How to Decorate a Coffee Table Tray

Stylish and functional, coffee table trays can easily become a focal point of the living room. In addition to serving hot beverages and snacks, they are perfect for organizing the area and showcasing your favorite small collectibles. For a balanced look, a coffee table tray should contain an assortment of display items that vary in size, shape and texture. Like objects should be stacked or grouped together for a uniform appearance. It’s possible to decorate a coffee table tray with a wide range of items, but books, flowers and candles are a particularly classic and timeless combination.


At Pottery Barn, our pillar and taper candles come in a variety of sizes and widths. Create a uniform look on your tray with candles of the same color and design, such as white pillar candles. Or, go for contrast to create aesthetic interest. Neutral-colored candles like white and gray give the coffee table tray an elegant look without taking attention away from the tray. For a porch area or a room with windows, an earthen candle made of birch enhances the theme of nature. Fragrant scented candles in all sizes and colors also make a nice accompaniment to a coffee table tray.


Similarly, oil diffusers enhance the look of a coffee table tray as well as creating a pleasant scent. Compact and fragrant, they add subdued elegance when placed on the corner of a square or rectangular tray. Just one alone produces a magical effect, but putting two on opposite corners of the tray produces a matching and balanced look. To dress up the look of a diffuser, accent the tray with small decorative items that match the diffuser’s theme or scent. A tray with a pine-scented diffuser, for example, is accentuated with a few sprigs of fresh pine.


Trays seamlessly highlight decorative objects, which makes them ideal for showing off precious stones, figurines and other small collectibles that might otherwise go unnoticed. Decorative objects are also ideal for keeping the coffee table and the surrounding room looking fresh. Many people rotate decorative objects based on the changing seasons. A spring-themed tray, for instance, might feature fresh flowers while an autumnal tray looks nice when adorned with apples, small pumpkins or gourds and faux leaves. Mix and match high and low objects to create variety in the height and scale of the table and create a more eye-catching scene.


With holiday decor, a coffee table tray transforms your room into a magical winter wonderland. This is an opportunity to decorate with small trinkets like a clear vase filled with ornaments or a terrarium filled with winter flowers and holly branches. Small glass or crystal trees make a beautiful addition to a holiday-themed tray. For a round tray, place a wreath inside the tray to make a festive border and add a decorative candle in the middle for a striking centerpiece. Seasonal colors and patterns like red and plaid brighten the room and draw attention.


Live or faux flowers also make great tray decorations. Along with books, flowers are one of the main elements of a classic tray design. While faux flowers don’t have a scent, they are ideal for decorating because they last indefinitely and don’t lose their color. Place faux flowers in a glass vase for a stunning focal point or get bright plants like faux poinsettia for a splash of bright color.


Whether you’re decorating for the holidays, a formal dinner party or a casual gathering, white flowers create a soothing and upscale ambience. Look for white faux flowers in your favorite varieties like hydrangea and narcissus. White faux flowers of all varieties pair nicely with other decorative items like pine boughs and red berries. Put an arrangement of white flowers in a tall glass vase to dress up a square or rectangular tray, or place a low vase with a wide base in the center of a round tray and fill it with flowers.