Confession time: are most of your sentimental things tucked away in a box? Or hidden away somewhere you hardly see them?
That’s what most people do. They keep their treasures packed up in boxes, stashed in a drawer or shoved in the back of a closet.
Why keep these treasures if you’re not going to enjoy them?
That’s what they’re for. You’re meant to enjoy them.
And yet magazines and style writers encourage you to buy trendy — and generic — “accessories” to decorate your house … and keep the things you love in a box.
It makes me crazy.
Why decorate with a bunch of meaningless stuff when you could be using meaningful items that you love?
Personal items make a space truly personal
Sentimental items are the perfect antidote to bland and boring rooms.
Your treasures are unique to you. And when you use them in your space — whether as decorative items or as functional ones — you’re making your home more you. You’re giving it personality and style of your own.
Sure, there are ways to do this that are more and less successful … but that’s a topic for another day.
For now, start thinking of your sentimental stuff as treasures to be lived with and enjoyed every day.
Don’t worry that someone else will say these things are just useless clutter — start using the things you love to make your home more you.
There’s nothing useless about items that warm your heart and make you smile. Those are the things that make your home yours.Don’t decorate with generic accessories, use your sentimental treasures instead. Click To Tweet
Sentimental treasures make the best decoration
Now, I’ll tell you a little secret…I don’t do ‘home decor items’ or ‘decorative accessories’. I hate them. I think they’re really clutter waiting to happen.
I have an aversion to buying colour coordinated, “on trend” accessories and then using them in random displays on all the flat surfaces in my house. Frankly, I used to think this made me an unfit designer.
But you know what? I don’t care.
I refuse to tell people that the solution to a more attractive home is buying more random things that don’t mean anything to them — and encourage them to add more stuff they don’t need to their homes.
From where I sit, that’s just crazy.
So rather than adding a bunch of stuff you picked up at Target or HomeSense to your rooms, use your personal treasures to create a space that reflects you and your family. It’s more interesting and it makes your home different from other people’s.
And frankly, it solves the question of what to do with sentimental items. (Or at least the majority of it.)
Use your favourite items to make your home more beautiful
This is what I’ve done in my home. Most of my family’s sentimental stuff is out, being used or being displayed. Or at least it was before this transatlantic adventure got them packed away in a box.
In fact, it wasn’t until I starting writing this that I realized how many of the things I use for decoration are actually what most people would consider ‘sentimental’.
Here’s what I mean …
In the middle of the mantel is arguably the most ’sentimental’ item I own — a clock I inherited it from my late grandparents.
Now Tink — yes, the clock has a name, courtesy of me, many years ago — is really not my style. I would never have bought her myself. She’s much fancier than everything else, needs to be wound every week and she’s gold (!).
Yet she has lived for years in my living room with a modern painting (that my husband and I bought) and a fabulous hand-knotted carpet (bought with my late mother-in-law just days after my son was born on a much-needed house break). So even though she doesn’t ‘fit in’, she brings something special to the room and having her out means that I can pass the story of her and what she means to me onto my son.
We also have a large collection of watercolour paintings acquired by my husband’s family, and ours, from various trips around the world. It’s a “thing” they used to do — buy paintings of places they visited. Over the years, I’ve hung them in large gallery-style groups, in small groups, put a favourite one on a miniature easel on my desk, and tucked them on bookshelves.
We love these things. And I look forward to having them out again.
I can do this with my sentimental stuff not because I’m exceptionally talented at interior styling (trust me, I’m not) but because I keep only what I love so my collection is manageable. I’m not holding onto everything and I’m not overfilling any given space either.
I’m just using what already has meaning to me in a way that makes my home feel good.
You can start doing this right now
Today, instead of going into a big discussion about what to keep and how to decide, I just want you to think of one or two specific items you’d love to have out in your home. Then find a place for them.
Put them somewhere you will see them, enjoy them — maybe even use them.
It can be as simple as putting your family photo albums out on a shelf, your grandmother’s salad bowl on the table filled with fruit or an old silver dish on your dresser for loose change.
Don’t worry about getting it “right” — you can always move it if you don’t like it. Experimenting with just one or two favourite things makes it much easier to incorporate these little treasures into your everyday life.
There are endless ways to display the things you love. But they have to come out of the boxes first.
It doesn’t make sense to store the things you love — and fill your space with generic stuff. Instead, use those meaningful and sentimental things to create a home that’s truly personal and unique. A home that’s really you.
Now it’s your turn