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They don’t just carry things, they highlight, contain and elevate items. Francine Smith of Hot Cool Vintage on the versatility of trays. Photos courtesy of Francine Smith.

Let’s talk about trays.  Me? I love them. Big or little, metal or plastic. I can always find a spot that instantly looks better once I find the right tray. Trays highlight, contain and, most importantly, elevate your items.  Have a collection?  Need to organize?  Want to make something look just a little bit better?  Grab a tray.

Sushi or not


These vintage sushi trays are just so incredibly versatile.  They can be used in any room… office, bedroom, bathroom, or a kid’s room.  They can be grouped together or used individually. Use a couple and keep the rest on reserve.  These are in a bright lemon which adds a nice pop of color.  I have a set of these in my bathroom and seriously considered hoarding this set too.  They can be used as snack trays (perfect for kids) but also look great on a nightstand, a desk or on a counter.



This is a classic mid century Danish modern teak tray by Dansk.  I have used this tray on my dining room table, on my coffee table and even in my bedroom to hold jewelry.  Very handy.   I grouped my teak pepper mill collection but I’ve also used it to serve hors d’oeuvres and as a table centerpiece with some flowers.  I’ve had as many as three of these in use at the same time.




In a previous life this was an ashtray.  Technically it still is but it hasn’t seen a cigarette in years.  Accented with 22 carat gold, this tray is just too pretty and cool to sit idly by.  Air plants are a great way of turning this overlooked and seldom used ashtray into something that’s functional and a distinctive piece of vintage home decor.

Keep in mind

  •  Large serving trays are great for liquor bottles, making a coffee station, TV remotes, or to hold a personal collection.
  • Smaller trays can be useful next to a bed, in the bathroom, in the office or on a counter.
  • Keep some extra trays on hand.  Great for serving or if a guest stays the night.  Also, they’re fun to have on hand if you like to change up your decor often.

You can see more vintage trays in Francine’s Etsy shop.

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