why I use my silver everyday

Marian ParsonsAntiques, Cleaning & care, My House, Tips and Tricks74 Comments

I’ve talked about this before, but it’s worth talking about again.

When I shared pictures of my new drawer organizers, I received a few comments and questions about my flatware.  The most common one was, “Do you really use your silver everyday?”

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The answer is yes, I really do.  Even with two young boys, I do.  Even with a husband who would be content using plastic picnic ware, I do.

It wasn’t always like that.  I used to use a $20/set Oneida pattern that we received as a wedding gift.  It was a common set, so I added onto it over the years with pieces I found from thrift stores.  I never really loved it, but it was just what we used and I didn’t question it.

I did finally purchase some new flatware from Pottery Barn, but it didn’t wear very well and the scale was so large that the spoons were more like serving spoons.  We used the dessert spoons and salad forks most of the time.

It finally hit me.

Marian, you have gorgeous flatware that you love!  Why in the world don’t you use it?  Why is it in a silver chest in a drawer, only seeing the light of day at Christmas?  

That is a misspent life for flatware as pretty as this.

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It was in a velvet-lined box for years, because at some point, that’s what we collectively decided was the proper thing to do with silver.  We all agreed that nice things, formal things, pretty things, expensive things, fancy things, should not be used except now and then…for guests, for special dinners, for holidays.

What a shame.

When my mom told me that my great-grandmother, Rosa, used her silver everyday, I decided to follow in her rebellious footsteps.

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I think (and I’m striving to do this), we should ditch the things we don’t really love and use the things we do love everyday.  Even if it’s “for special occasions.”  Break out the silver, the antique textiles and the family quilts and actually use them.  Enjoy them.  Love them.  Allow them to serve their purpose and live as full of a life as a utensil or quilt or napkin can live!

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So, we use our silver everyday.  Even the really old stuff that was passed down from my great-great-grandmother…  (Those are the really heavy, gorgeous ones with the “K” monogram and the pattern on the back.  The pattern is Chrysanthemum by Durgin.)

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…and my great-great grandmother.  I have a set of spoons with her initials EKJ – Epes Kevan Johnson.

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…and other pieces that wear the initials of my Oma, Marian, who I was named after.  See the MVA on the baby spoon?  That stands for Marian Vaughan Allen.

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…and some pieces are from my mom…gifts she received for her wedding.  

I love that my set is composed of pieces from different generations, even different sides, of my family.  (The pattern is Repousse by Kirk Stieff, if you’re curious.)  

I even use the knife that was used to cut my parent’s wedding cake as our “cake cutter” anytime we have a birthday or occasion to eat cake.

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I do keep a few pieces of silver in the chest, because they aren’t pieces that are very functional for everyday use.

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A few things about using the silver everyday…

We do wash it by hand.  It can go in the dishwasher, but I want to take special care of it, so I’ve opted to hand wash.  We just hand wash it with the pots and pans, sharp knives, etc. that aren’t best in the dishwasher, either.

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I give them a quick polish, mainly to get rid of watermarks and discolorations of the fork tines, about once a year.  They are actually due for a cleaning!  I like Goddard’s Silver Foam for the job.

I also know that there may be casualties now and then.  We recently had a spoon get mauled by the disposal and that was unfortunate, but I’m still okay with using them everyday.

I also keep plastic forks and spoons on hand for when we’re eating on the go.  I don’t want to take the nice silver and leave it in the car, crusted with oatmeal or yogurt, until it is discovered.  I’m almost always running behind, so I eat on the way to somewhere pretty often!

In addition to using our nice silver, we also eat off of vintage ironstone (dishwasher/microwave safe).  We snuggle and build forts with antique quilts that have fragile binding and frayed edges.  We even sit (and sometimes wrestle) on all of our furniture.  Nothing is reserved or off limits.  We do teach our boys to be respectful of our home and the things in it, but they are allowed to use everything.

