Fitting in Furniture Hand Me Downs from Your Family

Fitting in Furniture Hand Me Downs from Your Family

Bethany Adams
Jun 22, 2011

If you're like me, then sometime not long after finishing college you – and maybe several roommates – rented your very first grown-up apartment. Being fresh out of school and without two nickels to rub together, much less an actual bed with a box-spring, your parents helped you out by giving you some furniture that you had grown up with. No problem, right? Well …

Now, just to be clear, I'm not talking about family heirlooms passed from generation to generation like the beautiful bookcase Kim wrote about a few weeks ago (In the Family: the Value of Antique Heirloom Furniture). I'm talking about the furniture that you or even your parents had growing up that they themselves decided to replace — hence their generosity to you.

Both my older sister and I have been recipients of furniture "extras" from my parents. Since we are 13 and 9 years, respectively, out of college and have acquired jobs and husbands (with their own furniture!), and our own individual design sense along the way, we've started to feel, well, a little crowded by these hand-me-downs.

It turns out that it isn't so easy to get rid of this family furniture, though. One of the few fights I've ever had in my life with my mother was about a dining table I told her I was jettisoning in favor of a newer model. At the time, she had 3 houses, each with a dining table that she apparently liked more than the one she handed down to me (or else she would have kept it), and she still went berserk when I said I was getting rid of it. In the end, she paid to have it shipped from Chicago to New Hampshire to save it for my younger sister — who was 4 years from graduating from college and needing any furniture.

My point is this: before accepting what is well-intentioned generosity from family members in the form of furniture, it's a good idea to make sure everyone is on the same page about what you're allowed to do with it, how long you're expected to keep it, and if the giver will ever want it back. Some people don't realize how attached they are to something until faced with the prospect of it disappearing forever.

Has anyone else dealt with unexpected family furniture drama? Tell us about it!

Image: Moya McAlliser via Before and After: From Granny to Glam - Casa Sugar

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