Creating Homespace Beauty With Family Treasures

Ancestral medicine chest and Papa’s clock

The ancestral medicine chest and Papa’s clock

All of us like to get our decorating ideas from magazines and catalogs.  Not only does this allow us to know what the latest trends are but also, there is a certain amount of security in decorating how companies such as Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn show us to.  If these companies like it, well certainly we should, too.

Now I know that as an Interior Decorator I am supposed to represent the latest and greatest in the industry. I certainly do think that part of my job is to educate my clients with what the latest trends are but I like to think that I do so much more.

First of all, just like I espouse in my recent post, The Power of Color, not everyone likes the latest trendy colors.  More to the point, I believe that we shouldn’t change our color scheme every single time the industry gives us a new “in” color – that makes us far too much like everyone else.  (Reminds me of when I used to strive to be a Stepford Wife but I won’t go there…)

Home furnishing styles should also fit whom you are and how you choose to live – which leads me to my second point.  If we all decorate our homes like everyone else we become B.O.R.I.N.G.  Who wants to be that?!?

Be extraordinary not ordinary

For me, B.O.R.I.N.G. is just another name for ordinary.  Having your home décor be just like the house next door or the one down the street doesn’t show one iota of imagination.  Furnishing your home like you see in the catalogs or latest monthly magazines is oh, so ordinary.  You and your homespace deserve to be extraordinary.

There are a myriad of ways to become extraordinary.  (Remember the word extraordinary as I will be using it a lot in upcoming posts to show you other ways to achieve this level of distinction as well.)

My favorite way to live in an extraordinary environment is to infuse family treasures in it.  Now, notice I didn’t say heirlooms.

Nana’s blue and white pitcher

Nana’s blue and white pitcher

That’s because treasures are much, much more fun and important to us than heirlooms since they bring out emotion in us.  Heirlooms usually have a financial component, treasures need not!

I first learned about family treasures when my mother and her sister, Betavia were dividing up their mother’s estate.   I happened to be there with my mom to help with it.  After my mom and I loaded up all her share of the estate, we took it to our family home to later be divided between the six of us siblings.  That was back in 1976 and to this day, my greatest “treasure” is the blue and white pitcher I got of Nana’s (my grandmother).  Since 1976, it has been given a place of importance in each home I have lived in.  It instantly connects me with the grandmother I loved so dearly.

A military sword, a crystal candy dish and a silver lighter

Flash forward to February, 2011 and my siblings and I began the overwhelming task of dividing up our mother’s estate since she was now living in an Assisted Living Facility (Richfield) that I discussed in my post,  Creating Comfort In An Assisted Living Facility.

We siblings had planned this task as strategically as any business would plan a huge undertaking.  My brother, Tommy even had a written agenda complete with rules and regulations for how items in the estate would be picked by the six of us.  (And yes, we even had two fifteen minute breaks and a designated lunch hour each day of this task!)  Each evening the out-laws greeted us with wonderful meals to decompress from the emotional day we had just had in order to unwind and ready ourselves for the next day.  To say it was tough would be the understatement of the century but, we made it through.  At the end of several days of working through the estate, we celebrated with inviting old friends over to say goodbye to the family home and to celebrate the baby of the family, Tommy’s 50th birthday.  Thanks to our dear friends, we ended this chapter of our lives with fond memories!

Prior to the task  of dividing the estate, each of us siblings had polled our own children as to what they would like from their grandmother’s home.  I was and still am fascinated by what the different nieces and nephews wanted.  Every single item was in some way a memory, a treasure they wanted.  My three kids were no exception.  Ben wanted his grandfather’s military sword from Yale University, Sammi wanted the  crystal candy dish that sat in the living room and Jimmy wanted the silver lighter that always sat on the coffee table in the living room.  So, these three items were my first picks in the draw.  What joy for me to know that my kids not only wanted these things but that they held such wonderful memories of them and that now they would become family treasures in their own homes.  As for all the other grandchildren, each and every one of them now has family treasures from their grandmother’s home.  What might seem like little things such as the green salad bowl that Christy wanted will now become items to help tell family stories and history lessons to their own families and friends in each of their homes!

