How to Choose the Perfect Chinese Cabinet


If you want to add an elegant, exotic look to your home, authentic and antique Chinese furniture is an excellent choice. Finding the right Chinese furniture requires knowledge like knowing which types of wood to look for, recognizing key motifs, and more.

If you’re in the market for a Chinese cabinet, how do you know what to look for before you make the investment?

Read on to learn more about buying the right antique Chinese cabinet, so you can make a smart purchase you’ll love for years to come.

Understand Authentic Material Types

An authentic Chinese apothecary cabinet will be made of a specific type of wood such as hardwoods that are native to China. However, you may also find these cabinets crafted of other materials like bamboo and lacquer.

The heavier and more solid your Chinese cabinet feels the higher chances are that it’s authentic. Look at the piece carefully and touch it with your hands so that you have a much better feeling of how it’s made. Two native wood materials called zitan and huanghuali are hallmarks of a real antique Chinese cabinet.

Chinese Cabinet Frame and Panels: Construction

The way furniture is made says a lot about the era in which it was created. Most real Chinese cabinets are made using a mortise and tenon technique which joins all four sides of the frame together at the corners. Each piece of the frame should have a groove carved out on the inside of the edges, with a tongue attached to the outer edges to ensure a tight fit.

If you’re ever in doubt, it’s always a good idea to check out a guide for buying Chinese antiques that can help you identify what’s real and what isn’t. Look at the way the frame is joined together carefully, which can be a true hallmark of authentic antique Chinese furniture. You can also inspect the underside of the cabinet to determine other construction details or to find out if it has been restored.

Overall Design and Use

Older cabinets won’t have as much detail as items made after the Qing dynasty. Prior to this era, items like a Chinese medicine cabinet were made solely for utilitarian purposes.

A more modern (yet still antique) Chinese apothecary cabinet will be adorned with unique details like metal accents and intricate carvings on the doors and drawers. If you’re ever in doubt about the authenticity of a cabinet, consult with a professional antique appraiser. They can tell you when the cabinet was made, which dynasty it came from, and more.

Find Your Perfect Cabinet

If you’re looking for the right Chinese cabinet for your home, keep these tips in mind. With the right wood type, construction methods, and details, you can find a beautiful antique Chinese cabinet for your space.

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