Designing Around a Family Heirloom

by Valerie Demetros

Family heirlooms are treasured possessions that not only honor your past but carry a sentimentality that is irreplaceable.

Of course, displaying these cherished items may become a design challenge, merging old and new with contrasting styles.

But don’t panic, design pros have found many ways to bring your heirlooms right up front and integrated beautifully. The key is to find just the right balance.

Purposefully accessorize With an antique desk or table, accessorizing becomes essential. Place a contemporary accessory on a vintage desk and it becomes thought-provoking, filled with style and intention. Pair a modern vase on a classic coffee table for a fresh touch.

Modernize fabric

For a vintage chair or sofa, reupholstering can give it a crisp look and grand makeover. Bold graphic patterns or textures can provide the piece with an instant lift and integrate into your style.

Choose wisely

One of the pitfalls of decorating with family heirlooms is wanting to keep everything. Quantity is usually not your friend. Choose the best pieces and integrate them into your décor. Trying to keep everything can give your home a cluttered, thrift-store look.

Craft repetition

Don’t be afraid to exhibit a collection together rather than scattering it around your home. This creates a focused look and draws attention to the collection.

Whether it’s baseball caps or vintage canes, these can make an interesting gallery wall in a hallway or guest bedroom with a contrasting wall color.

Update and repurpose

You can bring a vintage piece into the modern age by updating it. If you have a beautiful piece of old-world art, consider a modern frame to give it an eclectic current look. Turn an antique or vintage cabinet into a bar to lend a chic feel to an older piece, or paint a classic desk and update the hardware to create a modernized table.

Create unity

If you find yourself with a mix of antique and contemporary seating, using the same cushions can unify the look. A cohesive room can build layers so everything works together. The secret is to find balance.

If you have a large walnut antique, try integrating a bit of wood throughout the room rather than compensating with stainless steel throughout the rest of the room.

Each heirloom tells a story, and when you present them proudly in your home, you share your history and reflect on your past. And integrating them into your interior gives your home a personal touch.

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