The square, box-like form of this small, solidly constructed chest of drawers shows the earliest form of a commode, still very close to a chest. Such a chest of drawers was known as a commode, literally meaning "convenient" in French. Commodes first appeared at the end of the 1600s, replacing large chests for storage, and they became very fashionable pieces of furniture during the 1700s.
The commode's interior, divided by drawers, provided a better distribution of space in a more elegant and accessible form than the earlier large chests, which had only a single, undifferentiated space. Clothes, papers, and precious items may have been stored in either form, secured by a lock and key.