Why do we store family keepsakes and heirlooms in boxes, tucked away into attics and basements? That was my question and “aha” moment after I found my son’s childhood cowboy boots at the bottom of a storage tub.

They were so cute and caked in mud. I pulled them out of storage, mud and all, and never put them away again. 

How to Decorate with Family Keepsakes


And, with that realization, I sorted through a few favorites and worked them into the decor. And you know what happened? I smile every single time I pass these family keepsakes and works of art.

My son’s cowboy boots are a favorite of mine. Now they have a new job title: bookends. I used them as bookends in the basement shelves where the boys and their friends tend to chill.

I left the caked-on mud on the heels. It adds an earthy vibe.

how-to-decorate-with family-keepsakes

My in-laws lived in Germany after his residency. This was my husband’s German Alpine hat from childhood. I pulled it out of his storage bin (the one that came with the marriage) and added it to our recently updated basement bar/kitchenette.

It is always a conversation starter.


It is a reminder to pull those keepsakes out of storage and share the memories with your kids, family and friends. They will love the stories.

How many of you store your kids’ crafts and drawings from elementary school.? My challenge to you is to take an afternoon or evening with your favorite Netflix series or show running in the background and sort thru those construction paper drawings and find the ones that tug at your heartstrings.

Artwork Keepsakes

Our daughter’s first-grade class the afternoon of 9/11. Her first-grade class drew American flags the afternoon of 9/11 as parents waited to pick up their children. I had this in storage for over ten years. I framed it and leave it out year-round. It is a favorite keepsake.


I found Mr. Measure Man in a folder marked, “Erich School.” Measure Man is a Xerox copy of a robot with his limbs representing measuring equivalents.


It sounds a little creepy and for whatever reason, I saved Mr. Measure Man. And, now Mr. Measure Man is in our new kitchen pantry!


I think of my son every time I open the pantry doors to grab a snack.


Some keepsakes, if we are lucky, remind us of challenges.

Our youngest son’s dyslexia diagnosis came after a school year filled with as many school absences as there were clues. This book changed my life. And, gave us hope and a path to change the direction of our little boy’s life.

This drawing back by a flood of memories of flashcards, BOB books and ABC bingo. I saved this photo for a reason; it is a reminder of the impact of a misplaced letter.

Now, this drawing makes me smile. He is the most observant one in the family and after years of twice-weekly tutor sessions and 15 minutes of reading Sunday-Thursdays, he has a photographic mind for spelling words.


Do any of you have dozens of kiln-dried craft dough painted in primary colors? We have an assortment in the shapes of tiny bowls and odd-shaped vases. Sure, I used a few for paper clips and thumbtacks. With three kids we had a lot of “treasures.”

I shared a little love when I dropped a few pottery pieces into this time capsule.

Pottery Keepsakes

And, a few of the pieces made their way to the garden and under a fountain in our backyard.

A few pieces cracked after an untimely run-in with the lawnmower.

I love seeing them under the tulips in the spring and dusted with snow after the first flakes.

Think about all the crafts and drawings your kids made in their childhood.

Before you go here is a short video I made on how to incorporate family keepsakes and heirlooms into the decor.



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  1. Great ideas, Laura. Before my girls went off to college, we went to one of those paint your own pottery places. We painted each other a coffee cups. It’s been ten years now, and one of their masterpieces is always my first choice to hold my coffee. Stay healthy!

    1. Thank you Katie, all schools in Ohio closing. Youngest home tonight with all of his stuff in two bags. Not sure what we will do with the contents of his dorm! xo laura

  2. I have multiple dozens of pottery pieces and artwork from my kids. They are scattered around in our decor too!

  3. I’m reading this a year late, but thanks for the idea of using kiln-dried pottery pieces outside. Great idea!

  4. This is so sweet. I just love these ideas and will go hunt through my kids’ boxes in the basement! I’ll be featuring this at Thursday Favorite Things today. Thanks for sharing it with us. 🙂

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