Top 10 Things to Steal from Your Parents' House

leather chair
Take advantage of your parents good taste!

Your parents' house has always been, well, your parents' house. Most of the appliances, decorations, antiques and furniture are items that you grew up with, never giving them a second glance. But now, as an adult, you have an appreciation for retro and an eye for design, and you're giving your family's belongings another, much more interested look. It's time to get your best doe-eyed look together so you can steal these 10 pieces from your parents' house before they know what hits them.


10: Antiques

They may have been new when your parents bought them, but some of their treasured belongings probably fall into the antique category by now. OK, not technically since it's doubtful your parents are more than 100 years old, but their valued possessions may become antiques within your lifetime. So, start making a mental list of all of the vases, clocks and old toys that were ever present in your youth, and make room on your mantel to display them.


9: Furniture

antique bed
You can always change the look with new paint or fabric.

That Chippendale dining room set seemed dated when you were a teenager, but now you're drooling over it. The Louis XIV chair? Not your style, but you know that a funky fabric with a fresh pattern will make it fit like a glove in your living room. Even if some of your parents' furniture needs to be re-imagined to suit your décor, it's likely that it was built to last. So Freecycle that spindly Ikea couch and replace it with your parents' plush sectional.


8: Clothes

Fashions from the 1970s are back with a bang, and your mom still has her ponchos and flares from the actual decade. How about your dad's bomber jacket or your grandpa's leisure suit? It would make a great Halloween costume for the hubs. And the dress Grandma wore on her first date with your grandfather that you've coveted for years? The pattern is fabulous, and the style will be the envy of all your girlfriends. Clothes were made to last in the decades of yesteryear, so chances are, if the previous owner took good care of them, they're still ready to wear.


7: Albums

Sometimes, an album can stick with you forever.
Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock

You may only remember Johnny Mathis on the turntable growing up, but your parents probably have some cool tunes, most likely in the form of vinyl, stashed somewhere in their house. Just imagine coming across an original Beatles Revolver album. There are probably some of your golden oldies stashed somewhere, too. Nostalgia will smack you in the face with your first glance at your Journey albums, and you may want your old "Thriller" record to pass on to your kids.


6: Old Technology

Remember your old Atari? The one you played Frogger and Donkey Kong on for hours. Unless your mother donated it to Goodwill when you went to college, it's probably hanging out in a box somewhere in your parents' house, right along with your eight-track player that's just waiting for you to pop in that Billy Joel tape you loved. If your household is anything like ours, there isn't a cassette player to be found. So, if you want to listen to your old mixed tapes, your parents may still have your gear.


5: Heirlooms

If you're in line to receive any of your family heirlooms, you're luckier than most. Not only are your great-grandparents' china cabinet and your grandmother's grandfather clock probably time tested and well constructed, but they're likely accompanied by the stories of the people who used them. Not to mention worth some cash. Even items of lesser monetary value, like your great-aunt's family scrapbook or your mother's bronzed baby shoes, will be treasured and appreciated by the next generations.


4: Silver and China

With the improvement of everyday dishes, silver and china aren't popular items on most wedding registries these days. If your family had a set while you were growing up, it was probably saved for special occasions, or maybe never even found its way out of the china cabinet. But if your parents have a cool china pattern or a contemporary set of silver, get it while the getting is good. And then be sure to use it.


3: Art

Don't focus on the monetary value of an art piece.

Most of us aren't the lucky ones who find an Ansel Adams original for a dollar at a yard sale, so we have to collect art the usual way -- by buying it. A great art collection is a considerable investment that takes most people years to acquire, so if your parents have one, you need to stake your claim. Even if the piece is a bit dated and not worth a lot of money, like your mom's Georgia O'Keefe print or your dad's Andy Warhol of himself, you may just want them for the kitsch factor.


2: Jewelry

You may have a mom with a jewelry box full of diamonds and pearls that have been passed through your family, and one day, they'll be all yours. But even if it's just a box full of costume jewelry, there are bound to be some cool pieces in there from decades past. You can be the first to bring back gaudy clip-on earrings, or rework some of the vintage pieces into boutique-worthy, one-of-a-kind necklaces.


1: Photos

family photos
Photos can bind each generation to the next.

Of all the material possessions you'll acquire throughout your lifetime, photos are probably the most special. Want to show your daughter your hair claw in the 80s or your mom's fantastic go-go boots from the 50s? These snapshots of a single moment in time capture endless memories that are fondly recalled for decades after. So, if you're going to ransack your parents house of all of their worldly goods, don't forget the photo albums. These are the items you'll probably get the most use out of.

Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • "Origin of the Bomber Jackets.", June 1, 2009.
  • "The History of Jewelry.", 2010.
  • "The History of Pac-Man.", 2010.
  • "What is an Antique?", 2010.