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Ditto DIY: Easy DIY Interchangeable Tray ($8!)

First, oops! I keep forgetting to tell you that the Better Homes & Gardens mag with my laundry room will be the NEXT issue, technically June but it comes out within a week or two, I think. If you see it, let me know! Look for silly little me on the very back page, wondering what I’m doing there.

Welcome to the FIRST EVER Ditto DIY challenge! HECK YEAH.
{ditto} DIY: Inspired Design For the Rest of Us

If you need a little refresher on what Ditto DIY is, you can check out this post. Here’s the gist: once a month, we’ll all use a drop-dead gorgeous haute couture home design photo as inspiration for a project we’ll complete in our own home. It’s a fun, non-intimidating way to practice making your home look more like what you drool over on HGTV or in design mags.

Ditto DIY is hosted by nine very different bloggers. (Some of us are DIY bloggers, some are deal bloggers, some are mom bloggers… you get what I’m sayin.’)
{ditto} DIY: Inspired Design for the Rest of Us
Participating bloggers include:

Darlene @ Fieldstone Hill
Ruth @ Living Well Spending Less
Cindy @ Skip to My Lou
Jen @ Balancing Beauty & Bedlam
Edie @ Life in Grace
Rachel @ Surviving the Stores
Karin @ Trophy Mom Diaries
Lauren @ I am THAT Lady
Kelly @ View Along The Way
Melissa @ The Inspired Room

For the first challenge, we’re sharing our projects just to give you a feel for how this will work, because next month, we’re opening it up to all of you to link up and share how you were inspired by next month’s photo.

Soooo you might remember that the first Ditto DIY challenge is inspired by this photo:
Painted tray and vanity vignette

Painted tray and vanity vignette, from the home of nina bergsten, photography by marcus lawett.

The challenge: Create your own painted tray and vanity vignette

As soon as I received this challenge from the lovely Darlene of Fieldstone Hill, I felt redeemed by the frivilous purchase I’d made a while back at Goodwill of a random wooden tray even though I had no plans for it. (Hoarding wins again!)
Wooden Tray
Later when I was getting supplies for this project, I saw this exact tray in a set of two at Michaels for $4.99, so if you’re looking for an inexpensive tray to work some magic on, this might be a good place to start.
Wooden Trays from Michaels
This is a painted tray challenge, so the first thing I did was zap this guy with some high-gloss white spray paint.

I know what you’re thinking.

“STOP THE PRESSES!! You SPRAYPAINTED something WHITE?! Where’s the most-brilliant-DIY-blogger award so we can give it to you for this innovation and creativity?!”

I know, guys. I know. It’s exhausting being a revolutionary who’s way ahead of your time.

*Wordlessly high-fives Leonardo Da Vinci*

I did want to step it up a bit and I thought it’d be fun to have a tray that’s versatile and changeable to accommodate my fickle ways, so I headed to Lowes and had them cut me a piece of acrylic to fit right inside the tray.
White tray and sheet of acrylic

Then I grabbed some rolls of pretty wrapping paper I’d bought at after Christmas sales, and picked up a few sheets of funky scrapbook paper from Michaels.
ray with wrapping paper

I used the acrylic sheet as a template to cut my wrapping paper to fit just inside the tray, set the wrapping paper inside the tray and added the acrylic on top. Ta-da: instant changeable tray, for about $8.
Painted tray with gold and white wrapping paper liner

I tried it with wrapping paper (above), with some funky scrapbook paper:
DIY painted tray with leopard print scrapbook paper lining

And, my favorite version, with photos, mementos from my kiddos’ birthdays and sentimental cards from friends and from Andy.
Tray lined with photos and mementos under a sheet of acrylic. Great way to bring memories into your decor in a classy way!

(The top right card came from Andy on my 26th birthday. It says: “You’re officially in the second half of your twenties and I still freaking love the crap out of you.” #Romance.)

I love this version because everything stays safe and sound under the sheet of acrylic where it can’t get ruined, but it can live right where you see it all the time, especially if you use the tray in a vanity or bathroom space. I love displaying family photos in my personal spaces, like nightstands or on a vanity.

Other fun things to display on an interchangeable tray:

  • Wrapping paper for the holidays
  • Colorful leaves in the fall or pressed flowers for spring
  • Love letters, postcards, tickets from events
  • Fun fabrics. (Great way to use those scraps laying around!)
  • Your kids’ or grandkids’ art projects
  • Any free printables you dig up on pinterest (here are a couple I’ve made)
  • Giant photographs of cats. (I’m getting carried away now…)
  • Receipts and mortgage payments (Okay I’ll stop!)

The beauty of it is it’s kinda like an easy-change picture frame, except horizontal, and it stores stuff.

