What we usually call a tray table is actually a piece of furniture inspired by the classic butler stand, which was a small table with a foldable bottom and a removable plate that could be used as a tray. Today you can find a variety of such tables with different shapes, forms, sizes and styles. They are both stylish and versatile, and they often prove to be the perfect accent pieces for living rooms, dining areas and lots of other options.
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 choose a free-standing tray as a complement to your existing coffee table or a table with a built-in tray, deciding how to take advantage of this feature is crucial. Here are a few decorating tips:
What to put on the tray:
Some of the most common items that can be used for decorating coffee table trays include flowers and greenery either in vases or plantations, books, candles in various shapes and sizes, seasonal items like pine trees in the winter, small pumpkins in the fall and so on and of course all personal items that you want to show off.
How to select and arrange the items:
Try to find your own style when decorating the tray. Choose personal items or memories, things that represent you or that tell a story about you. This will make a good conversation piece.
If you use a wide variety of objects, you can try mixing and matching different textures, heights or colors to create distinction between the items and add more variety and diversity to your tray decor.
A smart idea is to use books or boxes to hide remote controls and other things that you do not necessarily want in plain sight or that do not really fit the style and aesthetics of your decor.
Remember that it is easier to find a rectangular tray compared to a round e.g. So plan your decor 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 little contrast.
The Fritz collection is a series of stylish side tables, all with tray plates and delicious metal finds. They are designed by C. Ballabio and they have a beautiful combination of brushed brass and solid caneletta walnut. The hilltops can either have a stained wood or lacquered interior with a glossy surface. The tables are available in several different shapes and sizes.
With a simple and stylish design inspired by the 1950s era in France, Mazargue’s tray table is a very practical accent piece for social areas. It is designed by Eric Jourdan and it has this simple frame made of black lacquered steel with a satin finish that has a circular tray top made of solid walnut with a natural satin lacquer.
This here is the Tulum draft table, a whimsical piece of furniture that has a removable top that can be used as a tray and a metal bottom with three smart conical legs. The table can have either a pink or a green ceramic tray plate. Its design is eclectic and is a combination of traditional and contemporary influences.
The Baobab table is a rather strange and interesting piece of furniture. It was designed by Ionna Vautrin, and the inspiration was of course the baobab tree. It has this smooth bottom that is divided into different branches just like the canopy on a tree. Each branch has a hilltop that can be rotated. They are located at different heights and they can be used in different 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 is not a tray table, although its design is pretty close to one. The table has three wooden legs together and a round top.
As we said before, tray tables are very versatile and their designs vary based on many things. This one is made of brass, for example, and there is also a version available in marble. It has a small circular top with a very noticeable edge and a stand foot with double bar legs. A design by Massimo Castagna.
Unlike other tray tables shown so far, Uyoga by Marc de Berny has a pretty impressive design. It’s a little more than just a simple side table. It has this solid bottom with a slim and smooth silhouette and a significantly large tray plate that is removable and finished in a contrasting color compared to the base.
The block table actually looks more like a small cart than a tray table, even though it has elements from both. It has two steel shelf shelves and four wooden poles that connect them. It also has four small wheels that make it easy to move the table around when serving.
Although the Oliver table is essentially similar to the others described so far, there is something special about it and it has a lot to do with the materials used. It is 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 lavish.
These tables designed by Giopato e Coombes are very smart and slim. The side table is particularly interesting and has a tall and slender shape that makes it look like a mantis, especially when seen in this shade of green. Both the side table and the coffee table are suitable for both indoor and outdoor spaces, and they can be combined with a wide range of decorations and furniture.
They are not really square, nor are they really round. The naive tables are available in three different sizes and they are carved out of a single piece of ash wood. Their unusual shape makes them incredibly versatile and able to adapt to any space in the house, and the height differences make it possible to combine several pieces together to create a custom arrangement.
The metal side tables were designed by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec in 2004 and are not a must-have piece, although it only becomes indispensable once you get one. They are good when paired with sofas and couches, giving a small and practical surface on which to place a drink, a snack, a laptop or something real. Of course, they are more versatile than that, and they can adapt to a variety of room configurations and decors. They are also available in two versions, one for indoor space and one for outdoor.
The tray tables from Hay are small, simple and versatile, which means that they can be used in different settings and for different purposes. They can either be used as side or accent tables as independent pieces, or they can be put in groups of two or more. They can also serve as alternatives to bedside tables or as a replacement for coffee tables. The possibilities are many, so get creative.
They are called Solo, but they are actually a couple. This table duo is designed by Hans Sandgren Jakobsen. The tables are smart, stylish and they complement each other beautifully. They look great as a couple, though they could also be very charming as independent pieces. We love how their metal bases appear to be inverted in each case, and how the tops of the wooden tray add a touch of softness and warmth to the design as a whole.
Elongated tray with handle
Rectangular trays, as mentioned earlier, are the most common and the easiest to find, and there is also a great variety of models and designs to choose from. The Aheli tray, as you see here, has an elongated shape that makes it perfect for console tables or coffee tables that are also quite wide and rectangular. It is made of robust MDF with a glossy finish and a pair of simple but glamorous handles made of polished metal.
A pair of circular iron trays
You can either use the Abram trays as a pair or separately. They are both circular in shape and one measures 14 ” in diameter while the other is larger and measures 17 ”. They are both made of iron and have this beautiful perforated pattern that gives an elegant and ornate look. They also have handles, which means you can easily use them as serving trays for snacks and drinks.
Rectangular rescue slopes
The X Piece coffee table set contains 3 separate trays. They are rectangular in shape and have different dimensions, which means that they can be used as nesting tables and can be easily stored when you do not need them. Lay them on the coffee table or the ottoman and fill them with various decorations that complement their simple metal finish.
Embedded wooden trays with curved corners
This 3-piece Maxey tray set is made of solid wood and completely handmade, which gives it this truly unique atmosphere. They are embedded hills and they have curved corners that soften their rectangular shape and really fit 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 are looking for a decorative coffee table tray a little more on the traditional side, check out the design on the Cillian Mamba tray. It is made of a combination of materials including MDF and stainless steel and it has a soft texture. The metal’s headless ones stand out both with their finish and the gold color.
Mirror tray with gold edge
Decorative trays are very versatile and suitable not only as ornaments, but also for organizing various objects. The PuTwo mirror tray has a glamorous look and would look great on a bathroom, dresser or makeup vanity. Fill it with your favorite perfume bottles and other magnificent things, and create a stylish display.
Whitewashed wooden tray with a rustic feel
Even a very simple tray can add a lot to a coffee table and the living room in general. Trays are also multifunctional. This MyGift tray can e.g. Be a decorative element, but it can just as easily be used to serve breakfast in bed. It is made of nut wood and a whitewashed finish that gives it a subtle rustic aesthetic.
A stylish mix of wood and iron
The combination of wood and iron is excellent if you are going for a rustic or industrial-inspired decor. This Birdrock tray also has a circular shape, which is quite rare to find. Use it as a serving tray, or better yet, fill it with candles, flowers or various personal items and create a unique centerpiece for your coffee table. Something a little more casual would also fit this style really well.
Wooden tray with gold dust pattern
In this case, it is 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 at the sides for a simple and flat look, and the rectangular shape is versatile and practical.