How to Preserve & Enjoy Family Heirlooms

When you think of family heirlooms, you may consider yourself out of luck if your ancestors failed to pass on portraits, fine china and crystal. While all of these things make great family heirlooms, an heirloom can really be anything you consider to be special or meaningful, even if it is not worth much to someone else. Many of my favorite family heirlooms would not fetch much on the open market and are not terribly old, but they mean a great deal to me.

So what’s the purpose of having family heirlooms if you don’t celebrate them and incorporate them into your daily life? Recently, I’ve been challenging myself to free these heirlooms from closets and boxes and enjoy them everyday. Here are some tips to get you started…

1. If you’ve got it flaunt it…
Start thinking about the items you may have packed away in storage or in boxes and albums. If it’s a piece of jewelry or clothing, why not wear it? Incorporate it into your regular wardrobe. A piece of china, a family Bible, an old letter or photograph? Frame it! Put it on display!

2. Write it Down
There’s nothing worse than coming across a family heirloom or photograph and having no information on the item. So take the opportunity right now to write down everything you know about an object. You could put a label on the back of the piece, or keep a physical or digital notebook. Future generations will thank you!

3. Pass it on
I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it is to see family photographs, portraits and precious things like military medals piled up at estate sales and thrift shops. So make a plan now and start thinking about who you would like to eventually pass your heirlooms on to.

About this Shoot
I never thought I would be shooting in a public restroom, but the restrooms of the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel  a former 1906 train station, have been beautifully restored and maintained. My Mom gave me this vintage perfume bottle when I was about five-years-old, so it is a special heirloom that I will pass on to my own daughter someday. As a little girl, too young to wear perfume, I used to fill it up with homemade rosewater. Nowadays, I pour in my Bulgari Rose  and enjoy using this heirloom from my Mom everyday.

My Kate Spade Charm Glittered Bow Slingbacks are not an heirloom, but they could be one in the making because they have held up for years. These shoes never fail when I need to pack light and can only bring one pair of shoes that will need to work with several different dresses. For holiday parties, I can’t think of a better go-to shoe!

Neiman Marcus >>
Kate Spade Charm Glittered Bow Slingbacks

Dress: Lord & Taylor (old)
Earrings: Estate Sale
Shoes: Kate Spade NY at Neiman Marcus

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Alison Hetherington

For the modern girl who loves everything vintage.

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