Organizing with Thrift Store Trays

Silver oli-vinegar tray

Trays are always abundant at thrift stores. In addition to using them as decoration or as well, trays, I love to use them to corral things. I find it amazing how the same things just sitting on a counter all of a sudden look nice and organized when they’re housed on a tray.

Organizing with trays is as easy as gathering a few trays made from different things like silver, wood and porcelain and then looking around your house to find where they’d be the most use. I use them in the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom (as well as my workroom).

Here are some ideas to get you started:

For the oil, vinegar, and spice tray (pictured above) that sits next to our stove I specifically looked for a rectangular silver tray. At the time, I didn’t care if it was silverplate or not, but after living with it awhile I’m SO happy with this stainless tray because it stays nice and bright and is easy to clean. I would definitely recommend stainless for heavy-use areas like the kitchen counter, if you can find it.

When I put this tray together a few months ago, I added the little bowls for corse salt and pepper and I have to say I had NO idea how much easier it is to have these at the ready like this when cooking. I wish I had done this years ago!

Baking Ingredient Tray

I can always find wood trays, but figuring out how to use them is another thing – especially the cheap-looking trays. How about using them in cupboards for loose items and to hold ingredients used together?

Baking Ingredient tray

I’ve put together a tray for baking items that fits nicely in our cupboard. Not only is it convenient to pull the tray out when I need it for baking, but it holds all the little things (especially the food color tubes and such) that I used to have to search for every time I wanted to use them.

Note that if this were Country Living magazine or Better Homes and Gardens, I would’ve put all these things in cute little containers before taking this photo. But this is real life here, and though sometimes I think I should take the time to do that, this is what it is. Hopefully you can relate…

Bath counter and tray

Our main bath counter automatically looks tidier with the makeup items together on a tray.

organize bath items with a tray

Isn’t it interesting how just setting the mirror, makeup brushes, and salt scrub on a porcelain tray causes it to become a decorative statement? Which I wasn’t aiming for, I was just tired of lifting three things every time I cleaned and thought I’d only have to lift one thing if I set them on a tray.

Stuff like this is always a lightbulb moment for me – like “Ahhh- why didn’t I do that earlier?”

organize jewelry with a tray

It’s the same in the bedroom as well. This is my dresser, but every guy needs a tray or box on their dresser so they have a place to put the stuff they pull from their pockets. Maybe it’s just Brian, but I swear if it were up to him, you wouldn’t be able to see the top of his dresser – just piles of stuff.

organize jewelry with a tray

I use this wood tray for the jewelry I’m wearing most at the moment and for the little booties my doctor gave me at the birth of our kids. Little things like this are always hard for me to deal with – I love the booties and the memory, but they are little things that gather dust and look, well, a bit junky when spread out.

But on a tray? All of a sudden it looks planned.

And sweet.

And organized. LOVE.

What do you use trays for? {Click to comment}

31-days of Thrift Store TransformationsThis is day 23 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.

I’m sharing this at: Chic & Crafty.


  1. says

    I’ve used a pretty thrift store narrow silver tray to hold items on my makeup vanity–I really was surprised how much nicer it looked with the tray! I love your series on thrift store items–you’ve come up with some very clever ideas, Jami!

  2. Pam says

    I found a blue w/little white specks bottom portion of a broiler tray for $1. I use that tray for everything in the kitchen; even to carry items out to grill on back porch. I don’t know what I would do without it now!! When not in use, it sits on back of counter behind utensil bucket (recycled, also)!

  3. says

    I love the idea of using trays! This makes me think outside the box in different areas that I can use them. I currently use them on my dressers and I have one next to my stove for olive oil, kosher salt and pepper, sugar in a bowl and utensils. Thanks for the new ideas and the autumn menu PDF! Great ideas!

    • Jami says

      Nicole, your comment got in my spam folder, so I’m responding a bit late – sorry – but I wanted to say Thank You for letting me know you liked the Autumn Menu Dinner ideas! You’re the first I’ve heard from, and I was curious to know if anyone was using the menus!!

  4. says

    I recentl found a rectangular shallow basket for my recipe books. Every time I wipe down the counters, I am SO grateful to have found it. So much easier and everything’s corraled. Love this series!

  5. says

    I rarely pass by a tray at a thrift store or garage sale. I love them for keeping the clutter looking, well, less like clutter. It also makes it easier when you need to clean quickly. Unexpected company in an hour? Just scoop up the tray and wipe! Then, if I have time, I’ll empty the tray and clean as needed. If the tray is really a mess, I’ll just pick up the whole thing and hide it!

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