Charmaine Zaynab February 27, 2021 Home Design
Dana McClure keeps her grandmother’s Chantilly Lace, along with other family heirlooms like this gold framed mirror, jewelry boxes and display trays resting on her great aunt’s Dorothy Draper dresser. “I never wear [it], but the smell brings me back to being six years old and playing dress-up in her bedroom.” This is her favorite spot in her New York state farmhouse to wind down after a long day and fill her heart with warm memories of her childhood.
Resting on an inherited buffet in the dining room of Anne and Rad’s Richmond, VA Victorian are a pair of turquoise, porcelain foo dogs. Anne shares, “My husband’s grandmother bought them in Vietnam before Vietnam was the name of a war.”
Heirlooms often represent a beloved person or memory that tells us a little bit more about who we are. They don’t have to be on trend or in good condition to add warmth and personality to our homes. Not every heirloom has a fantastic history, but they all create a sense of family and belonging that serves as a reminder of the journeys that have brought us together. Here are 10 family heirlooms from the archives that celebrate history and family.
An apartment in Helsinki, Finland houses this 300-year-old, restored “Könni” wall clock. It was handed down to Ulla-Maija by her mother’s family — still chiming every hour on the hour as it would centuries ago. She believes a home is made gradually over time through pieces that reveal one’s true past, present and future. “You add to it as you go, and little by little it becomes a reflection of who you are and where you’ve been.” Ulla-Maija’s decorative ideology is represented in a space full of meaningful family heirlooms, including a family tree gallery wall of portraits dating back to the 1800s.
Farah Malik lived in seven countries before landing in the United States. She admits to a penchant for heirlooms and admires their power to promote a pass-down-from-generation-to-generation culture. Having grown up in England, Farah keeps multiple pots for tea, including this Moroccan kettle handed down from an old friend’s grandmother in Marrakech. Other expressive pieces from Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Kenya, China, Pakistan, Zanzibar, Cyprus, and all over Europe — just to name a few — encourage a broad global awareness in her Brooklyn home.
While the bones of the home were heavenly (while sitting in the living room you can look up and see all the way through the cupola) the style felt a little more like a lodge than a home. So, the timbers and doors and windows were all painted white (Benjamin Moore “Linen White”), in a terrifying process using plywood sheets and ladders to reach the some 40 feet up. Iron balusters were updated with steel cable and tempered glass. In Betsy’s studio, she took the dark green former stables and painted everything white and added casements under the window to allow for more natural light in the somewhat cave-like space. The last vestige of the lodge feel for Betsy and Peter is their fireplace, and because of the scale, it will take a while for them to figure out what the perfect replacement will be. While the open spaces were something Betsy had dreamed of, and one of her favorite features, they do create the design challenge of being able to see everything from one end of the house to the other. Betsy had to make sure when she was designing the space that everything felt cohesive. Scale is also a key design element in their home — pieces that once felt huge in their last home were now dwarfed in the massive barn house.
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