Blasts From the Past
Have you ever come across a piece of furniture and wondered, “What is that?”
For better or worse, some once-useful furniture designs have outlived their original purposes. It’s not just antiques, it’s also pieces from our parents’ generation, and let’s face it, some furniture that we ourselves used not too long ago. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and revisit some of the household appointments that are now obsolete.
1. Wishy-Washy Waterbeds
The waterbed had its heyday in the 1970s and '80s and has been in steady decline ever since. Though waterbeds are comfortable they are heavy, difficult to move, and require electricity to regulate their thermostats. Another strike against them: Landlords and dormitories generally prohibit waterbeds because of the risk that they’ll leak. Memory foam is the latest trend in bedding, and waterbeds are going the way of the dodo.
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2. TV Stands
The large, bulky cabinets that house our televisions, digital recorders, and gaming consoles have gotten smaller and smaller, and they are about to disappear altogether. Today's TVs are slimmer and can be mounted on walls to save space. And with all the digital streaming options available, few people even bother with a DVD player anymore. If you're a fan of clutter-free design, consider nixing these old-school cabinets from your family room.
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3. CD Storage
It’s not just the compact disc rack that’s a decor dinosaur—CD players are, too. Now that most people digitally download music, an entire family’s audio library can fit on a device the size of a wallet. There’s simply no need to clutter up the living room corner with this piece of furniture anymore.
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Flickr via tylercipriani
4. Magazine Racks
The magazine rack was once a necessity for keeping newspapers and periodicals corralled, but now that most of the world has gone paperless and e-readers have become so popular, not many folks really need to clutter their bathrooms and living spaces with this item anymore. Consider repurposing your magazine rack into a landing zone for mail, or as storage for important documents.
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5. Grandfather Clocks
These days, grandfather clocks (and any other clocks, for that matter) are simply decorative. We have clocks on our ovens, microwaves, computers, and smartphones, so there’s no need to dedicate wall space to a timepiece. There are few grandfather clocks in homes now, and we wager that you’ll see even fewer in the future.
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6. Rolltop Desks
You don't see many of these classics coming off the assembly line these days. While desks (for now) are still necessary for young and old alike, the rolltop variety has proved bulky and prone to maintenance problems. Many tend to be better off with modern styles that are slimmer and more streamlined.
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7. Stereo Cabinets
The music industry has completely transformed in the last 20 years or so. Hulking cabinets for amplifiers, speakers, and two or three differently formatted players are just not necessary. Unless you’re a vinyl record enthusiast, a dock and wireless speaker setup requires less than a square foot of space.
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8. China Hutches
Many contemporary floor plans opt for offices or media rooms instead of the traditional dining room. Without a space for formal entertaining—and with more slow cookers replacing china on wedding registries—there's really no need for an oversize cabinet to display fine dishware.
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There’s still plenty of need to accommodate overnight guests, but there are much better (and more comfortable) ways to do so than the lumpy old futon. Let’s face it: These frat-house standards have never been fashionable, and not many folks over 20 years of age find them suitable to sleep on.
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10. Blanket Chests
Older homes have a notorious dearth of closets—people didn’t have as much clothing to store as they do today, and what they did have was typically outsourced to wardrobes, trunks, and chests. That’s not the case in our modern era. Most people have linen closets with ample space for blankets and bedding, making these bulky builds a thing of the past.
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11. Telephone Stands
With more and more people forgoing a landline altogether, there’s no need for little tables to hold our telephones, answering machines, and phone books. Try a narrow sofa table instead to serve as a space-smart landing spot for little items.
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These giant two-door cupboards used to be a great addition to a home, albeit imposing in smaller spaces. Originally built to store arms, armoires later transitioned to more of a wardrobe functionality, using the shelves and hanging space to store clothing or jewelry.
Many new home builds incorporate plenty of closet space, with walk-in or walk-through closets becoming increasingly popular. Built-in clothing storage eliminates the need to own an enormous armoire. However, some enjoy incorporating antique armoires into their decor, and others may still find them useful if living in an older home with insufficient closet space.
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13. File Cabinets
The world has gone online, minimizing our need to hold on to paper copies of receipts, tax documents, photos, and more. Instead of using valuable space in a home office for a cumbersome cabinet full of what are hopefully organized files, users can store this type of information digitally. From external drives to cloud-based storage, there are plenty of alternatives to file cabinets in which to store your important documents without it taking up storage space in your home.
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14. Vanity Tables
Vanity tables are a bedroom staple, often seen in shows and movies set in and around the 1920s and '30s. These tables, with an attached mirror, were used by both men and women to store items such as razors, oils, combs, cosmetics, perfumes, and more. It was a glamorous place to get ready, becoming a status symbol of elite society.
The advent of modern bathrooms helped make vanity tables less popular, thanks to the storage, lighting, and convenience of bathroom vanities.
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15. Lowboy Tables
Lowboy tables are the dressing tables that became the inspiration for vanity tables. Popular in the 18th century, these small dressing tables are short chests with two or three drawers and they have four or six long legs. A prominent item in bedrooms before tallboys and highboys came into fashion, lowboy tables had the versatility to be used as a table or a desk.
Though you can still find a lowboy table here and there, they are nowhere near as popular as they once were, and nowadays more likely to be used as a television stand.
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16. Secretaire Bookcases
Homes used to have mammoth pieces of heavy furniture called secretaire bookcases, or secretary bookshelves. Designed for efficient use of space, secretaire bookcases have three parts: a base of drawers, a convertible desk in the middle, and a bookcase on top (which usually has glass doors). The small desk section typically has a roll top or pull-out mechanism, often requiring the user to remove all their documents before attempting to close the desk.
These have declined in popularity for a few reasons: The advent of digital books renders some bookcases moot, those who work from home likely desire a more permanent workspace, and the size of these bookcases don’t easily fit in smaller dwellings.
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