We understand the dilemma – you absolutely love the handmade patchwork quilt you inherited from your grandmother, but it really doesn’t go well with your Mid-century Modern décor. Or perhaps your spouse owns of collection of antique books that have been passed down from generation to generation – but you’re just not sure how to display them. No matter what the situation, it can be tough to work family hand-me-downs into your aesthetic.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to make it work. Here are the best ideas we’ve found to decorate your home with your cherished family heirlooms.
Handle with care
When dealing with family treasures, you should treat everything with more care than you might with something you picked up at Target. If you have anything framed, be sure to use archival quality, acid free products. If an item is damaged, say an upholstered chair has a tear or a secretary desk has some chips, have it professionally repaired, instead of trying to fix it on your own. Many items may lose value if they aren’t repaired or restored properly in a way that’s in keeping with the period they are from.
Don’t be afraid to mix styles
When the bulk of your home décor comes from the same store or is in the same style, it can look a little static, like it just leaped off the pages of a catalog. By mixing in family treasures and pieces from other eras, you give your space depth and character. In fact, those family heirlooms tell a story and could be a wonderful conversation starter for when you have guests. So don’t be afraid to pair that metal and glass table with a Victorian-era lamp.
Update pieces that are tired or worn
Perhaps you have a set of dining chairs from your grandmother that you love, but have seen better days. Why not give them a modern facelift, especially if you’re not concerned about devaluing the pieces. Paint them a bold color and reupholster the seat with a vibrant fabric that gives a modern look to a vintage silhouette. The result can be very exciting and really enliven your space.
Group items into an eclectic collection
Do you have a box of old skeleton keys from your family ‘s previous homes? Why not display them as a collection? Has your family been collecting seashells from every beach vacation for the last 50 years? Put them in a beautiful glass apothecary jar and display it on a bookshelf. And those antique books and typewriter will look amazing as a display in your home office. Let your imagination help you find how the items you’ve inherited are connected, and use that to guide your displays.
Let go of obligation
One important thing to remember when choosing how to use heirlooms in your home, is that you should not feel obligated to display them. Some items just aren’t your taste or style, and that’s okay. If you don’t love an item, or it doesn’t bring you happy memories, it’s perfectly acceptable to pass it to another family member or keep it in storage.