An apartment in Helsinki, Finland houses this 300-year-old, restored “Könni” wall clock. It was handed down to Ulla-Maija by her mother’s family — still chiming every hour on the hour as it would centuries ago. She believes a home is made gradually over time through pieces that reveal one’s true past, present and future. “You add to it as you go, and little by little it becomes a reflection of who you are and where you’ve been.” Ulla-Maija’s decorative ideology is represented in a space full of meaningful family heirlooms, including a family tree gallery wall of portraits dating back to the 1800s.
Kristen’s Storied Home in Kansas City is full of furniture and jewelry passed down from family members, but she is particularly sentimental about this buffet made by her grandfather and great-grandfather in 1963 (and considers it one of her most precious possessions). She uses the made-up word anemoia from John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, meaning “a pang of nostalgia for times you’ve never experienced,” to describe her love affair with objects that tell stories of the past.
One of the things that makes family heirlooms so special are the stories they collect over time. Objects give us the ability to recall adventures that have been told and retold, or spark the memory they carry. Cherished items often cross oceans, countries, and generations to create their stories, probably with a few scratches and bumps along the way. It’s as if these treasures traveled down the branches of our family tree and ended up in our living rooms.
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