This post is a little compilation of sorts, with a few never before seen items tossed in for fun. We’re rounding up a slew of personalized and meaningful momentos that we’ve sprinkled throughout our house to remind us of special days gone by. Because you gotta keep the romance alive at home, right? Some of them are homemade DIY projects while others are just things we decided to display (that we previously had tucked away in a closet or drawer). And the good news is that none of them are very hard to do (or hard to swing, for those on a budget). Hooray for easy and sweet home accessories that feel oh so customized – without draining the ol’ bank account of course.
Our first item is the wedding shadow box that we already mentioned in a wedding post a while back. But we figured a bigger (and clearer) photo would better depict the setup. All we did was toss in fabric from our DIY table runners along with our actual place cards, invitation, thank you post card, favor envelope and a save-the-date photo strip along with a lemon & lime napkin from our big day. Voila: our wedding in a box. Learn more about how we put it all together here.
When it came to filling an inexpensive Ikea frame that we picked up to accessorize the three floating shelves in our dining area, we both wanted to hang a bit of food-related art to set the stage. So we looked no further than three favorite wedding photos (one that features the table setting, another that shows off some of the fresh fruit that we served, and one that showcases all of our pretty white wedding cupcakes lined up and ready to be devoured). We love that instead of being tucked away in an album they’re out for us to enjoy on a daily basis.
One of our most treasured wedding remnants are the photo strips that our friends and family left behind for us (we requested that they slide through the booth at least twice so they could take a photo strip with them and leave one for us). We keep all of them corralled in a lovely white leather album, but we selected a few favorites to photocopy and hang on the wall above our console table in the living room in two different frames. Simply taping seven of them to white cardstock (3 in one frame, 4 in another) was all it took to showcase them for less than a dollar. And we love when our friends and family stop to check them out on their way in the door.
A tradition that dates back to our dating days is to step into a photo booth at a restaurant or bar on a special day to commemorate the event. Then we just record the occasion (engagement, anniversary, birthday, found out we’re prego, etc) on the back and stick them in a cup on the open shelves in our dining area to enjoy. Read more about that tradition right here.
And speaking of sticking things in a cup, we also have a tradition of having sushi every single New Year’s Eve that we’ve been together (the first few years were a coincidence, but now we make an effort to grab sushi on the last day of each year). Then we just write the date and the place on a chopstick that we take home from the restaurant and corral them all in a pretty vase to keep track of all the delicious meals we’ve shared to usher in the beginning of each year together.
We’re back to wedding paraphernalia, and this time it’s two stacks of cards that our beloved friends and family filled out for us. The pile on the left is actually a collection of RSVP cards that people sent back with adorable little notes on them to share in the excitement. And the pile on the right is a stack of sentiment cards from our wedding day itself (instead of signing a guest book we asked people to share advice or just leave a simple message on these DIY voice bubble cards that we printed out in our wedding colors). Flipping through each stack from time to time is definitely something I really enjoy- and I often find different cards on top of each pile to indicate that John has been flipping through them as well. Even those quirky wood block printing letters (picked up at a flea market) remind us to stop and smell the roses when it comes to our relationship.
Another cute little tradition we’ve kept going is sending ourselves a postcard whenever we travel. It’s a great way to record special memories from the trip – like restaurant names, and activities that we’ve enjoyed. And instead of tucking them away in a box in the closet, we drop them all into a glass vase on the fireplace mantel in the den that we can glance at to remind us of all the fun places we’ve experienced together.
This is an example of a simple purchased item that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy when we gaze at it. We snagged this print a while back for $35 including shipping, and the soft “thistle” color really complements the sandy-gray paint on the wall of our living room. John is a typography freak, so he adores it for the graphic nature of the print. And I love it for the oh-so-sweet message that we see every time we step in the front door.
