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

Updated: Mar. 21, 2024

That handy nook used to hold a 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?

When it comes to older homes, there are some mysterious old home features our modern society needs help understanding. You know, like that odd little cubby on the wall of your old home.

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 was nothing like the cell phones we have now. And before that, we relied on land lines and rotary phones. That’s exactly what the phone niche was used for!

If you live in a house that was 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 that we no longer have. They often came with a small shelf underneath where’d you keep your phone book and personal address books. They may also go by the name 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 a bit? Some Reddit users answered this question not long ago. They recommended using this area as a space for your favorite houseplants, or as a spot to keep your keys or mail. You can also dress it up with family pictures or art to give it some unique you personality.