Whether your own family’s or a treasure found at a thrift store, heirlooms have unique history and character, and I hate to see them ever go to waste. Here’s Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective with some great ideas on how to use them in your home.
Creative Ways to Use Your Family Heirlooms for Home Decor
Family heirlooms are literal touchstones—consider them moving markers within the story and history of your ancestors right down to you. The more you collect the more you have to preserve and piece together. Some items may hold more importance than others, and that’s okay. Over time, storing, cleaning and maintaining a collection of family heirlooms becomes its own job. You’ll love and hate certain pieces. What do you do when family heirlooms are hard to maintain or not to your taste? You get creative, and incorporate heirlooms into home decor in ways that honors tradition and works for you.
1. Old Linens Become a Place to Lay Your Head
Turn beautiful, but perhaps fraying, old linens into a tea-towel pillow for a charming place to lay your head. Vintage linens shouldn’t be tucked away and are too lovely to dry dishes with or risk juice spills. Start from the bottom, fold the tea towel up to create a flap. Iron that fold to hold, and seal the outside edges with fusible tape. Insert your pillow, and fold down the upper flap. Use hot glue to secure. Add vintage buttons for embellishments. Place these in areas where you seek comfort: in your bedroom or on a comfortable couch.
2. Vintage Doilies Become Darling, Rustic Framed Art
Doilies resemble beautiful dreamcatchers and spider webs caught in sunlight. Transform your vintage doilies into art with simple steps: Sew doilies into a mesh screen, attached to an old chipped picture frame. Hang to enjoy. More fragile doilies are still enjoyed behind glass in a beautiful frame that you paint to your liking. These beautiful creations may be displayed anywhere in the home, adding a whimsical flair to a room that needs a wall space filled.
3. Handwritten Recipes Become Custom Fabric
Transfer generations of handwritten recipes to fabric to make anything you desire: table runners, aprons, curtains, blankets, tea towels or a tapestry. Make a blanket with the recipe of a favorite comfort food, or a hanging tapestry for the kitchen or dining room. DIY by scanning the recipe and editing it on your computer. Once you print, secure the recipe on a light box or a sunlit sliding glass door. Tape the cloth right over the recipe (for transparent fabrics) and trace with a permanent marker. The act of recreating the handwriting may take effort, but you’ll feel as if you’re right there when the recipe was written.
4. Silver-plate Sets Become Fancy Kitchen Pulls
This idea is perfect if you have missing items in the set, or they are too tarnished. Maybe you don’t care for the set, but don’t want to give it away. Turn silver-plate sets into kitchen pulls by flattening the head of a spoon or fork, and bend the handle into a curve to pull. Then, drill tiny holes for screws, and secure onto cabinets. Use metal stamps to add words or creative flair to each handle. Instead of taking up storage space, this set is given new life and a practical use in your kitchen.
5. Mismatched China Becomes a Mad Hatter Party Set
Do you like to host dinner parties or have tea time with your child? Instead of worrying about re-collecting items to complete the china set, collect a Mad Hatter party set to display in your kitchen. Ask family members for their mismatched china. Once you’ve collected the items, put them on display in the dining room in a curious curio cabinet (which you could upcycle, too)! Host parties with your friends and your child outside when spring comes, and have a fun family heirloom to pass down.
6. Old Broken Chair Becomes More Than Meets the Eye
Most people upcycle furniture from thrift store finds. Yet, upcycling is a great choice to give old family furniture a new look, or reclaim family heirlooms that can’t be fixed. With a little ingenuity, chicken wire, paint, a saw and elbow grease, give one chair many new purposes as a garden planter or picture hanger. For a chair missing a seat, make into a garden planter using chicken wire and burlap. Place on your front porch or in your garden. To create the picture hanger, use the top of an old spindle chair and hot glue clothespins to display family photos. Display in a kitchen, or in a horizontal wall space that needs filing.
When deciding what to do with your family heirlooms, try to maintain good condition items that have a sentimental value or good story. These items should be kept out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources, humidity and pests. Seek out an expert first to see if an item may be restored. Even if an heirloom is on its last legs, who says a decrepit chair can’t be saved? Your choice to repurpose and transform an item will depend on your connection to the person who owned it before, its story, if it has use, takes up room, costs too much to repair or is not your taste. When displaying, consider areas that need to be filled. Sentimental items can have a second life and many more stories to share.
Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.