My vote for most under appreciated piece of furniture goes to...the dumbwaiter. In particular, the two and three tiered, circular varieties often found in mahogany. If you look back in old books and magazines from the 1930s and 40s (and as you know, I do this often. Quite often.), you'll see dumbwaiters placed prominently in living and dining rooms. I suppose they became a little too ubiquitous, because how often do you see these in homes today? Not very often. And it's such a shame, really, because dumbwaiters have personality. There is something pleasing about that round shape, those shelves of graduated sizes, and the three-legged base that usually supports the piece. Not to mention how great they are for displaying objets, holding plants or vases of flowers, or even serving as a repository for books. They could even work quite well when you entertain. You could call it into service as a small bar or a place from which to serve hors d'oeuvres. Oh, wait, what about in a dressing room? You could display all of your beautiful perfume bottles on it. I could go on, but this post really isn't "101 Things To Do With Your Dumbwaiter." It's simply a little plug for a piece of furniture that gets high marks from me.
(I tried to find a contemporary photo of a dumbwaiter in use but alas, nothing. I could swear that Ruthie Sommers recently used one in a project of hers, but I can't find the photo to save my life!)
A pair flanking a fireplace in the Lake Forest, Illinois home of Mr. and Mrs. Kersey Coates Reed. The decorator was Frances Elkins.
In this Thedlow decorated room, a mahogany dumbwaiter holds a collection of "sportsman's trophies."
In a 1950s-era Milan apartment designed by Renzo Mongiardino
A collection of minerals adorn this dumbwaiter.
In a sunny spot holding vases of flowers.
Image at top: From left to right, dumbwaiters from Holland & Company, Parc Monceau, and Florian Papp
(Image #2 from Frances Elkins: Interior Design; #3 and #4 from House & Garden's Complete Guide to Interior Decoration; #5 and #6 from The Finest Rooms in France)