The Secrets Of The Ceiling: Unveiling The Role Of Elevated Storage In Vintage Architecture

source: Kristin Jessup Dewitt/Facebook

In many older homes, particularly those built before the mid-20th century, you might notice an architectural feature that stands out: the large closet.  Suspended high up and often nearly reaching the ceiling, they not only draw attention but also symbolize past eras, architectural styles, and methods of storing goods.

The primary reason for these high cupboards was functional  In the past when houses were smaller and every corner had to be utilized these cupboards were used to store things that were rarely used such as holiday decorations, wedding dishes, and extra table cloth and napkins.  This made it easier to create more storage spaces for the items that are used on a daily basis.  These high cupboards that occupied the vertical space were a good idea when there was little space in the traditional old houses.

Another reason for storing these cupboards high was security.  In a time when doors were left open and there were no home alarm systems, hiding treasures in a high cabinet would deter a burglar from taking them.  Similarly, things that are dangerous to children like drugs or guns would be kept away from children and in this way, a certain level of protection was afforded within the home.

source: Reddit

In as far as design is concerned, the use of tall cabinets was employed to create an illusion of space and height by creating a vertical line of sight.  This was particularly useful in the small homes where one could try to fool the eye into thinking that the space was larger than it actually was.  Cupboards were often made of the same material and in the same style as the other wooden elements of the house so that the interior was cohesive.

One more useful aspect of these high cupboards is that they can be used for storage of home maintenance items.  In some designs, these cupboards were used to gain access to the roof or to control plumbing and electric wiring that was kept behind the paneling of the cupboards.  Thus, by including access points in the cupboard designs, builders could effectively conceal other unladylike aspects of home management while still being able to easily access and check on them.

Due to the shift in the design of homes and the enlargement of homes and the number of rooms in them, there was no need for high cupboards.  Modern houses have a tendency to opt for storage solutions that are easily accessible and can be used without much effort.  Also, with the improved security measures in the homes and safety precautions, there is no need to hide the valuables.

source: Reddit

Today, these high cupboards can be more of a decoration in older homes and people keep in them items that are antique or beautiful to look at and remind them of the past.  In some homes these cupboards are takenback or converted into more useful storage space to hide modern gadgets or to insulate.

Thus, the sky-high cupboard is an example of a piece of furniture, the design of which was influenced by historical requirements and constraints and which describes the approach to the design and use of living spaces.  All these characteristics are evidence of the craftsmanship of our ancestors as we transform our homes to suit the needs of the current society.