Old House Features That Don’t Have a Purpose Anymore

Old House Features That Don’t Have a Purpose Anymore

Old House Features That Don’t Have a Purpose Anymore

Old House Features That Don’t Have a Purpose Anymore


If you’re in the market for an older home, here’s how to avoid being caught off-guard by old house features that don’t have a purpose anymore.


When you’re shopping for a new home, it can be exciting to look at older houses because of their vintage charm and sturdy construction. However, a house tour may reveal odd details that you don’t typically see in newer homes. Here’s a list of old house features that don’t have a purpose anymore, including some you may want to avoid!

Phone Niche

If you’re touring a home that was built during the first half of the 20th century, you’ll likely see a little alcove in either the kitchen, living room, or front hallway. Contractors built these shelves for telephones, which were becoming a staple of modern convenience at that time. If you tour a home built before 1920, you may even see the larger version of this feature, which has space for a bell box.

Razor Slot

One very common feature of older homes that doesn’t have a purpose anymore is the razor slot. These slots are located in bathrooms inside homes built before 1970, back when most razors still came with detachable blades. Over time, the blades would get dull, and you would dispose of them through a razor slot. Yes, that means there might be razor blades inside the walls!

Underground Oil Tank

This feature is one to watch out for. If you see copper pipes sticking up out of the grass or concrete near the foundation of an older home, or if you see pipes that disappear into a basement wall, that could be a sign that there’s a hidden oil tank buried somewhere on the property. Though they used to heat homes, these oil tanks can leak and usually require professional removal.

Boot Scraper

If you’re touring a home and you happen to see a small piece of decorative wrought iron near the entrance, that’s a decrottoir or “boot scraper.” These started appearing in homes as early as the 18th century but gained popularity in the 19th century as walking became a more common pastime. Boot scrapers are a wonderfully practical piece of vintage home design from an era when roads were unpaved and muddy.

Sorlien Bed

While you’ve probably heard of a Murphy bed—a bed that folds up into the wall or a cabinet housing—Sorlien beds are not quite as well-known. Instead of folding up, Sorlien beds are hidden in the ceiling and lowered with a crank. You’re most likely to find them in homes built before 1930.

Not in the market for an older home? You can still get those vintage vibes by updating the paint colors in your living room and family area.