What we commonly call a tray table is actually a furniture piece inspired by the classic butler stand which was a small table with a folding base and a removable top which could be used as a tray. Nowadays you can find a variety of such tables with diverse forms, shapes, sizes and styles. They’re both stylish and versatile and they often prove to be the perfect accent pieces for living rooms, dining areas and lots of other settings.
How to decorate with trays
A simple thing like a tray is enough to change the way your coffee table and the space around it look and feel. Whether you opt for a freestanding tray as an addition to your already existing coffee table or a table that has a built-in tray, what matters the way is how you take advantage of this feature. Here’s a few decorating tips:
What to put on the tray:
Some of the most common objects that can be used for decorating coffee table trays include flowers and greenery either in vases or planters, books, candles of different shapes and sizes, seasonal items like pinecones in the winter, little pumpkins in the autumn and so on and of course any personal items that you want to put on display.
How to pick and arrange the items:
When decorating the tray try to find your own style. Choose personal items or mementos, things that represent you or that tell a story about you. This will make a great conversation piece.
If you’re using a multitude of objects, try to mix and match different textures, heights or colors in order to create distinction between the items and to add more variety and diversity to your tray décor.
A clever idea is to use books or boxes to hide remote controls and other things that you don’t necessarily want in plain sight or that don’t really suit the style and aesthetic of your décor.
Keep in mind that it’s easier to find a rectangular tray compared to a round one for example so plan your décor accordingly. Things like books and small boxes fit well in rectangular trays and you can mix them with candles and bowls or vases for a bit of contrast.
The Fritz collection is a series of stylish side tables, all with tray tops and sleek metal bases. They’re designed byC. Ballabio and they feature a beautiful combination of brushed brass and solid caneletta walnut. The tray tops can either have a stained wood or lacquered interior with a glossy surface. The tables come in several different shapes and sizes.
Featuring a simple and stylish design inspired by the 1950’s era in France, theMazargues tray table is a very practical accent piece for social areas. It was designed by Eric Jourdan and it features this simple frame made of black lacquered steel with a satin finish which holds a circular tray top made of solid walnut with a satin natural varnish.
This right here is the Tulum Platter Table, a quirky piece of furniture which has a removable top that can be used as a tray and a metal base with three chic tapered legs. The table can either have a pink or a green ceramic tray top. Its design is eclectic, being a combination of traditional and contemporary influences.
The Baobab table is a pretty odd and interesting piece of furniture. It was designed byIonna Vautrin and the inspiration was obviously the baobab tree. It has this smooth base which divided into different branches just like the canopy of a tree. Each branch holds a tray top which can be rotated. They’re placed at different heights and they can be used in various different ways.
Dany is a small and simple side table, the type of table you could place in the corner of your bedroom, in the reading area, in the living room by the sofa and pretty much anywhere else. Technically it’s not a tray table although its design is pretty close to one. The table has three wooden legs joined together and a round top.
Like we said before, tray tables are very versatile and their designs vary based on a lot of things. This one, for instance, is made of brass and there’s also a version available in marble. It has a small circular top with a very noticeable edge and a tripod base with double rod legs. A design by Massimo Castagna.
Unlike other tray tables featured so far, the Uyoga by Marc de Berny has a pretty imposing design. It’s a bit more than just a simple side table. It has this solid base with a slender and smooth silhouette and a considerably large tray top which is removable and finished in a contrasting tone in relation to the base.
The Block table is actually more similar to a small cart than to a tray table, although it has elements from both. It has two tray shelves made of steel and four wooden rods that connect them. It also has four small wheels which make it easy to move the table around when serving.
Although, in essence, the Oliver table is a lot like the others described so far, there’s something special about it and it has a lot to do with the materials used. It’s made of marble and brass, a combination that gives it a refined and sophisticated look with a touch of luxury, enough to make it stand out without looking opulent.
These tables designed by Giopato e Coombes are very chic and slender. The side table is particularly interesting, featuring a tall and sleek form that makes it look like a mantis, especially when featured in this shade of green. Both the side table and the coffee table are suitable for both indoor and outdoorspaces and they can be paired with a wide variety of decors and furniture pieces.
