17 Things Your Parents Had in Their House That Are Rare Today

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By Darryl Henderson

It’s always fun to look back at the items that were once staples in our parents’ or grandparents’ houses that have now fallen out of fashion. For some classic examples, here are 17 things your parents might have had in their house that you don’t really see today.

TV Antennas

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TV antennas were once a must-have for picking up broadcast television; the classic rabbit ears were a common sight on top of TVs. Nowadays, most households rely on cable, satellite, or streaming services for their TV-watching needs, making these antennas redundant. 

Rotary Phones

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According to Britannica, the rotary dial was designed to operate an electromechanical switching system, so its speed was limited by the operating speed of the switches. 1970s households loved the rotary phone, and it was once the primary method of contact, but it has now been replaced by smartphones, which are far more convenient!


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Entire volumes of encyclopedias once lined the bookshelves of many homes, providing a wealth of information in a pre-internet era. However, once online resources like Wikipedia came along, physical encyclopedias became a rarity, and just like rotary phones, they are now only really used for decoration.


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The clacking of typewriter keys was a familiar sound in many homes, especially for writers and students. They were truly beautiful machines, but sadly, the rise of personal computers and word-processing software has led to typewriters largely becoming collectors’ items.

Milk Boxes

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In the days when milk was delivered to your doorstep, many homes had a special box or compartment where the milkman would leave their daily supply. This tradition has faded, with milk now available in every grocery store, although some small pockets of the world still rely on the milkman. 

Record Players

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Vinyl records and turntables were once the primary way to enjoy music at home. They died out in the ‘90s due to the invention of the CD, although according to the SAE Institute, they’ve seen a resurgence among collectors in recent years. Regardless, most households today rely on digital streaming.

Film Cameras

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Film cameras were essential for capturing family memories before digital cameras and smartphones became available. They had a beautifully grainy aesthetic, but with the convenience and instant gratification of digital photography, traditional film cameras have now become rare, owned primarily by hobbyists.

Sewing Machines

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Many households once had a sewing machine for mending clothes or creating homemade garments, and it was seen as cutting-edge technology at the time! While some people still sew, it’s no longer as widespread as it once was, as ready-made alternatives are far more accessible and affordable.

Grandfather Clocks

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Grandfather clocks were often a centerpiece in homes, with grand designs and chiming sounds filling our living rooms. These days, they’re more likely to be found in antique shops, as modern homes opt for smaller, more minimalist clocks or none at all with the convenience of smartphones and smartwatches. That’s sad!

Bar Carts

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Back when cocktail parties were more common, bar carts were a stylish addition to many living rooms. They often contained various spirits, mixers, and glassware, but these days, people tend to keep their drinks in kitchen cabinets or rely on premixed cocktails.


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Smoking was far more common in past decades, with many homes having ashtrays in most rooms. However, because of the decline in smoking and stricter indoor smoking laws, ashtrays have mostly vanished from modern households, only to be found in outdoor smoking areas.

Carpeting in Bathrooms

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It might seem strange today, but carpeting in bathrooms was once popular for its warmth and comfort. Decades later, The Spruce points out the pitfalls of this with moisture and hygiene, which have made this trend very rare these days.


Waterbeds were all the rage in the 1970s and 1980s, offering a unique sleeping experience. However, their maintenance and potential for leaks led to their decline, and traditional mattresses became the norm. Thank goodness for that–water beds were a nightmare to maintain!

Phone Books

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Phone books were once the primary way to find phone numbers and addresses before the internet, and you couldn’t socialize or get things done without them. Today, we instead rely on search engines and contact lists on our smartphones, making phone books pointless.

Sliding Kitchen Cabinet Doors

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Sliding doors in kitchen cabinets were a practical solution in many older homes, especially in small kitchens. They seemed pretty cool at the time, but nowadays, hinged doors with soft-closing mechanisms are far more common, primarily due to their easier access, smoother operation, and sturdier design.

Lava Lamps

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The Guardian reminds us how lava lamps are groovy lighting features invented in 1963 by Edward Craven Walker. They were often a staple in bedrooms and living rooms in the ’60s and ‘70s, and while they still hold some novelty appeal, they are no longer a common sight in modern homes.

Console TVs

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Last but not least, large, wooden console TVs dominated living rooms in the mid-20th century, but they’re long gone. They’ve since been replaced by enormous, sleek, flat-screen TVs. Vintage consoles are rare, but you may still find them in retro furniture shops or as repurposed storage units.

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