I have to say that the most inexpensive, multifunctional, pieces I have in my home are trays of all different shapes, sizes and varieties. These are my little home miracle workers, transforming my stacks of mail and clutter into something more visually appealing.
I don't question why this works, I just go with it. The formula seems to go like this: a group of random object sitting on your kitchen counter = a big cluttery mess. A group of random object stacked up on a big sleek tray = a cool, stylish counter. Hence...the Art of the Tray!
All the above images are from Domino. I thought that "tray display" was one of the areas this magazine excelled at. Trays used in a variety of ways from a spot to sort mail, to a library atop an ottoman, to collecting the random coffee table necessities, I always thought their trays looked like people were actually using them, not just props for the pictures.
The ever-inspirational Erica over at Urban Grace combines two of my favorites: A tray and a garden stool. This is how I imagine Erica spending leisurely mornings sipping coffee and dreaming up creative blog posts.
Remember when Better Homes & Garden was your grandmother's monthly read, well not anymore!
Snakeskin makes a nice accent for flowers from the garden, a'la Eddie Ross.
The tray is also a dinner party host's best friend. Never in the history of entertaining has there been something easier than cocktails and snacks on a pretty tray. I'm loving this big wicker version from Pottery Barn.
One of my go to, entertaining tips: Set out all necessary cocktail or wine glasses the night before on a tray with a stack of napkins and whatever else you have lying around (a long strand of pearls, some seashells, a big sprig of basil leaves, anything). Then if things get a little crazy in the last minutes of prep, when the guests walk in the door you look way ahead of the game...just grab your tray.
I snagged a similar tray to this West Elm version last year in an after Christmas sale and it now houses all of my bar ware in one convenient place. Nothing says prepared, like a bar you can pick up and take with you!
Top Image: Pottery Barn