So now that my tray was done, time to make a little vignette! I got carried away again. I was having fun and couldn’t stop.
Styled vanity tray with art and flowers

Since you asked, why yes, those flowers ARE real and yes, they ARE from my yard, where they are inexplicably thriving under my careful nurturing complete lack of attention. (This is a miracle.) Once again: I clipped them, live, like Martha Stewart. Quit asking me about my flawless green thumb, guys! You’re making me blush. No really, stop complimenting my gardening skills. I can’t take it.
Styled vanity tray with bust

The art in the background is the amaaaaazing one-of-a-kind commissioned piece (ahem) from this post.

See my new friend there on the right above? Her name is Matilda. I mean, obviously that had to be her name. She’s a highly controversial figure in my house, and we’re going to chat about her in an upcoming post. Not in a gossipy way, behind her back. I’ll turn her to face us.
Styled vanity tray with art, gold/brass and pink

Okay, SO! Your turn! Beginning next month (on Monday, June 3) we are inviting you ALL to join the {ditto} DIY challenge! Ready to see what the challenge is? (Hint: I think it’s going to be golden.) Head to Darlene’s site to get all the details, and I hope you’re here to link up your projects on June 3. Bloggers, you can link up here, and non-bloggers, post your projects on the Ditto DIY facebook page.

In the meantime, don’t forget to swing by and see what the other Ditto DIY bloggers did for their painted tray challenge.

Love! This would be such a great gift (think grandmas for mothers day, etc.) Display photos or keepsakes, change out the background, make this tray your own!

Now I want to hear from you! What would you display on your tray? Do you create little vignettes like this in your home? Would you like to ask me where the flowers in my pics came from? (Hint: they came from my yard.) 🙂

Let's connect


  1. Love your tray vignette. Beautiful! And heading off to see the rest of the projects 😉

  2. I love your take on it Kelly! Very cool paper!! xo Kristin

  3. OMG that card from Andy is the best. I love the idea of displaying things like that in a tray!! With protection of course. 🙂

  4. Hi Kelly – Love the vignette’s (I can see how you can get carried away!) and the paper you choose! Going to feature you again in my weekly DIY blog post!

  5. You’re quite the stylist! Seriously. I’m impressed.

    Off to wait by my mailbox. You think I’m joking. At least it’s nice out…

  6. So, are you a GENIUS or what???!!!!!!! Girl. you have skills. once again, you do not disappoint!
    LOVE LOVE LOVE this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. A white spray painted tray? Pure genius. Very pretty vignettes! And those flowers definitely look store bought.

  8. Love it. Putting the photos, etc under the plexi is super brilliant. My husband is thoughtful, but the cards usually have xoxo an that’s it, so I think your card is pretty funny. I’d be intrigued to see if anyone can make giant photos of cats looks chic.

  9. The acrylic is super smart. As I never woul have thought to have them cut it at the hardware store. Smart.

    I would definitely go with large photos of cats. Is there anything else as chic?

  10. Gold and brass huh…… hmmmmmm….. wondering where my mind will take me on that. Probably to the box of stuff I already have from a different decorating era.

    My eyes are going, did Andy’s card say I love the crate out of you?


  11. ooh, nice! I love the acrylic idea. I have been keeping an eye out at thrift stores for a tray that makes me want to buy it; I will now redouble my efforts. And I used to have a giant ceramic pig named Matilda. I gave her to one of my neighbors when we moved back from Boston. Why? I don’t know. I kick myself daily. And, ooh! brass cranes. LOVE.

  12. Love your tray ideas! The acrylic is smart. I think you should have went with large cat photos though… just saying.

    Also- where did you get those beautiful flowers?!

  13. you are so funny!

  14. There are some wallpaper designs I really love but I don’t want to do a whole wall with it!
    This is a great idea since it’s a “slice of the pie” and can be changed when the mood strikes.

  15. ohmyword! your styling is beautiful in the last few photos. gorgeous!

  16. Your tray was the best in my opinion! Congrats on high fiving De Vinci 🙂

  17. Kelly – oh my, I am blown away!! What a perfect idea!! So I started off this challenge thinking, “what in the world am I going to use a tray for?” and now after reading through all of the posts I’m thinking, “is there anything that I COULDN’T use a tray for?”

    I had no idea you could get acrylic cut at Lowe’s! This is just pure genius!

  18. Love how this came out. Great styling too, very fun. Also, I freaking love the crap out of you.

  19. Love and adore your vignette! Plus, who says white isn’t just a new round-breaking trend? Just wait, in 10 years, dark molding is going to come back 9and maybe linoleum) and white will be all retro-amazing:)


  20. I LOVED the tray with the birthday card and that sweet baby footprint! Well done!

  21. Shelly O'Brien says:

    Such a cute and inexpensive idea!! I have two black trays I bought for $2 a piece in the Target dollar section a few months ago! Stoked to have a fresh idea to change them up a bit!

