This Probably Isn’t How Butlers Do This

Once again, I promise we’re still here! And – very exciting – the Library is on the horizon! We are SO EXCITED to be starting a room again. A few things to finish up in the Study, and some things happening in the Dining Room…. everything feels very segmented now. But we’re starting to move on some things, and this makes us so happy. I know that’s the reality of doing a renovation on a small budget (and doing the work ourselves with full-time jobs), but it still feels so nice to planning and plotting again!

One of the unexpected things about living in a house this unique, is the number of things that are gifted to us by family or friends, because it doesn’t work in their house, or because they think that it might have a really good home here. It’s crazy how many special things have ended up here – and how much more meaningful it makes our home to us. It also probably helps that we are old souls who actually USE their wedding china – that the things that make their way to us can be incorporated in our house in a meaningful way – one that doesn’t make us feel like we live in a museum. I hope.

This article popped across my newsfeed a few days ago, and even though it’s not a new article, I found it timely for this post. I can totally understand the sentiments here, but I feel really lucky to not experience them myself. Whether it’s a crystal punch bowl that was my Grandmothers, or a Bugle that belonged to my husband’s Grandfather – everything has found a home so far.

So when good friends of ours from college reached out and said, “We have some silver that we think you might appreciate – it’s from our family, but it’s not something we can really use – but if you love it, we’d love for you to enjoy it.”

Of course, I said “Sure!” I wasn’t quite prepared for the coolness or quantity, though. And I definitely think of it as being “on loan” – the moment they want it back, it’s theirs again. Shortly after our lunch with them, where they came over and dropped off the silver, I also came across a display piece for the dining room at an auction – one that fit the house so well and was the perfect scale. So, it seemed to be the right time to figure out how to polish silver, and to unpack all the wedding china that had been in boxes since our move to this house 6 years ago!

From what they told us, and the little research that I did, most of the silver is plated, and isn’t rare or collectable. But there is a lot of it, and the idea of polishing the silver without the staff from Downton Abbey seemed daunting. So I looked some things up, and found out that I could play a mad scientist and make this happen pretty quickly.

Thing to gather :

  • A pot filled with water (I used my home improvement roaster)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Baking Soda
  • Tongs
  • A Landing Zone for Hot Things
  • Courage to Get Burning Droplets of Water on You
  • Silver Polish
  • A Sponge and a Rag

I laid the foil in the bottom of the roaster, and filled it with water.

Next, I added baking soda, and cranked the heat. I found the hotter it was, the better it worked.

This explains the science behind it, but basically there’s a chemical reaction that causes the tarnish to care more about the aluminum foil than the silver, so it comes right off! 


If you’re doing a lot, you have to change out the water and foil several times.

Drop the piece in, and let it soak. Some pieces took 30 seconds, some took a few minutes. It all depended on the tarnish level. I would use the tongs to get the piece out, and then put a new one in.

Amazing, right?

This is maybe my favorite piece. I had cleaned the base when this picture was taken.

This is a “during” shot, between turning the piece in the water. The sharp line is the water line! The whole piece couldn’t be submerged – it was too big, so this a perfect way to see exactly how amazing this works.

It’s. Freaking. Gorgeous.

There is a LITTLE elbow grease that happens.

After it’s dry, I used a little silver polish to just clean up any residue and water marks. But it was crazy easy.

A light coating of polish, followed by a wash with a sponge.

There you go!

The one on the left is through the whole process. The one on the right is through the roaster, but not the polish.

Butter Dish before…..

Here’s a video of the process!

And Butter Dish After!

China and Silver, ready to be re-homed!

I put the lovely tea set on display….

The rest went into the sideboard and the new display hutch.

It definitely feels like a proper Dining Room now!



  1. I thought I might be the only one of earth that liked old silver. It looks so beautiful living in the china cabinet. I’ve inherited a lot of silver and even though I’ve passed it on to my daughter (she also has a Victorian house). It’s still fun for me to fix a Thanksgiving dinner and see people laughing and using all the silver and my daughter’s Spode that she received from her Grandmother. Love you posts.

  2. I read your posts but I don’t comment often. But I wanted to echo Jan’s comment that the silver is beautiful, and you’ll have so much fun using it. I have a few pieces that I love and use, and I’d have a lot more if I had the room. Can’t wait to see you post a photo of your first dinner or party where you can use these pieces.

  3. Amy, it’s gorgeous and I’m so glad you are putting it to good use! I’ve missed your posts, as I read them by email and don’t have an instagram account. You could easily host tea parties in your home with all the finery.
    I am three years into a renovation of a 1910 Queen Anne house in Zebulon, North Carolina. I’m living in Raleigh and working on the house on weekends. It’s taking a long time, but we plan to move in once the bulk of the reno is done. Your posts give me ideas and also courage to keep plugging away. Keep writing and thanks for sharing!

  4. i noticed the tap/sign on the roaster (slow cooker i assume) that says “paint stripping”. i have one exactly like it for just that purpose.

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