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Is a Chest or Dresser Better in the Bedroom?

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Chests and dressers are not the same, but people tend to confuse these two pieces of furniture. The structure, purpose, benefits, and drawbacks distinguish the two considerably. Once you understand the differences, the choice between the two becomes clearer. 

Two chest with drawers

But, is a chest or dresser better? In general, one isn’t necessarily better than the other. Instead, one will fit your needs and your space better than the other depending on your unique situation. 

What Makes a Chest Better?

A bedroom chest is a tall and skinny piece of furniture. There is one large drawer per row, and the drawers stack on top of each other. It’s smaller than a dresser and it has between three and six total drawers.

Elegant bedroom chest

A bedroom chest comes to about shoulder or chest height on a person. Some top drawer chests divide into two smaller drawers. The minimalist design of a chest easily blends with room decor. It fits in the corner of a room or inside a closet for extra storage space.

What Is a Bedroom Chest Used For?

A bedroom chest or a chest of drawers’ purpose is to hold bedroom-related items. A chest of drawers holds small and lightweight items such as underwear and pajamas. It also stores clothing accessories, hair accessories, throws, blankets, bedsheets, and trinkets. 

Nice wooden dresser

However, there are several different kinds of chests that have other purposes. For example, lingerie chests are slimmer chests that hold lingerie, jewelry, and makeup. Media chests have an open shelf to hold a TV, DVD player, and cable box. They also have drawers underneath for clothing. 

Possibly an example of a gentleman's chest

A bachelors chest is a three-drawer nightstand that holds lightweight clothes and small items. A gentleman’s chest is a wardrobe cabinet and drawer combo to store and hang clothes.

What Makes a Dresser Better?

A dresser is a short, long, and bulky piece of furniture with a height reaching a person’s waist. The dresser has two or three drawer columns with two wide drawers per row. Therefore, the number of drawers ranges from six to nine. Sometimes the two-column dresser may have a top row of three smaller drawers. 

Three-level dresser

The intricate details in dressers make them the focal point of the room. Also, the counter space and wall space above it offers an opportunity for customization. Great dresser locations are across from the bed, underneath the window, and in the center of the room.

What Is the Purpose of a Dresser?

The furniture piece is sturdy enough to hold heavy items. You can put jeans, sweaters, shirts, skirts, shorts, dresses, leggings, and other clothing in it. Also, you can use it to store bedding accessories, shoes, and hard-to-store bulky items. 

An example of a horizontal dresser

Horizontal dressers have stackable drawers with a waist-length, bulky, long, and stubby appearance. It also has a large counter for personal customization. Horizontal dressers can hold heavy and bulky items, too.

Tall combo dresser

There are also combo dressers where one column is drawers, and the other column is a cabinet. If there are three columns, two are cabinet doors, and the middle column is drawers. Another type of dresser mixes rows and columns of tall cabinets and varying drawer sizes. You can store and hang clothes in these dressers.

Chest or a Dresser: The Pros and Cons 

Dresser Pros

Generous Counter Space

TV on top of dresser

The large counter area gives you the freedom to put temporary or permanent items on top. Temporary items are clothes, purses, hair products, hygiene products, and shopping bags. Permanent items are a TV, a mirror, a plant, a jewelry box, or a framed photograph. 

Versatile Purposes

The generous counter space changes the dresser into whatever you want it to be. A TV with a DVD player and a cable box morphs the dresser into a TV stand. A dresser with a mirror on top morphs it into a vanity. 

Artwork on wall above dresser

Versatility extends to the blank wall above the dresser also. Personalize the area by hanging a mirror, artwork, or tapestry on the wall. Create a storage area by adding hooks, shelves, or a pegboard on the wall. Or, another option is to mount the TV on the wall to free up counter space.

Holds Heavy Items

Dressers are great for storage because they can hold heavy items. You can store heavy belongings without damaging the drawers because of the dresser’s well-built construction.

Dresser Cons


Quality dresser

Dressers are the more expensive of the two. They’re costly because of the detailed decorations on the drawers, legs, and hardware. A second reason is the high-quality construction and material that makes them so durable. The last reason is the versatility and generous counter space they provide.

Fills up Room Space

Bedroom with limited space

A dresser’s wide and bulky appearance takes up too much space in smaller bedrooms. Adding supplemental furniture to a small room with a dresser becomes difficult.

Chest Pros

Space Saving Solution

Example of how little space a chest occupies

Chests are space savers in any bedroom. Nonetheless, small or unusual-shaped bedrooms benefit more from chests. It’s astonishing how much space remains after adding a chest to the room. A chest frees up space to add more storage. Examples are plastic storage drawers, freestanding bookshelves, or a dresser.


Buying a chest is expensive, but not as expensive as buying a dresser. The inexpensive price comes from the stacked drawers and basic outer appearance. Stacking drawers makes the chest hollow inside. It is also not versatile as its only purpose is storage.

Chest Cons

Limited Counter Space

Example of how little space a drawer has on the counter

Plants, a framed photograph, a digital clock, trinkets, or a jewelry box will fit on the counter, but only one or two. This is a great decorative touch for chests located in corners or near the bed. However, inside a closet, counters must be bare because it’s easy to knock the items on the counter over.

Not Durable for Heavy Items

These pieces of furniture are meant to hold light items. The chest damages easily if you store heavy items inside it because it is not durable. A chest is complementary or secondary storage, not primary storage.

Is a Chest or Dresser Better?

As you can see, there are stark differences between the two, but both have their benefits. Smaller bedrooms or unusual layout bedrooms favor a chest of drawers over a dresser. That’s because dressers are so long that it would be a tight squeeze.

Kid's bedroom with chest/dresser

Large bedrooms or master bedrooms have the space for both, so you can pick the one that works better for your style. Or, if you have the space, you can buy both and have one for you and the other for your significant other. Another option is to get both and place the dresser in the room and the chest inside the closet. 


Don’t grab the first bedroom furniture pieces you see. Never let price or vast storage space tempt you into buying furniture you’ll regret getting later. Adding a chest, a dresser, or both pieces requires thought because they are so large.

A dresser and chest are different sizes and have different uses. The right choice depends on what items you will store inside those drawers. It also depends on your bedroom size and the amount of space you have for the item. 

Did you learn something new about dressers and chests? What choice will you make for your bedroom? In the comment section, let our readers know about your findings.

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