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DIY Decorative Tray

One of my favorite parts of moving is the chance to redecorate and change up my home décor. I love to create small vignettes using items like candles, and pretty picture frames all contained inside a chic tray. I am not sure I can explain my love affair with trays. They are an easy way to create order in areas which are likely to get cluttered. They can make a random assortment of items look polished. I love to use trays to decorate many different areas of my home.

Luckily for my budget, trays are one of the easiest items to DIY. Places like Salvation Army and Goodwill almost always have wooden trays for less than five dollars. It is easy to give them a quick sanding and a new coat of paint. If the trays have a glossy finish, it is important to ensure you sand off the coating before you paint them. I use medium grade sand paper and it normally takes less than ten minutes. If there is a design on the tray, I will sometimes use a coat of primer to make sure nothing is visible through the final coat of paint. Here are some of my go-to rules for looking for second hand trays.

Look for interesting shapes. Even if you don’t like the design, a cool shape can be fashioned into something lovely. One of my favorite DIY projects started with an octagon shaped tray I got for $1.25 at Salvation Army. I painted the tray with white latex paint. After the white paint was dry, I applied masking tape and newspaper everywhere that I wanted to stay white. I then applied an even coat of gold spray paint.

Large shallow trays are great for table center pieces. Big trays allow for multiple items to be displayed. I have my salt and pepper grinders, a mint julep cup with a succulent, and a Paddywax candle. They are all contained in another old wooden tray from Salvation Army. I sanded it down and covered it with a robin’s egg blue latex paint. This is such an easy DIY and makes a big impact.

I love to experiment with different arrangements. Even when my laundry is overflowing, seeing my tastefully put together trays makes me feel better about my house. Here is how I styled my DIY white and gold tray. I used one of my favorite engagement pictures along with some pretty coasters and a candle.

Next time you see an old tray while at your favorite second hand store, remember that shape and size are more important than the design or color. Painting different colors and patterns is a fun, cheap, and easy way to add some DIY style to your home.


Molly was born in Atlanta, Georgia but now lives in Fort Drum, NY with her soldier husband. She earned her Masters Degree in Political Science and teaches at a community college near post. Check out her blog Carry Your Heart With Me.



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