Book Page Monogrammed Tray


After discussing all the ways to use thrift store trays for organizing, I thought I should try my hand at transforming a tray into something a bit more decorative. And what better way than making it into a book page monogrammed tray?

Wait. I’m sure there are others, so don’t answer that.

Wood trays are a dime a dozen at thrift stores and most of the time are crying out for a facelift. Well, if wood can cry, that is. And if you can hear it.

But then there’d be other problems than just a tray that needed a makeover, wouldn’t there?

painting tray black

Sorry. Back to the project at hand: here’s the tray I started with. This was as “before” as I got with the photos, apparently.

However, you can see that it started out as your basic blond-wood tray, except that it is big, really well made, heavy and substantial. For these reasons I paid $3.99 for it (the smaller, lighter-weight trays can usually be bought for about $1), knowing with a bit of love it could become something special.

As you can see the first thing I did was give it a base coat of black spray paint. I didn’t bother spraying the inside because I knew I’d be covering it with book pages.

monogramed tray painted

I wanted a worn surface that would bring in black, white and tan to coordinate with the pages and our living room. After the initial black coat, I brushed on a coat of creamy white and sanded the entire surface to show some of the wood and black layers. I didn’t think enough black showed through, so I dry-brushed on a bit more black.

The white seemed too stark against the vintage looking book pages, though, so I finished painting the tray by rubbing on some tan acrylic craft paint that I had thinned with water.


Before gluing the book pages to the tray I brushed them with a tea stain I made by steeping a tea bag in about 1/4 cup of water. After letting this dry, I cut the margins off all the pages and cut the pages in half so I could apply them in different directions.

Why? So they didn’t look like I tore pages out of a book and just stuck them on a tray. Plus, I thought someone would try to read them if they were bigger. And believe me, you do not want to read it – it’s the reason I didn’t feel bad about tearing the book up. At. All.

monogramed tray book pages

I used Mod-Podge to glue the pages down, alternating the direction of the words. I just eyeballed it and tried to make sure the tray looked even (i.e. – not all the corner pieces in the same direction and such).

I don’t know about you, but I find it a lot easier to work with the Mod-Podge if I thin it with a bit of water first.

Though the whole time I was using it, I was thinking that it seems just like our craft paper floor technique…and why can’t I just use Elmer’s glue like I do with that? Because that Mod-Podge stuff is ridiculously expensive for basically glue.

I think when I run out of this container, I’m gonna try thinned regular glue – have any of you tried it?

monogram tray on footstool

Anyway, after finishing with the book pages, I printed out a large B for our monogram, used scissors to cut it out, and glued it down with a bit more Mod-Podge. I chose a font that was big enough and connected everywhere to make the cutting easier.

When everything dried on the tray, I sprayed a clear protective coating over the whole thing to protect it from any food or spills it may get in it’s new position on our living room footstool.

I’m loving how it turned out and now want to paint, sand, glaze and decoupage anything else I can find. Which I’m pretty sure you’ll be seeing soon- ha!

Have you have made over any trays? What have you done – paint? tile? decoupage? {Click to comment}

31-days of Thrift Store TransformationsThis is day 26 in our series (you can click on the button to see all the posts in the category). If you’re wondering what’s up, you can read the introduction to 31 Days of Thrift Store Transformations here.


  1. says

    It turned out great! This would make a wonderful gift given with a quart jar of homemade tea blend for flus and colds and maybe a pair of slippers. Love the “yellowing” touch you added.

  2. says

    I have used just Elmer’s glue when I decopauged my daughter nightstands. The first time I did it, I just used the watered down glue but the dry glue started to peel off after some spilling and cleaning and the edges started to curl up. Then I cleaned it up, re-applied it and when it was dry, I put a clear coat over it. That worked wonders. We had them for years before we gave them to my neice and she still has them today.

  3. KathyJ says

    Scored! 2 trays today at the thrift – $1.49/each… thought of you Jami, when I saw them. No idea what I’m going to use them for… but I’m sure something will come up. :)

    Also – I’d like to get some ideas for gifts to go with trays. I picked up 2 trays for the guys I work with – glass bottom that will hold photographs underneath (not at the thrift-should have waited!). But I have no idea what to put with them.
    This is where I would personalize the gift a bit for each one of them. Any thoughts?

  4. says

    I just wanted to say that I’ve used both Modge Podge and watered down Elmers glue. I prefer the Elmers mix for decoupaging, hands down. And I’ve used it for some fairly large projects.

    • says

      I just use a clear coat from the craft store, Carolyn. Mine is so old I’m not sure they make the specific brand anymore. You can find them in the spray paint section of home stores, too, I think.

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