Upcycle Thrift Store Silverware with Paint

Give inexpensive, mismatched silverware a bright DIY treatment.

Does anyone else seem to have an abundance of inexpensive silverware kicking around? I actually don’t even know where mine came from. Seriously, no clue how it got there. I see a ton of the same kind at thrift stores and yard sales, but this stuff snuck into our house somehow—I swear, we’re not fork, spoon and knife hoarders. So what to do with cheap, mostly mismatched silverware? Upcycle it with some pretty pops of color to unify the set into place settings.

This week, I’ve been busy wrapping up an editorial wedding photo shoot—basically a pretend wedding where I get to choose the colors, theme, and setting, and best of all, there’s no Bridezilla looming. We had an AMAZING team lending their respective outstanding talents with the shoot, and I have another DIY project coming at you soon from the shoot, but for today, let’s talk silverware. Specifically, the tangerine orange and cobalt blue variety.

I needed a strong pop of color for my place settings but couldn’t find any silverware in the colors I needed. Then I remembered my drawer of misfit silverware and a light bulb went off. Me being me, I thought, “Eh, I can totally do this with spray paint.” Because it’s my answer to nearly everything. I grabbed a few pieces of flatware that looked similar and then ran out to hunt down spray paint in the right colors. I found my colors at Michael’s—Pumpkin Orange and Cobalt Blue—and lickity split, I was in business.

It was a super easy project and I can already see myself using the same technique in different colors for a birthday party, an Independence Day party, a wedding shower, a garden party (yes, I have that much excess cheap silverware). I made a few different sets in both colors for the photo shoot, but it pretty much all boiled down to the same process: clean, tape, prime, paint and repeat about a dozen times over. But as you can see from the shot above, it was all worth it. Everyone will be so smitten with the pops of color on your table, they’ll never notice that silverware is nothing special. Or wasn’t, until the flatware-spray-paint love connection happened.

I swear, I know how to do things that don’t involve spray paint.


Step 1

 Open GalleryHere’s a happy bunch of utensils pre-paint. These all kind of match, but I think it would look as good, if not better, to mix up patterns and then unify the place setting with one color. I wasn’t sure which color I’d use for the photo shoot, so I wanted to go prepared with a few place settings of both of my colors.

Step 2

 Open GalleryHere are my guys after I’d taped them with FrogTape. I made sure all the seams on the tape were sealed so that no overspray could sneak onto the surfaces of the silverware that would hold food.

Step 3

 Open GalleryNo matter what anyone says, I always go back to basics and prime. I like good results and priming is usually the magic step that ensures a “yay!” instead of a “booooo.” I pulled on my mask (I did go with a lighter mask this time because it FINALLY warmed up enough in New England that I could paint outdoors. I did kind of miss my Darth Vadar ventilator mask, though …) One light and even coat of Primer in White and I was good to go.

Step 4

 Open GalleryOnce the primer was dry on both sides, I gave my silverware two light and even coats of paint. I did some with the cobalt blue, and some with the orange. This guy is sunning himself to dry on top of my overspray cardboard, which shows you just how COMPLETELY GORGEOUS cobalt blue and tangerine are together.

Step 5

 Open GalleryThe Pumpkin Orange came in a gloss sheen, but I couldn’t find the right color of cobalt blue in my normal go-to spray paint brands, so I went with a brand I’d never used before, Liquitex.  It’s a gorgeous color, and water-based, so the fumes were MUCH less headache-inducing, but it dried to a flat finish, so I needed to clear coat so that they were a matching glossy sheen, and to seal and protect my freshly painted goodies. But I’m definitely kind of in love with this new-to-me brand now and the spectrum of colors available kind of blew my mind. Next up might have to be some magenta … and then some a vivid saturated green … and then, well, you get the idea. At least I’ll have a very colorful drawer of misfit silverware.

Step 6

Once all of my pieces were painted and lacquered, I let them hang out for 24 hours—no touching. The last thing I needed on those pretty babies were my smudgy fingerprints, so I kept my mitts to myself and went off to finish other projects. For the photo shoot, I ended up using only the tangerine place settings, but now that I have them all painted and ready to rock, you know it’s only a matter of time before these guys make their dinner party debut. All hail an easy DIY upcycling of cheap silverware!

About Ellen Foord 


A tight budget has never stopped Ellen Foord from creating a beautiful, modern, creative home and treating every day as one of life's smaller celebrations. A freelance writer and ...

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7 Responses

  1. kristal says:

    I love this! I'm using antique silverware as drawer pulls in my kitchen & needed something to match them up w/the advertising knobs I've ordered. Thanks!

  2. Cindy says:

    what kind of sealer did you use?

  3. Being a fan of antique flatware part of me is screaming out "no don't paint it.. please" However I will let you off if they weren't sterling silver and antique, so please assure me they weren't :) They do look good tho and it is a good idea. But for me I may try this on non silver flatware lol.

  4. Cheekybama says:

    Mmmm I'm concerned that this DIY project is potentially toxic. Paint on anything that goes in your mouth is generally a bad idea.

    • Minnow + Co says:

      I definitely agree that paint should NOT go on any surface that will touch food. I was super careful about double taping to make sure all of the surfaces that would come in contact with food or go into anyone's mouth, so that no paint – not even a tiny bit of overspray – would get on them. And I gave them a good scrubbing after I removed the tape to get rid of tape residue and to make sure there was NO paint where it shouldn't be.Thanks!

  5. Becky says:

    Are they dishwasher safe?

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