Do you have an old beat-up piece of furniture or other family heirloom that you’re debating what to do with? Should you just get rid of it and replace it with something new? Is it worth restoring or refinishing, or would it be more economical to just start over?
The answer is – it depends.
What does the item mean to you? How does it fit in with the other things you have or want to obtain? What memories do you have that are attached to that item?
The value of family pieces go well beyond the monetary, so before you make any knee-jerk decisions to get rid of something or to relegate it to the attic just because a designer or anyone else tells you it’s not worth restoring, or doesn’t fit with everything else you have or are about to buy, think about the article below. This is a sentiment I’ve always held, and why I love working with people’s family pieces, antiques, etc. Well-loved furniture and other items have a life to them that no new things ever can. They embody the history of a lot of people, carry many stories within, and when it’s your family’s history they carry, it’s all the more special.
And kick that designer out who summarily announced that it’s got to go, if it’s got meaning to you, and look for another who will understand your attachment to the piece and find a way to fit it in to your new home design in a place of honor.
Interior Design That Builds A Family Legacy
By John VerHines
After 40 plus years as a furniture restorer, it still warms my heart when a client brings in an old item for review, wondering if it might be possible to do something with it. There was a time long ago when if the item presented was not really worth the time, I would recommend against the restoration. As I have grown a little older I have begun to realize, there is a kind of value that defies appraisal.
The furnishings and other artifacts we have, and pass along to our kids and grandkids are more about preserving a family tradition and carrying on a pride in our family and loved ones than just a place to sit.
As I slow down and really listen to what my clients are saying, it starts to become more and more clear, It isn’t really about the chair or end table or whatever on the surface it seems to be. The little thing they brought along for me to see. The thing they are trying to grab onto is really more a legacy than any thing else. It’s a way to preserve what seems good about the past, and to bring that forth in their home today.
Maybe that thing lives inside the chair, where as a kid they remember Grandpa sitting on the front porch, smoking his pipe and telling stories of how it was when his daddy raised him. It’s a reminder of stories from a time before people had electricity in the house, and chilly visits to the outhouse on a cold November night.
For example, not long ago, a client of ours named Barbara stopped by to drop off a family piece. My associate commented about a rocking chair, it was laying just inside the door of our shop in pieces where barb left it just a moment before, I think something like “why in the world, would anybody spend money on that?” At face value, it’s a valid question. The chair wasn’t that good. The cost of restoration probably was every bit or more what it would cost to replace the rocker, but there was more to it than that, he had totally, missed the point as so many do. The rocker belonged to Barbara’s Mother whom had used it to rock barb and her little brother when she herself, was a young mother, it was a gift to her from her mom and in turn Barbs Mom had given to her just before passing away. I’m pretty sure that Barb had a lot of other chairs, and I’m sure she could have gone out and bought one just as nice for the money she was spending for the restoration, but knowing what we now know, that’s not the point is it?
As time goes on, my hair gets thinner, and my belly gets thicker, and I see more and more, the importance of leaving a legacy, as individuals, families and even as a country. And the stuff we have in and around our homes, while it is so true that we can’t take it with us, what we leave behind helps us to tell a story. The story of what we hold dear, the values we ascribe to and the example we set for future generations to model.
Christmas dinner on Grandma’s dining set will always taste better, and a book enjoyed in front of a fireplace is more intriguing if you are seated in mom’s rocking chair.
So, when taking inventory and planning what to do with potential heirlooms when they come your way think twice. Remember, it’s not only about cost benefit analysis and replacement cost.
When you decide to keep that rocker, or table or dining set, keep this in mind, these things are heavy laden vehicles, vehicles that transport fond memories, important values and sometimes several lifetimes worth of identity. I believe, that if you plan your interior design projects with these thoughts in mind, you will develop a real beautiful and warm home, a back drop for all the things you hold dear, and an opportunity to teach the next generation what is good and true and praiseworthy in life.
John VerHines is a seasoned restorer and president of Gramco. With 40+ years experience in the craft of furniture restoration.To learn more visit http://www.GramcoFurnitureRestoration.com
Copyright 2006Gramco Furniture
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