How To Choose A Decorative Tray

Decorative trays are a fabulous way to style an entry hall, ottoman, console, or dressing table. They are functional and aesthetically pleasing, and the best thing about using trays in your home is that, when you tire of it, you can move it to another location to create a whole new look.

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To use a decorative tray to its best advantage, consider the material it's made from, which room you'll be using it in, what it will hold, as well as the design. Here is our guide to choosing the right decorative tray for any room in your home.

What Materials Are Decorative Trays Made Of?

Trays come in all colors, textures, and materials. The material your tray is made from should reflect its use and the room in which it is used.

  • Ceramic

Ceramic works well in a kitchen or guest bathroom because it is hard to break on tile or hardwood floors and is easy to clean. Decorative ceramic trays often come glazed and painted with ornate designs that can uplift the style and coordinate with the color palette of a room.

White Classic Ceramic Hexagon Tray
Silver Elegant Ceramic Decorative Tray
Silver Stylish Ceramic Boat Decorative Tray
Gray Traditional Ceramic Rectangular Tray
White Classic Ceramic Decorative Tray
Silver Stylish Ceramic Leaf Decorative Tray
  • Glass

Mirrored or glass trays are unsuitable for use in a frequently used bathroom due to fragility of the material and being prone to catching fingerprints. They are more appropriate for a guest bathroom or other seldom-used spaces. A mirrored tray looks impressive in a mirrored bar in a den or entertainment area, where the reflective surfaces amplify the space.

Golden Stylish Glass Octagonal Tray
Silver Elegant Glass Decorative Tray
Golden Stylish Glass Decorative Tray
Silver Classic Glass Decorative Tray
Silver Traditonal Glass Accent Tray
Brown Classic Glass Decorative Tray
  • Metal

Metallic trays are suitable for any room in the house due to their durability. They need to be cleaned and polished frequently to remove dust and smudges so that they can retain their shine.

Choose flat minimal styles for a modern home and ornate trays with scrollwork or filigree for rooms with a traditional or transitional aesthetic.

Classically designed rooms with dark colors and heavy furnishings can support trays that are more dramatic, like an oversized brass tray, which would overpower a smaller room with a more delicate motíf.

Gray Simple Metal Rectangular Tray
Gray Traditional Metal Decorative Tray
Brown Classic Copper Decorative Tray
Silver Traditional Metal Decorative Tray
Golden Classic Metal Decorative Tray
White Elegant Metal Decorative Tray
  • Wood

Decorative trays made from wood or woven from natural fibers blend perfectly with modern country or Scandinavian style homes as they complement the clean lines of these styles. These trays also coordinate well with bohemian homes to enhance the wild, eclectic charm of the furniture and textiles used in rooms styled in this fashion.

Brown Modern Wooden Decorative Tray
Brown Classic Wooden Decorative Tray
Brown Simple Manufactured Wood Rectangular Tray
Brown Classic Solid Wood Decorative Tray
Black Modern Solid Wood Decorative Tray
White Classic Manufactured Wood Decorative Tray

Which Shape and Color Should I Look For?

Decorative trays come in all shapes and sizes. The only requirement that it needs is to be constructed with a flat plane made from sturdy material with raised edges to keep the objects from sliding around. One way to reflect your style in a tray is by picking a unique shape and color.

A rectangular shape is the most traditional shape and offers the clean, minimal lines reflected in most modern homes. Some trays come in round and geometric shapes as well as novelty styles like pineapple or your home state. Choose a shape that fits your accent items without crowding, but one that also reflects your taste and style.

Brown Classic Manufactured Wood Rectangular Tray
Brown Traditional Solid Wood Square Tray
Gray Classic Metal Round Decorative Tray
Silver Elegant Metal Decorative Tray
Brown Stylish Metal Decorative Tray
Gray Elegant Aluminum Leaf Decorative Tray

In terms of color, you can use your decorative tray to complement the room's décor or as a unifying element by gathering all the colors of the room in one place. Your tray can also act as an accent piece on its own. Try displaying the tray vertically on the wall or a stand to showcase the design. Or place it in a central location such as the center of a coffee table with minimal accessories to let the piece shine.

The tray's effect will change depending on what objects you place on it. It's fun to play with texture, whether it's through finish, metal, pottery, or fabric. Combine a wooden tray with a Himalayan salt candle holder and an artfully stacked arrangement of books. Or try a metal tray with a glass scented candle and a small potted succulent.

Orange Modern Leather Decorative Tray
White Traditional Solid Wood Decorative Tray
Gray Elegant Solid Wood Round Tray
Silver Modern Metal Rectangular Tray
Black Stylish Plastic Decorative Tray
Golden Classic Glass Decorative Tray

Where Can I Use a Decorative Tray?

One of the great things about decorative trays is that they can be used in every room in your house, including bathrooms. The room in which you place your tray will often determine what you're putting on it.

  • Entryway: A decorative tray situated in your foyer or entryway is an elegant way to welcome guests to your home and to keep track of essential items like keys or mail. Use different boxes or ceramic bowls on top of your tray to hold your wallet, car keys, and phone all in one place.
  • Bathroom: Especially in a well-appointed guest or half bath, trays are a useful way to organize creams, tissues, and hand towels. Place on the side of a sink or a small table on its own. Organize the bottles of toiletries by size and color.
  • Bar: Trays are incredibly helpful by your bar. You may have a designated alcove that holds all your liquor bottles, glasses, and cocktail accouterments, or you may rely on a bar cart to hold your beverages. Whichever you use, a decorative tray makes an excellent addition. Include bowls of olives, nuts, and martini stirrers in unusual holders and glasses to create a unique visual effect.
  • Kitchen: Trays are a boon to the busiest room in the house, and they don't need to be merely functional. Use a decorative tray on a kitchen island to hold enticing nibbles for your guests, or use it as a moveable chef's helper, with embroidered dishtowels and cooking utensils.
  • Anywhere: Trays are an accessible, adaptable piece of your décor. If you have a lot of decorations - ceramic boxes, shells, old keys, or other kinds of eye-pleasing collectibles - place them in bowls in a lacquered ceramic tray to display.

Quick Tips

  • Try not to jam a ton of things on to your decorative tray. Too many objects, no matter how aesthetically pleasing they are, will become a jumble to the eye. Stuffing your tray full of objects also makes it more susceptible to damage.
  • Costs for decorative trays can run from the thousands for a sterling silver tray to a few dollars for an acrylic tray. Keep in mind what you plan on using the tray for as well as its material. If it's going into an art room, choose a tray that isn't too precious. If you're displaying it on the mantle, look for something that reflects luxury and sumptuousness.
  • If you would like a versatile tray, opt for ones in neutral tones and traditional shapes. To liven things up, however, especially in minimalist or modern styles, choose vibrant colors or surprising shapes.