Next we have yet another little typography-based collection of two. When we spotted each of our initials at a local shop a few months back, we had to have ’em. Especially because they’re white and ceramic (and we all know how much I love anything white and ceramic- like those birds in the background). Sometimes when I’m watching TV I find myself staring at our initials adoringly- kind of like a fifth grader who scribbles the name of her crush over and over again in her notebook. Sure it’s sappy, but it’s amazing how tiny reminders of our union like these can be so touching- and they really make a room feel extra personalized and special.
Next we have the vintage map (from 1907!) that I scored for cheap on eBay and mounted in a frame without the glass on top of a piece of cork board that I picked up at Target. It was a Christmas gift for John a few years back and it’s been quite a hit. We just use simple map pins from Office Max to track all the places we’ve been together, from the California road trip we enjoyed a few months after we started dating to the big 40 hour drive to and from Texas that we tackled last summer. Check out a video of that crazy trip here.
And recently we added yellow pins to the mix to indicate the places that we’ve been with Clara. In fact she’s already enjoyed a trip to the coast of Delaware (and she’s a great little traveler… thank goodness!).
We can’t forget the framed keys that I whipped up for John to celebrate all the places that we’ve lived since we began dating five years ago. The first key is from John’s Upper West Side apartment and the second is from my apartment in The Village (where we each lived in 2005 when we met). The third key is from our first shared apartment here in Richmond and the last one is the key to our current casa (both from 2006 when we packed up and moved to Virginia).
And it was super easy to make (after I begged John’s old roomie to send a copy of his key my way to complete the collection). I picked up an affordable little shadow box from Target and simply adhered each key with a few dots of Liquid Nails and scribbled the location and date of each key underneath. To this day it’s one of our favorite items in the entire house. The keys are like fun little artifacts of our relationship.
We also filled the sliver of space above our bed with personalized initials which say “J”, “and” (in sign language), and “S.” This free project just called for a bit of googling around for initials we loved (which we customized in Photoshop and printed right at home). Then we popped them into three already-owned Ikea frames that we knew would be perfect for the space.
We love that they even indicate which side of the bed we sleep on. Sweet.
This next project is a more recent one that we shared with the big bathroom makeover. We loved the idea of some DIYed “vintage”signs to fill up some wall space in there, but when it came to what the signs would say, we wanted them to have meaning to us. So since we worked right near Grand Central (where we met) and had both lived in Astoria, Queens at one point, we decided that selecting those locations for our homemade signs was the way to go. Now they’re connected to so many memories, and the fact that we made them together also feels more romantic than anything we could have picked up at the store. Learn more about how we whipped them up here.
Here we have a customized calendar that we made at the beginning of this year. We decided that nothing would feel more personal and sweet than picking a quote that we love for each month of the year. And while some are just plain weird (like April’s “You look like a rabbit” and June’s “And then he ate my brain”), some are downright sweet (like July’s “I do” in honor of our wedding month). Check out the whole calendar making process and download a free template to make your own here.
Here’s another NYC related item that brings us back to the good old days of strolling hand in hand through Central Park or Washington Square Park together. We actually received a box of New York City Walk cards as a gift, and after we moved to Virginia we decided that instead of keeping those cards in a drawer we should frame a few of our favorite walks from back in the day. It was super easy to pop them into inexpensive Ikea frames, and we love that they remind us of time spent together during our courtship in the big apple.
Lastly we have our little vacation jars, which are filled with everything from a hot stone from a massage that we enjoyed on our Alaskan honeymoon to shells, sand, and even a Metrocard from our trips of yore. Simple fifty cent canning jars become charming time capsules when you fill them with items that you’ve collected on each journey and label them with the location and date written on a piece of clear tape in the front of each one. It’s such a cheap-o project, and they’re another set of keepsakes that never fail to elicit complements and interested glances from friends and family. Plus it’s always fun to pick up things for each jar while we’re traveling and sift through ’em to select only the best of the best when we get home.
So that’s how we do our best to inject some romance and a bit of customized personality into our humble home on the cheap. What do you guys do to commemorate special events when it comes to home decor? Any frame collages of family members? Or collections of magnets from trips you’ve taken together? Do tell.
