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bREANNA bERTOLINI / Brepurposed
Bre designer stories
How to Create a Modern Patterned Serving Tray
Functional and Decorative Tray

Trays are very multifunctional. They’re great for serving drinks and snacks or breakfast in bed but they also make a great piece of home decor. I love turning something plain and boring into something new and fun that fits my style. When I saw an unfinished tray at the store, it was just begging for a makeover! The modern pattern inside makes it unique and helps it fit in perfectly in my home.

BEHR colour palette
Winter Way

Winter Way
Colour Details

Trays are a great way to add a little extra something to the end of a bed, or make the perfect centerpiece on a table. Sure you can go out and buy a pretty tray, or you can customize one to fit your home and your personal style. You can use it for many purposes and it will make your home feel that much more unique! With a few supplies, you’ll have the perfect weekend project!

First you’ll want to find an unfinished wooden tray to begin with. You can buy them at most of the craft stores for under $10. The one I found has handles on both sides that make it easy to pick up.

Creating Your Pattern

To create the pattern inside your tray, you’ll want to use balsa wood. It’s super thin, light and easy to work with. You can even use scissors to cut it which means no power tools! The balsa wood I bought was 3 inches wide so I cut it into 1 inch strips. You can use a ruler or any type of straight edge to measure, and then simply follow your pencil line with your scissors or an X-Acto Knife.

Once you have your strips, it’s time to make the pattern. You can draw something out first to get an idea of what you’re going to create or you can just create it as you go. I started with the triangles on either side, and then filled in the rest from there. You can place your strips where you want them to go, and draw a light mark with your pencil where it needs to be cut. It’s fun to play around with the pattern and try different angles. This is where you can really get creative!

Once you’re finished, remove your balsa wood pieces from the tray, but keep them in the same pattern so you don’t forget. Set them on a towel or scrap piece of wood, where you will paint them. I used the gorgeous deep blue colour, Winter Way.

You can use a cheap foam brush to paint your strips. Just make sure you get all the edges too! One coat is all you should need. Just make sure you put the pieces back down in the same spot!

Next it’s time to stain the tray. Using your favorite stain give your tray one coat. If you want a deeper colour you can do two coats. Once your stain and paint are both dry, it’s time to glue your pattern into the bottom of the tray. Just apply a small amount to the bottom of your balsa wood and press down for a few seconds to ensure a secure hold. Once all your pieces are glued down, you’re left with a gorgeous custom serving tray!

"I used the gorgeous deep blue colour,
Winter Way."
  • paint
  • stain
  • Unfinished Wood Tray
  • Balsa Wood
  • Scissors
  • adhesive
Here are some tips

  • If you get any frayed edges on your balsa wood, you can use some sand paper to smooth them out.
  • Before you glue down your balsa wood strips, place them back in the tray exactly where you want them to go. Then pick them up one by one and glue them down.

BEHR colour palette
Winter Way

Winter Way
Colour Details

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"Paint is the perfect way to tell a story about yourself. "

The colours a person uses in their home says a lot about them and their personality.

BEHR colour palette
Winter Way

Winter Way
Colour Details

I love how my tray turned out so much! It’s one of a kind and fits in with the rest of my decor so perfectly! I can’t wait to move it around from room to room and find new uses for it!

The best part about this is you can customize it to fit your style. You could do the opposite and paint the tray and stain the balsa wood or do a mix of different colours for your pattern! There’s no right or wrong way to do it :) I love how the blue pieces pop off the stained background, adding painted pieces made such a big difference!

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