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Heirloom Decorating
by Rachel Paxton

Description: Don't keep your treasured heirlooms boxed up and put away. Dust them off and use them in your home decor.

I love to surround myself with things from the past. To me "heirloom" doesn't necessarily mean something really old, because memories are always in the making, and displaying a family keepsake can be treasured whether it's from last year or fifty years ago.

It's easy to tastefully decorate your home with family heirlooms. Why not put them on display rather than locking them away?

I have many crocheted afghans that started taking up a lot of storage space. When we moved to our new home we had room for our cedar chest off to one side of the living room and I filled the chest with all of the blankets. This also keeps them from being scattered all over the living room. We take one out at a time and just fold it up and put it back in the cedar chest when we're done using it.

I love to decorate with family photos. Our home has a long hallway where I can display a lot of photographs. Instead of randomly arranging pictures I decided to go with themes. I bought a large collage picture fame and arranged all of our family camping photos in it. Another smaller collage displays pictures of our daughter opening up her presents at Christmas throughout the years. My, how she's grown!

I've also scattered picture frames throughout our home. Black and white photos of generations past are displayed on the piano and china hutch. I don't know about you, but I love looking at other people's family photos. Ours are definitely a topic of conversation for visiting guests.

I love needlework. I have on display needlework that was done by my mother, my mother-in-law, and myself, and these masterpieces make a great addition to any room of the home. I'm partial myself to wedding samplers. It doesn't seem like many people take the time to make these anymore. I made one for my husband and myself that I hope to someday pass on to my children. Birth samplers are also really great and something your children will surely cherish someday. The counted cross stitch project I'm currently working on will probably take me 5 years to complete, but someday it will grace the wall above our piano.

I like to incorporate children's artwork wherever possible. My favorite is a poem my daughter wrote and illustrated. One year she made several and gave them away as Christmas gifts to family members.

Our family has a lot of books that have been handed down as many as four generations. Those books are displayed on shelves in our entertainment center in the living room. My heirloom cookbooks I keep in a small bookshelf between the kitchen and the dining room. Instead of just filling the shelves with cookbooks, I alternated shelves, arranging my favorite knick knacks in between.

One heirloom I haven't found a place for are hand-embroidered tea towels that have been in our family for many years. I've read that you can make them into kitchen curtains. I'm going to have to give that a try!

Look through your family treasures and see what you can dig up. You never know what you might find--like a flower your grandmother dried and framed! And remember, it's never too late to create new family heirlooms. Your family will treasure them someday.

Originally published Suite 101. Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom of four. For easy do-it-yourself home decorating ideas for busy moms, visit

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