No more heirlooms or antiques: Our kids don’t want our precious stuff 548



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Do you remember the exciting moment when you were able to keep the family heirloom dresser in your house? Or when you were given those beautiful curtains your grandmother made? The treasures of years gone by were considered just that – treasures – but now our children and grandchildren don’t want something old…they want new. New, new, new.

Just this past week I was so ecstatic to receive my friend’s groovy brown couch from the 60s and my children were aghast. Why would I want something used? Well, I explained, because it was passed around her family and then they didn’t want it anymore. It was comfortable, looked great and had a stylish ‘retro’ look, but my children wouldn’t have a bar of it. They simply don’t see the value in the past, now that they live in the dispensable generation.

When we were growing up, we had hand me downs. We had those wardrobes and duchesses and coffee tables that lasted for years and when we’d upsize our house or outgrow them, we’d ship it off to someone else, who would always be grateful. But now….now I fear there’ll soon be a graveyard full of unloved retro gear because our children and grandchildren want something wrapped up in a box with a sticker on it.

I explored why this was and was relieved but also saddened to find that it wasn’t just me who was experiencing a sense of grief for the items in my house that I now know will not live on in my children and grandchildren’s houses, but instead will find a nice piece of landfill to sit on.

It’s natural for over 60s to want to start downsizing and cleaning out garages and sheds, and now we’re realising that the younger generation doesn’t have the same fondness for doilies and shag pile rugs. And they don’t even want personal items of theirs such as drawings, their old clothes or even sports trophies.

According to Scott Roewer, a professional organiser, the younger generation are living a more transient life. “They are trying to find stable jobs and paying off loans. They are living their life digitally through Instagram and Facebook and YouTube, and that’s how they are capturing their moments. Their whole life is on a computer; they don’t need a shoebox full of greeting cards”, he told Washington Post.

It seems that Gen X and Y are preferring the simpler life and wanting to spend their money on experiences rather than things to fill their houses, and don’t see the necessity of having a full dining setting or 5-piece couch.

“Hardly a day goes by that we don’t get calls from people who want to sell a big dining room set or bedroom suite because nobody in the family wants it. Millennials don’t want brown furniture, rocking chairs or silver-plated tea sets. Millennials don’t polish silver”, says Stephanie Kenyon, 60, owner of an auction business. She said now under 35s can find what they want and aren’t nostalgic for the past.

It can be hard to reconcile that your kids don’t want your knick-knacks and furniture and don’t feel anything when parts of their own childhoods are taken to the dump.

It makes me wonder whether the retro revival will in fact revive again in years to come, and our preloved items will be cared for by another family, like it was in ours.


Tell us below, do you have a lot of heirlooms and things you want to pass down but can’t? What’s something you’ve had in your family for years? Will you try to pass it on?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Yes a throw away society….a barrage of marketing from the Cooperations and the result, spend, spend, Gen Y……plastic people, plastic cards, and bar codes..quality gone for good…

  2. I dont agree. There must be some who like old stuff because the upcycle trend is really big. There are heaps of books out about how to.

  3. My husband keeps wanting to pass stuff onto the kids but they do not want it !! This generation is very minimalistic in their style and do not like clutter and collections. Perhaps some of this has to do with them having smaller homes ?? – not sure. My husband has a great collection of things that he loves and I only wish that he would have a purge of it all – but not to be I think 🙂

  4. One thing I have learnt in life is that absolutely nothing stays the same for ever, and nor should it. Each generation likes to do things differently from the generation before, that’s just the way it is. Our generation had the same attitude. We just need to enjoy the good things Gen Y has to offer, and not be too critical of the differences.

    2 REPLY
    • I think they were refering to heirlooms, many were made by relatives that often got talked about. These stories should be passed down to our little ones, they wont forget them, I didn’t and some were when I was just a little one. Now, when we look on these treasures, there is a story to tell.

  5. The antiques have really dropped in value. A few years ago my 125-yr-old chaise longue was worth about $3000 now I’d be lucky to get $500. None of my children want it…it doesn’t fit modern decor and also probably not robust enough.

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