Beauty in your home need not include conspicuous consumption

Wally’s windows from his childhood bedroom

Wally’s windows from his childhood bedroom

I recently visited three of my nieces’ homes in Richmond, VA.  Each home was as unique as them (and their spouses).  I loved spending time in their homespaces and with my roving eye, took in what they were all about.  My niece, Marli and her husband have the coolest fireplace mantle décor.  Two large window frames that were the windows from Wally’s childhood bedroom are there for all to see.  I still smile over this unique touch of décor.  I bet everyone that visits them remembers what is on their mantle because it is so unique!  Oh, and best thing about this- the windows were sitting in the corner of Wally’s mom’s garage just taking up space.  They were free!  They didn’t go to the dump!  Now, I call this recycling life, living without conspicuous consumption and creating  a clever décor  all wrapped in one!  You go Marli and Wally!

The family crock for making eggnog

The family crock for making eggnog

As for me, I love all the new treasures I now have from my mother’s home.  My great-great grandfather was a doctor and I have his medicine chest he used and guess what?  It is solid wood!  And, you can bet this Christmas season I will be making eggnog in the crock that my parents traditionally made eggnog in year after year when I was a child.  I still can hear the peals of laughter as the night got later each year they hosted their “eggnog making “ party.  I never could understand why as the night got later, the laughter got louder.   Years later I learned that the eggnog was spiked!!!  Everyone was getting smashed!!!  Who knew?!?

Decorating your homespace with family treasures doesn’t involve spending money.  Who doesn’t find that appealing?  Also, decorating with family treasures sets your space apart from anyone else’s.  It makes your space unique.  Again, who doesn’t find that appealing?  Finally, decorating with family treasures makes for carrying on tradition and family legacy while keeping history alive.  THAT’S appealing!

Look in the attic, look in the garage and look through the closets for hidden family treasures that might just take your homespace from ordinary to extraordinary.  I guarantee that your home will become unique!

Here’s to life and for me, memories in the family home of 50 years!  5242 Shelby Drive we will miss you!

Our home and Tommy are 50

Our home and Tommy are 50

To life…

“I hope this article encourages searching for family treasures and storytelling in your family.  Feel free to share snapshots of your own family treasures on my Facebook Fanpage, livinginperfectharmony.”

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Jamie Balzer

About Jamie Balzer

Jamie has worked in the field of interior decorating for over 10 years and has owned B&A Interiors, LLC for almost as long. Partnered with her daughter, Sammi Blake, Jamie has been honored to work in homes and businesses across the country. Knowledge and experience is but part of what she has to offer. As a young girl, Jamie intuitively understood that the placement of things, the color of things, and the arrangement of things evoke certain feelings. Working together with this knowledge, experience and intuition Jamie has answered the call to her life’s purpose- teaching the spiritual truth of what she believes- “Everything begins in the home”. As a branch of B&A Interiors, LLC, Living In Perfect Harmony emerged to teach her philosophy. Jamie believes, “if you live peacefully and beautifully at home, you are well, your family is well and that helps to make the world a better place”. Jamie's most passionate role is as a mother and grandmother. Jamie currently lives and works in the Chicago area but also continues her business in Charlotte, NC as both a decorator and a homespace coach. She is certified in Reiki Therapy which she believes broadens her success as a homespace coach. Jamie is available for private consultations, lectures and seminars.

12 thoughts on “Creating Homespace Beauty With Family Treasures

    • Thanks Gary! You were one of our dear family friends that helped us say goodbye to 5242 Shelby Dr. Having a festive function that the end of the long week made all the difference for us. Thanks for taking the time to add to our memories. And, I know I told you this already but in the decluttering phase of some areas of our mom’s house, Bee came upon not only my old school work but some of your Latin work as well. Later this summer she found some more of your Latin work while she was decluttering her basement storage room. Did we really need to tutor you that much?!?

  1. Jamie, what a great article!!!! The house is so empty now, but it is still full of memories. Even though I lived there for such a short time, I will have memories for the rest of my life,I am glad I was able to spend the time there I did! Thanks so much for share with us!

    • Ercilia, I actually thought of you several times while I was writing this post and even in the months before as my post ideas and what I want to say in them are constantly in my head whirling and swirling until they reach my computer. The reason I thought of you was because you were there for us (and Mom) through the bitter end of the last days leading up to putting her in an Assisted Living Facility. Even when I posted the pastel painting of her on the Facebook Fanpage for Livinginperfectharmony I thought of you. This treasure that is now in my home was in the basement where you lived. Thank you for all you did for Mom and what you are to our family. Funny what can make people bond. You just never know what is around the corner in life do you?!?

