When I oohhed and ahhhed over a friend’s new campaign dresser and she responded with a big fat question mark, I figured maybe I need to point out more cool stuff here. I guess I forget not everyone devours design magazines and catalogs like I do! Look for hot links to products I like to use. They will open an Amazon page and I will get a tiny commission if you buy something. We can share a coffee with the proceeds. At Denny’s.
So here goes! Popular for a while now is campaign furniture. Originally designed with the traveling officer in mind, it was characterized by transformer-like abilities to fold down compactly to save space. Corners were often protected with metal and pulls were recessed so items could be packed more closely together.
Traditional furniture manufacturers have made home pieces to recall these mobile pieces for decades. Very popular in the 1970s and again today. You can pay thousands at Anthropologie or Pottery Barn for “engineered” wood versions or find vintage pieces. Google “painted campaign dresser” for a candy colored page of goodness!
What to look for?
Campaign styles were made in all price points. The wood pieces of course are better quality, but plastic laminate versions are also out there. You will want all the hardware there and in good condition if you can. Replacement hardware is available online, but each manufacturer designed their own so finding YOUR style pull may be challenging. Look for real solid brass, and not plated hardware. (look closely to see if the “brass” color is peeling off revealing a silvery metal.) The solid brass was often lacquer coated to postpone tarnish, but a soak in some Citristrip paint remover usually removes it quickly. I like to use Barkeeper’s Friend powder to scrub the first layer of tarnish and grime off brass. Then a polish if needed with Maas Polish. (Pry hardware off carefully and buy some new brass nails to reattach.) As always, dresser drawers constructed with a dovetail connection are stronger and better. Some of the better brands you may find are Henredon or Dixie.
Campaign dressers can be popped in anywhere in your house. Great for a tv stand or kids room. In a dining room for your linens or to stash homework projects when dinnertime comes. Sometimes, the less expensive nightstands are nice and low and usable as a bench or sofa table. Because they don’t have overhanging edges, a pair can be used side by side with no gap, looking like a built in. The painted ones are especially nice if you want to offset a lot of wood furniture. I love a balanced mix of finishes in a room. The clean lines play as a nice contrast to a more sculptural piece, with mid-century modern or traditional.