There is a kind of joy and satisfaction in using your things.

So, go use them!

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There was a lot of tip-tip-tapping going on in the studio today…

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…and some light sanding as well…

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More on those soon…

why I use my silver everyday

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and just like that…it felt like home

74 Comments on “why I use my silver everyday”

  1. Marian, I’m glad you mentioned using quilts as well. As a quilter, I love my quilts to be used. If it’s worn out, that means it was well loved! There’s no higher compliment!

  2. I ADORE your silverware!! I’m sure they make your heart sing. I have the same philosophy you do. No point in owning it if you aren’t going to enjoy it–though my kids have done some numbers to things I have handmade. Thank you for all the inspiration on your blog. Yours is one of my very favorites!!

  3. I’m with you we were given a lovely set of cutlery as a wedding present but used a ratty old set everyday until I realised we only used the lovely set maybe once a year . Now we use it everyday and if it’s lost or damaged so what it’s worth more to me than if it’s just in a box .

  4. Your silverware is stunning. I can see why you would want to use it everyday. I have vintage pillow cases that I use, I love them.

  5. Your blog post reminds me of the “spark joy” revolution that is currently transforming our homes, and I totally agree. Your silverware is beautiful. I am inspired to find some new (old) pieces to use everyday.

  6. What an inspiring post! I am trying to “let go” and use the good stuff, the heirloom stuff, more and more, although I have to say it pains me to see a stain on some vintage napkins…. but I’m getting used to it, and I love that these items are seeing the light and love of day. Your sofa is looking absolutely stunning, and I love the blue and white quilt, the farmhouse white dresser – I soooo wish I lived closer so that I could shop at your booth! We would just transfer my bank balance from me to you, LOL!!!

  7. Stunning…just absolutely stunning. I have my Grandmother’s silver flatware that I adore…sadly I do keep it tucked away in a velvet lined box for special occasions. Maybe it’s time I change that rule…I’ve been wanting to “use what I love” more and I think it’s time that is part of it all. Plus, I really don’t like my everyday flatware.

    I absolutely LOVE the reupholstered sofa…I wish I could make the Spring Market!!! I just live too far.

  8. What a beautiful post today! I love how you use all your vintage linens and silver! Your photos are stunning-the sofa has turned out so pretty and the pillows are yummy. Would you please share where you get your pillow forms and also how you wash your antique linens? Thanks so much. Peggy

  9. I so agree! We should use our nice things for the people we love most! I love that you use your silver everyday. Silver was meant to be used, not shoved in a box!

    Your flatware is beautiful!

  10. Speaking of antique quilts, the one hanging in the background behind the little white dresser is gorgeous.

    Your silver flatware is beautiful, such a lovely pattern. I would use my silver everyday, if it looked like that. Haha. I don’t trust my children with nice flatware…too many times have I found a spoon in the trash or exactly like you said, crusted with yogurt in a bowl that was not brought down. Maybe when they are a bit older I will aspire to live with nothing off limits, but with 3 little ones (2, 5 and 9) I tend to be the mom to say “no no, don’t touch that” haha. One day!

  11. I so agree. My mom’s generation wanted everything to last so they were so afraid to be comfortable in their own home. I have a small cottage so space is precious so what is here is used.

  12. Lovely flatware, indeed, too lovely to not use or just forget in a drawer. You’re so right, we should use the things we like, they deserve it! A very lovely post!

  13. I couldn’t agree with you more!! Going right now to polish some and put it in the drawer for daily use. You inspire! Thanks for what you do everyday.

  14. Sounds like my mother. She often said “If it is too good to use, you don’t need it.” How very true. A few years ago my 2 youngest grandchildren found the seafood forks and learned what we all know they are very hard to eat with. China & silver looks better when it is used!

  15. Yep! I am glad to know that I am not alone. I am still using my grandmother’s quilt with frayed edges. My flatwares are mismatched but I like them this way.

