Built-in closets are a rather newfangled idea. Although they could occasionally be found in colonial America, they didn't come into common use until after World War II. Nowadays they're viewed as a basic necessity, like indoor plumbing, and it can be quite a nuisance if you're in an old house that's missing them.
But there's one reason to be thankful that closets weren't around in centuries past, because their absence gave rise to one of my favorite pieces of furniture: the beloved and marvelous armoire. Not only do armoires provide capacious storage and fantastic versatility, but their design impact is just what's needed when you want to add some spice and energy to a room.