  22. I love that!

  23. Love that acrylic sheet tip. That is awesome. So many options. Of course the mortgage bill option is my favorite. Hello! Can you say elegant? LOL… seriously, though… I love the ones you did with giftwrap and scrapbooking paper.

    No to think what I can give a hit of gold for next month… hmmmm

  24. You are a styling queen! 🙂 It’s gorgeous in all its white simplicity!

  25. Let me guess…Andy is jealous of Matilda’s good looks? 😉 Love the idea of the acrylic!

  26. This is super fun and you even got something you can use! The pic of your little girl is adorable. 🙂

  27. Well played! I love those simple wooden trays because they are such a useful blank canvas! The acrylic is genius. (I painted one a while back and now it sits on our foyer collecting crap…) I sort of want to go and style it now just for fun…
    Love yours!
    xo Charlotte
    p.s. All these gorgeous vignettes are why I hoard.

  28. Absolutely lovely! Looking forward to meeting Matilda. 😀

  29. I love this! I didn’t know they could cut acrylic for you…I’m super intrigued because that would be great for my tray/coffee table. Hmmmmmm…

  30. Oh, love the tray styling and the interchangeable feature, too! Awesome job!!! 🙂

  31. i have a tray just waiting for a makeover…i want to do this and have pretty vignette photos of it like this! also that card is sweet and hilarious!

  32. Your vignettes are amazing. I had a really hard time deciding which one I liked best. You’ve got some mad vignette skill, gurl! 🙂

  33. I am having so much fun visiting all the ditto diy projects. Love this one Kelly with the interchangeable paper. SO creative! I might have to do this for my living room. I like changing things up and this such a great way to do that!

  34. Kelly this turned out amazing!!!! I loved how simple, easy, and affordable…yet it packs a big punch of style!!!


  35. Gorgeous vignette Kelly… and you are seriously funny! Love it. Hmmm a golden challenge… interesting!

  36. Where to start – I love everything about this {and maybe your sense of humor the most of all?? Is there an award for that?}. I actually SAW this pin today on Pinterest and recall thinking “that is BRILLIANT”. Love. So fabulous. Going to see if I already pinned it because if I did not, for shame.
    xoxo, Claire

  37. says:

    How clever you are high fiving Da Vinci!!! Spill the beans……what is he like? You are amazingly clever and have inspired me to double my efforts to find a suitable thrift store tray. I LOVE Andy’s note you have under the acrylic – what an old romantic he is; my husband has written me some lovely letters and cards over the years and he too is very romantic in print, so I have plenty of material for a personalised styling. I love all of the vignettes you did – so beautiful and inspirational to us ordinary wanabe stylists. Our large hardware chain here in Australia is called Bunnings, I must go and see if they will cut a piece of acrylic. But first things first – find the tray. Thank you for yet another entertaining and clever post.

  38. Your tray looks beautiful and I like the acrylic sheet idea – makes it look “finished” with anything under it!

  39. This linky party looks like fun! Love your interchangeable tray! Luv the cheetah print -meow!!

  40. LOVELY!!! I didn’t know you could get the clear thing cut. (I can’t remember what it is called and don’t feel like scrolling up – lazy). I keep thinking I want a try but didn’t know what to do with one….now I know!! 🙂

  41. Gorgeous tray, and I love that you made it interchangeable! And lol about that card. On my 26th birthday this year, JM basically spent the entire time lamenting that in only two short weeks he would be turning 25 and be officially halfway through his twenties! Jerk… 🙂

  42. Kelly your tray and vignette is beautiful, I love how it’s versatile! 🙂 don’t worry I spray paint everything in white 🙂

  43. Krystin says:

    So yours takes first prize in my opinion… Love how you made an inexpensive- interchangeable tray for so cheap. And your styling is great… love the collage tray. Definately on my next list of projects, thank you!

  44. I love the paper and the card from Andy … classic!!!

  45. That is freakin awesome! I love Andy’s card too btw:)

  46. Yay! Love that tray. What a fun idea to make it easily changeable. I say open your own floral shop.
    Off to check out these details, because I’m excited!!

  47. Now you’ve given me some ideas of things to do with my very own Goodwill find tray. Mine already has the glass too …

    … and I adore that custom commissioned art! Pretty sure I complimented the artist on the original post too …

    🙂 Linda

  48. I love this challenge idea! I’m just about the start renovating so this is going to be great to follow.

  49. That’s brilliant- I never would have thought of getting a sheet of acrylic cut to size!!! Hilarious on Andy’s card- nothing says romance like “crap”- priceless!!