Psst- For more DIY art ideas, check out our How To page (see that tab under the header?) and scroll down to the “Artsy Ideas” category.
Pssssst- As good as John and I think we are together, Burger and Clara have us beat. They’re the cutest little pair that ever lived. See for yourself here.
My husband and I have been collecting Christmas ornaments from all of our travels. We started doing this when we were dating, so we have about 12 years of ornaments! Sometimes we have to improvise and make an object into an ornament. We also put the date on each one. It is so much fun to unwrap them each December and relive those memories.
LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. My husband and I began dating in college and have little pieces of UT (Texas, not Tennessee!) and Austin, TX memorabilia scattered throughout the house. Our guests who attended UT with us love how at home it makes them feel, but I love how it keeps us tied to where it all began. Now I want to make a shadowbox of the sweet little dating trinkets I have- thank you for the inspiration, and happy anniversary!
So many great ideas, thanks! I just might have to borrow a few!
P.S. Happy 3rd Anniversary!
jennifer f says
so sweet! I have always wanted to do something with our wedding vows. They were personal and sweet and we want to somehow make a display of them. Any ideas? I was thinking of finding a nice font online, typing them up and hanging them in a frame? But I want them to look fancier and romantic.
Jennifer- That’s exactly what we’d suggest actually! Or you could each hand write your own for an even more personal look. Good luck!
Leigh Anne- The sushi sticks sit on top of our dark brown console table by the door and the stacked wedding cards live in a green tray on the same console table (which is why the background of those is green). Hope it helps!
Rebecca- My best friend actually hails from Reinbeck, IA (near Waterloo) so that’s what that pin is all about. She now lives in DC (we set her up with John’s cousin and they’re now married with a baby) but her Iowan family is practically my family after ten years of close friendship, so we travel back to see them when we can. We have yet to take Clara there to meet all of her IA “relatives” but we hope that trip is in the future sometime. And we’d love to see photos of your house to consider it for a house crashing adventure when we finally make it out there!
Leigh Anne says
Happy Anniversary – and here’s to many, many more!
Thank you for sharing the creative ways that you all commemorate your love and special times together. Also, where in your house are the green and black shelves that house your sushi sticks and wedding RSVP cards? Additionally, did you paint your IKEA shelves a cream color (where the keys and wedding food frames are)?
[email protected] says
Those are some really great ideas for keeping memories alive!
You two are so lucky to have found each other.
I couldn’t help but notice on your map that you’ve been to the great green state of Iowa. I live on a farm that seems incredibly close to one of those push pins. If it’s not to nosy, may I ask where you visited. I’ve been thinking of submitting our home for a house crash, but thought IA was a long shot.
Thanks for blogging your frugality, creativity & drive (I could go on & on) are truly an inspiration to me & many others.
Happy Anniversary you guys! And a very belated congratulations on the arrival of that gorgeous daughter of yours!! She already has a keen eye for design; I can tell these things. I love all your travel-related ideas in this post, although I think your map is missing something. A pin in southern Wisconsin perhaps? ;)
Aw thanks D! It’s true, we’re overdue for a trip to Wisconsin! Hello to K from C!
s (& j)
jennifer f says
thanks! any font styles you love? since you guys are so creative…and it is your background :-)
That’s a super hard question since there are so many we love! Eurostyle, Gill Sans, Otari, Rockwell, and Courier are always favorites of ours, but it depends on the vibe you’re going for. Happy hunting!
I love these! I wish I would of thought of doing a lot of these when my husband and I started dating (almost 10 years ago!). The vacation jars are my favorite!!
Just curious where you two learned all your photo shop techniques and skills?
Have you ever thought of buying more of those white flowers and doing a larger pattern on the wall?
I actually have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in art direction (which means I learned Photoshop in college) but John is 100% self taught (and actually better than I am these days). Everything he needed to know he found via google and books from the library about Photoshop. Hope it helps!