  16. Your silver is beautiful! I’ve been thinking about using my Mom’s silver. It just sits in two blue velvet lined wood boxes. You have inspired me to use it. My hubby isn’t going to like hand washing the silverware but Mom would be happy to see her silver in use. Thank you Marion!

    I can’t close until I mention the sofa…it’s going to be a jaw dropper! I just love the tightly woven burlap back and the burlap twine trim with the nail heads. Can’t wait to see the full reveal.

  17. Beautiful flatware! But what’s with the audio commercial that started playing as I was reading this post? There was no video but it was a repeating audio. Is that a new type of advertising?

  18. I feel the same way about the Fostoria from my dad……after all, it is just fancy glass, I like it, and we are special too…….I can’t take it with me, so I’d rather enjoy it all the time!

  19. Many years ago I worked with an older lady whose house had burned down, and in it, all of her beautiful things she had saved for “some day.” I had forgotten about her until I read your post today. Thanks for the reminder to use the things we love best.

  20. Marian,

    After reading your post from awhile ago about using your silver, I decided I was going to do that too! Mine also was packed in a lined box and only used on holidays. Now i have it out and it’s used everyday. Every time I reach for a piece I look at it and say to myself that I’m so glad I took it out of its box and I get to enjoy it everyday!

    Thanks,
    Lisa

  21. Yay for using the good stuff! I have never understood the concept of packing things away, unused and unloved, just because they are “old and valuable”. Where is the real value in that? Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed!

  22. We always used silver growing up. My mother, like you, polished it once a year. Somewhere along the way, my Grandparents decided that my Mom should’t “have to work so hard” and they bought us a set of stainless. It was a very long time before my Mom dared to put it in the dishwasher – so what was the point? I say use it! When my Father passed away, his drawers and closet were full of things that he was saving because they were too good to use.

  23. What a great post for today. Ever since you posted about your favorite things, I asked myself what I love. And then I asked myself “Why are you using these plates and bowls on the table everyday when you have a cupboard full off old china and ironstone that you LOVE?” So I have been using them. I am slowly going room by room and getting rid of everything I don’t love and replacing them with things that make me smile and things that I love. It will be a process but it will be worth it. Thank you for reminding me again that I am on the right track.

  24. There is a device called a Super Stuffer that I used to get at Williams Sonoma and now find on Amazon. It goes in the disposal sink and allows water and bits to go down, but not spoons.
    A lifesaver! Thanks for reminding me to use my silver all the time.

  25. I’m with you Marion. Why save the good stuff for special occasions and company. Nobody is more important than family.

  26. Love this blog today….such a nice reminder of what really is important and to be used and cherished. I plan to put your suggestions to good use immediately…I have my mother’s silver now and will enjoy using it more than the special holidays.The “mum” on your silver is just gorgeous! Thank you.

  27. PS. I have some of those pretty napkins, too, that you have. They will be pretty on my dining room table.

  28. Marian’s grandmother would dig in the yard with a silver spoon I am told. not sure my grandmother encouraged that but it happened :). I don’t think my grandmother owned any other silverware.

    Marian’s Mom

  29. I recently got into an argument with my husband about this very topic. I wanted to use a set of silver passed down from his mother every day, but he thinks we should only use it for special occasions. Well, not that I am thinking about it, I also have a set from my godmother – I am going to get that set out and use it!

  30. Your silverware is beautiful! I would use it everyday, too. We were raised the way you are raising your kids. What’s the purpose in hiding your best things?

    If we broke or damaged something beautiful. We were never shamed. We were taught to be careful, but not to prize our possessions above relationships.

    As a decorator, I have worked in homes where the owners have chosen to surround themselves with their second best. They store their heirlooms for safekeeping or to pass down to the next generation. Often, the items get lost or damaged in storage or the next generation isn’t interested.

    Marian, you are a good example! ?

