My Drab to Fab Tray Transformation

Hi friends! It’s time for another recycle transformation! You know me, I am always trying to upcycle my old furniture and accessories and turn them into something new again. Right down to this little serving tray. Who knew it had so much potential? Are you ready for my Drab to Fab Tray Transformation?

DIY Tray Transformation

The tray started out as a beautiful tray from Crate and Barrel but over the past 4 years its had its share of wear and tear and was about to be thrown away. But with a little white paint, wood scraps and stain, I was able to save this little tray.

DIY Tray Transformation

There is nothing I love more than the pairing crisp white again an espresso brown. It’s my favorite. It’s modern and classy but can also have a rustic feel.

DIY Tray Transformation

The tray serves a function purpose in our home. Instead of a coffee table we have a tufted ottoman and we often use the tray to place water glasses or eat a quick snack. And when we aren’t  huddled around the TV, it serves as a decorative tray with stacked books and fresh roses from the garden.

DIY Tray Transformation

I only get a few roses from my rose bush each year  but I always appreciate the one or two bouquets I can make with them.

So are you ready to see how this tray looked before? Oh it makes me cringe!


And here it is in all its glory. By the looks of the ‘before’ photo you never would guess it actually started as this tray from Crate and Barrel. We received it as a wedding present almost 4 years ago and its gotten A LOT of use. And yes those are probably food stains and crumbs that you see stuck in the cracks. Disgusting. Can I tell you impossible it was to clean this tray?  I’m not hiding anything back on this post!

And the after… ahhh so refreshing!

I started by giving the tray a few coats of white paint. You’ll notice why this tray was such a pain to begin with, those cracks are so tiny I couldn’t even paint over them, let alone keep this tray clean. One of my main goals of the makeover was to cover up those tiny cracks to make it easier to clean and maintain.

At one point, I started distressing the edges and later decided that wasn’t the look I was going for and gave it a coat of white spray paint which solved all my problems.

Next, I cut 12 pieces of Birch Plywood (left over from my board and batten) into 9″ X 3″ pieces and gave them all a quick sanding to smooth out the edges.

The most tedious part of this project was fitting each piece into the tray. I went with a simple design of rotating the sections to give the tray some dimension. What seemed like something so simple actually took a while. Some pieces were slightly too wide or too long and I had to sand each individual piece for a specific spot on the tray. After I completed the puzzle I was so scared to remove them, but I still had to stain the wood!

To help keep my pattern and my sanity, I gently removed each piece of wood and laid them on the canvas in the same pattern.

I put 2 coats of Minwax Dark Walnut Stain (my current favorite) onto the wood and let it dry.

Next, I used my trusted non-foaming Gorilla Glue to adhere each piece back into its place.

* Now, this next step isn’t pictured (sorry!) but after I placed the wood back into the tray there were a few small gaps that really bothered me. So I filled the gaps with Elmer’s wood filler and it worked like a charm. I applied it as if I was grouting the wood pieces in place. Meaning, after I applied the filler I wiped the surface clean with a wet paper towel so the grout was left only in the cracks. Once the wood filler dried I stained the cracks to match the wood. It worked better than I could have imagined!

Once the pieces were set, stained and dried I sealed the wood with Minwax semi-gloss Polyurethane.

And now I have the beauty to show for it.

DIY Tray Transformation

So what do you think? Good save?


Taryn is the owner/editor of Design, Dining and Diapers, a lifestyle blog that focuses on DIY home decor, design, seasonal crafts, easy recipes and just being a mom! She is all about making things for less by upcycling thrift store finds and using what’s on hand. Taryn lives in the greater Seattle area with her husband, 3 year old daughter and 1 year old son.

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  1. Jackie says

    I love this! I am totally into mixing white and wood tones right now and I have a few trays that could use a makeover. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Jen says

    Ooohhh…your version is 1000X better than the original Taryn! Love the play of the white aginst the dark wood and that you used smaller pieces of wood rather than just a single large one. Beauty + Function — what could be better than that?!

  3. says

    The tray is gorgeous! I love what you’ve done with it! I just ended up doing some small changes to a bathroom cabinet I have, but seriously those small changes make all the difference!

    The chocolatey brown and bright white look fantastic together! And the pattern in the wood is perfect.

  4. says

    Hi Taryn,

    Stopping by from A2D – I Love this tray makeover!!! Now I’m off to check out the rest of your posts…Have a great weekend – enjoy!!!

  5. says

    Wow, gorgeous. So glam rustic. (Is that a thing?) I’m excited to see this since I have the same tray with those blasted ridges/cracks. I demoted the tray to toy storage since it was so impossible to keep clean anyway. But this gives me hope. Thanks! Beautiful job.

  6. says

    Gorgeous! Love the look., so unique too now. Am following your blog now, have clicked on quite a few of your projects recently and decided I should probably just follow along as I like everything you make! :)

  7. says

    Holy awesome! I want the couch, the tray, the works! I am a newbie here and I have spent way too much time peeking around this morning!
    Kerry at HouseTalkN

  8. says

    Gorgeous blog! I found you over at the Liz Marie Blog link up. I have a tray from a thrift store in my garage waiting for a transformation just like this! Although I don’t think I’ll have the patience to put the detail into it like you did. Yours looks amazing!

  9. says

    I simply LOVE what you did to that tray! I am going to try one too. I have some dark 3/4 inch dark cappuccino strip flooring that was left over from my new floor. I think I will try it with that.

    Simply gorgeous!

  10. says

    Hello Taryn,
    You did such a great job on your tray, kudos! I have a tray that I started a makeover and didn’t like where it was going so just put it away. lol Your inspiration has moved me to try again, thanks for sharing. I found you over at Inspirational Friday party. If you get a chance would love if your share at Frugal Treasures party going on through Sunday evening. Going to check out some more of your posts. Have a good weekend.

  11. says

    What a gorgeous transformation! I just saw this on Craftgawker and am so glad I did because I love your site! I can totally relate to DIY mishaps and have saved the day (more than a few times) with wood filler! Can’t wait to spend more time looking through your blog! – Sarah :-)

  12. says

    Hi Taryn, I just found this on homestoriesatoz. It grabbed my attention because I think we have very similar tastes. Is this the Claudia sofa from Macys? I have same sofa and same ottoman and I love your tray!


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