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Pigeon hole furniture is very much a unique category of vintage furniture, and it can be the perfect addition to several types of interior. If you’re searching for an industrial look to help fit out a shop or you’re trying to find the ideal vintage extra for your home, pigeon hole furniture could be something to consider. After all, vintage pigeon holes have spawned many modern imitations from lockers through to modern storage furniture, and it’s easy to understand why – the classic pigeon hole has a charm about it that shouldn’t be underestimated.


Where Did the Phrase Pigeon Hole Come From?

What is a pigeon hole? To understand the trend of pigeon hole furniture, you first have to look back at the history of pigeon holes. As you might expect from the name, pigeon holes were originally used to store pigeons in a pigeon cote. These were either set into the wall or purpose-built to house the pigeons. However, the use of small compartments in cabinets and other office furniture closely resembled the pigeon cotes, hence the idea of “pigeon hole furniture”.


What are Pigeon Holes Used For?

Pigeon holes were traditionally used to store documents and other small items so that someone else could collect them later. That’s why you’ll often find pigeon holes in offices and schools (more on this below), as well as being utilised as pieces of interior décor in homes and shops. Pigeon hole furniture comes in different sizes, so they have a wider variety of uses in the modern world than you might think. They can be used to store books and objects as diverse as kitchen essentials through to shoes and slippers. Once you embrace the versatility of pigeon hole furniture, you might discover more uses than you have compartments for.


Pigeon Hole Nicknames

Just to complicate matters, when you’re searching for the right piece of pigeon hole furniture for your home or business, you might find that it isn’t called a pigeon hole piece at all. Colloquially, they can be called “pidge”, which makes sense as a shortened version, but they’re also widely known as cubbyholes with the spelling varying between all one word and split, i.e. cubby hole. In many cases, they’re referred to as cubby for ease. Then, just to complicate matters further, in office or academic settings they might be known as mailboxes.


Where Are They Used?

As we’ve already mentioned, pigeon holes are used in a multitude of settings from schools and offices to factories and workshops as well as within the postal service and business post rooms across the world. These are functional settings, but you’ll also find them serving a dual purpose in interior design, whether that’s at home or in a retail setting.

Industrial interior design utilises vintage pigeon holes to great effect, inspiring a retro feel at the same time as acting as a functional storage device. That’s why quality vintage pigeon holes are still in demand across the UK.


Types of Pigeon Furniture

There are several distinct types of pigeon hole furniture you’ll find when you search for vintage pigeon holes, whether you search in person or online. These are some of the most common:

  • Wooden pigeon holes – If you think of traditional pigeon hole furniture, the classic wooden cubbies that are often mounted will be one of the first that spring to mind. These vintage pigeon holes are great functional storage solutions, especially suited to retro shops and cafes aiming to promote a distinct interior design while still having space to store items.
  • Industrial pigeon holes – These pigeon holes are also deemed to be a traditional and functional type, commonly used in classic industrial settings. They’re made from metal or wood (sometimes a combination of both) and they’re built to last. Again, in the modern world, they’re also a brilliant addition to a retro shop or home environment.
  • Pigeon hole benches – Usually found in schools, pigeon hole benches are made from wire and offer storage space underneath the bench for shoes and accessories. If you want to replicate this image in your home or shop, these benches are useful vintage pigeon holes.
  • Pigeon hole lockers – As the name suggests, this type of pigeon hole furniture are lockers arranged in the traditional style of pigeon holes. These are commonly found in factory locker rooms and could work in an industrial interior design inspired by those.
  • Pigeon hole cupboards – While we mostly consider pigeon holes to be open, they can also be housed within a larger unit or covered by a door. Pigeon hole cupboards are ideal for locations where you want your equipment or documents to be stored safely but not on display. These cupboards can also be in a vintage style too.

Ultimately, pigeon hole furniture is versatile and it has many uses within the modern home or business. It’s simply a case of finding a style that suits you.


About The Hoarde

If your interest has been piqued by pigeon hole furniture, you can discover a huge selection on The Horde’s marketplace. As a trusted space to buy and sell antique and vintage items online, The Hoarde is your go-to place for vintage pigeon holes. You’ll find new items added by dealers every day!