Diving in to a DIY

Several months ago, I scored a pair of these silver plated candelabras for FREE. They’re not in the best shape — they definitely could use a polish and a scrubbin, and I think Joe almost had a heart attack when I walked in the door with them…but did I mention they were free?

Aside: this mentality will probably result in me being a hoarder some day. Send help now.

I’m slowly trying to dip my foot into the DIY waters when it comes to paint jobs and what not, so I thought this would be a great project! I don’t think I want to leave them silver…but do I? I need your help! What color should they be painted? More photos for reference:

The candelabras are kind of interesting in that they can hold two different sizes of tapers. In the bottom right photo, you can see what it looks like when you remove the little cup that holds the smaller size (I kind of like the way it looks without these). Although…it just occured to me that maybe all candelabras do this and it’s a way to prevent wax from getting all over the arms. Perhaps? Gah, I’m such a rookie.

I’m thinking I would like to put each one atop the built-in bookshelves that flank our fireplace in the front living room. I like the idea of having tapers in these to draw the eye up and fill in some of the visual space on top of these shelves.

My thoughts are this: do I paint them lacquer white? Black? Really, really dark navy (almost midnight) blue? Grey? Punchy yellow? The colors in the room are currently tangerine orange, lacquer white, and blue gray, with a long brown couch (similar to this one from CB2).

Along with the color, I have no idea what kind of prep I’d need to do before spray painting these.  I know there are several DIY goddesses amongst you (Naomi, I’m looking at you)…how should I approach this project? How does one prep silver plated metal? Any help, thoughts, advice is greatly appreciated! I’m hoping to tackle this in the next couple weeks then of course will share the results!


Leave a Comment


  1. 3.6.12

    I vote navy – I think that sounds gorgeous with the colors of your current room.

  2. 3.6.12

    I’m not much of a DIY-er either, but I would like to try a project or two. I think that candelabra is awesome. The shape is so interesting. I would probably keep it silver or pewter!

  3. 3.6.12

    I adore the shape! I vote for glossy black. Also, spray paint is amazing in that it requires little prep. Just clean and spray!

  4. 3.6.12
    Becca said:

    I vote for high gloss white or navy!

  5. 3.6.12

    I love that you are dipping your toes into the DIY world, but would you hate me if I said your shouldn’t paint those? I think if they had a good polishing they would look really lovely as they are. How about adding navy tapers?

    If you must paint them then NOT white because that won’t pop against the bookshelf. Navy is better.

  6. 3.6.12
    viv said:

    I love the high gloss white color. I vote for that!

  7. 3.6.12
    Giulia said:

    make sure to clean them, then use primer spray paint in a VERY thin coat and then several VERY thin coats of spray paint. DON”T try to get it all in one coat, you’ll get drips – stand about 10 inches away in a well ventilated area and keep your hand moving at all times when spraying. Let it dry after each coat. I’d go glossy navy.

  8. 3.6.12
    Libby said:

    these are great–and free!!! I like the dark option if you are keeping them on the bookshelf…do you have an idea of candle color? I just scored hot pink tapers at my local Goodwill (random, right?!) and am looking for holder options. Keep us posted on the results :)

  9. 3.6.12
    the NOW said:

    Yes maybe you can do colorful candles and keep them silver. OR the spray paint method might be the easiest…glossy white would be really pretty!! xoxoo Elizabeth

  10. 3.6.12
    Keren said:

    Navy will look fantastic – still neutral but with a pop! I DIY frames all the time, as long as the original piece has beautiful beveling, etching, and details – a quick cleaning and layer of spray paint makes everything NEW and ornate!


  11. 3.6.12
    alyson said:

    i’d probably defer to someone, anyone with a lot more interior design skill than me however I wouldn’t do lacquer white (as much as I love it!). The midnight blue/navy sounds really pretty, as does a grey. as an aside, i LOVE your tangerine chair!

  12. 3.6.12

    Love them! I would go with either the navy everyone loves or neon yellow. The great thing about spray paint is you can change them. Neon is so in right now so that might be a cool temporary option then in the future change them up some.

    One tip when spray painting, make sure to use spray primer and very very light coats. Then follow with your color choice. On a piece like that fixing drips will be much harder so lighter coats are the way to go and few should cover everything completely if you use primer! Hope this helps some, such an awesome find and for FREE!!!

  13. 3.6.12

    I vote glossy navy!

  14. 3.6.12

    None of those are going to be bad options, though a neutral will make it easy for them to live in any room. ALTHOUGH, you could always repaint. What a fun free gifty!!

  15. 3.6.12

    I LOVE them! If I saw something similar at a thrift store I’d snag them immediately. I think since they’re so traditional looking, painting them a bright, modern color would be a great counterpoint (neon yellow or something else unexpected). Myself, I’d probably go with classic bright glossy white, which I think would look gorgeous. Either way, I love them and can’t wait to see how they turn out!

  16. 3.6.12
    Anna said:

    So funny! My MIL gave these exact candelabra to us when we got married! I think we may have a couple more pieces than you do, but they are identical. I’ve never considered painting them (or putting them on permanent display) but the navy could be stunning. I also agree with the previous poster about a fun, bright color — fuchsia?

  17. 3.6.12

    Love! I’d go with a blue to complement your orange (complementary colors – coming from the nerdy art teacher!) … or even close to the orange color?!

    I’m not sure about prepping silver though.


  18. 3.6.12
    Amy said:

    You could also try that mercury glass look!

  19. 3.6.12

    I vote bright and neon. You can always paint over it in a couple months. it will give you a pop of modern with a trad twist. Good luck…you might become a diy addict with your new flexible schedule! xo

  20. 3.6.12
    Anna said:

    Oh I would try this out but I’m too cautious. I guess a navy or bold color would be better than white.

  21. 3.6.12

    The shape is amazing! I would either not paint th if they’re salvageable or paint part of them in neon. For a safer look, I’d go for black. Black iron is very in right now so I have no doubt these would be totally on the money! Great find :)

  22. 3.7.12

    It seems almost a shame to paint real silver! But I do love the idea of a navy blue candelabra.

  23. 3.8.12

    I vote for keeping them silver!!!!! They’re gorgeous. And I’ll prevent you from becoming a hoarder…just send me everything you get for free ;)

  24. 3.8.12
    Meghan said:

    Call me a traditionalist, but I vote for keeping them silver. I get a ton of silver-plate from the Goodwill. You would be surprised how well they polish up!

  25. 4.7.12
    nicolachipps@gmal.com said:

    Oh, Please Don’t Paint These – They are classics!
    Wait till you find another flea find – wood or composite replica to your let DIY imagination run wild with paint. Meanwhile, pick up some Haggerty’s silver dip liquid from Cole Hardware. Much easier than the silver cleaning pasty goop. Lay out a few old terry towels by the sink, a big glass bowl and an old toothbrush. Pour half the silver dip liquid into the bowl and set to work scrubbing and dipping. Rinse well and lay to dry. You will be so pleased with the shiny results, you wont dare to splodge paint on them!

    Pop bright good quality candle sticks in and create table/bookshelf vignettes with birch-bark low vases or wild greenery, (try Coast Floral supply at SF Flower Mart) or use other natural found objects that tone down the Downton Abbey look. Such old/new chic!

  26. 4.7.12
    nicolachipps@gmal.com said:

    P.S. If you want the most professional opinion of all, talk to Biro & Sons Re-Platers on Folsom. http://www.biroandsons.com
    Super old school, these guys have been around forever and can re-plate anything. I’m sure they would offer tips should you decide to attempt painting…