Family photos, timeless jewelry, old recipes, and other keepsakes are admittedly hard to clean, and they take up space. Yet these family heirlooms are impossible to get rid of — especially if you intend to pass them down to future generations. Fortunately, it’s easier than you think to keep your mementos in good condition and preserve them in stylish displays that take up less space. Our organizing experts suggest using everyday items to turn your antiques into sentimental home decorations. The reason: You will preserve special memories attached to the items, refresh your space in a meaningful way, and keep those family heirlooms on display instead of cluttered in your attic or basement. Below, our experts share five tips on preserving precious items and giving them new purpose, from old jewelry to baby clothes.
To Protect Old Jewelry: Utilize a Picture Frame
Adore your grandmother’s earrings, but they don’t quite fit your style? “You can still appreciate heirloom jewelry by putting pieces on display,” organizer Robyn Reynolds of Organize2Harmonize.com says. “I like to turn them into a piece of art by pinning them to the back of a pretty, antique frame, then hanging them on the wall.”
To Preserve Old Baby Clothes: Create ‘Memory Pillows’
A great way to hold on to old baby clothes is by turning them into a “memory pillow,” says blogger Gemma Smith of GemmaAnneSmith.com. Just cut equally-sized squares out of the front and back of a shirt, adhere three of the four corners together with heat-adhesive tape and an iron, then stuff the open end with batting. Close it with a piece of the tape and voilà!
To Safeguard Digitized Photos: Use a Mint Box
To avoid misplacing precious memory cards, just store them in a Tic Tac container. “It’s sturdy enough to keep them safe,” organizer Blanca Aguirrezabal says. Aguirrezabal suggests labeling the container with the event or date when the photos were taken.
To Preserve Beautiful Flowers: Cut a Piece of Wax Paper
Flower arrangements are fleeting, but the memories they hold don’t have to be. “Fresh blooms can last for years,” organizing expert Judy Granlee-Gates says. Simply cut a big piece of wax paper, fold it in half, then place flowers between the folds and iron them on medium until the paper fuses — the petals will be pressed and preserved. Consider framing the sheet and using it as a sun catcher.
To organize family recipes: Reach for a Scrapbook
“I found recipes my grandmother had written down, but the box they were in was rusted,” Isabella Meyer of ArtInContext.org says. The fix? She pasted the recipes onto acid-free paper and placed them in sheet protectors with photos of her grandmother for an heirloom recipe binder. Prefer to digitize? Store them in apps like Recipe Keeper and BigOven, which also allow for sharing with others.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.