Vivez Bien * Live Well

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

DRESSING TABLES - Indulgent or Indispendable

A dressing table adds a touch of romance and glamor to any woman’s bedroom. These pieces of furniture are coming back into fashion as women seek more elegance in their lives. Akiko Busch, in her book "Geography of Home" refers to a dressing table as "a place to indulge one's fancies and compose one's soul." 

Dressing tables originated in 18th century France. They were called ‘toilette’ or ‘toilet tables’ because women used to wrap their cosmetic items in a small, square linen cloth (the toilette) before they put them in a chest.

Although very popular in Victorian times and in the early nineteenth century, vanities went out of fashion somewhat in the somewhat tasteless nineteen-seventies because of the emphasis on minimalism and practicality.

There are many different types of dressing tables to choose from when decorating a bedroom. Large, draped, kidney-shaped tables are very luxurious and can look wonderful in the right setting. Antique Victorian or French tables are very popular at present. Some have elaborate mirrors and beautiful carvings. A simple table with a standing mirror can do the job equally well. 

The mirror is probably the most important part of their dressing-table and good lighting is useful to prevent make-up faux pas! 

A dressing table is often a highly personal place where special cards, photographs and other treasured momentoes are kept.

I love this image mostly for the beautiful reflection in the mirror - is it Paris, do you think?


This kidney shaped, skirted dressing table was very popular when I was a young girl. I think it was called a "Dolly Varden" My mother had one and I remember a drama when she had just had it recovered and my sister spilled a whole bottle of nail polish over it! My mom walked in and found my sister on her knees praying at the side of the bed! :) I can't remember if the prayers helped or not.

If your bathroom is large enough, you can always place your dressing table there.


A mirrored tray holds perfume bottles and flowers.

A tray filled with pretty containers is used to organise make up brushes and other beauty paraphenalia.

Vintage silverware is beautiful on a  dressing table.

I love a dressing table and have had one in my bedroom since I was a child. I like the ritual of  sitting there in the mornings before I face the world or getting ready for a night out. Are you in favour of a dressing table, or do you just do your titivating in the bathroom mirror like many of my friends?

Till next time

Sharon x

Images: 1. Eclectic Revisited 2. Google  3. Design Chic   4. Belclaire House  5. Style Handler  6. Coastal Living 7. Laura Casey Interiors  8. Let your Creativity Flow   9. Country Living   10.  Google  11. Martha Stewart  12. Pinterest  13. Shades of Grey  14. The Ardent Sparrow  15.  Google   16. Google   17. Tumblr   18. Tumblr  19. Tumblr  20. Honeycomb Creative co 21. Tumblr  22.  Google  23. Tumblr


  1. Hi Sharon I am with you, a dressing table even if its a really tiny one is a must. You feel like such a "lady" sitting there primping and it forces you to sit and take a little time out for YOU. Anything that does that is a necessity in my book! Beautiful post.

  2. Sharon,
    The story about the Dolly Varden reminded me of my childhood. There was also a mishap with nail polish at our home. Your images are always beautiful and very inspirational. I have been thinking of creating a dressing table the main bath. I have bookmarked this post! Thank you!

  3. I don´t like the tables crowded with many things, but I don´t like the minimalistic look either, so it´s hard to find the right balance.

  4. I love them Sharon, and think they are not only functional, but so beautiful. Love the mirrored ones and the french dressing tables...fabulous!!

  5. I love this post, Sharon. I had not thought of it quite this way before, but now that I've read your post I'm beginning to think a dressing table definitely falls into the "necessity" column!


  6. Had a beautiful Dolly Varden when I was growing up, but hated it because it was "old fashioned". How I regret that now! My mom was an incredibly elegant, refined woman who loved her glamour - always had beautifully painted red nails and chic, neat hair - she was very upset when we decided to sell it. In her memory I'm going to track one down. You have inspired me!!!

  7. Merci pour le partage, c'est magnifique
    Bonne journée, Agnès

  8. beautiful and inspiring images...yes, having a dressing table is quite a luxury..sure beats standing over the bathroom sink trying to apply makeup...I have had a variety of dressing tables since I was a kid and they are invaluable....

    1. They are romantic looking and charming. Maureen is right, beats standing over the sink! You found so many great images.

  9. Sharon I have wanted a dressing table for 40yrs now!!! One day one day I will find it!!
    I love the Italian florentine one!
    Pamela xo

  10. I just have my stuff in the cupboard in front of the bathroom mirror. Everything thrown in, quite uncivilized. I may have to rethink this after these beautiful images. Thanks for the inspiration. Leahx

  11. I love these images~I added a dressing table to my bathroom and am so happy I did.

  12. Great story about your sister and the nail polish. Such a feminine post. My daughter has a dressing table in her room and I just designed a room with one for a clients 19 year old daughter. I want one!

  13. Sharon...Such a beautiful post. I sit at a dressing table every day to put on my make-up. As much as I love the feminine beauty of the skirted tables...I just have to have drawers...also afraid I would spill something on the wonderful fabrics. Mine is an antique kidney shaped dresser with drawers on each side. It just works perfectly...and is pretty too. XO, Mona

  14. Loved this blog ! Pictures are inspiring as well as the text ! The result ? I made a 24 X 16 inch topped dressing table, roughly 2.5 feet tall, out of what was a stereo cabinet $12 (tall, narrow formerly with shelves in it. Took them out). Covered the cabinet with a gathered skirt & top which I made out of a large bed sheet $4, used round stool to sit on $5 as well as sewed a round cap for the top of the seat, held on with elastic on underside, and added 2 tall lamps $16 with shades found at a thrift store, had a auto glass shop cut glass to fit top of cabinet $10 & it has TRANSFORMED the bedroom. No more using my make up in a cramped up plastic container in the bathroom. Girls -- I tell you, it is worth making this happen ! (The entire project cost me just under $50 total plus my sewing skills.) It can be done on a budget AND look like a zillion dollars :)

  15. Dressing tables are looking so romantic. The white dressing table is sign of peace and love and it shows us how to manage all things in one place.


  16. Makes me want to be a girl just to have a dressing table lol!

  17. I love this!!!! so very simple and so very stylish!!!! The sofa cum bed shown here are very attractive. use to buy online dressing tables i really like to read this blog.

  18. Hello Sharon...You are really innovative and artistic minded....I do agree with you...dressing table is the great part or romance for a women's bedroom...As I'm a woman like you,i like to beautify myself and often go to dressing table...and I love here french dressing table because It touches my heart...because of having antique royal style..thanks for sharing