What is a Hope Chest?

A hope chest is a storage chest traditionally used to collect items such as clothing and household linen, by unmarried young women in anticipation of married life.


A hope chest, also known as a dowry chest, cedar chest, trousseau chest, or glory box, is a piece of furniture that stands as a timeless symbol of hope and anticipation. Traditionally, this storage chest was used by unmarried young women, often with the help of their mothers, to accumulate linens, clothing, and other household items in preparation for their married life. The practice can be traced back to the Middle Ages and has been prevalent in various cultures around the world.

Apart from its practical uses, a hope chest often holds sentimental value, as it represents a young woman's hopes and dreams for the future. It's not just a storage space; it's a repository of aspirations and memories. The items contained within it were usually handcrafted or chosen with great care, adding a personal touch and making each chest unique.

In modern times, while the traditional use of hope chests has diminished, they remain a cherished item among collectors and can still be found in homes, serving various purposes. They are often seen as a decorative element in interior design, blending function with aesthetic appeal. Hope chests are also passed down as heirlooms, carrying the stories and history of a family from one generation to another.


In a contemporary context, hope chests are used for various storage needs or as decorative accent pieces in homes. They can be found in bedrooms, where they might store bedding or out-of-season clothing, or in living spaces, where they serve as a unique coffee table or seating bench. Hope chests are also popular as wedding or baby shower gifts, symbolizing wishes of hope, prosperity, and happiness for the recipient's future.


  • Are hope chests still given as gifts today?

    Yes, hope chests are still given as gifts, especially for significant life events such as weddings or baby showers, symbolizing good wishes for the future.

  • Can men have hope chests?

    Absolutely, while traditionally hope chests were associated with young women, anyone can have a hope chest today for storing personal items or as a way to prepare for future life events.

  • What materials are hope chests typically made from?

    Hope chests are often made from wood, with cedar being a popular choice due to its durability and natural moth-repelling qualities. However, they can also be found in various other materials.

  • Is it common to inherit a hope chest?

    Yes, it is common for hope chests to be passed down through generations as family heirlooms, each addition adding to the chest's sentimental value.

  • How can I incorporate a hope chest into my home decor?

    Hope chests can be incorporated into home decor as accent pieces in bedrooms for storage or in living spaces as coffee tables or benches, adding both functional and aesthetic value.

Practical Application

When incorporating a hope chest into your home, consider using it for storage of seasonal clothing, bedding, or keepsakes. As a decorative piece, ensure it complements the room’s overall design style and color scheme. For a personalized touch, customize your hope chest with paint, carvings, or upholstery that matches your interior design preferences. Remember, a hope chest is not just a functional item, but a piece of your personal or family history, so display it proudly and with care.