As I type that title, I feel as if I have written something heretical. You see, my original specialty is antique silver and the hours, multiplied by years, over which I have polished, and polished again, my inventory or my own collection, seem to add up to an eternity. Considering my expertise, its amazing that I don’t write about it more, and perhaps that is something that needs to change. Photographing silver has its own difficulties, so that may be what has put me off. But while there is nothing like the gleam of well polished antique silver – it has a buttery texture all its own – the idea of allowing non-valuable pieces to tarnish and patinate has been taking hold in both my mind and the collective design unconscious for quite some time now. And remember, as tarnish is destructive in the long-term, I think it is important to differentiate between important pieces and those that have little intrinsic value beyond their decorative appeal, like those in the photos below.

Tarnished silver seems to work best with a decor style I’ll call “simple rustic warmth”, illustrated perfectly in these 2 photos by Blayne Beecham. Instead of the more typical china plates, old trays have been stacked as a wall display.

Other details include wood, the more rough and natural the better, furniture with spare lines and luminescent light. Thanks to Donna at A Perfect Gray, where I first saw these posted.

The same idea is at play in this promotional style photo for the new Tresham line of vintage/rustic style vanity and toilet from Kohler.

White paint over wood and other vintage accessories add to the look. Love that repurposed window as cupboard door!

Again, the interplay between beautiful light, white and wood colored accessories in the baskets and birdcages.

This staged display is even more literal with the trays hung on an old wood fence.

These pieces might actually be pewter, but the dark moodiness sings in this photo, so I couldn’t help but include it.

Here Debbie Dusenberry mixes silver platters with other aged items…

…and again here, from Brooke Giannetti, with vintage pocket watches and leather books that stand in for wood.

Heather Bullard takes such gorgeous photos! This one elevates everyday kitchen utensils to an amazing vignette by sorting and storing them in vintage silver trophy cups.

It works equally well in the bathroom too!

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Image Credits: 1-2 & 9. via A Perfect Gray, photo credit: Blayne Beecham, 3. Lonny September/October 2011, 3a-3b. via Skonahem, 4. via Jennifer Rizzo, 5. via Martha Stewart Living, 6. Debbie Dusenberry in Better Homes and Gardens, December 2009, 7. via Velvet & Linen, 8. via Heather Bullard.