They’re not really square and they’re not really round either. The Naive tables come in three different sizes and they’re carved out of a single piece of ash wood. Their unusual form makes them incredibly versatile and able to adapt to any room of the house and the differences in height makes it possible to combine several pieces together to create a customized arrangement.
Designed byRonan & Erwan Bouroullec in 2004, the Metal Side Tables are not must-have pieces although once you get one it becomes indispensable. They’re great when paired with sofas and couches, providing a small and practical surface on which to place a drink, a snack, a laptop or anything really. Of course, they’re more versatile than that and they can adapt to a variety of spacial configurations and decors. Also, they come in two versions, one for indoor spaces and one for the outdoors.
The Tray tables from Hay are small, simple and versatile which means they can be used in various different settings and for various purposes. They can either be used as side or accent tables as standalone pieces or they can be put in groups of two or more. They can also serve as alternatives for nightstands or as coffee table replacements. The possibilities are numerous so be creative.
They’re called Solo but they’re actually a pair. This table duo is designed byHans Sandgren Jakobsen. The tables are chic, stylish and they complement each other beautifully. They look great as a pair although they could be very charming as standalone pieces as well. We love how their metal bases seem to be reversed in each case and how the wooden tray tops add a touch of softness and warmth to the design as a whole.
Elongated tray with handles
Rectangular trays, as mentioned earlier, are the most common and the easiest ones to find and there’s also a large diversity of models and designs to choose from. The Aheli tray which you see here has an elongated shape which makes it perfect for console tables or coffee tables that are also quite wide and rectangular. It’s made of sturdy MDF with a glossy finish and a pair of simple but glamorous-looking handles made of polished metal.
A pair of circular iron trays
You can either use the Abram trays as a pair or separately. They’re both circular in shape and one measures 14’’ in diameter while the other one is larger and measures 17’’. They’re both made of iron and have this beautiful perforated pattern which gives an elegant and ornate look. They also have handles which means you can easily use them as serving trays for snacks and beverages.
Rectangular nesting trays
The X Piece coffee table tray set includes 3 separate trays. They’re rectangular in shape and have different dimensions which means they can be used as nesting tables and can easily be stored when you don’t need them. Place them on the coffee table or the ottoman and fill them with various decorations that complement their simple metal finish.
Nested wood trays with curved corners
This 3-piece Maxey tray set is made of solid wood and entirely handmade which gives it this really unique vibe. They’re nested trays and they have curved corners which softens their rectangular shape and really suits the organic overall feel of the design. The handles are wrapped in rope which adds a nice texture.
Wooden tray with gold accents
If you’re looking for a decorative coffee table tray a bit more on the traditional side, check out the design of the Cillian Mamba tray. It’s made from a combination of materials including MDF and stainless steel and it has a soft texture. The metal headless stand out both with their finish and the gold color.
Mirror tray with a golden trim
Decorative trays are very versatile and suitable not just as ornamental items but also for organizing various objects. The PuTwo mirror tray has a glamorous look and feel and would look great in a bathroom, a dresser or on a makeup vanity. Fill it with your favorite perfume bottles and other magnificent things and create a stylish display.
Whitewashed wood tray with a rustic vibe
Even a very simple tray can add a lot to a coffee table and the living room in general. Also, trays are multifunctional. This MyGift tray for instance can be a decorative item but it can also just as easily be used for serving breakfast in bed. It’s made of distressed wood and a whitewashed finish which give it a subtle rustic aesthetic.
A stylish wood and iron mix
The combination of wood and iron is excellent if you’re going for a rustic or industrial-inspired interior décor. Also, this Birdrock tray has a circular shape which is quite rare to find. Use it as a serving tray or, even better, fill it with candles, flowers or various personal items and create a unique centerpiece for your coffee table. Something a bit more casual would also suit this style really well.
Wooden tray with a gold herringbone pattern
In this case it’s the tray itself that stands out. This design from RubyHill stands out thanks to the herringbone pattern and of course the golden touches that contrast with the dark wood finish. The handles are carved into the sides for a simple and flush look and the rectangular shape is versatile and practical.