The word cabinet first came into use around the 16th century as a synonym for a closet or drawers. The word cabinet came into popular use around the same time as the word that meant “a chest or box for holding things.” Thus, the two words created a common root for both names.
The word cupboard originally referred only to an open shelf on a sideboard for displaying dishes, more precisely saucers, pots and cups. These open cupboard shelves usually had one to three drawers, and in the older days, sometimes a drawer or two fitted behind them. The number of drawers a cupboard had been entirely dependent on the size and dimensions of the room in which it was located.
Linen cupboard: In the early days, a linen cupboard simply meant a wooden box in which you kept linens. It was built-in cupboard, or wall mounted cupboard, that contained a small pantry or kitchen counter. This pantry or kitchen counter was designed so that it would have a large shelf, typically built-in, to which goods could be located and stored.
Airing cupboard: Also known as the reading cupboard, the airing cupboard or French cupboard was essentially a larger version of the linen cupboard or kitchen pantry cupboard. These cupboard shelves had a larger opening than those found in the kitchen pantry cupboard, which meant that larger articles such as plates and dessert bowls were stored here. Unlike the linen cupboard, airing cupboard had no provision for holding dry foods. Rather, it was designed to simply store cooking or dry food products. It was also designed in a smaller size than the usual built-in cupboard.
Built-in cupboard: Similar to the airing cupboard, the built-in cupboard also had two larger shelves. These shelves, however, were built directly into the wall. Unlike the airing cupboard, built-in cupboards featured wooden slats used as doors. As this method was not permanent, the slats could be opened and closed by pulling a string, which made the cupboard exceedingly user-friendly.
These cupboard styles vary according to their construction and the materials they are made of. The more heavy duty cupboard units were later made from wrought iron. More recent cupboard units are made from plastics, particularly polyurethane. These cupboard styles can also have a combination of wood and plastic slats used for doors.
In addition to the two major types of cupboard, there are also multiple variants. There is the side cabinet that has one large shelf, usually used for storing clothes. There is also the corner cupboard that has one long shelf as well as a couple of small ones. The wall mounted cupboard, meanwhile, is a type that mounts directly to the wall and can provide ample storage space.
Today’s cupboard designs have evolved to suit today’s needs. Built-in cupboards are the ideal storage option for small kitchens. However, they tend to be too big for small kitchens. They can even make the place look crowded. On the other hand, wall-mounted cupboards provide bigger storage space, although they take up more floor space.