Geometric serving tray, before and after
Bre Bertolini portrait

Patterned Serving Tray

Design Your Own Unique Serving Tray

Bre Bertolini


I love turning something plain and boring into something new and fun that fits my style. When I saw this unfinished tray at the store, it was just begging for a makeover! The modern pattern inside makes it unique and helps it fit in perfectly in my home.

Behr Colour Palette

This colour is Winter Way

Winter Way


Trays are very multifunctional. They’re great for serving drinks and snacks or breakfast in bed but they also make a great piece of home decor. They add a little extra something to the end of a bed or make the perfect centerpiece on a table. Sure, you can go out and buy a pretty tray, or you can customize one to fit your home and your personal style. You can use it for many purposes and it will make your home feel that much more unique! With a few supplies, you’ll have the perfect weekend project!

The first thing you’ll want to do is find an unfinished wooden tray. You can buy them at most of the craft stores for under $10. The one I found has handles on both sides that make it easy to pick up.

Paint can instantly transform raw wood. It brings it to life and creates something new and unexpected.

Create Your Pattern

To create the pattern inside your tray, you’ll want to use balsa wood. It’s super thin, light and easy to work with. You can even use scissors to cut it which means no power tools! The balsa wood I bought was three inches wide, so I cut it into one-inch strips. You can use a ruler or any type of straight edge to measure, and then simply follow your pencil line with your scissors or an X-Acto Knife.

Once you have your strips, it’s time to make the pattern. You can draw something out first to get an idea of what you’re going to create, or you can just create it as you go. I started with the triangles on either side, and then filled in the rest from there. You can place your strips where you want them to go and draw a light mark with your pencil where it needs to be cut. It’s fun to play around with the pattern and try different angles. This is where you can really get creative!

Once you’re finished, remove your balsa wood pieces from the tray, but keep them in the same pattern so you don’t forget. Set them on a towel or scrap piece of wood, where you will paint them. I used the gorgeous deep blue colour, Winter Way.

You can use a cheap foam brush to paint your strips. Just make sure you get all the edges too! One coat is all you should need. Just make sure you put the pieces back down in the same spot!

Balsa wood strips
Cutting balsa strips to length
Foam brush used to paint balsa strips
Balsa strips, painted and ready to assemble

Stain and Assemble the Tray

Next, it’s time to stain the tray. Using your favourite stain give your tray one coat. If you want a deeper colour, you can add a second coat. Be sure to follow instructions on the can. Once your stain and paint are both dry, it’s time to glue your pattern into the bottom of the tray. Just apply a small amount to the bottom of your balsa wood and press down for a few seconds to ensure a secure hold. Once all your pieces are glued down, you’re left with a gorgeous custom serving tray!

Visualize It

Serving tray with a vase, mug and candle

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The Big Reveal

Finished serving tray on a bed, holding a vase and candle
Close-up of finished serving tray
Detail of the balsa pattern on the finished serving tray

I love how my tray turned out so much! It’s one of a kind and fits in with the rest of my decor so perfectly! I can’t wait to move it around from room to room and find new uses for it!

The best part about this is you can customize it to fit your style. You could do the opposite and paint the tray and stain the balsa wood or do a mix of different colours for your pattern! There’s no right or wrong way to do it :) I love how the blue pieces pop off the stained background, adding painted pieces made such a big difference!

Bre Bertolini portrait

Bre Bertolini

Furniture, design, DIY and home décor is what blog Brepurposed is all about. Bre, the girl behind it all, has had a love of all things creative since she was a little girl. What started as a love of flipping furniture has turned into a journey of creating modern and stylish DIY projects and discovering her home décor style, all while hoping to inspire her readers to do the same.

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