Oh and as for the wallflowers, we did briefly consider making a larger display of them on the wall, but we wanted a more flexible focal point that we could change out easily if we ever got sick of it (so we nixed the flower idea).
i love all those ideas, i think i may need to steal some! so creative to display things like your old house keys! :)
You guys have a lot of great traditions! My husband and I collect matchbooks from restaurants, bars and hotels that we’ve been to together. It’s kind of old school… but we like it! We store them in a glass jar in the den. Maybe we should move them to a more high profile place! :)
I love your sushi new years eve tradition. We both LOVE sushi and might have to adopt this one and make a version of it our own! (Although I’m expecting now, and of course sushi is the one thing I want most!)
Great blog! I love reading it. It’s a great motivator! We’re actually tackling our own little room remodel right now. Now that we’re expecting we need to shift a guest bedroom into our den – so we need to make room for all that stuff and keep it a functional den! I’ve learned a lot of great tips from you guys, I think it’s going to turn out great and be pretty cheap! :)
Keep up the great work!
Happy Anniversary! I love all the ideas! My husband and I have been talking about making a map to document our travels too. Do you guys ever talk about traveling to other countries? You’ll need another map if you do!
With a tiny tot we’re thinking we’ll stick to fun road trips for now (that really is our cup of tea, we even road tripped around Alaska for our honeymoon) but someday we do hope to explore other countries, and you’re right- we’ll need another map when that happens!
Reinbeck…that’s awesome. We live on the other side of Waterloo. We have a business in Independence & an Amish built farm house in the heart of Amish county.
I’ll try to get some pic’s to you soon. The problem is (I’m a perfectionist)…..I always think ohhh I should paint this first or spruce that up. Ha,Ha!
Hi John and Sherry,
Where have you two been in Michigan? Just curious :) I live just outside of Detroit.
Also, I saw that somebody earlier mentioned trying to think of a way to display their wedding vows. We wrote our own, and I just copy + pasted them into http://www.wordle.net/, printed it and framed it. Turned out great!
We had a layover in Detroit together once, but we never got out and explored Michigan. Someday though! And thanks so much for sharing the link to your lovely wedding vow art.
My husband and I have quite a collection of mini snowglobes that we have collected in our years of travel together. I have kept them lined them up on a windowsill in our spare room. However, now they are outgrowing the ledge. Any ideas for display. They are totally kitshy and sometimes I feel like throwing them out, but everytime we take a trip we end up getting another one.
Ashli Malinek says
Another Great post! I love all of those idea’s, you two are so sentimental! Love the You and Me sign!
I LOVE this post! What beautiful, simple, sweet ideas! :)
Happy 3rd Anniversary!
Michelle Z. says
When my son and I travel, I always send home one post card a day, written out and addressed to him. I write about the things we saw and did that day – anything special that really stands out. He loves to get them in the mail after we get back home, and he keeps them all in a box in his room. Sometimes we read through them all at bedtime, instead of reading a book.
That’s adorable Michelle!
Many great ideas! This inspired me to think how to implement in my home some of my favourite things to do. I see only map of USA – have you visited any other continent until now?
Nope, not together… yet!
you’ve probably seen the story already..but thought i’d share in spirit of wedding week!
truly inspiring couple funding their entire wedding from recycling cans!
Amazing! Thanks for the link.
Madigan at madiganmade says
I love these. The keys and the vacation jars are my favorites.
If you click on my name, it will direct you to our wedding-mementos-as-decor-project (not very creative, just framed brooches I wore that day).
Lovely ideas! Thank you for the inspiration.
Happy Anniversary! I love how you showed us your collections and what they mean to you. My husband and I don’t really have a lot of collections because we haven’t really been on a lot of vacations together. We do have photos and some mementos, but your collections are so adorable. I love how they are small, sentimental, unique collections and that you have been able to incorporate them into your home decor so easily. I often wondered if you had collections and how you keep your house so clutter free (especially now with Clara). I have to keep these in mind for how to showcase my collections. Unfortunately, some of our collections are a bit big and ugly (DVDs, etc). However, we do have a bunch of shells from my hubby’s grandmother and I’m getting into the rocks.
