Decorative trays are in and they are everywhere! Finding your perfect tray may be easy but decorating it can be quite daunting. Whether you need a functional solution or one to spice up your space, there are an overwhelming number of options for decorating your tray. I’ve compiled hours of research and wrote all the good stuff here for you!
First thing’s first, begin with the basics! My mom and I started fashioning a tray and created what we call our “formula.” We finally found the setup we loved after hours of piddling. Then we searched for similar items we could adjust for each holiday or season. with. We still joke that our newly beloved item doesn’t fit into our “formula,” but we have given ourselves a bit more creative freedom.
Finding your formula is a bit easier said than done. Fortunately, I have no shame and will go into any store with my empty tray (or find a similar one in the store) and grab a bunch of pieces to try. If that is a bit too much like it is for my family, try measuring the dimensions of your tray. When shopping bring a small tape measurer and check the size of the items to ensure they fit.
Now, time to find decorative pieces. I will always recommend shopping at local boutiques, but not everyone will have that luxury. If you do not, or would prefer to shop at the big box retailers, I recommend adventuring a little first to find unique pieces. Keep an eye out for sales on these items, especially if one you love is priced a bit higher than you would like to pay.
While searching for tray décor there are a few important guidelines to consider. I call them guidelines because decorating is not paint by numbers and there are no rules, just suggestions. Exceptions do exist and it is imperative to put your own spin on things! These suggestions only help to build a nice base formula for added ease.
With single level, multilevel, round, square, and more tray variations, it is best not to get too deep into the weeds with specifics. Don’t freight if you need a little more guidance as I plan to break down the best décor options for each type another day.
Firstly, consider the sizing of the decorative pieces. Each item should have a different height and width. The sizing variation provides an element of intrigue to the tray and allows for layering of the pieces. Remember, contrast adds intrigue. The more variation, the better.
How much variation is too much you ask? That is a bit of personal preference, but you definitely should not put a 2-foot-tall vase next to a tiny tea light without much in between. If an item needs a little extra height, try adding a book or two. Not only does this add a couple inches, but it is very on-trend right now!
Next, it’s all about texture and color! This may be my favorite part because the options are endless. Look around your home and find colors that exist within the room. Search for décor that aligns with these colors. Selecting colors that compliment the room’s scheme will brilliantly tie the space together!
Now on to texture. If there is somewhere to go crazy, it is here. Collect different items with smooth, rough, and layered surfaces. Add in varying elements such as wood, metal, and glass. Find some greenery “poofs” or picks to provide an earth component. This is the time to get creative.
The last factor to consider when building a tray formula is function versus design. Each tray could fill very different needs depending on its room location. What I mean by this is that each tray should not only be aesthetically pleasing but should contribute aid in some function of the room.
For example, A tray in the bathroom could have a candle, a glass jar of cotton pads, and a few face towels. This gives you a stunning piece to place beside the sink while also contributing to the overall functionality of the area by providing easy access to bathroom necessities. This same concept can easily apply to different rooms.
Now that we covered the basics of selecting tray décor, it is time to build a formula. Most of this will require trial and error just like other aspects of design. You may buy a piece you love but it may not fit with other pieces. Give a few arrangements and setups a go until you find one that catches your eye.
Once you establish the formula, take a picture! Then start swapping some of your basics for each season. When the time comes to revert to the original, it’s an easy swap with a photo to reference!