Asked on Oct 06, 2013

Artificial Flowers - Can I Tone Them Down?

B.J. B
by B.J. B
I am really trying to decorate for Fall this year. I have some autumn leaves and flowers but they are just too bright for my décor. Is there something I can do to make them a more muted color without it looking too cheesy? I would like just a hint of color to come through.
  14 answers
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Oct 07, 2013
    A flat "spray" primer applied from a good distance will mask a lot of the color...but cheesy is a pretty big obstacle to overcome when working with fake plastic decor in the first place. How about looking into some natural dried gourds etc.
    • B.J. B B.J. B on Oct 08, 2013
      @KMS Woodworks My Mom had a tub of fall foliage that is now mine, I almost threw them out, then I thought of Hometalk and wondered if I could salvage them.
  • Cindy F Cindy F on Oct 07, 2013
    Maybe you could try coffee or tea staining them....not sure if it would work (depending on the material the leaves are made out of) but it wouldn't hurt to try!
    • B.J. B B.J. B on Oct 08, 2013
      @Cindy F I have coffee stained different projects but didn't think of it with the leaves. It's worth trying because I was going to throw these out anyway.
  • Sam Schaefer Sam Schaefer on Oct 07, 2013
    I lightly sprayed some artificial foliage for one of my projects & they turned out beautifully. To see the results, go to It toned them down and didn't look like cheap Wally World flowers anymore. Hope this helped. :-)
    • See 1 previous
    • B.J. B B.J. B on Oct 08, 2013
      @Sam Schaefer Wow. I went to your blog and saw what you did with the ivy, what a difference. I've got a can of white spray paint on my shopping list. Thank you.
  • Larose LoganOakes Larose LoganOakes on Oct 07, 2013
    This may sound crazy but I had some silk poinsettias that had faded badly and I wanted to use them outside on my front porch. So I just grabbed up a can of red spray paint and gave all of the leaves a couple of blasts and they looked great.I would recommend that you use a darker brown almost a chocolate, a muted gold and a maroon color. You could use a piece of lace to paint through or a piece of nylon netting or screening material. Any scrap will do.Either that or else use a beige color over the existing color. If you have the time and the energy you could paint the veins on the leaves with a very thin brush or those skinny fineline paint markers that they have for scrapbooking.I used one once to paint the veins on the wings of a fairy statue that I had refurbished.Best of luck!:)
    • B.J. B B.J. B on Oct 08, 2013
      @Larose LoganOakes I really like your ideas. I would never of thought of painting through lace or nylon netting for texture. I have a bunch of these type of artificial flowers (they were my Moms) so I will be able to experiment. I'm really glad I didn't pitch them now. Thank you. I would love to see pictures of what you have done.
  • Nicki Michaud Zoda Nicki Michaud Zoda on Oct 08, 2013
    Shoe polish - just rub it on and wipe it off.
    • B.J. B B.J. B on Oct 08, 2013
      @Nicki Michaud Zoda That's quick idea, right up my alley. Thank you. I know I have some shoe polish around here some where...............
  • Gloria Duy Gloria Duy on Oct 08, 2013
    I have watered down brown acrylic paint and brushed it on things. I have also started over by spray painting all brown and then lightly brushing the ends with fall colors.
    • See 2 previous
    • B.J. B B.J. B on Oct 08, 2013
      @Gloria Duy Thank you
  • Sam Schaefer Sam Schaefer on Oct 08, 2013
    I'm so glad I could help. You could also paint them a metallic color like I did for my copper fall wreath. You can see it at - Don't let what's out there stop you from having what you want. My motto, if you can't find it, make it yourself. Happy Creating!
  • Sam Schaefer Sam Schaefer on Oct 08, 2013
    Thank you Sue!
  • Tammy w Tammy w on Oct 08, 2013
    you could try taking brown acrylic paint on a dry brush or rag and rub it on the leaves. Then wipe it off..the paint will stay in creases and give it a different look.
  • Shelly L Shelly L on Oct 08, 2013
    Maybe a little soft gold or copper spray-paint
  • Madelyn Bird Madelyn Bird on Oct 08, 2013
    Sam, I've used Old English dark furniture polish for similar projects. It looks so dark in the bottle but is actually quite transparent. I like the fact that it is flat instead of glossy. It dries quick but not so that you don't have some play time to work with it.
    • B.J. B B.J. B on Oct 09, 2013
      @Madelyn Bird I do have this polish. Do you just use a paint brush to put it on or do you use some other method?
  • Gloria Clayton Gloria Clayton on Oct 09, 2013
    There is a clear brown floral paint that sprayed on lightly will mute the bright tones, ask your local florist or Hobby Lobby!
  • Madelyn Bird Madelyn Bird on Oct 10, 2013
    I have used paint brushes with success. I've started using those spongie on a stick applicators. I'm not very neat and organized and they are cheap enough to pitch. I apply just a tad with the edge and then swirl or rub with the main part
  • Brush a little antiquing medium on them. You can wipe it off a bit if it's too dark.