best ofInteriorssneak peeks

Sneak Peek: Best of Family Heirlooms

by Shannon Grant

If there is one thing we are passionate about here at Design*Sponge, it’s the value of personalizing one’s home through countless modes of creative expression. Perhaps one of the most personal ways to decorate a home, and quite possibly the most emblematic way of expressing who we are and where we come from, is by displaying family heirlooms. After scouring the Sneak Peek archives, there seems to be a universal affinity for displaying meaningful objects that have been passed on through generations, no matter what the home-decorating style. These cherished pieces transcend momentary trends and somehow fit into our homes in an unmistakably timeless way. Maybe it’s your grandfather’s worn-out ruler, probably originally bought for 50 cents, or an elegant fur shawl worn proudly by your glamorous grandmother. With the holiday season nearly here, I know I’m excited to display the Christmas ornaments that my mother has passed on to me. By displaying family heirlooms, we are able to honor our loved ones, share the histories of these priceless objects and breathe new life into them as they carry on. — Shannon

Image above: The charcoal drawing that Marte Marie Forsberg’s father drew of her then-15-year-old mother is one of the most romantic of the family heirlooms we’ve featured.

Image above: This functional corner cabinet is one of many family heirlooms in Corbin Lee Gurkin’s home. Originally in her grandmother’s dining room in Richmond, Virginia, she had it refinished in cream and blue to become more of a bedroom piece.

Image above: Updated with black shades to contrast the white-washed quality of Sara Oswalt Leete and Travis Leete’s bedroom, this tiny vintage glass lamp is a family heirloom from Travis’ family.

See more family heirlooms after the jump…

Image above: Fashion designer Gretchen Jones’ scarf collection includes family heirlooms.

Image above: Described by Rebekka Seale as one of the most precious pieces that she and her husband own, this TV console belonged to her grandparents in south Alabama. It has a record player and radio, both of which still work. She also inherited the framed records from her grandparents.

Image above: Photographer Aaron Delesie displays his grandmother’s 1920s crystal candlesticks among the mercury glass left over from different events that he and his wife have photographed.

Image above: Another family heirloom from Gretchen Jones: her grandmother Gretchen’s fur shawl hangs from the couch, keeping family close.

Image above: Graphic designer and artist Michael Mavian’s grandfather was a draftsman, and the ruler, crayon, brush and compass were his. Michael likes to have these around when he’s working.

Image above: This chandelier is a family heirloom that hung in photographer Trent Bailey’s grandmother’s dining room. He and his wife, Dara, added the round lightbulbs, instantly turning the classic chandelier into a mod piece.

Image above: From designer Alli Michelle’s Sneak Peek, the typewriter is her mom’s Olivetti from college.

Image above: More family heirlooms from Marte Marie Forsberg’s home: The black drawer is from her parents’ home, and the sugar, flour and oil ceramic set tucked in the old wooden box on top is the engagement present that her great grandfather gave to her great grandmother before they got married.

Image above: 45 records from Kimberly Canale’s grandfather’s collection, lovingly stored in a vintage metal bin.

Image above: Several family heirlooms are displayed in Jill Malek’s living room, among them the rug from Armenia and the architectural drawings done by Jill’s husband Vram’s grandfather.

Image above: This sofa nestled in Adrian Richardson’s living room is an heirloom.

Image above: The mirror in Cendira Carvalho’s dining room is a family heirloom, and she’s always tucked wood sticks or dried flowers into the frame.

Image above: Most of the items on the trunk are Olivier Dupon’s (of Lola et Moi) family heirlooms, hailing from France and Africa.

Image above: Another romantic family heirloom, this one from Lizzie and Kathryn Fortunato. Their grandfather gave their maternal grandmother this locket a number of years ago, and it has since been passed along to Kathryn. Her grandfather’s picture is still inside, and she loves keeping it out so she can see it daily.

Image above: The star light in Lynda Gardner’s home was handed down as a family heirloom.

Image above: The painting is by Adam McCauley’s father, Gardiner McCauley, who studied at UC Berkeley under Richard Diebenkorn and Elmer Bischoff. He participated in the Abstract Expressionist movement of the time, and at the time this peek was published, he was still painting.

Image above: This reading chair belonged to Andrew Call’s great grandfather, and it somehow made it into his childhood home in Utah. His mom hated it and had been trying to get rid of it for decades, so Andrew decided to put it in his car and move it from Utah to Oregon. It appears Andrew and Amy’s dog, Leland, likes the chair’s new home!

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  • So good when we have precious things around us! It tell us stories and bring so many memories.

  • What a creative idea to frame those Life photographs. It really brings pattern and conversation to the room. Thanks for sharing the great picks!

  • I really like this selection for the psychic happiness. Nearly all the furniture in our house has a story – and items passed on from family are a big part of that.

  • Would love to see more of this type of thing on DS.

    I agree with Amy, too, that the framed Life photos are spectacular — caught my eye immediately.

  • i love mixing modern and antique pieces – creates such a natural, clean and homey feel to a space. I have so much of both my grandmothers’ and they are my favorite things in my house. including framed advertisements from her magazines from the 40’s! they look great and they’re conversation starters.

  • My idiot mother threw away everything worth keeping because she hates “old crap”, including a wonderful portrait of her grandparents in an oval frame with curved glass — she didn’t even tell anyone she was doing it so they are gone forever. I would have loved that and my grandmother’s old trunk but that got tossed as well.