Tarnished Silver Tray Upcycle + 5 Ways to Decorate With Dishes

A tarnished silver tray gets a new lease on life with a thrifty upcycle using a blue and white napkin and decorative bunny mold. This tutorial, plus more ideas for decorating with vintage dishes, is just ahead!
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Hey friends welcome! I'm so excited to share this silver tray upcycle with you as well as 5 ideas for decorating with thrifted dishes. I'm a vintage dish hoarder and until we recently moved from Texas to Mississippi, I admit I had no idea just how much thrifted ironstone and dishes I actually had collected! Mr DIY helped me pack the boxes, and it was a little embarrassing when it became apparent that I might have a slight problem! However, dishes are for so much more than just eating off and below I'll show you some fun ways I use them in my home.

I'm so happy to join Thrifting with the Gals as their guest this month. TWTG is a monthly series hosted by Rachel of The Ponds Farmhouse. Every month friends from around the country share their thrifting hauls and how they use their items to decorate their homes! It's so fun to see what thrifted goodies are being found from coast to coast! Stick around and see what everyone is sharing today.

Thrifted Silver

Over the years I've found many unique silver pieces at the thrift store, and recently I scored this large and very heavy silver tray for just $2.99. If you saw it in its before state, you may have passed it by because it looked so bad...one of the worst tarnished trays I've ever seen! However, I've upcycled silver trays before, and I had an idea for turning this one into a beauty!

How to Upcycle a Tarnished Silver Tray

Let me tell you my vision for this sad looking tray, and then I'll show you how I accomplished it!

I have painted silver trays before, but wanted to try my hand at decoupaging one. I'm a huge fan of vintage blue and white transferware, and a couple years ago found blue and white floral napkins. The napkins are such a great match to my vintage ironstone collection as well as my blue and white dishes, so it just seemed like a no-brainer to decoupage this silver tray. Here are a few other items I've decoupaged with these napkins:



There are three steps to this tray upcycle, including the decoupaging the tray, making the rabbit molds and antiquing the rabbit molds before attaching them. Let's get started!

Step One - Paint and decoupage tray

I did clean this tray first, and recommend you always clean an item before painting it! You want to remove any grease, stickiness and dirt so that the paint will adhere.

Paint tray

My home is a mix of vintage and new, and even when I add primitive pieces, I like it to look bright and fresh! With that said, I prefer a creamy white color rather than stark white, and this paint is the perfect happy medium!

I painted two coats of creamy white chalk paint onto the tray, front and back because the back looked just as bad as the front! As soon as all that tarnish was covered, the details of the tray showed up so much better!

Decoupage tray

Here are the steps I used to decoupage a napkin onto this thrifted tray:

  1. I spread a napkin over the tray to make sure it would fit. I chose to decoupage just the flat surface of the tray.
  2. Pressing the napkin flat, I traced around the tray's inner edge with a pencil.
  3. I cut the oval shape out.
  4. I removed the tissue layers (napkins usually have 3 ply).
  5. Working in sections, I spread a thin layer of Mod Podge onto the surface of the tray and then carefully pressed the napkin onto it.
  6. Finally I brushed a thin layer of Mod Podge to the top of the napkin and set it aside to dry.
The tray looked so beautiful already, and I could have left it as is, however I wanted to embellish it with a vintage style rabbit mold for Spring.

I also decided to give a little extra attention to the beautiful trim on this tray, and rubbed sections with some Antique Gold Rub 'N Buff. This gilding wax was the perfect way to bring back a little metal to this painted tray.

Step Two - Create rabbit mold

I fell in love with this vintage rabbit mold set and knew it would make a charming embellishment for my decoupaged tray. The details on these silicone molds from Prima are outstanding! The rabbit's fur and features are so clear! These molds can be used with all kinds of clay and are a great way to give home decor and even furniture a unique look!


I chose to use Model Magic in the mold. It's my new favorite clay to use because it is soft and squishy, easy to work with, and leaves no messy residue on your hands or work surface like other air dry clay! I recently used this clay to make some faux  DIY antique ironstone broody eggs, and have lots more projects in the works!

I took a piece of clay and worked it in my hands to soften a little, then pressed it firmly into the rabbit mold. It's very easy to peel out.

Next, I needed to remove the excess clay from around the shapes, and cut this away with an Exacto knife.

I used a wood dowel to press any rough edges to flatten them, and then set the shapes aside to dry. It took a couple days for the shapes to dry, and I flipped them over halfway through.

Step Three - Antique the rabbit mold

The rabbit and wreath shapes needed some dimension. I wiped on a thin layer of clear furniture wax, and then dark wax. I really worked the dark wax into the crevices and grooves, and then wiped most of it off. This simple step did so much to add texture and dimension and highlight the details of the molded clay rabbit and wreath shapes, you can see the difference below!

