Collecting Antique Silver Servingware

Discover the lasting beauty of fine antique table silver.

Matched silver sets are beautiful, but many of us collect silverware over the years and collect many different patterns. Embrace the variety by displaying mismatched patterns and enjoy each individual intricate pattern.
Matched silver sets are beautiful, but many of us collect silverware over the years and collect many different patterns. Embrace the variety by displaying mismatched patterns and enjoy each individual intricate pattern.

Your table is a creative canvas where you can display the treasured silver servingware you’ve gathered over the years, especially during months filled with celebrations, intimate dinner parties and holiday feasts. The tradition of fine dining is once again au courant, and there’s never been a better time for those of us who appreciate a beautifully set table.

A vintage inspired tablescape set with antique silver servingware.
Antique silver trophy cups, those engraved with the long past accomplishments of celebrated people, are a unique glimpse into the past and fun addition to any tablescape.


Silver, sterling or plate, closely associated with elegant dinner table settings, has a history that goes further back than the gleaming silver we remember from our childhood holiday table. In fact, the tradition of sitting down for an enjoyable meal with family and friends dates back as far as civilization, but dining tables were not set with silver until the early 19th century. During the Renaissance, knives were the primary utensils used during meals, along with a wooden spoon. Forks were introduced as early as the 11th century, but were extremely controversial, scandalous and considered heretical, not gaining widespread favor in Europe until well into the 18th century.

Antique silverware is perfectly paired with these delicate linen and lace dinner napkins.
Mixed metallics, like the touches of gold-tone on the these utensils, adds extra color and detail to the vignette.

It wasn’t until the 1800s that dining came into “the gilded age” and silver for the table was plentiful. Wealthy hostesses of the 1800s set their tables with lustrous silver serving dishes and a bewildering assortment of flatware. A single place setting at a formal dinner might have included at least eight different forks, eight knives, numerous spoons, a butter pick, game shears, nut picks, asparagus tongs and salts.

What to Collect

Collect what you love and appeals to you, a glorious mix of bowls, tureens, ladles and silverware that pays homage to your personal style. Mixed in with what you already own, these elegant luxuries add glamour to your table’s setting. Collectors love sterling silver because it keeps its value. But a collection of silver plate will bring just as much beauty to your table.

Silver is considered a "cool tone." Lidy added warmth to her sideboard vignette by adding bright yellow and red blossoms.
Silver is considered a “cool tone.” Lidy added warmth to her sideboard vignette by adding bright yellow and red blossoms.

Elegant, sophisticated and long lasting, silver serving bowls, domes and flatware elevate any setting to party status. We have a great advantage over our ancestors in that we can enjoy the beautiful silver pieces they did, but we’re not stuck with their rules. While our grandmother would never mix and match place settings or combine antique silver with contemporary dishes, today we enjoy all the charm antique silver brings to the table, free from those rules.

What to Look For

Quality. Become familiar with high quality. Sterling is almost always marked, either with the word STERLING or the lion passant. Do your research; you can find most sterling makers’ marks on the Internet. Most plated silver from the 1800s is marked Quadruple Plated. If you love a piece and want to use it for serving, but it is corroded inside, consider having a silversmith replace the interior.

Intricately detailed patterns make collecting antique silverware a captivating hobby.
Intricately detailed patterns make collecting antique silverware a captivating hobby.

Style. Opt for designs you love. Pieces with a logo, monogram or beautiful hand-chased floral engravings add charm. It doesn’t all have to match. If you love it, it will work together.

Condition. Buy silver in good condition. I suggest you buy silver that is pre-polished, especially silver-plate, so way you can see how much loss to the plating there is. Some loss is fine, but most of the silver should be there.  Do remember these pieces are often over 100 years old, and will not be perfect. That’s part of their charm.

Collecting Antique Silver- It's easy to start collecting antique silver but focusing on smaller, everyday items like cutlery. As you learn and discover more about silver, keep your eyes open for unique pieces, such as this salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar set.
It’s easy to start collecting antique silver but focusing on smaller, everyday items like cutlery. As you learn and discover more about silver, keep your eyes open for unique pieces, such as this salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar set.

