What's the hardest working accessory in your home? Chances are, it's a tray – whether you're using it to bring drinks to friends, frame a decorative vignette, or toss mail on your doorstep.
"We use trays for a lot of different things," says Krista Schrock, a director at Los Angeles-based Disc Interiors.
Sure, they're useful for serving cocktails and canapés, but they're also invaluable for keeping any type of mess looking organized.
"We use them No. 1 on ottomans," says Ms. Schrock, where they serve as a landing pad for magazines, books and remote controls.
But they're just as useful for organizing bathroom accessories on a vanity, jewelry on a dresser, liquor in a wet bar, or keys and sunglasses on a console, because they instantly make clutter seem more collected.
A tray “frames things, which helps set a nice visual tone when you want something decorative,” she said. "I use them all over my house."
What is the best material for a tray? “Brass, marble and wood are our favorites,” said Ms. Schrock, emphasizing that she prefers simple designs with a tactile appeal.
Should it have handles? "We definitely like handles on bigger ones," she said. "But it's less important with smaller ones."
Is One Shape Better Than Another? “Rectangular is the most common, but I also love a round tray,” said Ms. Schrock. "It's nice to use different shapes and sizes in different places."
Round brass trays with leather inserts, in different colors
From $ 170 at Skultuna: 011-46-21-783-03 or skultuna.com
Bubble marbled trays
Composite wood trays covered with marbled paper
From $ 62 at Jayson Home: 800-472-1885 or jaysonhome.com
Rectangular tray made of walnut wood
Walnut tray with handles wrapped in cotton cord
From $ 450 at Heide Martin Design Studio: 614-787-3501 or heidemartin.com
Ayres Merida trays
Carved marble trays of various sizes and colors
From $ 90 at Lawson-Fenning: 323-934-0048 or lawsonfenning.com
Bon wooden tray
Black-stained oak tray with feet
$ 129 at Ferm Living: 011-45-7022-7523 or fermliving.us
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