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A Quick And Easy Thrift Store Tray Makeover

October 08, 2019

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Want a new look in your living room? Well here's an easy way to dress your coffee table in style on a budget.

Just grab an old thrift store tray, a little paint and a stencil that makes you smile.

And you'll have a fabulous and affordable year round decor accessory in no time flat.

Bargain Tray Makeover

Last week I shared a stencil craft fail. Look, it happens. When you craft as much as I do, you're bound to run into the occasional bump in the road.

The general consensus was live and learn and I totally agree.

Thankfully, I'm a pretty quick learner and I put my new knowledge to work right away.

I was in the middle of an unstoppable crafting frenzy and there was no time to wallow.

I had a pile of projects to get through and I wasn't going to let one paper stencil deter me...especially when I had such an awesome thrift find waiting to be transformed.

Check this beauty out.

Blue Thrift Store Tray

 One day a few weeks ago, I stopped at my local thrift store not expecting to find much. They recently changed their pricing structure and as if it weren't bad enough before, now the prices are truly out of hand.

Sometimes I think I'd do better at the big box stores.

But there were dishes at home and laundry to be done, and shopping, even window shopping, sounded like a lot more fun.

Surprisingly, I found a few treasures, picture frames, a bulletin board, wicker baskets and an old vase.

However, this teal tray was the most exciting one.

It was clearly handmade by someone, very sturdy, naturally distressed...possibly a vintage piece.

And unbelievably, it was only four dollars. Four.

Is that crazy or what? I guess homemade doesn't warrant a big price tag.

Bargain Price Thrift Store Tray Makeover

 Lucky me, they had no idea what they had.

I was thrilled since trays are common thrift store finds, but usually much more expensive.

I spent the car ride home dreaming up ways to transform it. I knew that with a little creativity, a little imagination and not a lot of hard work, I could give it a brand new purpose.

And an updated look.

While it was in perfect condition, blue is just not my color. It needed paint. Something neutral I thought.

I've been working on lightening the place up a little and a cream or white would go well with my new decor.

My Amazing Thrift Store Makeover


There really wasn't any prep required, I went over it with a damp rag to clean away any dust or debris that might get caught in my brush and removed the handles with my super handy six in one screwdriver.

Removing Phillips Head Screws

It's literally the only tool that I have ever purchased for myself and I use it all the time on my upcycle projects, since it has so many different flat and Phillips heads hidden inside.

This one is new, because my wonderful husband keeps walking off with them as fast as I can buy them.

Six In One Screwdriver

 I usually grab mine at Home Depot.

Then I opened up my craft cabinet, sorted through my supplies, my chalk paint collection and grabbed my acrylic paint in a creamy white and applied it with a stiff bristle brush.

That was the first coat.

Painting An Old Tray

 Once it was dry, I applied a second coat with a foam brush so there wouldn't be any bristle marks or lines in the paint. I wanted a smooth finish.

There were a few spots that required a third coat, but overall two did the trick.

That fresh coat of paint immediately gave it new life.

How To Paint A Tray

 While it was drying, I began to think about my design.

I contemplated adding feet to the tray, like I'd done to a few old cutting boards, but then vetoed the idea. I already had a board in mind that I wanted to turn into a standing tray.

It was the top of a toolbox my husband recently purchased, a giant slab that was just calling out to be transformed.

Can you imagine how pretty this would be all dolled up? <---pssst- It's done! 

Craftsman Tool Box Wood Top

Well, two of those trays would be overkill in this tiny cottage, so I decided to leave the tray in its current form and move on to the design.

Then I thought about turning it into wall decor, but again not a lot of room for large wall art. Another veto.

That also gave me pause. It's such a pretty piece that I wanted to be able to use it all year round.

When I bought the tray I was thinking about using those paper stencils to make it a fall decor item, but after the apple cutting board mess, I decided against that.

Never again, thank you very much.

That's when my daughter breezed through the kitchen and suggested that I use the garland stencil I was originally going to use on the apple.

She told me that she thought it would look cool if it I painted it on in another shade of white, a tone on tone accent that would be appropriate in any season.

How To Stencil On Wood

How perfect. The girl's a genius.

I love it when my family weighs in with their creative ideas - and loved her suggestion - so that's exactly what I did.

And this time it worked out very well.

The plastic stencil didn't budge, bleed or fray and she was right, the subtlety of the design was just enough to add an elegant flair to the rustic tray makeover, but not overwhelm it.

Stenciled Thrift Store Tray

 Now, I can use it all year long, winter, spring, summer...

Summer Tea Time

..and even fall.

All I have to do it change up what I place on it or where it sits. It's been moving around from end table to kitchen counter since it's such a charming decoration or a functional serving piece.

Or both.

One of these days, I'll have my husband take it outside and spray it with a matte sealer to protect the paint.

Fall Tray Decor

It's one of my most unique pieces and one of my favorite new thrift store upcycles.

And I'm not a DIY stenciling failure anymore.

Redemption and a new accessory to play with.

Not bad for four bucks.

