Timeless Touch: The Art of Styling Heirlooms

April 28, 2023

Clearing out a family home can be a daunting task – what do you keep, what do you let go of, and where on earth do you put everything? And when it comes to those treasured family heirlooms throwing them out just isn’t an option.

We’ve all got that one thing – maybe it’s your great aunt’s armoire, your grandpop’s amateur artwork, or your gran’s beloved blue and white china. They’re the things that make a house a home, that keep us connected to our roots and our family’s history, but let’s face it they’re not always the easiest things to incorporate into our modern decor.

First things first be ruthless. Keep only the things that you truly love and have a deep connection to. Don’t hold on to something just because you feel like you should, and once you’ve made your call it’s time to get creative.

A Blend of Past and Present

Oh, the magic of blending vintage and modern decor! It’s like creating a unique love story between two eras. Each antique piece has its own rich history and when blended with modern pieces, creates a beautiful contrast that reflects our ever-evolving lives.

In truth, It’s all about finding the balance between the two. Take the colorful juxtaposition that can occur when one grander heirloom piece, perhaps Gramp’s old console table is decorated with more contemporary abstract artwork. Or Meemaw’s watercolor paintings effortlessly bordered by an upscale gold shadowbox. The gap between old and new is closed as the two blend seamlessly together, and we know for a fact that some of the most interesting interiors play with both past and present. 

Showcasing Your Treasures

Our homes are a reflection of who we are and what we hold dear. And for many of us, displaying our family’s antiques can be a beautiful way to honor our past, but can also feel challenging to do without cluttering the space. That’s why with a little bit of creativity and some strategic placement, you can showcase the items you love while also creating a sense of spaciousness and harmony in your home.

First things first, don’t crowd the items. Know the space and attention that each item calls for without robbing it of another. Patterns can be mixed, but it works best to have a blank canvas behind them, either a solid-colored wall or a simple piece that they’re resting on like a modern coffee table. And if you have a busier antique display in the living room, put your next one in another room. So whether it’s crystal glasses, gran’s china, or mum’s gold-shaped locket, they all can have a place to display the wonderful, wild, and captivating stories that can be told. 

Change it Up: Giving New Life to Antiques

So what about those family heirlooms that we adore but don’t entirely fit into our modern living spaces? The good news is that refurbishing, renovating, and repurposing antique pieces is a great way to honor their history while still making them functional and stylish. With a little creativity and attention to detail, you can give new life to old pieces. Maybe that means a new coat of paint to the tarnished dresser, reupholstering grandma’s vintage armchair, or swapping out the tarnished hardware for a new gold look.

Mix and match old and new, play with color and texture, and don’t be afraid to get a little quirky. The antique dresser might look fabulous as a bathroom vanity or that old trunk could be turned into a coffee table with a little elbow grease. By refurbishing, renovating, or repurposing an antique item, you can breathe new life into it and create a functional piece that still holds its nostalgic charm. It’s like giving a classic novel a new cover – it still holds its timeless story, but now with a fresh new look. 

Photo by Amy Bartlam. Design by Rincon Rd.

So, go ahead and bring those family heirlooms out of storage and into the light. With a little imagination, those old pieces can become new favorites, adding history and character to your home. It’s not always easy but trust us, it’s worth it. So embrace the nostalgia, invite in the quirky, and create a home that’s uniquely yours, family heirlooms and all.



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