If Your House Has a Small Shelf in the Hall, This Is What It’s For

That handy nook used to hold a landline telephone, but you can still find ways to make it useful.

While modern architecture is stunning, there’s always an invisible something pulling me toward vintage home trends. We love a house with character. Did you know that houses in the South even have traditions that explain paint colors?

There are some mysterious old home features our modern society needs help understanding. You know, like that odd little cubby on the wall.

This Shelf Is a Phone Niche

Old Black Rotary Phone Sitting In Hallway Phone Niche Of Old HouseCROBERTSON/GETTY IMAGES

Most of us are used to carrying around our phones in our purses and pockets. But as we all know, things have changed quite drastically over the last 80 years.

Did you know the first cell phone was produced in the early 1970s? And no, it looked nothing like the ones we have now. And before that, we relied on landlines and rotary phones. That’s exactly what the phone niche was used for!

If you live in a house built in the first half of the 1900s, it’s possible you’ve got an odd little nook somewhere on the wall. Its purpose was for the big, bulky phones we no longer have. They often came with a small shelf underneath where you’d keep your phone book and personal address books. These were also known as a “phone nook” or “phone shelf.”

What Can I Use It for Now?

It’s still a cute area with a lot of vintage character, so why not dress it up? Some Reddit users recommended repurposing this area for your favorite houseplants, or to keep your keys or mail. You can also fill it with family pictures or art to give it some unique you personality.

Speaking of unusual things, do you know what it means if you see a small sink in your hallway? It’s a charming feature largely only found in older homes, but its purpose is actually interesting. Also, this is what it means if you see a little door in a hallway.

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Melany Love
Having always wanted a career in writing, Melany couldn't have found a better place than Taste of Home to begin. When she's not scribbling in her notebook or working at her computer, she can be found experimenting with new recipes or relaxing with a book and her cats.