5 Outdated Household Features That Will Soon Be Extinct

updated Dec 27, 2019
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Interior design of elegant kitchen with black and white elements-  3d render
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Peek through images of vintage houses and you might find that there’s a lot you don’t recognize—dumbwaiters, built-in vacuums, laundry chutes, and other quaint and seemingly old-fashioned features. Well, we’ve got news: Our homes are going to look like that to our great-great-grandkids one day, too. Many of our homes’ current features may even be outdated in the next decade!

“As technology improves, there are definitely some things that are going to be vanishing from the household, especially in new homes,” says Cristina Miguélez, content manager of home improvement website fixr.com. “Some of these things are already beginning to vanish.” Think about the standard phone jack or ethernet cord that used to be so important in your home. When’s the last time you remember using it?

“Standard phone jacks are already ceasing to exist,” says Miguélez. “Soon, so will normal outlets as we know them, to be replaced with smart outlets that can help use charge things wirelessly or when plugged in.”

It’s important to update your house with the times—and not just for the sake of function. Updating will increase the resale value of your home, as well. Here, we’ve got pros’ bets on what won’t make the cut a few years from now. Take a cue from them, and start to bring your home into the future.

Wired Technology

Three cheers for WiFi—it’s made it possible to live without a constant tangle of wires, and that’s a definite improvement. So if you’re planning a reno, you can forget anything that’s stuck into the wall. “When you are planning for a remodeling, think ‘smart’ and wireless,” says DJK real estate agent Barbara Ireland.

Ireland recommends removing outdated tech like wired speakers, old intercom and security alarm systems, hard-line data ports, and TV wiring. “You can set up a smart curved or transparent TV instead,” she suggests.

For apartment- and condo-dwellers, buildings that use intercom systems are eschewing wires for smart systems that alert your phone and let you see who is at the front door. “Intercom systems that buzz your apartment will go the way of the dodo birds, and good riddance,” says Triplemint real estate agent Brandon Marianne Lee. Allowing tenants to see who’s at the door will be a big move for safety and security, ass well as convenience.

Standard Devices and Appliances

Standard devices and appliances are being upgraded for smart counterparts, which can connect to phones so they can be controlled from afar, set on timers, and more. Take lightbulbs: The first swap was incandescent for CFL bulbs; next came LED for CFL. Now, smart LED bulbs are the next wave, offering dimmable lighting without a special switch and the ability to hook into a smart speaker to control with your voice (no more “clap on, clap off”). Regular old thermostats, smoke detectors, and door locks are now smart, too. “Anything that is accessible and can be activated via mobile device,” says Ireland. The convenience factor makes these a super functional swap.

Large household appliances like ovens are moving in the smart direction, as well. “Standard appliances will likely be replaced with smart versions in time,” verifies fixr.com‘s Miguélez, “which includes things like diagnostic technology to help troubleshoot and solve problems, rather than calling a repairman.” If you’re looking to upgrade your kitchen or laundry room, it’s worth it to consider smart devices to be able to access these expanding features as they come.

Electrical Switches and Outlets

Traditional three-prong outlets are outdated. Yes, really! Outlets in newer houses are accommodating USB ports to maximize charging options and make it easier to juice up a phone without a charging block.

There are also more options now for charging your phone out of sight—a welcome adjustment as phones grow more and more prominent in our everyday lives. “It’s easy to add functionality with a smart electrical outlet that can control energy usage and turn on and off lights,” adds Ireland.

Light switches also will be a thing of the past, according to fixr.com‘s Miguélez. “Smart lights already exist that can turn on or off the lights depending on the presence of a person in the room—no switch required,” she says.

Media and AV Rooms

“Media rooms, like home theaters, and AV rooms that have 20 billion miles of low-voltage cables that run to every corner of the house are going to be obsolete in 15 to 20 years,” says Anderson Kenny of Anderson Kenny Architecture.

In a wireless world with smart televisions and streaming videos on your handheld devices, dedicating an entire room to home theater equipment is no longer necessary. The same goes for home offices, as Wi-Fi is now widespread and more and more people have mobile work setups with laptops.

Not to mention, there are plenty of options for watching TV and movies now that don’t require a screen at all; home projectors have become a popular choice, and a more and more affordable one, as well.

Built-in Bookshelves

This one might tug at your heartstrings. “Bookcases will become vessels for objects, not books,” says Kenny. As more and more people read on digital devices like Kindles and iPads, print editions of books are becoming archaic.

The bibliophile in us can’t help but hate this and hope that built-in bookshelves— and books!—don’t disappear in the future. But smart tech? Yeah, we’re all for that.