Have you had any crafty do over lately?

  1. Hi Kim,
    You transformed that beautifully. Love the color and the stenciling. Beautiful job with your crafty self!
    Happy New Week.
    Kris

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    1. Thanks! I gave it the Kris treatment...white paint and a little bit of chippy goodness! ❤️

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  2. Love it! The perfect finish for a great piece! And YES-you are redeemed! xo Diana

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    1. Thanks Diana!! I have to say this one is a favorite...but I still hate stenciling! Ha!

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  3. I love the tray and you painted it such a pretty white and I love the stencil you chose. It's beautiful and I know you'll enjoy using it! :)

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  4. Fabulous, Kim! I love the white on white and the contrast of the black handles against the white. Love, too, how you dressed it up with your pretties. Congratulations on a win! Hugs, Nancy

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    1. Thank you so much, Nancy! It was such a great find, I'm still pinching myself. Hugs!!

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  5. LOOKS GREAT, but I would be so tempted to go after it with some sandpaper and let a bit of that color show through...but then I seldom work on anything that isn't at least 100 years old and many layers of colors. Perfect idea though!

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    1. Thanks Sandi! I was thinking the same thing. It still hasn't been sealed yet, so I just might give it a quick hit with the sandpaper before he sprays it. Thanks for the tip!!

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  6. You did good! I really like how it turned out. I would never have thought of doing white and white, but what a great idea.

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    1. It wasn't on my radar either, Mari, until my daughter mentioned it. Proof that collaborations are a fabulous idea!!

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  7. Your daughter is a chip off the block! Her idea and your amazing stencil skills rocked this project! It truly is a beautiful tray makeover.

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  8. White on White and convenient for any season. Good find, good upcycle.
    Joy

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  9. Hi Kim, love this tray and the tonal look. Makes a pretty statement. $4 for the piece was great, looks sturdy.

    Sorry haven't been here of late. Had a head cold that was from the devil

    Have a great day

    Cindy

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    1. Can you believe it was $4?? Crazy good deal and the right price for a makeover. I hope you're feeling better now, Cindy. I had a bad one a few weeks ago. Not a great way to kick off fall...

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  10. That garland stencil is perfect! I love that it is neutral and you can change it up for any season.

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    1. Thanks Ann! I really like this one and it was a simple DIY. Just my style!

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  11. It turned out wonderful and such a great useful piece!

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  12. I love it Kim, the wreath is perfect <3

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    1. Thanks Susan! And I agree, it's elegant and was super easy to stencil...

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  13. I would of walked right that tray. Potential? I couldn't see it. If I did buy it, I would of kept the color. Not that it would go with anything...just saying.

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    1. It was a very bright color, Christine and if I had anything to go with it, I would've kept it, too. I like the finished makeovers, but I'm getting lazy about the DIYs lately. I only want to do what I really enjoy and stenciling is not it...of course, I'm sure once Christmas crafting starts I'll be stenciling again. Glutton for punishment over here! 😉

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  14. Goood work, Kim! Of course. Nice that your daughter has interited some of your genes. And isn't it great when yoh can simply go to your stash and find thed supplies you need? Makes crafting easier.

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    1. SO much easier, Nancy. If I had to go shop, it never would've happened...and thank you!!

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  15. Well I say, could you mail that beautiful tray to me. ;-) LOVE IT! What a find.
    Well done, as always!
    Carla

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    1. Too bad we didn’t live closer, I’d just drop it off and hang out for a while! ❤️

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  16. What a beautiful tray! I like the stencil design you chose and the tone on tone looks wonderful.

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    1. Thanks Melanie! My daughter definitely has that artist’s eye.

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  17. The transformation is remarkable! Love that you painted it white! Gorgeous!

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    1. Thanks Angela! Can you believe it's not red!! Ha!

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  18. I love how this turned out with the tone-on-tone white that your daughter suggested, brilliant! It is definitely a fun piece that you can use year-round! I love those kinds of bargains too :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Marilyn. This one was a crazy good bargain and I already I’ve found use for it almost every day. Plus, like you said, it was fun to work with my daughter on it.

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  19. Beautiful transformation! I agree prices at thrift stores have really got out of hand. That's why I normally leave empty handed, but every once in a while I find a good buy that I can't pass up like your beautiful tray.

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    1. This really was an unexpected treat, Linda. I never find anything this good for this kind of price. Lucky day!

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  20. That teal blue was so pretty, but the white on white took the tray to a whole new, elegant and classy level Kim. So happy the stencil curse has been lifted too. Those foofy paper stencils should be banned in my humble opinion

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    1. The teal was pretty, agreed! If I had even a shred of that color in my house somewhere, I would've left it, but I do love it now. And I agree, paper stencils?? Whose idea was that??

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  21. Wow, that is an awesome find! I want to run to the thrift store right now!!! Love the color you used and the stenciling turned out fabulous. Love it. Glad I just stumbled across your page.

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    1. Thank you so much, Rhonda! How nice of you to leave such a sweet comment. I hope you find a tray of your own. 😊

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