Heirlooms almost always add personality to our homes. If they were handmade by someone you love they add a personal story.
We are in the process of planning a renovation of our 90 year old home. Planning niches to display treasured collections is very important to me as part of this process. After all, I am a collector. Instead of planning for “out with the old, in with the new” I am trying to incorporate the old with a fresh new twist.
I’ve always had a love for antiques. I remember my grandmother telling me the story of her beloved Irish Belleek and how it had been passed down to the eldest daughter of the family for many generations. One day, I would be its caretaker and I would need to understand its importance. Its value lay in the story of all the women who loved it. Luckily, I do love Belleek, otherwise I would be plotting guiltily of how to hide it away!
I come from a family of makers, so heirlooms are plentiful. But to me, heirlooms come in the most simple forms: a cherished handwritten letter from my grandmother, a teacup my mom always drank from when visiting, a hand illustrated baby photo album, or a book I read as a child that I now share with my children.
Recently, I made a pillow for my daughter. It was a special gift that my mother had wanted to create for her birthday. Before she died she described her gift to me. In June, I gave the pillow, made with love, to my daughter for her birthday as my mom had wished. It’s very simple – a cupcake hand-stitched on a pillow with her name, but every stitch I made represented the love my mom had for her family and her desire to leave that love behind in a tangible form. The desire to make something that will be here when we are gone is, I believe, part of human nature.
Some heirlooms I display, some I use daily, and some I have hidden away. But I do enjoy finding ways to share my family’s story and I’m always looking for creative ways to display my treasures. More importantly, I try to share the stories behind the treasures, large or small, with my children so that they too will have a sense of their history, a link to the past, and a love of handmade.