chest, all of these are great options. Make sure that you can reach them, however, so that you will be able to get them back down again if necessary.

As you can see, the dresser is much better if you want to keep items on top. The chest is much taller and slimmer, so it cannot hold as much. You will also have a hard time seeing any form of entertainment you place on top of this structure.

How They Help You Prepare for the Day

When you get ready in the morning, many pieces of furniture can aid you in the process. A vanity can assist you in putting on makeup or styling your hair. A bed gets you well-rested and prepared to rise. The dresser and chest each have their purposes. They vary from each other, so you will find that they assist you in different ways.

Next, we will dive into the individual ways that a chest and a dresser can help you to go about your day. They are different from each other, but they are both beneficial. Knowing how they vary can help you understand which piece you might need in your home and which one you do not.

How a Dresser Helps You Prepare

A dresser is the more versatile piece of the two. Since it is capable of holding both a mirror and your clothes, it can help you complete your outfit in the morning. The dresser is one of the main pieces that an individual can use to jump-start their day.

A dresser can help you to:

  • Put on your makeup by using an attached mirror
  • Plan your outfit by selecting clothes and judging them in the mirror
  • Set out your items for the day by placing them on top of its surface

All of these, and more, are items that the dresser can help you within the morning. It is more versatile than the chest, but it is not necessarily more effective.

Though the chest cannot do quite as much as the dresser, it is still a great piece of furniture. We will go over its uses next, discussing how it can help you get ready throughout your day. It is still a quality piece for you to have in your home.

How a Chest Helps You Prepare

A chest’s central purpose is to hold items inside. You might wonder how this can help you to prepare for the day. After all, a dresser seems to have so much more with its mirrored capabilities and easy access to clothes.

A chest can help you to prepare for your day by:

  • Allowing you to place different useful items in various drawers
  • Holding clothes that you can use for your day, permitting you to pull yourself together fast
  • Giving you access to extra pieces of clothing, such as underwear and socks, that do not fit inside the dresser

All of these, and many more items, are helpful ways that a chest of drawers can assist a person in preparing for their day.

As you can see, this help varies from the dresser. It cannot assist with quite as many things, but the chest still provides great uses for anyone who decides to place it in their room. Just because it is not the same as the dresser does not mean that it is not a beneficial piece to have.

Items Stored Inside

Each of these furniture pieces is capable of storing different items inside of it. Depending on what you want to put away, you might pick a dresser or a chest based on its capabilities. It all depends on what you want to put inside of them.

We’ll go over the differences between the items that they are capable of holding inside of their structures. Each is designed differently, so they have varying purposes that work best for contrary tasks.

Items Stored in a Dresser

A dresser is ideal for holding clothes. The drawers that are built into a dresser are much deeper than those of a chest so that they can hold more. A dresser is an ideal location for piles of shirts, jeans, skirts, leggings, and many other articles of clothing that an average human being would have inside their room.

Other items that a dresser can store inside might include:

  • Shoes, which can be stacked on top of each other or sorted into an organized method of your choice
  • Makeup, which can be utilized in the morning when getting ready
  • Large, bulky items that do not belong anywhere else but can fit inside the dresser

All of these, and more, can be placed inside of a dresser. It is a versatile piece that can do almost anything you ask of it.

If you are going for organization, clothes are the best item to place inside a dresser. The chest can also hold clothes, but it works best, serving a different purpose. We will discuss the items that can go inside a solid chest of drawers next.

Items Stored in a Chest

The drawers on a chest are often shallower than those of a dresser. Folks with many clothes will find that they cannot fit quite as much inside this piece. That’s why it is best used for a different purpose. Smaller items can be stored much easier inside the chest, as they can comfortably be packed without much trouble.

Some of the best items that can be stored inside a chest inside:

  • Small garments, such as socks, underwear, and bras that you use daily
  • Accessories, such as hair clips, bandanas, and headbands
  • Trinkets that do not belong anywhere else but need to be kept away to keep your bedroom clean
  • Small, thin pajamas or loose t-shirts that you might wear at night and need easy access to

All of these items are ideal for storage in a chest of drawers. Anything small that you do not have a place for can live inside this piece.

As you can see, the chest was not made to hold as much as the dresser was. Rather, this piece of furniture serves as a compliment in storage and takes on the smaller items that do not have places to go inside the room. If you have enough room, the dresser and the chest work together very well in any space. You can store all of your items, big and small.


For those looking for storage inside a room, a dresser and a chest are two excellent options. They are both capable of fitting items inside, and they fit within any room in the home. However, there are also a few things that set them apart. These are crucial for potential buyers to know.

These two items differ in price, size, and the location that they are placed inside a room. They are even set apart by the items that can be stored inside and the material used to construct each one. The dresser and chest are two contrasting yet practical pieces of furniture that you will love in your home.


Hi there! I’m Alex, the one behind this website. I ran and operated a Local Furniture Store in Southern California. The store opened in 2010, during the “Great Recession,” It is still thriving today; however, I have dedicated my time to helping our online customer base. My primary focus is to help you with all your furniture & mattress questions.

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