Once there was no complete household without at least a canteen of cutlery, a silver tea service, some silver serving utensils, a tray to serve cocktails and other everyday necessities such as an ice bucket, rose bowl and napkin rings, these days these beautiful items seem to linger at the back of our cupboards.
We might not have the servants who were once on hand to clean the family silver but that shouldn’t stop us from getting these treasures out of their hiding places and putting them on display once again.
In the kitchen, a practical and pretty mood can be created by displaying your silver cutlery in a jug or on the kitchen hanger. Your tea set could form the basis of another charming vignette or an ice bucket could hold silver serving utensils.
Silverware looks wonderful displayed in every room in the house. A few silver-topped scent bottles and photo frames will add an air of indulgence to your dressing table. You could also add items such as decorative silver brush, comb and mirror sets, manicure sets, button hooks or the like.
There are almost unlimited opportunities for decorating with silver in the living room. You could display a collection of silver photo frames filled with family portraits on a side table teamed with a lovely ceramic lamp.
Some silver sewing accessories would look great in a glass cloche on a sideboard. Gather together silver bar paraphernalia for a sophisticated corner of the lounge. You know, a decanter filled with your favourite liquor dressed with a silver label. A silver cocktail shaker and swizzle sticks in a crystal glass can be placed on a silver tray awaiting your guests.
There is also a distinct advantage to displaying your silver. It will encourage you to use it more often and to clean it from time to time, which is better than having it lurking in a cupboard covered with tarnish.
Of course, some items of silver lend themselves to display more than others — jugs, rose bowls, trophies, teapots and tankards all make wonderful vessels for flowers. Unusual silver bits and bobs such as chatelaines, sewing paraphernalia and intricate serving ware would all make wonderful focal points for your displays.
A silver tray is another multipurpose item that works to unite mismatched items. It looks fabulous on a bedside table to corral perfumes, great on a buffet to give focus to any small collection and wonderful on a hall table to hold a collection of vintage cards.
Silver bowls are also incredibly useful. They should be mandatory on a man’s bedside table to keep watch, pocket change and keys tidy. They add an air of decadence to a coffee table when filled with mints or chocolates. Small silver containers are very useful in the home office or study to hold paper clips, pens and business cards.
My favourite place for the silver treatment though is the mantelpiece, I used to visit my local church often many years ago when I was a little girl to see all these silver ware items on display in their dinning hall. Try grouping a silver tray on its end with something tall, like a cocktail shaker and something quirky, like a collection of silver swizzle sticks. Or make a focal point of a magnificent collection of antique silver teapots, silver clocks, a silver samovar or silver butter dishes.
If you are still in doubt over how to decorate with your silver, just mix things up. Try a bit of china, a bit of glass, some flowers and silver and mix and match for instant aesthetic appeal.