If you’ve inherited some precious family treasures, you might be feeling the pressure to keep them in tip-top shape.
Whether it’s a collection of old black and white photos, your grandma’s wedding ring, or a one-of-a-kind piece of antique furniture, taking responsibility for the ownership of these goods is a huge weight on your shoulders.
It’s always nice to own a small piece of the past, especially when it relates to one of your loved ones. When you have been gifted these special items from your older family members, it provides a physical and emotional connection to them. This connection can remain even after the passing of your older relatives, and this is priceless.
Heirlooms are items that have been passed down through several generations in your family. They’re special and precious, and they require extra special care to preserve their current condition. Not taking the right steps to care for your heirlooms can ruin their aesthetics and decrease their value.
If you’re the new owner of one or more family heirlooms, you want to follow your predecessors and take good care of them. But what is the best way to ensure they stay in great condition?
You don’t have to lock them away in an airtight box forever! You can still enjoy your family heirlooms in all their glory while preserving their pristine condition.
Here are some of the best ways to take care of your family heirlooms so you and the future generations in your family can enjoy them for years to come.
Fix Them When Necessary
If part of your family heirloom is broken or worn away, your first instinct might be to get these problems fixed immediately. While this might be necessary sometimes, it isn’t always the best thing to do.
Each heirloom is different, and it depends on the extent of the damage. If you have inherited an antique clock and the hour or minute hands have fallen off, you might want to take it to a clock repair expert. They will be able to reattach the hands without compromising the condition of your antique.
If you have an old sideboard passed down to you from your grandparents, the metal handles might have begun to rust. In this case, you can get the metal cleaned to restore the item’s original colour. Or you might prefer the ‘old and rusty’ kind of look that shows the furniture’s age.
When it comes to imperfections in your heirlooms, it’s down to you whether or not you get them fixed. Often, leaving your inherited heirlooms in the same condition as you got them helps to maintain their sentimental value, but if you want to touch a few things up, there’s no harm in that either.
Store Them Correctly
Many people store their family heirlooms in the attic or garage where they are safe and out of the way. However, storing your antiques in these dark, moisture-prone areas can reduce their lifespan.
Instead, move them to an area of your home where you can control the temperature and humidity. If you don’t want them to clutter your living space, move them into your spare room or upstairs cupboard. Usually, a temperature of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for more heirlooms.
Light is also a key factor to consider. Most heirlooms should be kept in the darkroom, away from the bright sunlight of artificial lighting. Don’t store them near windows, heaters, vents, or fireplaces, as this can damage or ruin them.
If the heirlooms are small enough to store in boxes, find some sturdy airtight boxes that will protect your items from external conditions. Choose archival boxes over standard cardboard boxes when storing things like photos or precious jewellery.
Archival boxes are less prone to mold or degradation, so that they will keep your heirlooms better protected for longer.
Wash Your Hands
Washing your hands before handling your family heirlooms is one of the quickest and easiest ways to maintain their quality.
Old items accumulate dust and dirt over time, and touching them with dirty hands will only add to the problems. Your hands have oils and moisture that can transfer to the items and cause them to degrade more quickly.
You may also want to wear gloves when you handle your heirlooms. This will prevent you from leaving fingerprints and smudges all over them. Find some white cotton or nitrile gloves, so you don’t cause any damage.