One of the items that’s common for me to come across in an onsite clutter consultation is dishes – and sometimes boxes and boxes of family dishes. Many different patterns, some passed down from family members, some received as weddings gifts – how people come to have so many sets of dishes varies from person to person, but it does seem to be prevalent with many of the people I encounter to have multiple sets.
I have always admired how my mother-in-law has chosen to display their family heirloom dishes and memorabilia dishes – in a corner curio cabinet in the dining room.
When I asked her about the dishes recently, she told me that part of the reason she had so few full sets of these dishes was that there were so few left. Many individual pieces had gotten broken over the years and some of the sets had gotten split up among family members. But that hasn’t stopped her from enjoying the pieces that are left.
One of the questions I like to ask in consideration of keeping these types of memorabilia items is “Would I display this in my home?” Many times these beautiful sets of dishes get stored in boxes away from where anyone can see them, perhaps for years and years. What good are they really serving to be hidden away?
Many people don’t like to consider the option of splitting up a dish set for fear it would reduce the value should they decide to sell it later. Understandable in some ways – but if you’re not using, displaying, or collecting the money from the sale of the set of dishes what is their real value anyway?
Here are some other questions you can ask yourself when it comes to antique family dishes:
Have you talked to other family members about whether they might like to have, display or use the antique family dishes you’ve got stored away, or have you just assumed that no one else wants them?
Do you love the dishes?
Do the dishes make you smile when you see them?
If you answered yes to the two questions above, then why AREN’T you displaying a part of the dish set somewhere in your home?
Is this a dish set you would actually use at some point in time, or are the dishes too delicate?
Why are you REALLY keeping the dishes?
Do you feel guilty about getting rid of them?
Would you feel like you were somehow dishonoring your family should you get rid of the dishes?
Do you plan to use them?
Family heirlooms can be tricky to deal with when you’re decluttering your home. I’d love to hear about your own challenges or realizations when it comes to family heirlooms in the comments below.