You can start enjoying antique silver in small ways. Perhaps you are fortunate enough to have inherited your grandmother’s silver, or received the gift of a set of six spoons.  Set your well-appointed table with pleasure; it will bring people together and provide comfort as well as joy.


For more on Lidy, visit

Opulent Christmas Decor, Traditional Home

Decked out in layers of gold and silver, this opulent decor style is all about the details.

garlanded front door
A grand entrance deserves an elaborate display. Garlands laden with ribbons and ornaments set the tone for rest of the house.

After once preparing his longtime client’s Eastern Shore home for the annual Christmas in St. Michael’s Home Hour, Jamie Merida, owner of Bountiful Interiors, a home store and design studio in Easton, Maryland, was enlisted to decorate her primary Potomac residence last year.

“Our client absolutely loves Christmas; it’s her favorite thing. She has her grown children living nearby and lots of grandchildren. They all come over for the holiday,” says Jamie. “Her old decorations were worn. She’d had them for years and wanted us to make the house look really spectacular. We get in 2 to 3 tons of holiday decorations in the shop every year, so we knew how to do it.” Jamie and his holiday design associate, Paula Siedlarz, came up with a game plan. The idea was “no holds barred” with the intention of tackling multiple spaces inside and outside the house, layering holiday magic all over, while maintaining the home’s distinct identity. “I think Christmas sings in a traditional home,” says Jamie. “The house is in a Colonial Williamsburg style, with lots of amazing architecture. It absolutely lends itself to decking out for Christmas.”

This large foyer required a striking focal point that sets the tone for the entire home. The grand staircase is bedecked with an equally impressive garland.
This large foyer required a striking focal point that sets the tone for the entire home. The grand staircase is bedecked with an equally impressive garland.

Bejeweled Elegance

The homeowner, however, is not a big fan of red and green when it comes to holiday decorating, so Jamie and Paula had to come up with fresh colorways. “We went, instead, with silvers, golds, whites and natural greens, adding peachy pinks and robin’s-egg blues in the parlor to play off the existing décor,” he says, adding, “The palette is both elegant and traditional, a sort of restrained opulence.”

One of the principal architectural features in the home is the expansive foyer hall and its grand staircase wrapping up the landings. The holiday decorating tone had to be set there, as the parlor and dining room are also immediately visible upon entry into the house. “We ran an elaborate garland up the staircase. It’s thick and lit, encrusted with silvered balls and jeweled ornaments,” says Jamie. The garland is very attractive from a distance, and when viewed close up, it reveals a plethora of goodies, like little sparkly birds or glittery nests with eggs. It becomes all about those tucked-in, hidden details. “We applied the same idea to the big arrangement on the round hall table. It has a prelit central feature, but is also layered with riches,” adds Jamie. The home also has multiple fireplaces. Each mantel is decked with garlands filled with twinkling lights and accent ornaments, but each room’s mantel exudes its own flavor and identity. For example, the dining room mantel has magnolia blossoms intertwined in its garland, while the parlor’s mantel is shimmery and glittery, dripping with jeweled berries and gold dusted holly leaves.


Christmas tree
Gold lights and plentiful gold ribbons make the Christmas tree glow with holiday warmth.


foyer with stairway
The lighted garland on the banister is thick with ribbon and ornaments, a posh look that can be replicated with a little effort.

Shimmer and Shine

 “Our goal with the parlor’s tree was to make it look like a beautiful piece of jewelry through extensive layering with mostly gold and silver holiday decorations. The trick is varying the different sizes, shapes and textures of the ornaments. The result is controlled chaos and dense shimmer,” adds Jamie.

The family room tree has always held the special ornaments passed down through the generations, so Jamie and Paula were respectful of this. They kept those, but added more ornaments in red and plenty of white flocking. It’s a holiday tradition for the homeowner and her daughter to wrap Christmas presents in special papers with pretty bows. These become part of the holiday décor under each of the trimmed Christmas trees.

In the kitchen, the decorations are more rustic and relaxed. “It has more of an English woodland feel, with red berries, evergreens and pinecones without the glitter, and of course, there are the nutcrackers,” says Jamie of the overall effect. When all is decked out and done, it’s hard to imagine that holiday decorating by Bountiful Interiors won’t become another annual tradition for the homeowner. “It’s always nice when you have a patron who allows you to be as creative as you want to be,” adds Jamie.




