When I looked around my home almost three years ago I found myself staring at items that I would never have chosen for my home. They were inherited. I felt guilty getting rid of them, at first. I learned something along the way that isn’t unique to just me and my family.
Antique dealers and liquidation appraisers are finding that the younger generations don’t want mom and dad’s cherished furniture and dishes.
A study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College estimates that the baby boomer generation is now on the receiving end of “the largest transfer of wealth in U.S. History, estimated at $8.4 trillion.”
Those figures shocked me. Trillions of dollars of furniture, dishes, homes etc will be changing hands in the next few years.
Yet, Amy Lynch, a consultant for Bridgeworks states that those on the receiving end of these items would rather inherit money to enjoy life experiences than care for family objects.
In a way this is a good thing. I believe it means more of us are realizing there is more to life than our possessions. Unfortunately, there is another side to this. What happens to the lifetime accumulation of all this stuff if it isn’t wanted?
These items, many of which are antiques, are losing their monetary value as they flood thrift stores. The rest are being tossed out with the garbage and ending up in the landfills.
There is a solution to this problem, as I see it, we need to remake these items. That huge china hutch can be painted, the top can be removed leaving a gorgeous buffet more in line with today’s tastes. The top of the hutch can be unassembled and pieces used for other projects. A glass door can be converted to a gorgeous mirror or picture frame. Or opening up the back with something clear you can create a mini greenhouse.
I am criticized frequently for painting and changing the look of the furniture I find. Yes, many of the pieces I find are antiques, but if they wont be loved as they were why shouldn’t I update the item to bring them into the present? Just because something is an antique doesn’t mean it will be loved.
So what did I do with my family heirlooms that I no longer wanted? I passed them on to those who did. In many cases I updated the item by stripping off layers of paint to restore the beautiful wood underneath, in others I added paint to lighten it up.
With a glut of objects and furniture starting to flood used stores this could be the opportunity to break the habit of buying cheap big box store furniture and get your hands on a quality piece that will last, saving the environment in two ways (reducing trash and amount of resources needed to create new items)
As for your unwanted heirlooms, talk to your family. See if your children will want your no longer needed cherished items, if not pass it on now, without guilt, and know you may have saved it from destruction.
What do you think will be the fate of all these unwanted things? Do you have something you are saving to pass on and are you looking at it differently now that you realize it may have very little value either to your loved ones or in the resale market?