Never letting go: weaving family treasures into your modern-day style

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Most of us never intend to live in the past. We want to forge our own styles. Go our own ways. Make it about tomorrow. But not entirely. Incorporating furniture and decor from your past can be a part of personal style going forward. The trick is to fit things into the way you live now.

Think outside the (drawer)box: Furniture designed for one use doesn’t have to serve the same purpose forever. A cool, old lowboy dresser can be the foundation of your home entertainment setup. Use a tall chest of drawers in an office to hold supplies or an entryway for stashing gloves, hats and dog leashes. Who says a sideboard has to house the good china when it’s a great fit for your clothes.

Some things belong anywhere: A chair or art. A small accent table or lamps. These are usually versatile and portable pieces that can be used anywhere. If you really value an item like this, it’s easy to find a place for it in your space. Maybe it’s somewhere you don’t use often, like a guest bedroom, but at least it’s nearby and in your life. You also could consider taking it to your office.

Don’t fix what’s not broken: Some things are made to last, so there’s no shame in keeping them around a long time. I have a harvest gold blender I got for my first apartment in the late 1970s. It’s not exactly a sentimental item, but it still works and more importantly it reminds me of my first true foray into adult living. The harvest gold thing doesn’t embarrass me in the least.

Mix the rough with the smooth: While old things don’t have the polish of the new they can coexist comfortably if you combine them with imagination. In fact, the juxtaposition of antique and modern can be a strong expression of your personal aesthetic. When I style spaces I look for ways to mix items that don’t seem to belong together but often end up making the most distinctive statement.

Send it on vacation: Sometimes you just don’t have the space to keep something, even when you ache at the thought of letting it go. Consider a long-term loan to a family member or friend – someone who will be totally responsible with it, of course. And make it clear that you’re just loaning the item so you can bring it back into the fold when you have the space.


This article first appeared in SpiritedTable.com.

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