{five minute friday} DIY Acrylic Trays Styled Two Ways

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I have longed for a clear acrylic tray for quite some time! Every time I see them in the West Elm and CB2 catalogs, I flag the page thinking that some day I'll treat myself to one. But at between $30-40, I've just never been willing to spend the money.

And then last week I had an epiphany! While I was framing a rainbow photo for a quick and easy St. Patricks' Day project, I looked at the acrylic box frame that I was using and realized that, laying down, it looked exactly like an acrylic tray. So, on my next trip to Michaels, I picked up two more acrylic box frames - an 8x10 for $3.99 and an 8.5x11 for $4.99. I added a quick detail to each and now I have two fabulous acrylic trays for a fraction of the designer price!

DIY acrylic or lucite trays styled with scrapbook paper and decals

The acrylic box frames are intended to stand up right with a photo inside, but with the photo removed, laying down, the frame becomes a great knock-off for a high dollar acrylic tray.

Picture Frame Becomes Acrylic Tray

I've been wanting a tray to hold our tv remote and coasters on the shelf of our living room coffee table, and the 8x10 frame turned out to be just the right size. While shopping at Target a couple of days ago, I spotted some polka dot wall decals on clearance for $5, and I immediately knew that the gold and teal dots would be a perfect addition to the tray.

Picture Frame Becomes Decorative Acrylic Tray

I spread out the sheets of polka dots to get an idea of how many would fit on the tray.

Picture Frame Becomes Acrylic Tray

I also realized that the sheet of polka dots worked great as a template for perfectly spacing the dots on my tray. I laid the tray on top of the teal polka dots and placed the gold polka dots on the tray in line with the dots below.

Add adhesive decals to diy acrylic tray

I mixed in just a few teal polka dots here and there among the gold, and I love the way the tray turned out. 

Gold Polka Dotted Acrylic Tray

The tray tucks neatly on the shelf of the coffee table, in between our stacks of art books. {My real art books, collected from museums around the world, have been temporarily replaced with kid-friendly board books about famous artists}.

DIY Acrylic Tray for TV Remotes and Coasters

The kids love reading their art books and take them on and off of the coffee table shelf frequently, but as a result, I often had to move around stacks of books searching for the remote and coasters. Now the tray will keep them together and make them easier to find.

DIY gold polka dot acrylic tray for remotes and coasters

And when I'm watching tv in the living room, I can easily pull out the tray and sit it on top of the coffee table, where it looks oh-so-cute!

DIY gold polka dot acrylic tray for tv remotes and coasters

For the other tray (the 8.5x11), I wanted to do something temporary that would allow the tray to be reimagined for each season or holiday. Since spring and Easter are right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to style the tray accordingly, so I grabbed a brightly colored piece of scrapbook paper from my craft stash.

DIY acrylic tray from photo frame styled with scrapbook paper

I laid the tray on top of the paper so that I could decide what portion of the design I wanted to use. Once I had it positioned where I wanted it, I used a pencil to trace the outside of the tray on to the paper and cut it out. {Note that if you want to place paper inside the tray, you should instead trace the cardboard insert that comes with the frame, rather than the tracing the outside of the tray, in order make the paper fit in correctly.}

DIY acrylic tray lined with scrapbook paper

Because I want to be able to frequently restyle this tray, I decided to simply affix the paper to the bottom of the tray using a few strips of double sided Scotch tape {one in each corner}. By placing the paper on the underside of the tray, the paper is protected and will stay looking nice no matter what I put inside the tray. And when I'm ready to change it up, I can simply pull the paper and tape off of the bottom of the tray and affix a new piece of scrapbook or wrapping paper.

DIY acrylic tray lined with scrapbook paper

The pink and teal of that gorgeous scrapbook paper are a perfect match for the colors of my living room and entry way, so I placed the tray on our entry table and with a vase of happy spring blooms.

DIY acrylic tray lined with scrapbook paper

Since this was really my first spring or Easter decor project of the year, I thought I should add a little more seasonal charm by filling the base of our lamp with plastic Easter eggs.

DIY acrylic tray Lamp filled with Easter Eggs

I love the way this tray turned out, and I am excited to find new ways to restyle it for each holiday! Talk about $5 well spent! 

DIY acrylic frame and Easter egg decor

I am pretty excited about my two new acrylic trays, and I'm especially excited that I spent less than $10 for both of them - a fraction of the cost of the high end versions I had been drooling over! AND each tray took me less than 5 minutes to make! This might be my favorite Five Minute Friday project yet!

Picture frame becomes diy decorative acrylic or lucite tray

How would you style a DIY acrylic tray? I'd love to hear your ideas!


  1. I love this idea! The tray with the colorful paper is great. And you will be able to change it if you get sick of it. A Christmas tray maybe?

  2. This is amazing. I will try this in my office and my home. Very talented.