Clothes closets are a relatively recent invention; before the 20th century, most homes used pegs, freestanding racks, and clothes chests to store all their linens and clothing. One of these freestanding racks was the humble coat rack, which often became quite ornate.
In older homes, antique coat racks may be particularly appropriate. These old houses don’t have coat closets near the door, so you’ll need a place to store coats anyway – and a beautiful restored antique coat rack may be the perfect touch to complete your foyer or entryway. After all, older homes were designed with extra space in this area in consideration of the need for coat racks.
Your choice in antique coat racks depends heavily on what impression you want visitors to have of your home. In gracious old plantation homes, coat racks were often built into an all-in-one sort of hallway furnishing that functioned as a wooden bench, a place to brace your feet when putting on boots, storage under the bench (usually cedar so wools could safely be stored without fear of moths), a mirror, a shelf or multiple shelves for calling cards, and along the top below the mirror pegs for coats. Some also had an umbrella stand built in on the side.
The problem with coat racks of this sort is that they are very large and bulky. Plantation homes traditionally had wide, airy halls with high ceilings to encourage air flow, keeping the home cool; these large pieces worked well in the large spaces available.
If you need something smaller, look to the Victorians. Coat racks at this time took the form of the gracious tall lamp stand style, with multiple curving hooks at the top; if not made well, these coat racks were prone to tipping over, but they worked beautifully in small spaces and corners. A few were made so that the top part with hooks swiveled, making it simple to reach the coat you wanted. You’ll also find examples of these coat racks with umbrella stands at the bottom, giving you an additional option for storage; just examine these carefully, as poorly made umbrella stands don’t allow adequately for drainage and may suffer from rot or other damage.
You may want to think about something else when you’re going with an antique coat rack. Consider: what Victorian coat rack is complete without a men’s bowler hat on it? Or if you’re a mystery movie fan, what about vintage coats and hats reminiscent of those films you love? The great thing about coat racks: they don’t have to be just about a place to hang your hat and coat. They can be lovely decorating statements. Can’t find the perfect antique coat rack? Find the one you like best in pictures, and look for a craftsman to build it for you. There are plenty of skilled furniture makers who specialize in antique replicas who can help you not just create a good lookalike, but even use the same methods and materials in creating it, ensuring you a truly quality piece for your home.
Megan Cherry writes for http://www.pegandrail.com If you are looking for a high quality well made coat rack stop in and check us out, we manufacture a complete line of wall mounted coat racks from a shaker peg style coat rack to a modern wood coat racks with brass hooks or satin nickel for the brushed stainless steel look we even have a very modern looking hand rub white lacquer coat racks.