  31. This is so timely for me! My mother-in-law grew up the youngest of 11, and dirt poor. As an adult her “things” were so important-they could always go away! She treasured and took great care of the things she loved. I inherited a set of gold plated flat wear. My son loves it, and we do use it. Not every day, but often. Recently, as I was washing, drying, and putting away some of the pieces, I felt her presence so strongly. I thought to myself how pleased she would be that we enjoyed something she loved, and immediately thought “maybe not so much”! We USE the flatwear! She could be rolling over—that truth of who she was just grabbed me and I missed her so much. I had to sit down, the loss was so strong. I was crying so hard that I could not even speak to my son, who was completely freaked out! The lesson? We will use it. love it, and pass it on. And ask for Millie’s blessing. Thank you for sharing!

  32. Well said Laura. Why keep it hidden away. Just love using my silver every day. I do put it in the dishwasher and have never regretted it either. I always put my Lenox china in the dishwasher tool.The gold rim has never faded away either.

  33. I posted previously about keeping your silver in a wooden box, & asking if you used it every day. I’m so glad ro see this post. I’ve passsed my Repousse silver onto my daughter & im going to forward this to her Maybe she will start using hers daily. The hand washing may put the kebash on the idea tho.

  34. After closing up the homes of loved ones in the previous generation, I appreciate more than ever the joy of using the “good stuff” every day. After all, what happens to these treasures after we pass is not up to us. So use the good china, drink from the crystal, and don’t save things for another day.

  35. My mother used her silverware everyday. The more you use it the less it needs polishing!

  36. Your silverware is absolutely swoon worthy and gorgeous!!!! How wonderful that you get to use it everyday and build more memories right into it.

    A little tidbit: I polish my silverware with toothpaste (not gel) and a soft rag, give it a quick hand wash, and dry. It’s always on hand, is safe, and smells better than the usual polish cleaner.

    Enjoy!

  37. Marian, the silverware is so beautiful. Glad to see that you put it to good use. The table should always look pretty. I have another question, however. I just bought your milk paint in French Blue and painted a little hanging chest. Such a pretty color and the first time I have used your paint. I did like the way the paint went on and am sure to use it again. It did chip some, which I loved, but I thought I needed to sand it more. When all is said and done, I don’t like the look that I gave it. I think I learned that the natural chipping is great and it needs no more. I am going to paint over it again, just leaving the chips that came naturally.I love the look of the little East Lake chest that you show in Farmhouse White. My question is do you think that just letting the paint chip naturally is the best or do you do more sanding. When is the right time to stop?..Happy Thursday..Judy

    1. I usually sand a little more, so the piece is worn all over, instead of just a few random spots. It does take a little playing with to get the look that YOU like.

  38. I will confess to not liking the way silver cutlery ( British term for flatware)tastes when you eat with it. I can only deal with the non taste, or neutral taste of stainless steel. So all my useable cutlery is stainless steel!!

    Your flatware is beautiful.

    1. Very interesting! I have never “tasted” my silver, so I wonder if it has to do with how they were washed or polished or something else.

  39. What a great post, Marian. Such beautiful silver and wonderful pictures. I love the idea of using the silver every day. Hummmmm. I need to think about using mine. I was curious about how you washed yours. I read somewhere that you weren’t supposed to put silver in the dishwasher if you had stainless steel utensils in with it–but I don’t know if that’s true. And my mom always told me not to put her knives in the dishwasher because the handles are hollow and it would mess them up. Still, even if those were true, it’s not an issue if you wash by hand and that’s what we do when we use our silver. Every day would be nice–my husband cleans up after dinner…wonder if I could get him to start hand washing every night????
    Thanks for giving us something pretty to enjoy today.

    1. Marsha, it is true that you shouldn’t mix silver with stainless steel in the dishwasher.The silver will go black where it touches the stainless. Not sure about your mother’s advice, though it makes sense to me.

