May 24, 2024
Plunder your attic: Making the most of hand-me-down decor

As we move by means of a globe of disposable factors, it is straightforward to fail to remember that former generations kept nearly anything.

Furnishings was manufactured to past. Pieces of crystal or china were being investments passed down from parent to youngster to grandchild. Even mundane goods could stay in use for a long time: The identical Corningware bowl and Typical Electrical mixer may well churn out birthday cake batter for a era and additional.

Several of these products continue to exist, nestled under layers of yellowing newspaper in cardboard containers or shrouded by dust-laden sheets. America’s attics, basements and garages are filled with hand-me-down home decor and family merchandise waiting around to be unearthed.

And this may possibly be the best second for that to occur, with selling prices rising and source chains at a crawl.

Employing hand-me-downs is functional for any person hoping to redecorate this spring. It is fantastic for the setting. It can even be temper-boosting if the merchandise have sentimental worth, or if you learn that your good-grandmother’s fashion was truly really fabulous.

“There’s joy in putting a piece collectively and understanding you’re restoring a piece of historical past,” says Shawn Hollenbach, a New York Town comedian who not long ago rehabbed an antique settee that experienced been amongst his late mother’s prized possessions.

It was a challenging Diy job. The material was poorly worn, and Hollenbach hadn’t reupholstered anything right before. But he now proudly exhibits it to houseguests and tells the tale of this cozy piece of furnishings.

“It just offers you a feeling of delight,” he suggests.

There can be anxiety also, though. Something tied to household background can carry psychological baggage, and there’s the often literal excess weight of hefty furnishings that no a person in a family members truly would like.

Somewhat than shop matters for nonetheless one more year – or 10 years – interior designer Melissa Cooley of the Washington, D.C., firm Scenario Style and design is crystal clear: Take those cherished goods out of their boxes. Dust off the household furniture no a single has used because the Eisenhower administration. Just take a contemporary glimpse.

“You never do them honor by holding them in the attic,” she suggests.

With that in thoughts, we’ve asked inside designers and house owners how they’ve made the most of hand-me-down furnishings and house goods.

Really don’t BE Concerned TO USE Items, EVEN IF They’re FRAGILE

Glassware and dishes typically stay boxed due to the fact folks panic breaking a little something that a past era meticulously saved.

Inside designer Nadia Subaran, co-founder of the Maryland-based firm Aidan Structure, worked with a client who experienced a family members assortment of glassware and vintage plates made of green glass that no a person was getting a possibility to take pleasure in.

“When we were being chatting about the kitchen layout, she stated, ‘I really want to get these factors out of bins, out of the attic. Not just displayed but employed,’” Subaran says. “So we did an entire sink wall with no wall cabinets, just open up shelving, so that all of individuals matters could be front and centre.”

Nowadays, that home-owner sees the items every time she enters her kitchen, and finds splendor in their putting eco-friendly color.

Subaran encourages people today to put treasures on display screen, as she did herself after inheriting a classic sari from India, handmade of orange silk with shimmering gold thread. “I have pretty little occasion to don saris,” she suggests, “but they are wonderful.” Also: Her husband loves the colour orange.

So somewhat than leave it in a box, “we practically hung it on a rod and then had a plexiglass cover built that does not make it possible for UV rays to appear in and destruction it,” she states. “I wander in my front doorway and it’s the 1st matter that I see.”

GET Creative WITH Areas

Aileen Weintraub is a veteran of grappling with hand-me-down furnishings. Her not too long ago posted memoir, “Knocked Down,” information the months she spent on bedrest in a property filled with products her husband’s family members owned for generations. There is certainly also a barn entire of hand-me-downs from her very own household.

“I was trapped in this outdated farmhouse with everyone else’s furnishings,” she claims. “Even the dishes have been from the 1940s.”

As they debated what to keep, promote or give away, she persuaded her spouse to try going some merchandise to new locations or use them in new techniques.

A couch was moved to better accessibility the check out out of a window. A marble-topped table didn’t glance right any place but was much too cherished to give absent, so they tried it exterior on a included porch. It hadn’t been designed as outdoor furniture, but, Weintraub states, “it’s develop into the most beautiful location to sit and check out the sunset just about every evening.”

Hollenbach experienced the identical working experience with the settee he inherited, going it from area to area and inevitably settling on a place in the visitor area.


Cooley labored with a consumer who didn’t like a hefty, cherry-wooden cabinet from her husband’s loved ones, but wanted to obtain a way to use it.

“She has a extremely luxe, modern day design and style,” Cooley suggests, and this cupboard was the reverse of that.

In situations like that, the designer suggests isolating what you enjoy about your favored style and bringing some of that vibe to the household furniture you’ve inherited. She experienced the cherry finish stripped from the cabinet and painted it a shiny black. Outdated components was swapped out for present day brass pieces.

“Find the aspects you like, that you respect the most,” Cooley says, “then let’s start embellishing the product or service we want to greatly enhance.”

Leaning into the contrast concerning previous and new can deliver stunning effects, Subaran states. If a common piece of household furniture doesn’t healthy in your modern dwelling home, consider putting it in a foyer where by it stands out as one thing specific.

“You can pair it with a much more modern-day mirror or lamp,” she says, “to variety of help it connect with your other areas.”

Cooley recollects a customer who had a historic door that experienced been in the family for generations.

“They are African-American clients and this goes back to their ancestors,” she suggests. The small, gorgeous hardwood door had “some historical past as to where by it came from, what plantation it was on. It goes back that considerably.”

But the doorway experienced not been utilized in years and did not genuinely match anyplace in their home. Cooley’s alternative: The new design and style for the couple’s bedroom would entail making a smaller linen closet.

“We had been ready to obtain hardware that appears aged, and we in fact constructed their linen closet just so it can in shape that door,” Cooley states. “It’s an ode to her family members. And when she wakes up, she gets to see it just about every day.”


EDITOR’S Notice – Melissa Rayworth writes existence stories for The Connected Press. Abide by her on Twitter at @mrayworth.

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