How to Use Mismatched Silverware and Make It Look Really Cool

Matching silverware is so overrated; own what you own, and learn how to make it work.

I get it. I lived for many years with an assortment of mismatched serving utensils and pieces of silverware that – design-wise – spanned a century, and not in that “cute, you like vintage silverware” sense. Even as a fully-grown adult, I still have a random drawer of utensils and flatware, because it simply doesn’t seem easy to have a completely coordinated collection, unless maybe you’re walking in the house straight from your bridal shower. Not counting the items I know belong to other people (like my parents, when they show up with a casserole and their own serving spoons) we’ve also picked up extra pieces at thrift stores for those moments when we’vee hosted dinner for 20. For those of you like me, you have to learn how to go with the flow and make sure your guests don’t think twice about serve ware that might look (gasp) disheveled.

DIY techniques to make mismatched silverware and serveware more coordinated.

How to Update Mismatched Serveware

DIY techniques to make mismatched silverware and serveware more coordinated.

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Fortunately, there are many ways to embrace and/or mask the fact that your kitchen makes use of a wide variety of serving ware and silverware designs, so own what you own, and try one of these ideas when you’re scheming your table settings for the next big friends/family/holiday feast.

Spray Paint Silverware Any Color of the Rainbow

If you’re applying paint to anything that goes near your mouth, you have to take certain precautions. When I made the “ombre rainbow” silverware shown above using four different colors of spray paint, I was careful to tape off the end of the utensil that I didn’t want to be affected by paint. I then slipped that end in a plastic baggie to double-protect the mouthpiece from getting paint on it. They turned out pretty fab, and you hardly even notice at a glance that they’re from completely different sets. (They’re also different weights, which sometimes makes it even more obvious that your set is mismatched).

Dabble With Hand-Painted Details

Enamel paints hold up well when applied to silverware handles, and will allow for a truly customizable place setting. If you’re looking to make a fun impact on your next dinner party, source an entire collection of silverware from a secondhand shop, and paint the details for the special occasion with custom colors and designs that match the mood of the event. Shamrocks for St. Paddy’s, hearts for Valentine’s Day, or any color theme that suits your tablescape. If you wash them by hand with a gentle cloth, the dabbles or stripes of paint will remain intact.

DIY techniques to make mismatched silverware and serveware more coordinated.

How to Update Mismatched Serveware

DIY techniques to make mismatched silverware and serveware more coordinated.

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Alter Your Silverware With a Metal Punch Set

Use a punch set to make a mismatched set feel more uniform. Much like the technique would be used for label making purposes (this one’s obviously a marker from the garden) you can customize your silverware with words or phrases. A few we liked?

Spoon Label for Herbs

Spoon Label for Herbs

Bundle Silverware Together

Power in numbers, essentially. When you bundle the knife, spoon and fork in a well-planned package, it’s a lot easier for guests to overlook the fact that your dinnerware isn’t coordinating. For a rustic tablescape, I recommend wrapping the trio in a napkin with several theme-appropriate ribbons.

Flour sack cloths with rustic bows as table accessories.

Flour sack cloths with rustic bows as table accessories.

Flour sack cloths with rustic bows as table accessories.

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Use Natural Stains on Wooden Handles

Beets, onion, turmeric and other fruits and veggies make for wonderful dye colors. If your silverware collection boasts assorted wooden handles – most of our wooden handles are on random knives – unify the look of them by staining the wood.

Use Natural Jute to Decorate and Unify Serving Pieces

A dot of hot glue will hold jute cord in place as it wraps around the handles of your serving pieces. Unify the look of your buffet by coordinating these utensils, and the attention to detail will completely take your guests' mind off the fact that your serve ware is from a variety of sources.

DIY techniques to make mismatched silverware and serveware more coordinated.

How to Update Mismatched Serveware

DIY techniques to make mismatched silverware and serveware more coordinated.

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Tips for Designing a Rustic Tablescape

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Acorns Make Adorable Centerpieces

When life gives you acorns, make a colorful centerpiece! Handpaint dozens of acorns in an autumnal color palette and put them all in a cloche to serve as a pretty centerpiece on a fall table.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Decorative Calligraphy on a Chalkboard

Chalkboards add a playful decorative element to any get-together. They're not only inexpensive, but also can be used repeatedly for different holidays and family events. Put your creative skills to work by writing a sweet message and display it near the spread. Use chalkboard paint in other ways too. When you apply it to pieces of wood, rocks, planters or other coordinating table accessories, you'll be able to use those pieces time and time again.

