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Many times when we are newly married we inherit furniture or take furniture from the homes that we grew up in.  These pieces often become sentimental pieces.  We don’t want to get rid of them and we cherish the memories of remembering the piece in our childhood home.  So we bring it into our new homes.  What happens when sentimental collides with functional?

sentimental furniture

This is my current nightstand.  Not only is it a piece of my original childhood bedroom suite but I also refinished it by hand stripping it down to bare wood and restoring the finish.  A lot of TLC has been put into this piece.  I probably spent 10-15 hours restoring this and its twin.  If that isn’t enough it was also my very first furniture refinishing project.  So this piece has some major points for staying in my life for the long haul simply for sentimental reasons.

sentimental furniture

So this has been in my home for the last 13 years because of those reasons. But functional? Not so much.  Number one is the bottom shelf.  I never know what to put on it.  Right now I have a box (with nothing in it) that matches the room.  At times I have had books I am reading or magazines on it.  But it just looked so cluttered so I threw the box on there.  Functional? No.

sentimental furniture

The next is the open space also shows off all of the cords behind it.  I have a baby monitor, my phone charger, a lamp cord, and my alarm clock cord hanging out.  So all the unsightly cords have no where to hide with this current design.  So what is a girl to do?

Sentimental vs. Functional…what do you choose in your home?  Do you have any pieces that you love because of sentimental reasons that your husband would love to pitch, or vice versa? I would love to hear your stories.


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  1. My family has always been a little cluttery when it comes to keeping things. I don’t keep it unless I can figure out a way to enjoy it. (As art, actual function it was intended for, etc…. and even then, I will paint/refinish it if I want- though my gma doesn’t care for my painting her furniture)…. I guess I’m just not all that sentimental…. I have to really remember someone I love using it….. ex…. my gparents still have the orig phone of my great gparents, and they have a chiming clock that goes back generations… those I remember and would love to have and use eventually. I have my great gma’s flour sack towels, doilies, and the wooden spoon she used to make koolaid. : ) All used as decorations. I say if it’s lost it’s function, give it away and move on…. that’s just me.

  2. I must say that despite my misgivings, I have gone with function vs. sentiment. The pieces I have loved for historical (family reasons) were not quality or had shapes that were hard to fit (ie, one of my fav pieces was a large circular side table in 2 levels…).

    Regarding your side table, I would keep this!! If you want it by your bedside, pick up a low-sided rectangular basket similar in size to the shelf. That way you can still throw things in it easily but they stay hidden. Its just such a simple design it would go with everything – you can even put it in the family room or in a child’s room painted to match the decor.

  3. I could think of some things you could put in that box that might make your husband want to keep that piece – heehee! For all of the reasons that piece is sentimental, it is a keeper. You might turn it into a side-table for your favorite reading chair in your rec room – a small lamp on top, a fun set of coaster to set your fave beverage, and a box of Kleenex on the bottom shelf for those sad novels – or for winter colds… and get a bigger more functional nightstand to hide the cords and meet your needs a little better there. I am a girl of eclectic taste and I have no problems using a piece that doesn’t fit inside as an outside furniture piece… I read in a Sunset magazine one time that if you don’t USE a sentimental item or a handed-down heirloom, you should let it go… take a picture of it and document what it was and why it was sentimental… you could create a coffee table book of all of your projects and the treasures in your life… wouldn’t that be fun to peruse through the years… another project…

  4. For me, it depends what room it’s in. But I tend to lean towards sentimental and make it work!

    As far as your nightstand, what about putting three fabric panels (gathered, or not) on the front and sides? Just to the bottom of the shelf, or even to the floor. Then you can put whatever you want on the shelf and it will hide the cords at the same time.

