Beloved Stuff, Reborn!

We at RLM are big advocates for making memories—creatively! Susan in particular is a master when it comes to finding fresh uses for sentimental possessions. Read on if you’d prefer to do-over rather than dump.


“Hold your horses!” is what I think whenever I read yet another article about freshening up and clearing out. While tidying and organizing your home is admittedly a good use of time spent indoors these days, let’s hit pause for a moment. I love a streamlined look as much as anyone, but once you part from your sentimental possessions, they’re gone for good.


Before taking drastic action, ask yourself whether reworking beloved items might be preferable. It’s so satisfying to give new life—and new purpose—to old stuff. You get to keep the memories while renewing your home. Below are a few ideas for inspiration!



I was heartsick when I accidentally shrunk the beautiful wool sweater my mother made in the '60s. I redeemed myself when I had it made into two pillows: one for me and one for my sister. We appreciate our mom’s handiwork more than ever, as we now see it every day.



Like a lot of women of her time, my grandmother cut herself out of photos she deemed less than flattering. I laminated the leftover images of people who mean the most to me and use them as bookmarks. They’re handy for sure, and they make me smile.



These groovy plastic boxes once contained my Aunt Dorothy's travel slides, with labels in her distinctive handwriting! They’re now home to my travel set of earbuds and charging cables. It’s a blast from the past to dig them out of my bag every time I hit the road.



If you squint, you can read my mother’s handwritten recipe for whiskey-spiked eggnog (composed for her junior high Home Ec class!) inside this medicine cabinet I had stripped and stained. I added sheets of cork to the back wall to highlight some favorite mementoes.



I rescued Luke Skywalker before donating my son’s retired Lego collection. Now attached to my bedside table, he makes sure the Force is with me (and my constantly depleted cell phone)!



I felted a tattered sweater and turned it into a tea cozy. (Bonus: One ribbed cuff makes a handy matching coaster!) It turns out that the beloved sweater was stolen from Barney’s by a friend— whose position there was abruptly terminated. I might have thought twice about accepting it had I known that I'd be haunted by guilt every time I made a pot of tea. Might have!


Don’t underestimate how important it is to keep memory alive. Make life a little richer by surrounding yourself with the little things that connect you to others and give you a lift. So reduce, reuse, recycle—and repurpose!


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