In honor of earth day I decided to share how to upcycle your special mementos into beautiful, display-worthy art.
Marie Kondo, be damned, but she got it right in reserving sentimental items for last in her KonMari method. You need to feel successful before tackling the difficult stuff like special mementos. I have purged and purged and purged AGAIN but still find myself looking at THAT closet. You know the one. The one with photos and letters and all matters of sentimentality.
I am moving soon, so the process is becoming easier as I decide that moving this stuff is not worth it. And I don’t want my kids to be saddled with all this after…you know. I just spent two weeks at my elderly father’s home, going through reams of paper we didn’t deal with after mom died. Read here for my room-by-room earth-friendly decluttering ideas.
So after bidding goodbye to general clutter and garbage, what to do with those nagging mementos that whine, “I spark joy, don’t I?”
Getting them out of the closet is the first step before determining where they will ultimately live. Certain things belong on a bookshelf or consider gifting to another family member, if you no longer feel the love. Donating or recycling are always good options. The most special mementos deserve to be displayed with honor in your home.
stole took, unbeknownst to my mother, some items from her home on a couple of milestone occasions.
The first event, their 50th anniversary in August 1995, also coincided with their downsizing to a new condo. I helped pack them up and discovered a stash of old fabrics in the attic. Each signified different time periods in my mom’s decorating. Such a fun discovery and I thought about what I could do with these textile treasures. The pink at the top was from my mother’s trousseau of bath towels and the various other fabrics range from the 1950s onward….
I met an artist at a spring festival who was the perfect person to commemorate our old home. I gave her the hodgepodge of fabric which she blended seamlessly with a painting of our home in the center of the quilt. Here’s some close-up details (thanks to my sister who is currently staying with my dad)…
If you look closely, the artist embroidered the kids’ names (there are 7 of us!!). I told her who likely slept in rooms with these fabrics and she matched them up….
And my name on the sunny, yellow butterfly sheets which, btw, made an appearance in Mad Men. My bedroom was completed in 1976, so the set decorator got the period slightly wrong. But I digress….
When my mother turned 80, another sneaky “swiping” effort resulted in this special memento for her….
Another fabulous artist, also sourced at an art festival, wrote a book about creating personal shrines. An “interview” about my mom, her interests, and other information, along with special bits and bobs I contributed, led to this very personal piece of art. Mom (“Kit”) and dad pictured on their first date along with broken bits of her wedding china….
A rhinestone drop, a rosary for mom’s strong Catholic faith, and a teapot to represent her collection.
More rhinestones, foreign currency to represent travel and mom’s shoe clip….
I’ve also taken my own “raw materials” or mementos and transformed them into art.
I’ve compiled kid art into photo books, framed old black and white photos for a family gallery wall, and created a shadow box of my grandma’s purses. And awhile back I took my kids’ baby and early childhood clothes to a quilt artist who created memory quilts for them.
I kept the remaining clothing scraps to make a quilt for me of all these sweet memories. And there they sat in a closet for 12 years until I realized how well they pair with the decorating scheme of my new condo. (There WILL be a blog soon about this BIGGER-than-I-thought pandemic project and nightmare/dream-come-true) I’m incorporating a lot of cobalt blue and fuschia which pairs nicely with my kids’ clothing. Here’s the scraps…
And, while at my dad’s, imagine my surprise when I discovered sheet-sized fabric with hand embroidery by my grandma….
…which also looks beautiful alongside the kids’ clothes….
I want to turn these special mementos into a Suzani-inspired quilt and am sourcing a quilt artist to accomplish this….
So that’s my springtime clean-up and mementos project for this year! I love nothing more than taking something and making it into a cherished family heirloom. What do you have laying around that you could transform? When you rid yourself of the clutter and only display the best then your home can really tell your story. We love helping clients sort through their existing decor to find new ways to display and honor their most cherished items. That’s part of what we do and it’s my favorite part:)