How To Style a Tray like a Boss

This is really an ode to what I’ve learned from Taylor and Pinterest…

I have a rather large leather ottoman in my living room which quickly became my dining table while at the apartment.  We’d put these 2 cork trays down, with our plates and drinks on top and eat from the couch while watching Jeopardy (sounds kinda embarrassing now).  I wanted to class it up a bit at the house, and found this awesome, woven tray from Target that would be the starting point.

Then came the tray styling research on Pinterest.  I found a few examples that I really liked, with some tips on what to use and how to make it all work.  I had a few things I thought might look good, so I took a picture and sent it to my personal design professional, Taylor, for his .02.  A few days, and lots of changes later, I’m pretty happy with the final-for-now product.  Here are the tips I’ve picked up on styling a tray…

Break the tray into 3-4 sections.

Once the tray is broken into sections, the massive empty area isn’t as scary.  Mine is roughly broken into 3 sections: 2 fourths of the circle on top, and 1 half on the bottom.

Each section will have different item(s) that serve a purpose: Things you love or things you use.  Examples of different objects you could use are natural, scentable (candle), intellectual (books), practical, personal, historical, and whimsical.

Move things around.

Once you have some items that you want to use, play around with the arrangement until you have something you like.  Make sure to keep height differential, colors, layering and textures in mind when moving things around so the tray is interesting, yet complete.  My tray has a lowcountry feel from the coral (thanks Laney), to the local coasters (thanks Lauren), The Southerner’s Handbook, Charleston books (thanks Rollene) and a dinosaur air plant (thanks Space Craft).

Live with it and adjust accordingly.

When you like what you’ve got, live with it and see if it’s actually practical.  Taylor suggested the tray within a tray idea for us since we use the ottoman to hold our drinks and it needed to be useful, and not just pretty.  I looked for a white glossy tray, but haven’t found one yet, so the blue one works for now.  As much as I don’t want our remotes sitting out, we tend to use them a lot, so there needed to be space for them, too.  It’s not the most picture perfect, but it fits our lives to a T.

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I’m sure I’ll continue to update and arrange items on the tray throughout the year.  Maybe even add some big coffee table books, but that’s the fun part!  What are the must-haves on your trays?

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