Great post! I love that it was sentimental but also featured some great diy ideas! Your creativity never ceases to amaze me!
Bryanna S says
bahaha you guys must not mind dusting at ALL… I hate dusting and because of it… we have very little in our house. I’d love a pretty and personalized house but dusting is my least favorite chore.
Besides, I’m not NEARLY as creative nor do we have any traditions. My husband is SO not the sentimental type.
katie @ k+b adventures in renovating says
Happy Anniversary you two!!! <3
Is “And then he ate my brain” from the Lady GaGa song “Monster”? Because I was driving around with my friends today (On the way to the thrift store to furniture shop no less) and we were listening to that song and making fun of that lyric, and how we should put in on a t-shirt or something.
Ha, yep – it’s totally from the Lady Gaga song, Jyl. When we first heard it a few months ago it had us cracking up and has become a bit of an inside joke… hence it ending up in our calendar. You’ll have to let us know if you every end up making t-shirts. :)
Okay … I LIED! THIS is my favorite post ever! I’m a sentimental fool and this post full of sweet and cheap sentiments (the best kind — capturing memories!) sent me over the edge!
PS I’m loving the idea of the updated chandalier too. I don’t hate the one in our dining room, but it’s not a great fit and I don’t love it either. I think a lamp shade could change all of that!
You guys are the best…
Such great ideas! I love them! I am newly married and excited to try and create some projects of my own! I was just curious if you post pictures “zoomed out” from the project as well. I would really enjoy seeing the bigger picture of your projects in each room!
Brooke – Funny you ask that, since most of our photos of these projects have been “zoomed out” in the past, but we opted to take close-ups for this post. If you follow the links in the text near some of the photos, you’ll see more detail about the project that usually includes a shot of it in context of the room. But if there’s something in particular that you’re looking for just ask and we’ll dig up a link for you!
Laci – How sweet. Sherry will totally be all over these! Thanks for sharing and for the kind words.
I just saw this on Etsy and thought you guys (especially one of you in particular..) would LOVE these!
By the way, ya’ll are amazing and awesome, and I truly appreciate all that you share and give via your blog. Happy anniversary and please keep the ideas and stories coming (p.s. the decorating is great, but it is the two (now three) of you that make it so interesting and so special.)
LOVE this post! Thanks for so many great ideas. As the family memory keeper, I appreciate all the inspiration!
This is my favorite post of yours ever! I love the artifact theory of decorating because it is so personal, so interesting, so genuine and simply so lovely. These are just great ideas. Thanks so much!
Love it! It gave me so many ideas (like sending post cards to ourselves). We do have a magnet collection that I started in high school and we make sure we get one wherever we go. But right now they are just the the fridge, nothing special. Other than that we started saving all the corks from the bottles of wine we drink together. I also love putting all of our pictures in mixbooks and keeping them on the coffee table.
Love the keepsake ideas! I also keep corks in old apothocary jars from special occasions and write the date on them, and the event-it is fun to go through them and a good conversation starter! Keep up the great work Youngsters!
Beautiful ideas. Love the way you memorialize the important events in your life!
You guys are right- you so lose! Burger & Clara are just too damned cute..I’m not a big fan of ‘cat sized dogs’ but who couldn’t love that little Burger? And well Clara, that just goes without saying. Thanks so much for sharing so much of yourselves with all us voyeuristic strangers.
Amy K says
I love, love, love your site & I check to see if there are new posting throughout the day!!!!
I absolutley have to have the white letters – are they a recent purchase, do you think they’re still available?
We would just try clicking over to Quirk’s site and giving them a call. We snagged them a few months back but we’re betting they still have them since they’re so cute!
My husband and I collect Christmas ornaments from our travels which makes us look forward to decorating the tree even more! (And unlike many souvenirs, they don’t create extra clutter year round because we can just put them away afterwards). We’ve been fortunate enough to visit a lot of countries so we’ve amassed a sizeable collection, but pretty soon we’re going to have to invest in a larger tree to accommodate all of them. Sometimes we have to get creative by turning other objects into ornaments (for example, when we were in Wales, I purchased a handcarved love spoon and just tied a ribbon around it… it’s a miniature work of art).
