The best decorating projects combine form and function – they add beauty to your space, serve a purpose, and when you make your own, they are one of a kind! A decorative serving tray is just this kind of project. You can use them to display or transport items on a coffee table, buffet, desk, kitchen counter, and more.
My friend Ari got me excited about decorating our own trays when we were at the flea market this past weekend. I picked up an older wooden tray there for just $5, and I know I have a couple of my own lying around the house. I want to use some for display in the living and dining room, and one for the desk in my craft room. There are so many great ideas, and here are some I would love to try or adapt for myself.
Silhouette and Silver
The botanical silhouette and silver leaf on this tray are beautiful.
Brenna at Design Sponge has a tutorial for how she made this tray from a thrift store find! You could simplify it for a similar look with silver spray paint, though the silver leaf looks amazing, and the glass makes the tray useable for serving.
Lots of options to personalize a monogram tray from A Modern Style on Etsy.
This one is by A Modern Style on Etsy. I love the bright colors and graphic design contrasted against the wood.
Wallpaper and Lacquer
Gorgeous lacquered trays with wallpaper inserts and bold colors from iomoi.
This is from iomoi and hand lacquered, so it would be very durable and stand up to washing and heavy use. The coordinating colors on the body of the tray and the gold trim are gorgeous! I could use some more of the Imperial Trellis wallpaper I have left over from our powder room and lining our bookcases.
Painter’s Tape and Paint
Use painter’s tape to mask a design on a plain tray (or paint the tray a background color first). Follow with spray paint – looks great in metallic for a striking graphic design.
Courtney Kaye of Courtney on the Brink made these trays for holding jewelry. They look bold and elegant! I’ve been using metallic spray paint for a lot of projects recently, and I love it!
A tile mosaic looks beautiful inside this tray.
This beautiful example, as well as instructions for tiling the inside of a tray, are from the Martha Stewart.
Frame and Fabric
This is an idea to make a tray from a frame and cabinet handles. You can put fabric or pretty paper under the glass.
Patrice from Lemon Tree Creations had this creative idea for making a tray from a frame and cabinet handles. The glass protects the decorative fabric or paper.
This stenciled tray is so elegant. I love the painted grey exterior with the white and grey graphic design.
The instructions for stenciling this tray are from HGTV. Of course, it looks so much like my Imperial Trellis wallpaper, that I could use that for the same look, but there are other great stencil ideas out there, including stenciling words.
A sweet little tray made from paper mache and painted different colors inside and out.
Start from scratch! The instructions for making this paper mache tray are at Everything LEB. I love how she used metallic paint inside and the sweet green-blue on the outside.
These cute circles have text from old books on them. You could do the same with all sorts of fabrics, papers, and shapes.
A fun and unique example of decoupage from iHanna. There are so many great ways to build on this idea!
This photo in sepia tones looks beautiful mounted inside a tray.
You could print a single large photograph or several small ones and decoupage them to the inside of a tray and/or mount under glass. This lovely example is from Merle Hillary Interiors.
All these projects would be a perfect way to re-use a tray you already have or give new life to a thrift store or garage sale find. There are also new trays that would work well for makeovers. Here are two very different examples:
These lacquered trays from West Elm are already gorgeous. You could dress them up in so many ways!
If you want a tray that is already beautiful on its own, these trays from West Elm are a great option. With a simple design and so many colors to choose from, they would also be easy to customize. Only trick I foresee is that it might be a little tricky to get things to adhere well to the lacquer.
For a simple unfinished wood base, try this Walnut Hollow Unfinished Wood Serving Tray, 15-inch x 11-inch.
Well, that’s my roundup of inspirations for trays to make yourself. I hope Ari and I can find some time soon to work on ours!