A Shelf of Family Memories

We had just moved in to our first home together, and I was looking at this shelf thinking, “What on earth am I going to do this?”

It was my husband’s, and his father had built it for him years ago. It’s a really nice shelf, but it spent months floating around the house, living in several temporary spots as I tried to figure out what to do with it. But once I finally caught a vision for it, it became something really special.

As much as I’m drawn to sleek, minimal, modern designs, I have always had a love of antiques with stories behind them. (I was the only elementary school kid I knew who had a collection of vintage ceramics.) So when I started filling up these shelves with little pieces of our family history, it finally started to feel… right.

This shelf is far from finished—I’m not sure I’ll ever be “finished” fussing around with our home décor. Because this is in our guest room, I’d love to eventually add a mirror and some amenities so it’s a bit more functional for guests. But as of now, here’s a tour of this cozy little corner of our home.

Starting on the left side:

  1. A faux plant from IKEA (very vintage, I know)
  2. A rag doll I always admired when I visited my Granny’s house as a child—it was one of the first things I grabbed when we cleaned out her house.
  3. A barn painting I found at Goodwill (displayed in a frame from Amazon). It reminded me of the barn by my childhood church, so I just couldn’t pass it up.
  4. Two little wooden drawers from a university rummage sale at my alma mater, which just so happened to match the shelf perfectly.
  5. Vintage books, many of which were collected as decorations for our wedding reception.
  6. A pinch pot I made in my college ceramics class.
  7. A little pig that used to belong to my Granny. I always loved looking at him when I came over, all curled up in his burlap bed.

In the middle:

  1. My senior paddle from high school band. I never found this abnormal, but having talked to friends about it, it’s apparently really weird that my school gave out paddles as awards. The front displays my name and all of the different bands I was a part of throughout high school, but I keep it turned around to blend in a little more. At least it’s a conversation piece!
  2. A piece of lighthouse wallpaper from the guest room of my childhood home. When my mom was redecorating, I asked her to save some of the wallpaper she ripped off so I could have a little piece of it in my own guest room.
  3. A page torn out of a vintage bird identification book, framed in a thrifted frame.
  4. Another snippet from the bird book, framed in a frame my dad got for me years ago because he found it on clearance. (If you knew my dad, you know he would buy anything if it was a good deal!)
  5. A little plastic horse from my childhood. I named him Big Colt, and he was notorious in our family for repeatedly losing his leg in the least convenient of places. (Notice the masking tape cast…)
  6. A nice big basket given to me as part of a bridal shower gift. Now, it stores all of our stationery and greeting cards.
  7. A thrifted frame displaying a large vintage postcard from a garage sale

And, over on the right side:

  1. A simple square mirror from the thrift store.
  2. A tiny little frame with a tiny little photo I took at Yellowstone.
  3. Another framed piece of wallpaper border from my childhood home.
  4. An alpaca I got from a craft fair with my mom back in middle school. Like any quirky middle schooler in the late 2000’s, I named him Coolness.
  5.  A duck from my Granny’s expansive ceramic bird collection.
  6. A greenery basket made by my mom.
  7. More vintage books from our wedding.
  8. A big thrifted basket.
  9. A quilt made by my great uncle’s mother.
  10. One of my mom’s baby blankets. After years of letting it sit packed away in the basement, she was planning to sell it at a garage sale for a few bucks. But, after staring at it for a few minutes, I couldn’t help but grab it for myself.

One thing I loved about putting this together was gathering up things already in our home and putting them on display. None of these pieces were specifically purchased for this space. Most were things we already had laying around, many of which have been in our family for decades. Others just found a happy home here because of my thrift store obsession.

That’s my goal for this home (and for just about everything in life): taking what I have and making something lovely out of it!

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