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.”