Styling Tips for Decorating with Trays

A tray with vases and books

Decorative trays have become a large part of decorating a tabletop.  Since ottomans became more of a multi-purpose piece used as coffee tables, we have seen the tray become a regular feature when styling the tabletop.  Metal, wood, glass, wicker.  Square, round, oblong, rectangle.  Decorative trays come in a variety of shapes and styles to fit any décor.  Here are a few styling tips for decorating with trays.

A vase of flowers on a table in front of a couch with trays.          A gray couch with trays in a living room.

Left photo courtesy of BHG

Think of the tray as a surface, just as you would think of a blank coffee table.  Arrange accessories on the tray as you would a coffee table.  Vary the height of objects arranged on a tray to add visual interest.  Experiment with different objects, varying sizes, shapes and textures for the most appeal.

A coffee table with trays, candles, and books on it.

Books are a great way to add height to objects displayed on a tray.  Stack a few books and place an accessory on top or simply use books as a decorative object.  Decorative boxes are perfect for varying the height of a tray display and add interesting texture as well.

A tray with a candle on it.          A wicker tray with flowers and nuts.

Arrange candles of varying heights on a tray and use rocks or seashells around them.  This can be a display by itself or combined with other accessories.  Decorative balls, available in many sizes, materials and patterns, can be nicely contained on a tray, therefore providing a different shape to the arrangement.

A white couch with trays in a living room.          A table with framed pictures, a plant, and trays.

Put a collection of small potted plants on a tray to include a natural element to your tabletop.  Include a potted plant or vase of flowers among other elements to bring a touch of color and texture to the mix.

Two tiers of fall decorations on trays.          A sea shell-filled tray.

A kitchen with a metal tray.          Three trays of wicker baskets in a bathroom.

Left photo,  Right photo, Kieran tray from

Tiered trays are wonderful accents to use in the bathroom and kitchen.  Not only decorative, they provide great open storage in a small amount of space.  In the bathroom, display decorative soaps and rolled-up washcloths and hand towels on a tiered tray.  In the kitchen, a tiered tray can be used for seasonal displays, collections or for often used spices and small utensils.

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A tray of flowers on a living room table.          A yellow blanket on a tray.

Decorating with trays is fun and can help keep coffee table arrangements tidy and interesting.  Trays add a whole new dimension to your table and tiered trays are perfect for storing and displaying items in the kitchen and bath.  So, serve it up on a tray for more flair in your decorating.


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