I just wish your blog existed 8 years ago when my DH and I first started dating because I would have saved even more stuff (I especially love the key idea… darn lol).
Love all of the ideas, especially the vacation jars. What a fun way to display mementos!
Maggie [The Freckled Citizen] says
I adore all of these, but the keys make my heart sing the most!
Funny coincidence: a piece I wrote a bit ago was published today on EADL about this very thing. “Home Decorating With Our Wedding”: http://www.elizabethannedesigns.com/living/2010/07/08/home-decorating-with-our-wedding/. Waaaay more out there than framed wedding photos ;-).
Great stuff, Maggie! Love the red/white/blue and election theme!
Love the pics from Clara’s first trip to the beach! What kind of sun screen do you use for her?
Our doctor (along with many others) actually advises against any sunscreen use until 6 months, so we kept Clara in the shade (under a beach umbrella) and covered her sling with a lightweight blanket to block the sun. No sunburn to speak of after 8 days outdoors. Yay!
What a bunch of fresh ideas! I especially love the keys, the visit map, and the vacation jars. How clever! I have an old box that my sweetie, Emery sent flowers to me, while we were living away from each other. I’ve crammed all my little keepsakes in there, and that’s under the bed.:( Hmmm… makes me think a project should come to life soon.
I was wondering about the vacation jars. Where do you display those bad boys? I’m a huge fan of mason jars too, but for our pantry and spice cabinet. I can’t think of anything that would work in our house, without looking like a bunch of jars on a table… what did you do to make them look cute?
We think the things inside of them help make them look cute, and we actually line them up on a bookshelf in our sunroom. Hope it helps!
Laura @ so alaurable says
I’m always amazed by you guys. We also do several of these traditions in our home, and I cannot wait to incorporate more. (The Mason jars are the genius answer to my question of what to do with all of our travel mementos I can’t bear to throw away!)
Have you seen the city live prints from this Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/artsharkdesigns ? They seem right up your alley because they have both Richmond and NYC. I’m eagerly awaiting their Austin print, were DH and I met, and I’m looking forward to buying ones for places we’ve visited together, like Venice, as well as future places we’ll live together for a sweet collection.
Oh yeah we love those prints! Here’s hoping they make an Austin one soon.
I almost passed this post by, just because of the title. I thought it was just going to be about newlywed love, and after 8 years of marriage and 2 kids, I didn’t want to read about anything “sappy” or corny. Boy was I wrong! This post has been, by far, my favorite of all since I started reading this blog about 6 months ago!! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the way you incorporate your relationship into so many nooks in your home. You have created all of these textural layers, that seem so cozy and intimate and yet inviting, to anyone from the outside lucky enough to be welcomed into your home. I feel inspired to try some of the same things with my husband and two little girls. Bravo and thank you for sharing!
Bryanna S says
I recommend that when you DO start using sunscreen, make sure you look up the toxicity/safety of them. I’ve found that the california baby sunscreens are really awesome and always rate well. The stick instead of cream seems to be best (and easier on babies, bonus!)
Most sunscreens are packed with so many bad things I think they are more likely to cause cancer/issues than the sun is!
What room is your map in…. I’ve never seen it in any of your pictures?
The map is in the den near Sherry’s old office desk. You can see it on the right-hand wall in the photos on this post: https://www.younghouselove.com/2010/06/one-desk-four-ways/
I think this is my favorite post that I’ve seen here (and there have been some good ones!)
Seeing that several people are looking for ways to incorporate their wedding vows into their home… I thought that I would share photos from our master bathroom. I created vinyl wall art with one of the key phrases from our vows, and hung it on the wall, to surprise my husband for a valentine’s gift. Take a look here: http://dancingcommas.blogspot.com/2009/03/belated-valentines-post.html