When I spotted Living With What You Love at Alice Lane, I started thumbing through the pages and immediately fell in love with the Monica Kosann’s fresh angle on incorporating family heirlooms. Though it can be tricky, displaying precious family heirlooms and collectibles in the home allows them to serve as reminders of your past, your cherished memories, and the life you hope to create.
“Some people seem to avoid bringing out heirlooms for fear that they turn a home into an historical museum or a gallery. It doesn’t have to be that way. Create a space that you want to live in. You can bring memories alive and create a sense of family history…”
One of my favorite ideas Kosann suggests is to avoid hiding family heirlooms away in a cupboard or closet. She encourages us to create more special occasions to use those cherished table settings, to take advantage of the opportunity to tell the stories of the heirlooms in your home. Since I was a little girl, I have admired many beautiful and colorful china sets through the closed glass-doored cabinets in my grandmother’s home. Each set a lovely little piece of art—and history. As I grew up, I learned the stories of those pieces and the remarkable women who owned them. Now, each time my grandmother uses a certain china set at dinner, I feel a connection with my heritage and ancestry.\
“A bowl, even a beautiful bowl, is just a serving piece. But the bowl that a grandmother brought over from Ireland? Or the bowl that your aunt Teresa—who was already such a wonderful cook—wanted you to have someday? That’s quite a different story.”
The strategies to incorporate heirlooms, antiques, and memorabilia are countless, and this quick-read is bursting with ideas on mixing the old with the new, choosing framing, and how to help a wall or a vignette “tell a story”. Ultimately, the key is to follow your instincts and do it in way that is all your own.
“Just as no family is quite like mine or yours, there’s really no such thing as a recipe for the way you express yourself in the domain of your own home. The space you occupy deserves to be filled with its own images, echoes, and signing. Your home is like no other; why not fill every turn of it with reminders that this is so.”
[photos from Living with What You Love]