Tips for Safely Storing Family Heirlooms

Published on 6/24/2021

We often receive jewelry, photos, or even furniture from an aging relative. After a while we may run out of room to display these heirlooms in our homes. But parting ways with family treasures that have sentimental value can be difficult. If you’re facing this dilemma, here are a couple tips to help you decide what to keep, what to part ways with, and how to safely store what you keep. 

1. What should I hold onto?

Items with sentimental value

When considering how to sift through family heirlooms, first ask yourself if there’s sentimental value attached to the item. Are you keeping that old hutch because you want to and have memories associated? Or did someone ask you to keep it while you don’t really even like it or have history associated with it. It might be ok to let some items go that you’re not attached to personally. Of course, asking other family members if they’d like those items is a good next step so things can stay in the family.

Items you have space to store

You’ll also want to consider what heirlooms you have room for in your home. If you don’t have room to display the jewelry or photo albums in your home, you’ll want to make sure you store the items properly in a storage unit.

2. How do I know the proper way to store heirlooms?

First, you want a climate-controlled unit. The attic or basement of your home will get too hot, too cold, or too damp for most heirlooms to really stay preserved. The climate is just too inconsistent in these spaces.

Paper documents

Documents are tricky to store, as they are sensitive to excessive moisture, heat and even light. You also don’t want to fold documents or pack them too tightly together. But a good way to store these is in envelopes made out of acid-free paper. And then you could invest in a fire and water resistant file cabinet or safe for those really important documents. 


Clothing, old family dresses or suits, and other fabrics should be stored in special preservation boxes. Make sure these have tissue, mothballs, or even cedar chips to prevent disintegration. And when hanging clothes, use padded hangers. This helps guard against stretching and tearing.


Prevent jewelry from getting damaged by keeping it in a velvet or satin-lined box. Also, for silver, consider wrapping it further in cloth or tissue so it doesn’t tarnish as easily. 


Older photos are especially sensitive to light. So keep out of direct sunlight (even when on display in your home). And if storing them, use acid-free tissue in-between photos to prevent them sticking or wearing down.

These are just a few tips to get you started storing your heirlooms properly. 

Give us at Cheriton Storage a call today at 757.710.1079. We’ve all your storage needs covered.