Some forgotten features still functional in modern-day homes

Posted by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Tuesday, November 12th, 2013 at 4:05pm.

Just because some home features were abandoned years ago doesn’t mean they should have been or are not useful and even attractive today. Here are a few once-popular details that today’s home owner may consider for their practicality and, in some cases, their attractiveness, according to

1. Dutch doors – Popular with the 18th-century Dutch settlers of New York and New Jersey, Dutch doors are split horizontally in the middle, so light and air can come in while keeping animals out. To make one, saw any wood door in half and then attach each half to the door frame with two hinges apiece. A simple sliding bolt joins the top and bottom as a single, solid panel.

2. Sleeping porches – Sleeping porches grew in popularity in the 20th century, when health professionals advocated the value of fresh air to bolster immune systems. However, they were already popular in the South and West, where sleeping outside was cooler and more comfortable. They provide the same benefits today.

3. Transom windows – These windows installed above doors in old homes, especially those built in the Mission or Arts and Crafts styles, admitted natural light to front hallways and interior rooms before the advent of electricity, and circulated air even when doors were closed. Transoms serve both purposes just as well today and the beauty of glass is timeless.

4. Laundry chute – When bedrooms are two floors up from the laundry room, laundry chutes provides low-tech convenience to an otherwise tedious, never-ending chore. To ensure that clothes are funneled smoothly, weld sheet metal together to create a ramp, or use lengths of extra-large PVC pipe to form a tube that ends in your laundry room.

5. Intercoms – These 1970s-era devices are useful even without six kids, a dog and Alice (remember “The Brady Bunch”?). Today’s models consist of a base station and several remote modules, and the newest ones are capable of piping music throughout a home. To avoid hardwiring, get a phone system with built-in intercom function instead.

6. Pocket shutters – Northeast homes of the 18th and 19th centuries had brick walls of exceptional thickness, providing a deep window jamb whose embrasures or pockets could contain an entire interior shutter. This feature is just as useful today because it provides not only privacy but insulation or shade against the elements.

 7. Phone nook – Phone nooks were used to house old, big, bulky devices. While today’s phones are much smaller and transportable, it’s still a good idea to have a space designated for housing them. After all, who doesn’t yell “Where’s my cell phone?!” before walking out the door?

 For the entire list of old-fashioned home features we should resurrect, visit

Tom Kalinski 
Owner and Founder
RE/MAX of Boulder

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