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What is this built-in wall cabinet in my 1980s house?

Questioner said:
In my living room, there is a large, built in wall cabinet. It is extremely deep, has an electrical outlet inside, and is about 3.5 feet off the ground. It’s kind of an eyesore. I am wondering what it was used for and what is it called? My parents have guessed that it’s a TV cabinet, but when I search for that, I’ve never seen anything similar? We’re currently using it for storage.

Photo from inside of it:

Some of the answers and comments:

-A photo of it open would help give context.

-Maybe for stereo equipment.

-Circa 1983-4 Had a friend whose house had exactly this, looked like this even but the wood was dark brown instead of light. We jammed out when her parents were away.

-So you too think it held stere equipment?

-Yes, a big system with turn table, dual tape decks, equalizer, the whole shebang. Stereos used to be a feature in a living room, as important as the tv.

-Speakers on the wall. I remember the era well.

From OP’s responses to various questions…

•3.5 ft off floor

•dimensions roughly 5 ft x 4 ft x 4.5 ft

•electric plug within

-I’m wondering if this was for something like a beverage/snack/wine fridge?

-Based off where that shelf is, I’m amending my thoughts to stereo/audio equipment cabinet. Top shelf had cds/tapes/dvd.

-Oh! Could have had a home karaoke machine in there?

-TV cabinet

-A vertical tv? It’s taller than it’s wider. -That’s no tv cabinet.

-VCR, external speaker, cable box, stereo amp, video tape storage shelf, something else I’m forgetting.

-Drinks cabinet is a possibility, stored safely if there’s children around.

Those old tv were very large. I remember them and many weighed a TON!

The backs were deep too

The real mystery here is why you didn’t post a photo of the inside.

A cabinet for stereo gear makes sense, especially with the slays which would allow ventilation, but 4.5′ is awfully deep. What is on the other side of the wall? Is it under a stairway?

Maybe it was a built in stereo? The other side of the wall is our garage. It’s actually above the stairs to our basement.

I don’t think 4.5 feet would be all that deep. It leaves room enough in back for excess wiring, antennae and you can leave a little room in front for remotes. I always had issues with stereo cabinets for my onkyo system back then not being deep enough.

My guess is that it was custom built for a TV.

TV/entertainment cabinets with doors to hide the equipment were popular back then. Most were stand alone but some people had them built into the wall.

TVs were about as deep as they were tall and the top shelf could be for a cable box and/or VCR. I would expect there to be a cable hookup but it wasn’t uncommon for people not to have cable in the 80s.

Is there an opening for an antenna wire?

It not for a TV, it could be a media cabinet. Does it have anything other than an electrical socket?

Just a shelf toward the very top. This is an extremely deep cabinet. Probably 4.5 feet deep?

many early 1980’s built houses in my area had weird cubby cabinets like this built in. often in a bedroom instead of in the main living area. but all were at least 3.5 to 4 feet up on the wall for the door.

from what i ever could tell they were simply for extra storage. none had shelves built in them or anything.

now mind you….. from my mindset as a young kid in the 1980’s…….. these were NOT storage cupboards. but instead the best ever spot for hide-n-seek!

I this over a staircase?

I had the same thing but it was in a bedroom. Over the stairs so the area couldn’t go clear to the floor. I took the door off and put a big framed mirror over the space so I would have a “secret” storage area. If you can lift up the bottom then you have another “secret” space, there’s space underneath there.

We had the same thing in my house (bought 1988) gone now after moving the stairs.

It was just a way to use that space.

Had some 7 year old condensed milk far in the back:-)

This was a tv wall mount before there were flat screens. It’s for a big tube tv? Even for a large stereo which seems as if it would fit better…That’s what my parents think, but it just seems sooooo big? It’s also off center from where you would sit to watch TV?

Built-in TV cabinet? The cable box and VCR would go on the shelf

More pics? Hard to judge with the cabinet closed.I think this is for a fold-down ironing board. My grandma has one as well. The outlet inside is for the iron

This is my thought, too. TV would make sense, but he says it’s not in a logical place for a TV. Just a linen closet to use up extra staircase space makes sense but not with the outlet in it. I’d guess an ironing board and iron would have been stored in there. The top shelf might have been installed later.

When we were searching for furniture for the formal living room in the 80s, hidden TV cabinets were all the rage. You wanted the additional TV in your formal living room for guests and to show wealth, but TVs were also tacky looking and you wanted to hide them while not in use. In those days, we also needed things like media players and receivers.

There was also a push for built-in storage. All that considered, I would say this is a built-in media cabinet.

My title describes the thing. I elaborated in my main post, but I have previously searched for “TV wall cabinet”, “wall pantry”, “built in wall cabinet”, etc. I can’t seem to find anything similar.

Maybe there was a fold down ironing board?

Electronic dart board

That seems insane to me that anyone would have this in between their living room and kitchen??? There’s no way this is the answer.

Breaker panel / electric box ? Nope! Our breaker panel is downstairs and this cabinet is way too big and deep for it. It’s about 5 ft tall and maybe 4 ft wide?

Hmmm maybe a place to hold liquor??

Are there any shelves in it

A cabinet to conceal a dartboard?

Maybe measure this thing. 4 x 5 feet can’t be right; if it’s 5 feet high it’s only 2.5 feet wide. It may turn out to have reasonable dimensions.

(Edit: took some stuff others already said better)

That’s the perfect size to store an ironing board upright, though. Which is what I’m leaning toward thinking it was for.

I’ve seen these before, TV with VCR shelf.

A built in cabinet for storage.

Looks tall to be a tv cabinet? Maybe just extra storage?

Looks like a built-in ironing board

Is it possible it was a dumbwaiter at some point? Hard to know if that’s a possibility without knowing what your house looks like. But the size, height off the floor etc looks correct for that.

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