I glued the clay shapes in the center of my decoupaged tray using E-6000 glue and with that, my tarnished tray upcycle was complete! I added it to a Spring vignette in my office studio, next to the blue and white check DIY mason jar flower I made.

I also like the upcycled tray on my black hutch next to some of my thrifted dishes. I'll be sharing my Spring dining room decor soon!

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5 Ways to Decorate with Dishes

As promised, here are some ideas for using your thrifted or vintage dishes in your home decor. The majority of my pieces were purchased for just a couple bucks, so it's an affordable way to create a collection for your home.

1. Create a Gallery Wall of Dishes

The area above my bed needed something, but with such a tall headboard, I'm limited in what I can hang. A gallery wall of vintage dishes, all in the same creamy white, fills the space with vintage goodness! You can see more of my Spring bedroom decor here.

2. Reinforce a Theme with Vintage Dishes

I decorated our guestroom for Spring in shades of white, blush and green. A stained platter with pink florals was the perfect accent to this Cottage Style DIY Shelf that Mr DIY and I made. The ironstone pitcher and stack of dishes helps to balance the shelf decor. You can see more details of this Light and Airy Spring Bedroom here.

3. Decorate a Bookshelf with Platters

Our living room has built-in bookshelves next to the fireplace. The TV is mounted on top of the fireplace, which is not ideal for someone who loves to decorate the mantel for every season!

To distract the eye, I've used the bookshelves as a place to display decorative items. A thrifted plate rack I scored recently fit one of the shelves nicely. I painted it white to blend in, and added vintage thrifted platters as decor to the shelves, along with some of my vintage ironstone pitchers. They are a great fit with my white bunnies. I'll be sharing my Spring living room in a couple weeks, this is a great time to remind you to sign up for my newsletter so you don't miss a thing!

4. Add Vintage Charm in Unexpected Places

When we gave the laundry room in our rental a $50 makeover, I used the built in shelves to store laundry and cleaning essentials as well as some of my thrifted vintage ironstone! The pitchers are handy for storing brushes, rags, soap, clothespins, and they add a little style to a utilitarian room. Laundry is much more enjoyable to do in a pretty space! You can see how we added style and function to our small laundry room for under $50 here.

5. Fill a Cubby with Thrifted Dishes

I hang vintage dishes on my walls, but I also love to display them as a collection! This wall hung craft cubby was the ideal spot to not only showcase my small ironstone creamers, it also functions as decorative wall art! For more details on how I repurposed this craft cubby, click here.

If you can't find a craft cubby like this, why not add your thrifted smalls to a primitive pie safe like this one. The open front and sides allow your collection to be viewed from all angles. You can see more of my Vintage Valentines Coffee Bar here.

Of course, my favorite way to display my stacks of thrifted vintage dishes is displaying them in and on top of my hutches!

Here are some additional ways to decorate with thrifted dishes:

Rachel lives down a dirt road in North Carolina and is surrounded by amazing antique and thrift stores. She has decorated her home, porch, greenhouse and beach cottage with her signature farmhouse style and sustainable DIY and crafts!

Ann has a beautiful blog where she loves to share decorating tips, vintage and thrifty finds, DIY projects, and antiques from her collected homes in Vermont and Coastal Maine. Her vintage collections are some of my favorites!

ROBYN of Robyn's French Nest - 10 Easy Ways to Decorate with Vintage Architectural Salvage
Robyn is from sunny Florida and has created a unique and one of a kind French nest filled with salvaged treasures, from a builder grade house! I know you'll love her decorating ideas!

KRISTIN of White Arrows Home - Summer Thrifting Wish List
Kristin lives in a lakeside log cabin in the Northwoods of Wisconsin and has the best style and cozy decor that is sure to inspire! I love her vintage collections!

bringing beauty to the ordinary,


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  1. Cindy, your tray looks amazing. I love all the details. Plus, I love collecting and decorating with old dishes. Thanks for these creative ideas. I’m so glad you joined us this month.

    1. Thanks Rachel, I love the hunt! It was fun to join you this month xx

  2. Cindy this is the cutest idea and I love the blue and white pattern you used. Thanks so much for joining us this month!

  3. Such a fun and happy idea! I have some platters that I didn't know what to do with and now I do! Love your creativity. And now I've also got to find a slim dough bowl/trough so I can line up teacups! Gaaaahhh! Thanks for sharing. Great post. pinned

    1. Happy to inspire Cindy! Isn't that the way it goes...I just got back from thrifting bc Miss Mustard Seed shared some amazing ironstone cake stands she found. Of course I found nada 🙄

  4. This is so cute! What a great idea! Thanks for joining #thriftingwiththegals this month!

  5. Dear tarnished tray I don't like in my stash, thanks to this tutorial, your days just may be numbered. I adore how you made it your own, with a raised bunny no less! Those molds are so cool!


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