Offer Doilies as Coasters

Are coasters the most overlooked table accessory? Swap everyday coasters for decorative-but-purposeful fabric doilies from the craft store. They're pretty, but priced at just a few dollars, you won't have to worry about damaging or dirtying your inherited doily collection.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Impress Your Guests With Hand Lettered Rocks

A calligraphy paint marker turns ordinary rocks into extraordinary place markers at a rustic table setting, and your guests will remember them as a creative keepsake from your special event. Molly Jacques – an amazing calligrapher – convinced me that we should all try our hand at artistic lettering, and I think you should try it too.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Accessorize Seating for a Boho Vibe

Colorful chair coverings can be used to dress up an everyday dining room. Casual, woven fabrics that coordinate with the rest of your table setting complement a rustic tablescape.

Put Some Bows On It

Flour sack towels are easy napkins for the dinner table. They're inexpensive and easy-to-clean, and look so nice when bundled around silverware, that they're an easy go-to for any occasion. Use braided jute or woven ribbons to tie a few simple bows around the center to hold everything together.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

DIY Painted Napkins for Fall Table Decor

Transform basic linen napkins into painterly accents that nod to the hues of fall foilage. Mix red, yellow and purple dyes with a bit of water, then brush on strips of color and blend until you achieve the desired effect.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Make This Natural Wood Centerpiece

Make candles a mandatory part of your rustic tablescape. Whether you're incorporating real flame or LED, a centerpiece that glows is guaranteed to make your setting all kinds of cozy. Learn how to make this pretty candle holder as a centerpiece at an outdoor dinner.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Embroidery Always Impresses

Personalization pays off when you hand embroider napkins for each place setting. We love this idea for weddings – a keepsake for your guests – but it would be just as meaningful as part of a rustic tablescape when it's dinner for two. Want more? Here are a few more DIY wedding napkin ideas.

Corral Decor With Wooden Frames

Picture frames emptied of their glass serve as an easy way to gather decor in the center of the table. Natural wood frames are ideal if you're going for a rustic look, and laying fabric beneath and around them will anchor them as a tabletop accessory. Put in there whatever you wish; bud vases with flowers for a summertime gathering, ornaments during the winter, gourds for the fall, candles for anytime.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

These Leaves Are Awarded the Gold Star

Spray paint found leaves gold (or silver, or white or black), and then use a paint pen to hand letter your guests names for each place setting. Natural touches from the outdoors work wonders when it comes to designing your own elegant tablescape.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Use Antlers to Decorate a Wintery Tablescape

Antlers adorned with pops of dark cypress greenery add a festive touch that's distinctly "holiday." Get the same look at home by accessorizing an evergreen centerpiece with neutral plates and linens. So chic!

Photo By: Wynn Myers

Embrace Nature-Themed Glassware

Theme-appropriate glassware is icing on the cake when you're planning your rustic tablescape. Wooden coasters and other natural touches complement the table setting. The water glasses shown here are from the Harper + Oldham collection sold by Fishs Eddy.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Get Crafty With Hand-Stamped Napkins

Upcycle ordinary napkins with paint and stamps. Carved linoleum is a great tool for designing a custom pattern that will transfer patterns onto fabric.

© 2013, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Always Be On the Hunt For Natural Elements

Collect branches so you always have a rustic tablescape at-the-ready. These larch-pine twigs are already accessorized with dainty pine cones, and bouquet nicely by themselves or with other florals or lush evergreen colors. Have a collection of pine cones? Drop them all into a clear glass vase and call it a day!

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Use Dinnerware to Introduce Colors and Textures

A clever mix of color, texture, pattern and sheen can create a rustic tablescape with an autumnal twist. Wooden and woven placemats are ideal for grounding the setting while colorful plates can be swapped to correlate with other seasonal hues.

©Rustic White Photography

Use Logs to Create a Tiered Tablescape

When you find yourself with a downed limb, cut it into even lengths and use those pieces of wood to raise and stage your servingware. This works especially well if you're serving food via buffet, and it can eliminate the need for protective trivets.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

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