Elegant dining room with christmas decorations
The dark wood table matches the woodwork in this elegant dining room, but light carpet and walls keep the space from feeling heavy or overladen, even with the abundant Christmas display.

Elsewhere in the house, a more rustic approach to decor relies on natural materials and greenery, but with no less an eye for intricate detail.


Small details, like this fiber bird and nest, are what make the lush decor of this home really work.
Small details, like this fiber bird and nest, are what make the lush decor of this home really work.


1. CHOOSE A PALETTE: Work with the home’s
existing colors, as well as with neutral white, silver
and gold.

2. MAKE AN ENTRANCE: Set your design tone in
the foyer. Go all out. Do a console/foyer table, as well
as the staircase.

3. DECK THE MANTEL: Use a prelit garland and
layer in lots of glittering and shimmering accents.
Choose accents according to the room they are in.

4. MAKE THE TREE COUNT: Lots of lights and lots
of layering make for a perfect tree.
Vary texture, size and shape of the ornaments. Be bold.

5. TAKE ON SURFACES: Wherever possible, create
mini displays, with small holiday trees, faux greens
and pretty accents.

6. LOVELY LAYERS: Go beyond the obvious. Tuck
in accents that people will notice upon closer inspection
and make them spectacular.

7. IT’S A WRAP: Beautifully wrapped presents in
your color palette can become an important part of
your décor. They add the final polish.

8. VARY THE THEME: Deck out each space in
keeping with key décor in each room. For example
a dining room should have a different vibe than a
kitchen. Be equally committed to both; just make
one more formal and elegant, and one more casual
and everyday.

you do a simple wreath or go all-out, the exterior of
the home should hint at the holiday décor inside.

10. AU NATUREL: Even if you go faux for your tree
and accents, add in flower bouquets, potted poinsettias,
cut magnolias, fresh greens and more.

11. CENTERPIECE: Leave a centerpiece on your
dining tables for the holiday’s duration. It can be
contained in a silver bowl or a vase, or laid out in the
center of the table.

12. KEEP IT LIT: There’s nothing more magical than
fairy lights at Christmas. Bring them in on pre-lit
wreaths and garlands, as well as tree lights.




Tips to Heat Up Your Elegant Summer Dining

Bring the party outside and enjoy the season. Here's how to create a little elegance outdoors.


Weather permitting, elegance can be accomplished no matter the surroundings. On the patio or in that curious little corner of the backyard, you can create an entertaining space fit for family, friends or simply enjoying coffee amongst the critters. There is always a way to make it pretty. Roll up your sleeves. Here comes your inspiration.


Select an easily accessible and safe location. Summer brings a plethora of insects to your backyard, which must be managed for any outdoor gathering. You don’t want to be known for sending your guests away with mosquito-bite-filled ankles as parting gifts. Surround your space with citronella candles or torches. Individualized insect-control options are available.





Every set of outdoor furniture needs a clean and pretty canvas to get the party started. Choose a basic white, colored or print tablecloth; and don’t be afraid to layer one on top of the other. Welcome a little more elegance into the space by using cloth napkins and decorative rings. Yes, you and your guests are worth bringing out the good stuff.





You don’t have to be a prize-winning table-setter to create an elegant setting. Colored glass dishes are a great choice, especially if you have a beautiful tablecloth underneath. This provides a fun peek-a-boo at every glance. Choose coffee cups that fit your décor, and size should be considered if space is limited. Shining and placing your utensils provides the final balance to your arrangement.





Keep in mind that your food will be exposed to the elements, which may melt your perfect butter sculpture or crumble the moistest baked items. Setting your butter plate in a bowl of ice will sustain a proper temperature. Serve your food in covered containers when possible to ensure freshness throughout your event. Urging others to take seconds, quickly, will eliminate any concerns you have about optimal culinary conditions. Pour beverages with prestige straight from the bottle, or use a sterling coffee carafe or water pitcher. Feel free to clip a few flowers from around the yard for your centerpiece. This will meld your special area with the beautiful surroundings.





