DIY Decorative Tray

Reader Contribution by Karen Housel and Sustainable Daisy
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Repurposing home décor is a great way to add character to your space. Do-it-yourself projects are good for the soul, and when incorporating recycled materials, it can be good for the earth too! As I walk through the miss-matched shelves of the home goods section in thrift stores, I see some pretty quality items that desperately need a facelift. With some paint and decoupage glue, you can transform almost anything. As a gal in need of some surface storage, I transformed an off-white 99 cent wooden tray into a chic jewelry or perfume tray.

When I work on these types of projects I like to figure out how many things I already own before I start the project—as in, can I create this DIY without buying anything?

Luckily you’ll just need a few key tools, most which I guarantee either you or your neighbor already own. Need a bit of sandpaper? Ask the retired handy-man down the road if he can spare any. Don’t have a sponge brush? Perhaps ask your sister if she minds if you borrow hers. Sharing and borrowing is such a selfless, sustainable way to live, financially and environmentally. This craft is a fun sustainable way to make something new and valuable by upcycling something old.

How to Upcycle a Decorative Tray


• An old tray (try thrift stores or garage sales)
• Magazines or scrap paper
• Nontoxic paint
• Mod Podge
• Paintbrush
• Spongebrush
• Gold oro (optional)


1. First, thumb though magazine, scrap paper, or anything you have to find images you’d like decoupage onto your tray. I used magazines which were left behind from an old roommate and cut out butterflies from an advertisement.

2. Sand the tray down. In this case, to help remove the sticky part of the adhesive, wet the bottom with a damp cloth to loosen the glued bind. I used a spray bottle to occasionally mist the tray during the process. Continue sanding until you have a smooth surface to paint.

3. Next, use a nontoxic paint to paint the tray to a color of your choice. I’m using a wood-friendly acrylic paint.

4. Place your recycled cut-outs in the design you wish on your tray. Glue the pieces down using Mod Podge.

5. Feel free to add any additional gold detailing. I used gold oro and my paintbrush to add detailing around the rim and to enhance the handles.

6. Next, using your sponge brush, cover the tray with Mod Podge to adhere everything together and give it a final smooth polish. 

6. Enjoy your decorative masterpiece!

Until next time, you can find more eco-friendly DIYs and sustainable fashion tips on Sustainable Daisy.

Karen Houselis a fashion designer and DIY enthusiast. If you create this DIy and share on social media, use #sustainabledaisy so she can take a look. Follow Karen on Instagram, or subscribe to her blog at Sustainable Daisy for more eco-friendly lifestyle tips! Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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