Our Treasured Family Heirlooms, In My Grandparents’ House and Now in Mine


I recently wrote about my grandparents’ former home in St. Francis Wood of San Francisco. Though the house is no longer in our family, I inherited several pieces of art and furniture that are now part of the backdrop of my own family’s stories. Here are some beloved pieces, then and now.

THEN:

These carved wood nesting tables stood in a black-and-white checkered hallway in their first home. Their Formica tops place them squarely in the era of 1960s furniture.

NOW:

In my current home, they’re awesome for creating extra surface space when my mother and daughter are bopping to Pandora while sewing dolls in the living room.

THEN:

Placed in the nook of a baby grand piano, this needlepoint tapestry armchair looks right at home.

NOW:

It currently resides in my husband’s office, which could stand a little tidying up. Yes, even Apartment Therapy bloggers who write about cleaning and organizing don’t have “perfect” spaces all the time.

THEN:

These pictures show the painting of African violets that decorated my grandmother’s bedroom. Her dresser and the porcelain jewelry box on top of it are also visible.

NOW:

All three are now in my own bedroom. I remember going over to this very same dresser as a child (in the house my grandparents owned after St. Francis) and looking in wonder at the delicate porcelain flowers and filigree. It’s still one of my favorite things.

THEN:

The dining room table and chairs were custom made for my grandparents’ home. I even have the drawings of the table from when it was commissioned. After college, before I had a home of my own, the parents of one of my childhood best friends kept the dining set for me in their own home. They took loving care of it, knowing how special it was in our family. A few years later, my friend and her groom sat in the end chairs on their wedding day.

NOW:

When I got married, I moved with my new husband from San Francisco to Atlanta — and he graciously conceded that of course the dining set had to come with me. Somehow the movers broke a portion of the solid wood pedestal of the dining table when we moved, but I’m so glad that this set has been able to stay in the family.

I’ll be honest, it doesn’t get used much. My kids call our formal dining room the “Thanksgiving room,” and it doesn’t even get used every Thanksgiving. Last year, however, when my family from California was visiting for the birth of our fourth child, they were also going to be here for Thanksgiving. We decided it was time to update the dining chairs. And by “we” I mean “I” and my reluctant but eventually agreeable husband.

I saw these ivory chairs and they were the first ones I’d considered replacing the original red chairs with. The nail head trim and the curves echoed the original chairs but the color uplifts the space and, most importantly, makes it our personal iteration of a family treasure. I know my grandparents would be happy.

THEN:

Pictured above is the golden velvet tufted couch in its glory days, surrounded by marble, more gold, and a black leather-topped table.

NOW:

Here is the same couch in my mother’s more humble home, the beloved home of my own childhood. (Secret gross fact: You would not believe how many spider legs — yes, just the legs — find their way into the holes created by the tufts.)

THEN:

The painting to the right of this picture is just one of many pieces of art I saved after my grandmother passed away.

NOW:

Many of these pieces have made their way onto a gallery wall in my husband’s office. Most of the paintings are of places in Europe that are pertinent to my family’s history, such as Italy. The windmill picture was actually painted by my Dutch great-grandmother.

I’m lucky to have so much of my family’s history surrounding me, and in a way that I can still call my own taste and style. What family treasures do you have in your current home?

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