Why Not . . . Style a Tray?
Wednesday March 12, 2014

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Styling a tray for your coffee table, side table, bedside table or any tabletop in your house for that matter is a simple, yet statement making effect that completes a room. Each time I used to flip through decor magazines, I was envious of the beautifully styled of each tabletop space, but after doing some investigating, attempting to create my own vignettes throughout my own home, I’m excited to share with you what I’ve learned and hopefully inspire you to style your own tray.


How to Style a Tray:

  1. Understand your Signature StyleMy preferred aesthetic is French country. A touch of tradition and formality, mixed with chic comfort. You will no doubt observe this style throughout my pictures these next few weeks. I will blend yard sale finds with investment pieces that I’ve discovered on sale, and view the pairing as perfectly me.
  2. Find a tray (oblong, rectangular, square, circular, etc).
  3. Break the tray (visually) in half and then in half again (four total quadrants, none equal to another)
  4. Reading material (coffee table books, magazines), stack in 1st quadrant
  5. Natural element (flowers, plant, etc) in 2nd quadrant
  6. Signature element in 3rd quadrant (I placed a jar of shells I picked up at the beach this past summer with my dogs as a reminder of our first official vacation to the Oregon Coast together.)
  7. Textural or Conversational element in 4th quadrant. Now, I broke the rules slightly here. I broke the visual line of the books in half and placed a seashell decal to speak to my love for the ocean. I then added a conversational  piece in the form of a magnifying glass on the far right. Due to the size of my tray, this worked perfectly.
  8. Break any of these rules to suit your creative tastes. As I demonstrated with #7.
TSLL Coffee Table

3.12.14b 3.12.14c

TSLL Side Table


Coffee Table:

~Cylinder Vase, (H-5″ D-5″)
~Magnifying glass (Main St. Furniture Co. in Walla Walla, Washington)
~Similar black candle (Diptyque Black Baies Candle-10.2 oz.)
~Covering the New Yorker: Cutting-Edge Covers from a Literary Institution
~Vogue: The Covers
~Chanel and Her World
~Cheese & Wine: A Guide to Selecting, Pairing, and Enjoying
~Tray (similar)
~seashell decal from DeBouche in Walla Walla, WA
~coffee table
(DIY – transformed from a dining room table from a friend)

Side Table:

~Hour Glass (similar)
~Paris versus New York: A Tally of Two Cities
~The Gardener of Versailles: My Life in the World’s Grandest Garden
~4″ Square Clear Vase
~Tray from Main St. Furniture Co. (Walla Walla, WA), similar – here
~Rejuvenation Balustrade Table Lamp
~Ballard Designs Durham End Table

More Table Top Decor Inspiration:


~Why Not . . . Create a Productive Office?

~Why Not . . . Use Simple Changes to Transform Your Kitchen?

~A Kitchen Facelift

3.12.14b | The Simply Luxurious Life, Www.thesimplyluxuriouslife.com

7 thoughts on “Why Not . . . Style a Tray?

  1. Wow–this is great advice.

    I love trays. I’m a tray-a-holic (and a basket-holic; I think they’re related).

    I never thought about including books on trays. Now my mind is reeling with ideas for cocktail recipe books on a bar cart tray, coffee table books on a coffee table tray, fun novels on a guest room tray. 🙂

  2. Shannon, I love your tray ideas and am excited for more decor! I made one tray with antique books, a crystal drinking glass and drambuie. I made another tray with miniature Easter Chics on mini chairs and mini swing with mini eggs, so cute! The try pulls it all together, thank you! I love my Simply Luxurious Life!

    1. Thank you sharing the details of your trays. The beauty of simply luxurious living is that we can take the “rules” and apply or discard based on our taste and preferences. The details you shared sound lovely!

  3. I really like the way you broke this down. When we moved, the home stager suggested tray vignettes in a few rooms. I got some great tray for very little at Home Goods and I’ve really emjoyed re-styling them in our new home. Your idea about the quadrants makes such sense!

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