The intent of creating an outdoor entertaining space is to enjoy your natural surrounds with friends and loved ones. Whether you desire a relaxing, romantic vibe or a more ruckus affair, the time you spend and the care you take to make things pretty will be time well spent. You deserve to experience summer at its best. So get outside, find your special spot and get busy.





Throw a Farm-to-Table Party

Dining out never looked so good.

With summer quickly approaching, what better way is there to show your love of the great outdoors than by hosting an al fresco farm-to-table celebration dedicated to the season’s bountiful harvest? To get the look of this vintage shindig styled by Sylvia Asmussen of Madam Palooza, here are 6 easy tips to recreate its farmhouse charm.

Upcycled Style: Elegant farm table in barn

Use what you already own. Even if all your pieces didn’t come as a set, a mismatched, eclectic look will bring personality to your party’s décor. “Don’t feel like you have to go out on a shopping spree,” Sylvia says. “Use your everyday dishes and maybe add the fancy glassware to it to give a pop of panache. Mix in those pretties that are in the cabinets to accent your tablescape.”

 Upcycled Style: Tarnished vintage loving cup with wildflowers

Reinvent old items in new ways. To infuse your party with vintage style, upcycle flea-market finds in unexpected ways. On this tablescape, scraps of leftover burlap were turned into a table runner. Old buckets and a trophy were filled with flowers to transform into inspiring centerpieces. While you’re browsing flea markets, think of ways you can reuse some of the items you find so that they can serve double-duty as party décor and decorations for your home afterwards.


Make a statement. Similarly to when you’re styling a room, a vintage tablescape needs a statement piece for wow factor. At this party, the statement piece came in the form of a rusty orb upcycled into part of an inspired chandelier displayed directly above the table.

 Ucpcyled Style: Vintage shabby chandelier hanging in barn

Take it outside. Think outside the box by bringing your favorite home décor pieces outside. Sylvia decorated this party with a crystal chandelier hung outdoors to make the gathering feel extra special. She also draped burlap curtains at the entrance to welcome guests to the cozy scene.

 Upcycled Style: Vintage cake platter with fruit-topped cheesecake

Don’t overthink it. When styling your party, the rules are that there are no rules. “Develop your own style of entertaining that fits you and makes you comfortable,” Sylvia says. “You will be more open to having people over and want to have intimate gatherings if you don’t feel intimidated and overwhelmed.” If providing a meal with several courses sounds too stressful, limit the party to just afternoon tea and desserts with a handful of close friends.

 Upcycled Style: tablesetting with blue depression glass and mismatched plates

Add lots of layers. Mix a variety of textures and colors to soften the look of your rustic farmhouse table. Burlap, lace, linen, grain sack and the weathered wood all complement the feminine colored-glass compotes, floral china and metallics on this table. For your finishing touch, the food and flowers will add additional pops of color.

Sylvia Asmussen is the owner, stylist and creative force behind Madam Palooza.

For more information, visit For more upcycling ideas and tips, get your copy of Karen Jeanette’s Upcycled Style magazine, available on newsstands and on May 31, 2016. Follow the editor on Instagram at @KarenJeanetteStyle, or Facebook at


5 Ideas for a Vintage Easter Party

Surprise everyone this Easter with these fun and creative holiday favorites.

Add vintage charm to your Easter table with these helpful hints.

It’s time to start thinking about your Easter celebration! Here are 5 spring-inspired party ideas to help you get going.



Add vintage charm to your Easter table with these helpful hints.


1. Use an egg as your centerpiece. This beautiful giant egg is the perfect size for an Easter centerpiece—it catches the eye but isn’t too large or tall to block views or take up food space on the table. Set on a nest of wildflowers, the combination of the egg and blooms is a show stopper. If you can’t find a giant easter egg, dye some regular-sized eggs and create a nest full of them on the table.



Add a burst of spring flowers to your Easter table.

2. Add flowers to your cake. Whether you’re serving cookies, brownies or cake for dessert, decorate the top with fresh cut and washed flowers. This will bring the bright bloom of spring to your table. Try a combination of roses, pansies, daffodils, carnations and poppies to create a colorful splash.



Add vintage charm to your Easter table with these helpful hints.

