Why So Many Older Homes Come With Decorative Nooks (& How To Use Them Now)

Older homes have a certain charm about them, and a quirk that remains in many is the telephone nook. Usually taking the form of a built-in alcove with one or two shelves, often in the hallway, most nooks are not integrated deep into the wall. Their main purpose was to hold an old-fashioned corded landline telephone, which couldn't be moved around. The shelves were used to accommodate related items like a phone book or pen and paper to write something down if needed. Up until the 1950s, it wasn't commonplace to have a phone in the home, and even then, they needed to remain stationary, as phones didn't become cordless until the 1980s.

Though their original purpose is now defunct thanks to changing trends and the introduction of portable phones, the nooks still remain in a lot of older homes. The good news is that you don't have to get rid of the nook if you like it. Instead, repurpose it. If you have a phone nook in your hallway, there are several ways you can decorate it so it looks intentional rather than out of place.

Update the vintage home staple to fit modern life

A simple yet effective decor option is to use the nook as a place for a vase full of flowers. This option will also hide any damage the nook has sustained over the years if you don't have the budget to fix it. Use fresh flowers in spring and summer and fake ones for the times of year that are a little colder. Visiting guests will love to be greeted by a bunch of pretty flowers, and you can sustain the vintage vibe of the nook by opting for a vintage-inspired vase. 

If the area is deep enough, a telephone alcove would also be a great place to start a reading nook. Use it to display your favorite reads or show off your prettiest book editions to your friends when they come to visit. If there's enough space, add a chair or a sofa nearby to turn the area into a purposeful space where you can enjoy your downtime. A chaise lounge would fit the vibe perfectly.

You can also make it into a practical area

Don't have enough space for the above? Decorate with candles by turning the nook into a dedicated candle holder instead. This can be as simple as putting your favorite scented candle in the nook. You could also create a proper display using candles if you have some paint and spare time. Just ensure that any candles are placed on the exterior section when lit so the smoke from the flame doesn't discolor the top of the nook.

If you're after something even more practical, convert your phone nook into an area for your keys. Nobody wants to have difficulty finding their keys when they're in a rush, and it doesn't get better than having a dedicated space that's also cute. Either drill hooks into the nook or get a stand to hang the keys from. The latter is a great option if you live in a rented property or simply don't want to drill into the nook.