Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Back When I Had Time For This Kind Of Thing...

The other day I spotted this stenciled tray tucked away in a corner, and thought, now that isn't a very good spot for it! How about placing it on my newly painted table?

And it looks just right here. Finally, it's found a good home.

Then I hopped over to to copy the tutorial I wrote while working on this project. Scrolling through the steps, I know for certain I was a little crazy when working on this tray - what a lot of work, for a tray! But I truly enjoyed working with HGTV, and did my best to produce good work...and I'm happy, after the fact, to have such a pretty tray!

Just in case you find yourself with some spare time to stencil a tray yourself, here are the steps:

Materials Needed:

  • wooden tray
  • stencil
  • paint in two complementary colors
  • sanding pads, medium and extra-fine grit
  • ruler
  • painter's tape
  • tack cloth
  • paintbrush
  • small artist brush
  • polyurethane

Gather Materials

Select tray, stencil design, paint colors and additional materials. Tip: Consider using a stencil featuring a single damask motif or other pattern to center on tray surface. 


Sand Tray

Remove protective finish from tray surface, using medium-grit sanding pad, to allow new paint to adhere.Tip: Begin with unpainted tray to eliminate this step.

Prime Tray

Apply primer to all surfaces of tray with brush. Let dry two hours.

Sand Tray

Using an extra-fine-grit sanding pad, sand away any rough spots prior to painting. Wipe tray clean with tack cloth.

Paint Tray

Apply selected paint color to all surfaces of tray with brush. Let dry four hours.

Sand Tray Between Layers of Paint

Sand away any rough areas or brush marks using an extra-fine-grit sanding pad. Wipe tray clean with tack cloth.

Apply Second Coat of Paint

Brush on second coat of paint to all surfaces of tray. Let dry four hours.

Center Stencil on Tray

Position stencil design on tray. Measure placement to ensure design is centered. Secure in place using painter's tape.

Paint Design With Stencil Brush

Paint design onto tray with stencil brush using a dry brush method to ensure sharp paint lines. This is done by dipping tip of brush into paint and removing excess paint on paper towel.

Fill in Stencil Design

Dry brush stencil cut outs with paint using a stippling method, which is tapping the brush repeatedly over stencil opening. Press down stencil while stippling to prevent paint seepage.

Run Stencil Design to Tray Edges

If using a design that will run up to edges of tray, bend stencil at tray edge and hold in place while stippling.

Complete Stencil Design

Use small paint brush to fill in any unpainted sections of stencil design. Let paint dry four hours prior to applying protective finish.

Cover Tray With Protective Finish

Apply protective finish to entire surface of tray with brush. Let dry two hours.

What project do you look at and ask yourself, "where did I find the time and energy for that?!?!"


  1. I can't complain now because I'm retired. But the one thing that I wonder if I would have the energy to do again is painting every room in my house. Lets hope the colors I chose are my favorites until they carry me out of here.

  2. I took down three layers of wall paper last year. I have no idea what I was thinking. Where did you get your stencil from? I could use one of those in my life.

  3. It is beautiful - but like you... 'back in the day when I had the time'...
    I run across all sorts of cross stitch projects that I worked on and actually created 'back in the day'. It does bring back wonderful memories and I am so happy that I have them and that I did do those projects 'back in the day'!
    Thanks for sharing and have a great day! Jalon

  4. I'm just now getting into my groove on projects, but I've been working on a stencil for my powder room for weeks now. Mostly because it really wasn't made to go around a corner and it's insanely difficult so I can only do a little at a time before I want to scream.

  5. I love your beautiful tray, Janell. DIYing something like takes a lot of work and time, how I wish I had the time and patience to do that. That's why I salute all DIYers out there!

    Have a lovely day!


  6. This weekend I ripped up carpeting and painted the floor! ...I'm still exhausted. Tell me it's worth it... Anyway, my floor looks nice and your tray is great!

  7. Looks great - love the tutorial.

  8. Looks great - love the tutorial.

  9. Your tray is so gorgeous, Janell. I'm catching up after hosting Easter. I may try my hand at stenciling a tray soon. Your tutorial is wonderful. How fun the spring wedges are! Love the red pair with the rosette! Hope you're doing well!

  10. It's so pretty, Janell! I think it was worth the time spent.

    I did a little tray makeover awhile back with some patterned paper and Mod Podge. Probably a little less time consuming! But still fun.

  11. Love the tray. So many of the projects I have done I look at and ask myself...when did you have the time to do that???

  12. Great project and great tutorial. I love the gray. Megan

  13. It may have been crazy time-consuming but it is gorgeous and oh so worth it :)

  14. Thank you for this tutorial, Janell. It looks immaculate. I have a couple of stencils that I bought with no specific project in mind but perhaps now I will attempt a tray. I look at my stenciled dining room and think, "where did I have the time and energy?" and although I fell sick in the midst of the work there was an adrenaline rush which kept me going.

  15. Love the colors and trellis pattern. Your lines are so crisp! I know how hard those edges are to do, great job!

  16. Ha! Maybe I could fit a project like that in at 2:00 am. I have big expectations and no time :( Still love that tray though....

  17. I love your trays, they are so pretty and always come out perfect!


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