  2. Even though it was some very emotional days, we made it fun, sharing memories, laughing, crying, having friends and neighbors over to toast the house and say goodbye to our home. Wow 50 years in one place, youngest turning 50, doesn’t this mean we are old : )

    • You may be old but, I am just getting started…
      Yes, it was quite a time for all of us. Readers out there- if you are faced with having to divide up and dismantle your family home there are a few things to remember:
      Life is too short to bicker over material things.
      The hard times in life can bring you closer to those you love.
      Family means everything.
      Friends are the delicious topping on the ice cream sundae called LIFE.
      Seize the day…

  3. Great post Aunt Jamie. So glad you were able to share Wally’s windows with the rest of your followers. As you know we love to encorporate family items into all of the rooms in our homespace. Many people are hesitant to do this because they fear the items don’t “go with” their decor. I would encourage them to think outside the box. Find an extraordinary purpose for something ordinary as you said. Take the windows for example
    1. Purchase mirrorred glass for each pane and re-purpose as a mirror
    2. Hang together over a King sized bed to create a unique headboard
    3. Go to a local salvage store and pick up turned legs and enjoy a new coffee or card table
    4. Place family photos in each pane making a great showcase for great memories
    5. Secure upright in an outdoor garden allowing wandering roses or Wisteria to enjoy
    6. Remove the glass from each pane and string with clear fishing line; display (and organize) your jewelry in your new jewelry box

    The sky is truly the limit with any family item you wish to encorporate into your home. The object breathes new life by creating its new purpose. Perhaps more importantly, it is a great conversation piece! I know the stories will fly as we all visit each other’s homes and see various things from Mommaw’s. What a neat way to keep the memories ALIVE!!!

    • Ok Marli, can Sammi and I hire you and take you away from the world of medicine and anesthesia? I know we have had many conversations about the creative side and art of anesthesia but, seriously- are you in the wrong profession? Readers, I do hope you are reading all the comments as this one is S.P.E.C.T.A.C.U.L.A.R.!!!! What fab ideas to redesign and of course, refine treasures such as an old window. However, you and Wally have given to all whom enter your home such a wonderful conversation piece just the way the windows are displayed. Here’s to you and Wally!!!! Oh, and keep the ideas coming!!!! Life and our HOMES can be extraordinary, you my dear exemplify that! (Wally has the eye for detail as well and I know he enjoys it!)

  4. Good morning…. Marli’s ideas were great – I had to smile at Mary Ann – old at 50 – no way. Life is just becoming. I loved the 50 & 60′s. I do have a lot of things from other people’s lives incorporated in my home and love it. Some are from people I loved and some from people I never even knew (garage sales, etc.) but all are treasures. I have 3 grown sons who aren’t eager to take on more stuff but 5 granddaughters who are delighted to receive found and treasured items as special gifts to them. Fun for me too. Joy Stark

    • Joy, I agree that Marli gave us all some fabulous redesigning ideas for something as simple as an old window. I just love having such smart, creative kinfolk! As for not getting older but, better ~ I wholeheartedly agree. At 55, I am just getting my Mojo going! The best years are yet to come! I love the visual I get of your homespace (having never seen it) through the various comments you make on the blog posts. Thanks for each and every one of the them. You, your family and your life seem to live in bliss!

  5. Hi Jamie…I could so relate to this wonderful article! It’s the “family treasures” that have made my house a HOME and have filled it with beautiful memories. For me, there is no place like home!
    And thank you so much for sharing about your family and all that you guys have been through- I know my turn will come with my parents as well and it’s not something I look forward to- BUT you gave me some great ideas on how to deal with it when it’s time. Thanks dear friend …
    keep on writing! My love to you and your family
    Nina

    • Nina, I am thrilled that this post so personally spoke to you. I am glad you love family treasures. I believe that they speak not just the family history but the family language as well. We Balzer siblings took the task of emptying the family home with total seriousness. I believe that it was the careful planning that made it a success and turned the painful task into a time of celebration. That week of house clearing has left us with more fond memories than sad ones- all because of the frame of mind each of us had going into the project. This cycle of life (emptying the family home) many of us experience needs to be handled with love and care. I hope when it comes time for you, you remember this post and celebrate life as we did! To loving life, Nina! And, you are so right- there simply is no place like HOME.

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