You know how there are little things in your life--certain dishes, types of architecture, methods of chopping vegetables--that surround you daily without you ever taking notice? Well this is one of those. étagère. I'm 27, have read A LOT of books, lived in three different cities in France, and when this word was casually brought up in conversation at the office today, I had to google it.Here's my result:
An étagère is a piece of light furniture which was extensively made in France during the latter part of the 18th century. It consists of a series of stages or shelves for the reception of ornaments or other small articles. Like the what-not it was very often cornerwise in shape, and the best Louis XVI examples in exotic woods are exceedingly graceful and elegant. In modern usage, an étagère is often used to refer specifically to a long-legged shelf unit that fits over a bathroom toilet, also known as a space saver.
So strange that étagères have been in my life since birth and I never knew there was a special term for them.