The History of the Chamber Closet
I’ve been trying to find the origin and history of the danish Karlekammerskab (direct translation: The Mans hamber closet).
To be honest, it’s not easy to find much information about these closets, even on the danish websites and forums. But I’ve managed to gather some information about it.
The chamber closets were used by people (boys and girls) in the working class, often given as a gift at their confirmation, when they were 14-15 years of age.
At that age it was expected that they’d soon leave home and/or start working. Often these girls and boys started working on farms or as servants in well-established homes.
The chamber closets (or chests) was usually their only furniture, and something they would bring with them if they moved. Everything they owned was usually stored in this space.
It’s easy to imagine how important and loved these closets and chest were to it’s owners. It was literally everything you owned, your whole life.
I am not sure exactly when this tradition started but I guess it must have been hundreds of years ago. We’ve found many chests and chambers from the 16th hundred and after.
Even though many of these closets in are found in Denmark, this was a tradition in all of Scandinavia. But in countries like Norway chests were really popular.
The closets varies in sizes and design. Some have draws, some have glass, some have many ornaments and made of beautiful wood, but most look like plain and rustic, like mine.
These closets were usually not made for people with a lot of money.
If there is a piece of furniture I would never let go off, it’s my karlekammerskab.
My dad and stepmum bought an old house outside of Copenhagen, and inside they found this chamber closet. The house (and the closet) is from the 1850s, which means the closet is over 150 years old.
This furniture is still strong and have hardly had any damages. No doubt they made quality furniture back in the days. When I got it from my dad (I’ve been eyeing this one since I was 12), I knew straight away that I was gonna paint it.
Actually it’s been painted three times. First time a glossy white with a cherry branch handpainted on the front, then a light grey, and now –blue.
My chamber closet is used for precious Storage, like wine glass, decorations and my home office supplies.