Ugly Tray Turned Beautiful Breakfast Server

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I am ashamed to admit that I often find myself working on blog posts or sales listings from the comfort of my bed. Partly because my office is overrun by clothes I’m selling, but also because I like being comfy and watching TV at the same time. Unfortunately, today was a sick day for me, so you get to see this beaut in cold/flu action! (By the way, yes. I always eat salmon on fancy plates when I’m sick… HA! It was just the only thing that my stomach could handle.)

winsome wood tray

I spotted a tray similar to the one pictured while at the Goodwill Outlet a few weeks ago. I’ve been wanting one so that my laptop is not overheating on my lap while I work, and there it was in front of me. I knew they weren’t too expensive to buy retail, but I like repurposing and I ended up getting a really good price. The plain tray cost $2.67 at the outlet ($.89 x 3 pounds). It was a little dirty and I had to do some prep work, but it was totally worth it because I ended up with a unique project of my own design.

The Materials

I have linked the exact materials I used for your reference. (These are affiliate links. Read more about them here.)

The Prep

  1. Buy materials. This may seem obvious; bear with me. I went to Lowe’s for my acrylic sheet. They had an 8×10 sheet for $4.24, but I needed a piece about twice that size. I saw 10-15 large remnants sitting in the cutting booth, and asked how much it would cost to get a piece in the size I needed. Five dollars. It cost five dollars! The store gives you a deep discount because technically, the remnants have already been purchased and left behind by a previous customer after they got a piece cut to the size they needed. I got a better quality sheet for less than if I had purchased the whole sheet myself! Here’s where you need to learn from my mistake: ask the employee to cut the sheet slightly smaller than you need. I ended up having to trim mine afterwards because it was cut too big, hence the cutter listed in the materials. Just avoid it all together and ask for the right size. Silly me.
  2. Sand the surface. Sand all of the surfaces on the tray that you will be painting. A rough surface holds paint better than a smooth one.
  3. Clean the tray. The dust from the sanding needs to be removed or the paint won’t stick to your project. The last thing you want after putting forward all this hard work is for there to be unpainted splotches.
  4. Paint the outside. Make sure you protect any surfaces you are wanting to keep original. I did not want to save any surfaces, so I painted the entire tray. Don’t worry about covering the tray with paint. It will be hidden by the acrylic later. (Mine had lots of drips on the tray part because it was so smooth. Luckily, it didn’t matter.)
  5. Touch up any missed spots. After 20 minutes (refer to the paint can for repainting times), fix any spots that were missed the first time.
  6. Take a coffee break. Let that paint dry! You deserve some caffeine right now.

The Tray Surface

  1. Cut decorative tray lining. I used wrapping paper from Christmas clearance for my tray. If you use wrapping paper, get the kind that has measurement marks on the back. It makes it SO easy to cut to size and keep straight. Measure the size of your tray base twice, and then cut the fabric or paper to size. Place in the bottom of the dried tray.

    Wrapping Paper Base without Acrylic
  2. Add protective acrylic and seal. Make sure there aren’t any”ickies” underneath the plastic first. Then, lay the acrylic sheet in the tray and use the clear caulk to seal the edges. Not only does this keep the acrylic in place, but it also allows you to easily clean the surface. Bonus!

    My beautiful caulk!
  3. Allow caulk to dry and enjoy! Follow setting instructions on caulk, and repeat if necessary. Then get that coffee back out and set a cup on your tray. Shoot, spill it if you want to test your caulking abilities! (Just kidding. I do not recommend testing Murphy’s Law.)

This project took me longer than usual to complete due to my whoopsie with the acrylic, but I am in love with it. I am using it as I write this post! The wrapping paper I picked works better than I had anticipated and will be a great statement piece in our guest room; when I’m not using it!

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