Styling 101 | Trays

April 2016, By Nicole Langelier.

If you’re a fan of décor and decorative objects, more than likely you have some trays stashed away somewhere. If you are confident enough in your styling skills, you may even have these trays on display with your favourite books and objects neatly (or not so neatly) displayed in them.

Trays are a great way to show off your treasures from books to perfumes to kitchen and bathroom necessities. They can be displayed on desks, coffee tables, counter tops, side tables, dining tables, ottomans – you name it, and they are the perfect way to organise small objects of personal significance without these objects appearing insignificant or out of context.

It may seem easy to style a tray – and in fact t is easy – but sometimes it’s the simple things that stump us the most and throw us off our game. Here are a few pointers for you beginners out there to get you feeling ‘tray’ ready.

  1. Know the look you are after – is it romantic, funky, eclectic, glam? – you are the master of your tray so don’t get led astray from the look you are after.
  2. Find a tray of any shape you like – oblong, rectangular, square, circular, etc – (rectangular shapes are the easiest to work with for beginners).
  3. Break the tray (visually) in half and then in half again (four total quadrants, none equal to another)
  4. Reading material (coffee table books, magazines), stack in 1st quadrant. This is important (for a coffee table at least) because it provides a linear form to offer some structure to the other things you put in the tray. It will seem orderly even if the other objects are organic shapes.
  5. Natural element (flowers, plants, etc) in the 2nd quadrant. Most successful tray styling has some kind of a plant or live element.
  6. Signature element in 3rd quadrant. It can be just about anything – but consider the height when making your selection – you want to make sure your objects still relate to each other. Corals, candles, paperweights, vases – go nuts!
  7.  Textural or Conversational element in 4th quadrant. The above list works here too – have fun with it.
  8. Break any of these rules to suit your creative tastes. I’m all about breaking the rules as that is what rules are for. If you are confident in what you are doing then you don’t need rules!