3. Use a vintage element. No party or decoration is complete without a vintage element. In this pretty sideboard setup, a vintage vase with fresh daisies graces the dessert spread. You could even add a vintage statuette or figurine, such as this rabbit, to the dessert tray itself. This will add height and depth to your display.



Add spring charm to your Easter table with these helpful hints.

4. Serve rabbit food. Alongside your roasted chicken and deviled eggs, include some rabbit-friendly eats such as carrots, beets and greens. You could even pair the greens with rabbit-shaped tea sandwiches. Simply construct the sandwiches (egg and chicken salad work well) and use a rabbit-shaped cookie cutter to create your desired shape. Include a few pb&j sandwiches, and the kids at your table will be delighted!



Add vintage charm to your Easter table with these helpful hints.

5. Surprise your guests with a take-home favor. Make or buy a small favor for your guests to take away from the day. Even if you’re serving other homemade desserts, a beautiful decorated cookie wouldn’t go amiss as a party favor. You can set one cookie at each place, which will delight your guests and add an extra element to the tablescape.


For more on Diane Sedo, visit here.

Treat Your Friends to a Vintage-Inspired, Paris-Themed Tea

Continue the spirit of Valentine’s Day with this elegant, Paris-themed setup for a brunch or tea with your friends. Whether inside or out, vintage, pink and Paris makes for a charming theme all year round!

Paris Themed Tea
Photo by Jaimee Itagaki

Get the Look here:

Parisienne Dining Side Chair

Parisienne Dining Side Chair by Woodard, $199.55. Visit

Ellis Rectangular Rattan Folding Table

Ellis Rectangular Rattan Folding Table, $222.95. Visit

Princess Damask Vintage Tablecloth

Princess Damask Vintage Tablecloth by Violet Linen, $17.99. Visit

10 Strawberry Street Coral 16-piece Dinnerware Set

10 Strawberry Street Coral 16-piece Dinnerware Set, $65.99. Visit

Wall tapestry, Paris for Two by OLHADAR

Wall tapestry, Paris for Two by OLHADAR, $79.00 (for large dimension). Visit

Decorative Pink Cake Stand

Decorative Pink Cake Stand, $17.00. Visit BelleVieArtDecor on

2-Tier Vintage Dessert Stand
75864768765 metal tier tray

2-Tier Vintage Dessert Stand, $44. Visit

Light Pink SimplyPoly Cloth Napkins

Light Pink SimplyPoly Cloth Napkins, $1.09/ea. Visit

Orbit Napkin Ring in Brushed Gold

Orbit Napkin Ring in Brushed Gold, $2.99. Visit

A Vintage Country Kitchen Transformation

Vintage Country Kitchen
A combination of well-curated collectibles and basic furniture pieces balances this texture-packed dining area.

There’s something about a rustic country kitchen that lends a homey touch to one of the most-used rooms in your home. From colorful floral touches to simple and clean furniture pieces for balance, getting everyone together for breakfast and supper will be a delight.

5 Ways to Get the Look:

  • Cottage Dining Set. Start off with the perfect dining table and chairs. Simple farmhouse styles add the right amount of rustic flair while an all-white finish keeps its simple enough to set the stage for all colors, patterns and textures. We love this Cottage Road Dining Table ($179.99) and these Empire Side Chairs ($153.99) from Wayfair.
  • Floral Tablecloth. Beautiful linens do more than just keep your tabletop clean. With a variety of floral patterns, you can tie together your collectibles and your color scheme with the perfect tablecloth. For the best balance, go for a pattern with a lot of white space, like this Pink Morning Glory on Aqua Trellis Vintage Printed Tablecloth ($40) from The Vintage Table.
  • Red Transferware. Whether it’s a collection of dishes, creamers or tureens, this red-patterned china is distinctively country. Try your luck at the fleas or browse the large selection of patterns and pieces at (prices vary).
  • Vintage Signage. Capture that country-store look by incorporating a weathered shop sign into your dining area. Stay on topic with Pepsicola or Coca Cola signs or general food-related pieces, like window ads or menus. If you’re not lucky enough to have a real vintage sign, you can find some great reproductions around, like this school lunch menu ($15.99), fresh and local seafood sign ($14.99) or this Pepsi dinner menu board ($64.99) from Retro Planet.
  • Painted Toleware Tray. Beautiful, hand-painted vintage trays are oftentimes a work of art in and of themselves, so display your favorites on the wall just like a painting! Pieces like this Vintage Painted Toleware Tray ($65) or this Painted Lattice Work Tray ($18) from Etsy tie together the floral patterns, color palette and dining theme.