  40. My mom made that same decision after attending a few estate auctions and seeing someone’s treasured China, saved for best but infrequently used. She insisted my daughter play in her velvet rompers and silk dresses. Why save things for a day that may never come? Enjoy them while you can…otherwise someone else will buy them at your garage sale or auction and use them.

  41. I have never seen such lovely silverware before. I pick up any silverplate cutlery that catches my fancy at yard sales and thrift stores and use them all the time. Silver that is used doesn’t tarnish, which is another great reason to use it. I adore old pieces of crystal, china and whatever and use them to store brushes, makeup, office supplies, and in my medicine cabinet, etc. Cotton balls in a lead glass sugar bowl? Sure! Sometimes, it makes me so sad to see something that was kept for “best” and never used. It makes me happy when I do buy something that was used and loved, because I know that the former owner is happy that I am enjoying what they once treasured. In Europe, pieces are really used and not discarded if they aren’t perfect. We have such a strange need to have things look new and pristine.

    Oh, and if your silver ever goes missing? It wasn’t me.

  42. Lordy-day, I knew as I read that that looked familiar! We have Kirk Repousse – it is my husband’s, having belonged to his grandmother and mother. He loves it. We don’t use it every day (we have a beautiful set of Wiliiams-Sonoma flatware that we like very much for everyday use), but we bring it out frequently. It’s a lovely continuity.

  43. Thanks for another inspiring post. My lovely silver has spent far too long sitting in a drawer – until today!

  44. Hi Marian, thanks for “permission” to use the good stuff! I was raised with saving the good stuff for special occasions. We always had 2 sets-one for everyday and one for special occasions of silverware, dinnerware/china, special serving dishes…the list goes on…It has been very uncomfortable for me to let go and use “the special stuff” because of the way I was raised. I guess I will have to allow myself to get comfortable with it. Life goes by so fast…why not enjoy it!

  45. I have never seen such Gorgeous silverware! Swoon! You are so blessed to own that. I just Googled it, and the $11,000 price tag is way out of my budget!

    But, if I were fortunate enough to own it, I might use it every day, too! It’s far to beautiful to hide away. This was a good lesson today. . .I was thinking last week about the beautiful rose afghans that my Mom hand crochets for every couple who gets married in our family. Mine is still packed away, 13 years later, to protect it from kids and pets. Every so often she mentions it, that none of us use them; and we all have the same reasoning. So we need to pull them out and cherish all the love that went into the months of making them for us, while she is still alive to see and appreciate it.

    It will help me to remember with my own grandchildren, too. Make the memories. Don’t worry about the rest!

  46. My husband’s grandmother was his grandfather’s second wife. She had a niece staying with them over the summer one year who was sickly and couldn’t run around and play outside with the other children. Grandma was about at her wits end trying to keep the child entertained. So one afternoon, she got her niece toto help her sort through all of her ” for special ” linens and such. The child asked Grandma why all of her most beautiful things were folded up so carefully and put away instead of being out on the beds and the tables. Grandma told her that they were too nice to use every day so they were only used for very, very special occasions.
    Grandma told me that her niece nodded wisely and said that her uncle’s next wife would really be happy that his second wife had taken such good care of all the pretty things. Lol! Grandma said that was the last day she kept anything aside for a special occasion that she might not be alive to enjoy! We ate sandwiches off of her good china and drank coffee out of her gold rimmed demitasse cups and used the monogrammed linen napkins for everyday meals. She slept on the nice sheets with the embroidered pillowcases and put the hand pieced quilt her mama made on the bed. Grandma lived to be 95 and out lasted most of her pretty things but, oh my!…..the memories she had of using them with us…..and how special she made us feel …….
    that any time spent with us was a special occasion!
    Sorry to be so long winded but you truly plucked my heart strings and stirred up some wonderful memories of a wonderful woman!