  5. My husband and I have varying ideas. I, personally, like function over sentimentality. My husband feels differently. This has led us to having his two childhood dressers that I HAAAAATE. There’s no room for me to have my own dresser and there’s no room in his dresser, so I have to put all my clothes in the closet either on hangers or in a hanging shelf. Really annoying. I almost wish we had a child so I could hand the dressers to them and buy us a nice low 9 drawer dresser. 🙂

  6. I have lots of sentimental things but they are pretty functional. i’m wondering if you could put the two together to make a sofa table or a bench. Or two together for one nightstand. Just a thought!

  7. My husband and I keep being “gifted” old furniture that we’re not allowed to change in any way. Don’t put that burden on your kids someday!

  8. Never, ever. That is tough! I would totally die. I think my stipulations would be…”I would love free furniture if you give me the freedom to do with it what I want.” 🙂

  9. This made me totally laugh. I am totally digging everyone’s insight into this issue. I am sorry about your dresser dilemma. I would turn the dresser into a storage for spray paint…in the garage. {giggle!}

  10. I love that idea Tamara about taking a picture of it and archiving it and then letting it go. Brilliant. I am totally digging people’s thoughts on this issue.

  11. I personally don’t have the issue of wanting to keep things that aren’t functional for sentimental reasons because I don’t like clutter and I”m very particular about the way I like things in general. So if it doesn’t work, out it goes. Although I will admit that we recently got rid of my husband’s desk that he had since he was a kid and when we did get rid of it, a little bit of me did feel sad because I felt like ooh he has had it this long and it’s neat to have something that was around when you were a kid (memories) but it wasn’t functional. It took up way too much space without having much actual storage space. The issue was mainly it’s depth.

    Currently we do have still his bed in our “office/guest bedroom” that I do think we’d eventually get rid of we just haven’t felt like doing that yet and so I’ve made it work as a couch in the office. The idea that it might one day be our future child’s bedroom is nice, but if it gets to the point where it would just be cumbersome and we don’t have the use for it, I wouldn’t have any qualms with getting rid of it too. I think I always go back to they are just things and I try not to put too much value or sentimentality into things.

    My own bedroom set growing up was sold and I was ok with that too since it wouldn’t have been practical for us to have it right now either.

    In the end just do what you’re comfortable with and you like 🙂

  12. To the person being gifted with stuff she doesn’t seem to want, I also have no qualms with being straight forward to family members and telling them I appreciate the gesture, but I currently do not have the space or insert whatever is the reason for not wanting it. So far, I think they’ve appreciated my honesty and don’t seem to have had their feelings hurt. This is also because I detest clutter and having things I don’t need so I refuse to have my house filled up with “gifts” I do not need.

  13. I have to admit I am sentimental because my family has had very little to pass down. My great-grandparents moved to the states around the turn of the century with basically the clothing on their backs.
    Have you thought about putting a basket under the nightstand and a matching one (or similar) on the shelf? I currently keep magazines and books in a rectangular basket next to my side of the bed. Or as someone else pointed out it would make a lovely little side table next to a chair.

  14. I’m a little bit of both, although with moving so frequently these past 8 years, I have the mentality of “less stuff, less to pack!” 🙂
    Personally, I really like the nightstand, and I’d keep it purely because of your two sentimental reasons, but it also does look really cute in your room- I like the old-fashionedness of the wood mixed with the moderness of what’s on the top.
    Love that you still have a baby monitor….so do we:)

  15. I tend to be sentimental and like to keep special things. My husband is the opposite. He doesn’t like old stuff and isn’t sentimental at all. I would want to keep the nightstand, but I’d try to find a spot where it functions better. Eventually you might want to use it in your daughter’s room. I have gotten rid of a few sentimental things that I just couldn’t make useful anywhere in our home. I don’t have much room to just store things that aren’t being used.

  16. I say put it in one of your kids’ rooms. They are just too tiny for a master bedroom. I’m not very sentimental about too much in our home, but I have a nightstand just like your situation – it’s now being used under my vanity.


    So, I get it…but other stuff I’ve gotten rid of. If you have nowhere to put it, could you give it to a friend who really needs something like that or make it function in some other way?