Brunch Table Setting

Design a lovely brunch table setting inspired by the beauty of a blue-skied day outdoors.Brunch Table Setting

With a crisp spring day as inspiration, throw a casual brunch table setting where the colors are the main event. Keeping things casual, this table, set at French General, a European-influenced accessories and craft shop in Los Angeles, California, is thrown together with no-fuss embellishments that get their frills from scallop-edged dishware and bright vivacious color. Owner Kaari Meng says that what’s important is the true joie de vivre theme—enjoying the colors of the season, the fresh natural elements and the people who will fill the table. “When setting your table, think about what you already have, things tucked away at the back of your china cabinet. Pull them out and give them new life by using them for a simple meal.” To craft your own brunch table setting, consider these tips:


Choose a few bold colors to carry out the theme without overwhelming the brunch table setting. Here, a rose red is perfectly paired with a heavenly blue recalling a field of red—roses or strawberries since they are coming into season. Creamy white balances the bold color and adds a delicate touch.


Since there aren’t many elements on the brunch table setting, choose dishware with more intricate details. “I tend to pull lots of old ironstone, which blends with everything,” Kaari says. “Think about using special salad plates or platters to mix things up a bit. Have fun with your glassware—using elegant hand-blown glasses makes everything look festive or a set of mismatched old water glasses can look very elegant.” Here, dinner, salad and dessert plates are layered to highlight their similar lacy edges. Each element on the table carries a scalloped detail, from the tulip dessert glasses that hold sweet treats to the cake plate and the antique Cameo Ware by Harker Pottery.


“I always begin by layering the table,” Kaari says. “Whether it’s new or old textiles, I start with a tablecloth and then add on from there. I like to add a colorful striped runner and some simple linen placemats as well as some old linen napkins—maybe even embroidered with an initial or two.” Here, a casual cotton tablecloth in a garden floral is offset by another tablecloth in pink-on-pink plaid folded to create a quick and easy runner. Don’t have a complete set of napkins on hand? No need to worry—a mix of linens adds to the casual feel. Here, a few pieces matching the tablecloth are mixed with antique grain-sack linens in creamy white and red.

Flowers and Fruit:

A generously-sized arrangement of hydrangeas recalls a grouping of lush white clouds. Red roses punctuate the bouquet, adding fun bright details. Apples arranged on a cake plate add more color for a quick and casual addition to the menu. Rosebuds are added to the decadent cake to create a true piéce de resistance to the meal.

For more information on French General and Kaari Meng, visit

Beach Picnic

A beach picnic can be more than sunblock and surfboards with some inspiration from the past.

Beach Picnic

An old-fashioned beach picnic is once again in vogue. Take a page from history and create a day you will remember forever. When life coasted at a slower pace, such outings were more commonplace. Make a beach picnic as romantic as you would when entertaining at home.

Beach Picnic Table

Here’s to flowing sundresses, large-brimmed straw hats, wet sandy toes, fresh flowers, seashells and sweets at your beach picnic.

Beach Picnic Table Decor

Be Inspired

Start with something vintage as an inspiration piece; we used beach-themed postcards that have an old-fashioned sensibility and set our color theme for our beach picnic.

Fresh flowers

Make a Checklist for Your Beach Picnic

  • Baskets for collecting shells
  • Books
  • Fresh flowers
  • Lanterns and candles
  • Mason jars
  • Painting, coloring or writing supplies and journal
  • Quilts
  • Treats, fruit and lemonade
  • Umbrella
  • Vintage plates, cups and flatware
  • Wagon for toting items

Beach Picnic

Vintage pails and a camera are thoughtful touches for a beach picnic. A flower frog moonlights as a pencil holder, encouraging guests to draw and write. Hunting for seashells is also encouraged with a tin basket and paper umbrellas.