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Mar 14, 2019

How to Use Family Heirlooms in Your Home

What we choose to keep and hold on to can help us make connections and feel a sense of belonging. Get inspired on how to use family heirlooms to create meaning in your life.


Using or decorating with your family’s items in your home can help you connect to your heritage. You can use them as they are or find new uses. Here are some ideas:

  • Add Grandpa’s golf clubs to your own set so you can remember him when you use them.
  • Use a crock as a planter or decoration.
  • Hang vintage family photos as artwork for your wall.
  • Frame a family member’s treasured item (such as Grandma’s apron or Grandpa’s hat) in a shadow box and use it as wall décor.
  • Use baskets as shelves on your wall and fill them with your aunt’s favorite books.
  • Highlight current and past family members’ talents in your home. Display a family member’s old typewriter or camera on a shelf next to a photo he or she took or a story he or she wrote.
  • Display a clock with the time set to commemorate a special family event such as a birth date or anniversary.
Each clock is set to commemorate a family event.
  • Use a family member’s vases to hold office supplies or organize items.
  • Hang a plate from Grandma’s china set on the wall next to a photo of her.


If you have a family item that doesn’t fit your style, upcycle it! You can keep the item and make it work in your home. Some suggestions:

  • Turn the headboard from your family’s old crib into a chalkboard with some chalkboard paint.
This bench was made using the headboard from an old bed.
  • Paint furniture to match your home décor.
  • Make wreaths with book pages or maps from a family member’s collection.
  • Sew pillowcases or reupholster chairs using linens.
This chair was reupholstered using a tablecloth that was passed down. The piping was made from Grandpa’s old shirt.
  • Transform a family member’s globe into a lamp with a lamp wiring kit.
  • Use a clock mechanism kit to transform Grandma’s china platter into a functional timepiece.
  • Use fabric from Grandpa’s old shirts to make holiday banners.
  • Create stuffed animals, quilts, or other items with old clothing.
  • Scan a handwritten family recipe, print it on fabric, and use it as a placemat.
Mom’s favorite recipe was printed on canvas and sewn onto a placemat.


Create family connections by splitting heirlooms with each other. You can:

  • Give each family member one place setting from Grandma’s china set. Each person can then incorporate or upcycle the place setting for his or her own home.
  • Divide your uncle’s book collection among your family members.
  • Take turns using special family treasures. Maybe one family gets Grandma’s Nativity set this Christmas, and another family will use it next year.
  • Make multiple prints of an ancestor’s letters or notes so everyone has a copy. Consider putting them in frames to display.
These frames display a handwritten life story.


If there is an item you can’t use in your home, donate it to an organization like Deseret Industries, and connect with your community.

When you donate unneeded family heirlooms to Deseret Industries, your items can:

  • Find a new home and help another family build memories.
  • Help associates working at Deseret Industries get job training and create better lives for themselves and their families.