If You See a Little Door in an Old House, This Is What It’s For

Little doors in old houses had a purpose at one time. Here's why you might find a mini door in your hallway.

For those of us who live in old houses — built before the 1950s — certain design quirks act as conversation starters. Though we’re scratching our heads at some old home features, they were perfectly functional 75 years ago. There’s no need to have a coal or icebox door today, right?

If you have a small door next to your closet, it had a purpose back in the day. Here’s what those little doors in old houses were for!

What People Think the Doors For

If you have a mini door next to a closet in the hallway, you can rest easy — it isn’t a place for someone to hide. The doors are usually narrow, about 12 inches wide, and less than half the height of a standard closet. The space behind the door has some depth, too, usually about three feet.

Most people assume this door conceals a luggage closet. Keeping luggage next to a closet would be logical. But the space seems a little tight for a large suitcase, especially since old suitcases lacked wheels. Other popular guesses include linen storage or space for an ironing board.

If you’re about reorganize your closet, here are some storage solutions for small spaces.

The Real Purpose of Little Doors

In some old houses, the little doors are designated storage space for a card table! Almost everyone had card tables in the 1950s, tucked away neat and tidy until you had company over.

As with some of the household designs mentioned before, this might not make much sense now, especially since many of us have basements for storage. Keep in mind that card games were a prime source of entertainment and socializing in the ’50s, so stowing a card table in a hall closet would have been convenient.

Taste of Home
Originally Published on Taste of Home

Hannah Twietmeyer
Hannah is a writer and content creator based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with a passion for all things food, health, community and lifestyle. She is a journalism graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a previous dining and drink contributor for Madison Magazine.