Tray Chic: 10 Ways to Use a Tray

“I use trays all the time as a way to organize varied objects without the appearance of clutter.”

–American designer, Thomas O’Brien

Round TrayYou probably have a tray or two sitting in a cabinet, ready and at your service for your next dinner party or breakfast in bed. Instead of stowing your trays, keep them out. Serving trays ­– in any vintage, shape or size – are delightfully versatile and provide chic organization and display for any number of objects. Serve up style around your home with our top 10 list of favorite repurposing ideas for trays.

1. Inspiring Library

If you’re like any of us around the office, you might have a ton of coffee table books lying around your house. Make a coffee table more organized and display your favorite books by stacking them in a tray.

2. Collectible Curator

Whether tucked away on a bookshelf or on display on a side table, trays are the perfect way to show off like objects you love to collect, such as pottery bowls, candlesticks or little jars of sea shells.

3. Instant Bar

Create your own mini-bar. Place a large tray on a luggage rack or buffet and top with glassware, liquor of your choice and your favorite wine. When you’re entertaining, add little dishes with lemon wedges, olives and cherries for garnish.

4. Dresser Storage

A tray’s shallow depth and short sides make it a perfect solution to containing your makeup, jewelry or other toiletries. Use small dishes or jars to categorize like items, such as lipsticks, makeup brushes or earrings.

5. Entry Organizer

Place a tray on a console near your foyer so anything you plunk down when you walk in can be kept tidy, like your wallet, sunglasses, keys, loose change or cell phone.

6. Kitchen Companion

An organized kitchen allows the chef to efficiently maximize her cooking time. Quick in, quick out! Keep cooking essentials within easy reach near the stove: olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper grinder and anything else you need to whip up your favorite meals.

Set of 2 Rectangular Trays7. Impromptu Coffee Table

No coffee table? Use your tray to create a flat surface on your ottoman or sofa so you can set a glass, remote or other items.

8. Daily In-Box

Designate a spot on your desktop or kitchen counter for your tray, so you can quickly corral the endless influx of mail, receipts, school papers, invitations and magazines. Go through your paper pile once a week to deal with bills, RSVPs and other items.

9. Pretty Planter

If you have a green thumb, create a naturally attractive display with potted ivy, herbs, cacti and other succulents. Creating a consolidated display on trays helps bring order and prevents a messy, scattered look. Plus, it makes watering easier.

10. Bedside Table

Place books, reading glasses, TV remote and other items in a tray to bring a feeling of serenity and calm to your place of repose.

Are you inspired? Shop our selection of trays.

Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.