Sadler House

Sadler House

Rockland, Maine

Tray Table Hack

March 17, 2014 | 8 Comments

If there’s one thing that annoys me when I’m trying to relax, it’s not having somewhere to put down my glass.

Sometimes it’s just WATER, people. No need to make jokes!

Having the right coaster is great, but isn’t it irritating when there’s no bedside table or no end table near you? I just hate having to put my drink on the floor. Inevitably, my kids end up kicking it over.

We’ve been struggling to find lots of affordable, cute little tables so that visitors to Sadler House never have their drinks kicked over. A few weeks ago, my husband hauled this tray table out of our coat closet and said “Can we just trash this?”

tray table before makeover

Box store beauty, right here.

“Uh-uh!!!” I countered. That post-college-box-store-lived-with-me-through-my-twenties tray table? It was perfect for one or two drinks. I was going to make that table over.

Now, this tray table would be a bad subject for a traditional paint job, since it’s barely recognizable as being a wood product and also…I’m lazy. Sanding all the nooks and crannies would have been so tedious! Luckily, I had a can of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® on hand in a soothing Duck Egg Blue.

When I turned the table upside down in the garage, I actually had to use a knife to cut away the remnants of the plastic that had once encased the table in the store. I can’t believe it had been stuck in the crevices of the table for over 15 years but, there you go. Having cut it away, I did give the table a very lazy, light sanding. I didn’t do a good job, though.

Then, I painted it.

Tray Table Hack – So Easy

It was a challenge to get all the nooks and crannies. I was able to get most of the table in one coat, and it was tricky to paint the various crevices without collapsing the table. There was comedy. Luckily, I was unobserved.

When the table had dried, I used a reusable stencil I had purchased at and put my lobster on top of the table using a basic matte stencil paint and stencil sponge from the craft store. Then I waxed it with my Annie Sloan soft wax, to protect the top.

No drink left behind. We have a table, folks.

Note: Since making this first table, I’ve made numerous others using different color combinations and have sealed some of them with water-based poly instead of wax. It has worked great and they have really held up to a lot of use. Six years and hundreds of guests later, all the tables are still showing surprisingly little wear and I have not repainted them. There are now many “chalky” paints available beyond Annie Sloan as well and I have subsequently made all of my own using instructions from Pinterest! Very affordable. 

Need a coffee table to go with that? Check out our beautiful and durable industrial coffee table made with plumbing pieces.

tray table hack


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8 people are talking about “Tray Table Hack

  1. I am loving this, it would be perfect for my new home or for my Mom’s new place. She already has the old tray tables. I have pinned this and shared it over at FB and Twitter. I would love it if you would stop by and share it over at Celebrate it Sunday! I hope to see you there!

  2. I tried to paint a table almost identical to yours but had so much trouble where the legs criss-cross. We’re you able to remove the pin/hardware?

    • Carla,

      I didn’t even try. I agree, the criss-cross is the worst part. I used a small angled brush and hit it from several angles, letting it dry and turning it upside down and getting it again. I also opened and closed the table to different degrees to get those covered spots.

  3. I have painted the tray tables and maybe didn’t wait long enough or didn’t sand the table first but the stencil took the paint off. Oh well back to the drawing board!

    • Huh. That has never happened to me! It does sound to me like maybe you put a stencil down on soft paint. Make sure it’s completely dry before stenciling on the picture.

  4. I recently took the basic tray table and gave it a couple coats of all in one beyond paint in rose gold metallic and used colored glass stones for the trim using gorilla glue. I will eventually stencil a red rose in the center. It was time consuming, because of the preparation. Then the paint went on easy. My 1st DIY project. Now I am working on my grandmothers tea cart, now that’s a project. Will try to attached photo of tray table, as computers and myself are dinosaurs.

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