    Becky B.
    Organizing Made Fun

  17. This is always a struggle regardless if it’s furniture or even something simple like cards/ notes people send. You love the memories but you simply can not keep everything. Since Ben and I move so frequently we, too, will take pictures of small, less meaningful things, and then let them go to their next home (or the trash). On more important things, like with your night stand, I would hang on to it. Could you use it in your studio as both, a functional and sentimental/ inspirational piece? Or (for some reason) I think it would look nice in a bathroom. Depending on the floorplan of your bathroom space, you could use it to hold extra TP on the bottom shelf, magazines in the drawer, and something decorative like flowers or little soaps on the top. Just an idea…. 🙂

  18. I don’t know if there is a piece of furniture I could become attached to. I even sold the very cool green 50’s laminate table from my uncle who passed away because it only seated 4 people. My husband however hand made me a nice farm table with benches that seats 10 to replace it. I say repurpose them for something they do work for, like your children’s nightstands or a guest room that does not have so many cords and get what works. Or you could put tablecloths on them to make them solid looking and use the concealed big shelf to put a basket for your glasses, books, flashlight, etc.

  19. I generally go for functional but I do have some sentimental pieces that I’ll probably never part with. I classify them as vintage and pretend they’re cool. 😉

  20. Fun post! We have a mixture. My husband is super annoying about painting/changing furniture, esp. if it is real wood/good quality. :s I do have a few antique pieces that I’m just not sure what to do with!

  21. Hi Beckie!
    I’m not married and I’m one of the most sentimental people around when it comes to (nice) family furnishings. That is a darling table. Is there any other place in your home where the tables would work? Is there any place where the two could go side by side to make a little coffee table…or are they strong enough and the right height to be a bench? My bedside table is a delicate round spindle table which sat between the armchairs in the living room of my childhood home. I keep a round hat box on it (full of winter socks) to raise the height. Seeing cords isn’t an issue because in front of the little table…is the magazine rack from my childhood family room. In it, I keep my bible, etc…

    Ha, I just saw that someone else thought of putting the tables together…

    : )

    Julie M.

  22. Functionality first, but I do keep some sentimental pieces as long as they’re not completely out of place.

  23. Love the skirt idea. Simple enough to try. But you’ve GOT to paint it! Those 10 hours were many moons ago, right? 🙂 How about getting a wind up clock to eliminate 1 cord. Throw out the baby monitor too 🙂 …problem solved, hee hee.

  24. If you are trying to make your current side table work, I think I would put a beadboard backing on it to hide where your cords come out of your items. Then you could put all your cords into a wrapping paper tube painted your wall color and tack it where needed to hide where they go behind your bed. Or you could just paint the cords so they’d blend better. The empty space is calling out for some sort of open topped basket “drawer” to hide anything you might want to put there….well, that’d probably what I would do because I chose function and sentiment when I can. I collect vintage kitchen items and use them day to day…I try to make what I have work before I go and buy something new….and when I do have to go buy something new, I find a way to repurpose what I am removing…by they way Beckie, I’ve said it before, but you are by far, my FAVORITE blogger and have inspired me to put my thoughts into words as well. I’d love for you to check it out, but I am new at it, so its nowhere near as good as yours. My blog has a lot to do with food as well since I am a culinary major in college. Any suggestions would be welcome, thanks again for being so inspiring!

  25. Yep I have a princess and the pea bed ;-). No nightstand is tall enough. But I kind of like it because everything is totally at my reach.

  26. My dad has an old beat up leather recliner that is literally falling apart that he keeps in his walk-in closet. He refuses to get rid of it because that was the chair he used to rock me to sleep in at night when I was a baby. 🙂

  27. I, too, have several pieces of “sentimental” furniture. They’re all functional. I love the mahogany secretary, but am having a hard time placing it. Figure once son has own apartment, I will have an office!

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