  50. Love your tray and vignettes! They are gorgeous!

  51. LOOOVVVEEEE!! I heart the styled tray trend that is going on right now, and the fact that yours is so incredibly versatile just makes me love it even more. I love all of your ideas on styling and how you put pieces together. And those gorgeous roses, obviously. Where did you get those, anyway? 😉 Thanks for the inspiration, Miss Kelly! Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

    ~Abby =)

  52. I love the idea of event tickets and sentimental letters/cards because I don’t believe in keeping them hidden away in boxes either! Also, my favorite arrangement is the last one and I wondered what the gold star thing is? So pretty!

    • Thanks! Would you believe it’s just a Christmas ornament I picked up at after-Christmas clearance this year? 🙂

  53. I lol’d at your line, “hoarding wins again!” because that is SO my Mom’s mentality. She was a missionary kid growing up and didn’t have much, so she saved everything she could, bless her heart, and that has followed her into adulthood. She knows she needs to work on purging more (heck, so do I), but it doesn’t help that quite often, I’ll express needing a very particular item and she’ll profess, “Ooo! I have that! See, it’s a good thing I saved it…..” Hoarding with the win. Yet again!

    Anyway, back to you and your amazingness. I love how versatile this tray is…and what a great gift it could make for newly-weds to place some mementos from their wedding beneath the acrylic (invitation, program, photos, love letters…ya know). Speaking of love letters, reading Andy’s card to you made me love you guys all the more. If that was even possible.

  54. Love how versatile this is! So neat!

    Your flowers are beautiful as well!!

    Hope you had a wonderful and blessed Mother’s Day!

  55. I SO want to try this, great idea! Pinning 🙂

  56. Yay! I love this idea, Kelly! I will totally be linking up for the next challenge. Your vignettes are all gorgeous too!

  57. I so love this, super cute and easy. Who needs a $32 tray!

  58. Love this! I’m going to check my local Lowe-like place (Bauhaus) and see if they can do the same. I was wondering what the easiest way to do the bottom of the tray with this gorgeous paper I just bought – this is definitely the best way! Thanks for sharing it.


  1. […] in Grace Rachel @ Surviving the Stores Karin @ Trophy Mom Diaries Lauren @ I am THAT Lady Kelly @ View Along The Way Melissa @ The Inspired […]

  2. […] in Grace Rachel @ Surviving the Stores Karin @ Trophy Mom Diaries Lauren @ I am THAT Lady Kelly @ View Along The Way Melissa @ The Inspired […]

  3. […] in Grace Rachel @ Surviving the Stores Karin @ Trophy Mom Diaries Lauren @ I am THAT Lady Kelly @ View Along The Way Melissa @ The Inspired […]

  4. […] in Grace Rachel @ Surviving the Stores Karin @ Trophy Mom Diaries Lauren @ I am THAT Lady Kelly @ View Along The Way Melissa @ The Inspired […]

  5. […] in Grace Rachel @ Surviving the Stores Karin @ Trophy Mom Diaries Lauren @ I am THAT Lady Kelly @ View Along The Way Melissa @ The Inspired […]

  6. […] in Grace Rachel @ Surviving the Stores Karin @ Trophy Mom Diaries Lauren @ I am THAT Lady Kelly @ View Along The Way Melissa @ The Inspired […]

  7. […] via darlene weir on […]

  8. […] the last post, I showed you my new little friend, Matilda, there on the right. I got her for $9.98 on clearance […]

  9. […] I love this DIY Interchangeable Tray from Kelly at View Along the Way. […]

  10. […] The great thing about the tray already having glass and matting is that it’s easily customizable.  You can display anything you’d like.    And if you don’t happen to find this kind of ‘frame’ tray at a thrift store as I did, it’s pretty easy to make one!  You can use a regular picture frame and add cabinet handles to it, or you can have a piece of glass or acrylic cut to fit the bottom of a tray you already have.   (See how Kelly did it at View Along the Way.) […]

  11. […] design into our homes, inspired by a common photo. Here’s more on that, and here’s the first Ditto DIY challenge. This month, we’re all challenged to GILT something, or turn something gold. Any little thing […]

  12. […] now–so chic and classy! I had yet to integrate much gold into my home, but when Kelly from View Along the Way and her fellow bloggers issued their “Ditto DIY” challenge, it gave me the perfect […]

  13. […] mice, not gross real mice with actual tails. Photo by Danielle Capito via Ruffled Ooh, remember my $8 DIY interchangeable tray? Check it: pink and gold. For the win. Look at Mila’s sweet little face. She’s the […]

  14. […] Life in GraceRachel @ Surviving the StoresKarin @ Trophy Mom DiariesLauren @ I am THAT Lady Kelly @ View Along The WayMelissa @ The Inspired […]

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