40+ accent trays + how to use them!

Styling a #shelfie is by far one of my most favorite decor tricks in my portfolio. I could literally spend hours tweaking the placement of my books, various home decor accent pieces, dishes, vases, and ephemera… it’s almost therapeutic! During one of my many living room re-styling sessions, I realized that there is one key element upon which I always rely: accent trays! This basic, yet essential decor piece has so many uses and styles… I just knew I had to share some tips on how to incorporate a stylish tray into your home + some of my favorites!

source: blush glass catch-call tray

40+ accent trays + how to use them on your coffee table, bookshelf shelfie, vanity, nightstand, bathroom, entryway, and desk. #accenttray #homedecor #decortips #interiordecor #shelfie

  1. slim wood tray with gold handles
  2. oak serving tray with leather handles
  3. light wash round tray
  4. burl wood rectangular trays
  5. acacia wood tray
  6. turquoise and raffia tray
  7. walnut serving trays
  8. light wood square trays
  9. rectangle valet tray
  10. wood and metal 2 piece accent tray set

I like to think of trays as a way to provide practical organization, but in a stylish way. Honestly, you can use an accent tray in pretty much any part of your home, but there are a few key areas where I’d dare say that a tray is totally necessary.

On the Coffee Table or Bookshelf

This is definitely the easiest place to start when adding an accent tray to your space. I use a stylish tray to corral candles, remotes, and coasters on my coffee table. As for the bookshelf, I’ve filled my decorative trays with small plants, candles, tiny bowls of crystals, and stacks of small books.

On the Vanity or Nightstand

Our bungalow is way too small for me to have a proper vanity area, so instead I have a tray on the back of the toilet to hold my perfumes, a jar of my makeup brushes, and a ring dish. It’s so nice to have a pretty spot to display items I use everyday, but in a stylish way! As for my nightstand, I use a tray to organize a few of my nighttime essentials like my mouth guard (nerd alert), hand cream, and pens for journaling. Usually my nightstand tray is on top of a stack of books, too!

40+ accent trays + how to use them on your coffee table, bookshelf shelfie, vanity, nightstand, bathroom, entryway, and desk. #accenttray #homedecor #decortips #interiordecor #shelfie

  1. hammered graphite tray
  2. Italian alabaster and gold tray
  3. rectangular matte brass tray
  4. black glossy tray
  5. 3 piece gold tray set
  6. gold large sheet tray
  7. rose gold and green stone tray
  8. brass antique mirror tray
  9. half circle metal tray set
  10. metal serving tray with handles
  11. leather bar tray
  12. gilded cafe mirror tray
  13. copper tray

In the Entryway

A single, great accent tray is totally necessary in an entryway — no matter the size! We use our entryway tray as a ‘landing spot’ for keys, glasses, and a loose change jar. You can also use a tray in this area of your home to keep your mail tidy!

On A Desk

Admittedly, my studio can get messy, but having a big tray on my desk helps to combat that. An accent tray on your desk, whether in a home office or at work, is the perfect way to add some style to your work environment. You can use it to keep personal items tidy, but also cups of pens, electronics, cords, and a candle. Just this one well-styled moment can transform a boring cubicle desk into a more welcoming and inspiring workspace!

40+ accent trays + how to use them on your coffee table, bookshelf shelfie, vanity, nightstand, bathroom, entryway, and desk. #accenttray #homedecor #decortips #interiordecor #shelfie

  1. sleek and simple black round trays
  2. dried sisal grass tray
  3. grey crackle ceramic tray
  4. wood and marble tray
  5. stone slab tray
  6. mini accent tray set
  7. hardwood catchall tray
  8. herringbone inlay black and white tray
  9. tile patterned tray
  10. cork handled tray
  11. porcelain and leather tray
  12. turquoise pebble tray

When shopping for a tray, here are a few things to look for:


Wood… metal… marble… even cork! There are so many materials from which to choose when selecting an accent tray. For our space, I usually stick to marble or brass because those two materials are versatile enough for me to use almost anywhere in the house. When it comes to styling spaces for others though, the sky is the limit! I especially love adding in a touch of pattern, whether it’s through a tile, natural stone, or inlay. And don’t forget to also look at options with mixed materials!

Handles vs. No Handles

The question of whether to use a tray with handles or not is a personal preference. I find that some handled trays provide a little bit of height when styling (especially for a tray), which is always nice. A handle is also nice because you could use the tray to serve guests in a pinch if needed… or to move the tray from your coffee table like we do allllll the time. Honestly, I wouldn’t let a detail like a handle or no handle be a dealbreaker if the tray is one you really love.


My top tip when selecting an accent tray for styling is to be mindful of proportions. A square tray might be perfect for your coffee table, while a skinny rectangular tray is best for the back of the toilet. And don’t be afraid to nest or layer your trays for even more visual interest!

So tell me, how do you use accent trays in your home??
p.s. want even more tips for styling your home? Be sure to check out my essential coffee table books to style the perfect #shelfie!

Behind The Blog

Joanna Hawley-McBride is a Pacific Northwest-based social media strategist, content creator, and former textile designer. Joanna is the founder and editor-in-chief of Jojotastic, a lifestyle blog focused on Joanna’s work-in-progress cabin, finding the best pair of underwear through #UnderwearThesis, and empowering women to explore nature — all in her signature unfiltered style. Her work has been featured in Domino, CNBC, and Eating Well.

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