  47. For the most part I love my things too much to let them go unused… I want to see and touch and use all the pretty things! The only reservation I have is with our good china… I’ve been collecting pieces since I was about 16 and have quite a sizable collection now! I wouldn’t mind using it every day except that the hubby is so good at breaking things! He’s broken 3 of our 8 stemless wineglasses in the last year alone! I suppose I should just get over it since losing a piece every now and then is better than never using it at all… but it’s so hard to take that first step! Thanks for sharing, loved the story!

  48. Thank you for sharing this article. I too,use my sterling & silver-plate silverware, that’s why they call it silverware. Why have it, if you only use for special occasions, my life and family is a special occasion! I also use good china, there is so much out there, antique stores, fairs, garage sales, estate sales and Goodwill, if you can believe it (I mix and match patterns). I just found 3 complete sterling silver settings at Goodwill, could not believe my eyes, someone did not know what they had, nor did Goodwill. As for breaking good China, there will always be other patterns etc out there, so use the good stuff and enjoy…PS..your food will slways taste better too, on my opinion. lOL

  49. I love this story. I too decided some years ago, that I would use my silver and anything else that I had been protecting from ???who knows what??? My decision came about becasue of my mother holding on so tightly to everything, that when I once asked her for a picture she had of my grandmothers twin as a little child (she died shortly after) so that I could put in my antique room with other old family photos, she said oh no I cant give you that. yet she had it in a frame behind some cross stictching work to never be seen.?? I decided right then and there I would always share and always display and use my precious collections and etc. Like the one story above where the children didnt use their afghans that someone had so lovingly made them. We do want to protect family heirlooms, but at the same time they were made to be used. Think of all the heirlooms that were passed down from long years ago, I can promise you they hed to use what they had, so our heirlooms may not be as fragile as we think. We should all use them and enjoy them now, or when you are gone someone may be finding them at a goodwill, or sold through estate sale. I attend a lot of estate sales, and I am always very sad to see some things that are for sale, that the children/grandchildren didnt find it worth keeping. So I will use mine now and then when the time comes pray that someone else will be as blessed as I was to have received it.

  50. Your silverware is gorgeous! I’ve never seen such beautiful, ornate silverware! I’d use it too. Life goes by much too quickly to truly not enjoy the things in our homes that bring us joy. That sofa looks gorgeous too! Can’t wait to see the rest of it!

  51. “Life is not a dress rehearsal, use your fine china everyday” is a motto that I strive to live by. I love using my mismatched silver, vintage linen napkins, and dishes from days long gone.

  52. Marian, you’re also doing something wonderful for your family’s health, in using your silver. Silver is a natural antibiotic, and is believed to be the reason that the black plague struck primarily the poor. The wealthy ate from silver. The poor didn’t even always have anything better than wooden flatware, instead often drinking from their bowls and eating with their hands. Colloidal silver fills this gap for some now, and can be quite effective.

  53. That IS beautiful silver! Just think how lucky you are that it came to you! Lots of other relatives must have been left out through those generations.

  54. You are so right! My beautiful silver and china that I still love has spent 46 years hidden away and rarely used. I hope I can be brave and bring it out. Thanks for encouraging us.

  55. Ohh the furniture looks so good!! Can’t wait to read more and I completely agree with you. If you love it why put it away and only bring it out on special occasions? Love it all the time! Beautiful silver wear btw

    Lauren | Lovely Decor
    xx

  56. Thank you so much for this post. I have referred back to this many times since you have posted this. I have reduced the things in my home to only the things I love and can not go without seeing. My silver is now in my drawers and ready for daily use. ♥

  57. I loved this article. I’m opening my silver chest tomorrow and will now be using my sterling everyday. Thank you for making me aware that everyday is a special day. Afterall, aren’t we spending it with all the people that make each day a holiday!!!

  58. I’ve been inspired by this post for almost a year. Today I found some beautiful vintage silverware. I can wait to use it everyday and have my children appreciate the beauty behind it! Thank you for teaching us to use the beauty not hide it.

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