guest bathroom personal care tray

Eight Ways to Use Trays All Over Your Home—Plus, Our Favorite Options to Shop Right Now

Corral collections and essentials alike in every area, from the kitchen to the living room.
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These low-profile stars can corral collections, protect furniture, and bring pulled-together polish to any surface and every room. Below, Martha Stewart Living home editor Lorna Aragon shares eight chic and ingenious ways to showcase their organizational prowess and enduring style. First up? The spacious tray, above, which was set on a low stool; it's Lorna's go-to for maximizing space in bathrooms. This organically curved ash-wood version ($60, westelm.com) stocked with pampering supplies—a bar of soap is housed in a Kiso Lifestyle soap dish ($18, jinenstore.com), while soaking salts are held in a wooden bowl from Crate & Barrel ($8, crateandbarrel.com)—and aromatic fresh eucalyptus, offers a spa experience within arm's reach of the tub. And when the in-laws arrive, you can carry the whole setup to the guest bedroom.

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desk organizational tray
Credit: Frank Frances

Work from Anywhere

Nothing zaps productivity like a disorganized desktop. Here, Lorna promotes order with a sleek pair of trays striped in natty blue and white. The larger one is home to her notepad, stapler, and pens. The job of the smaller varies: Today, it's an iPhone dock, but tomorrow it could be a drink coaster or, come expense-report time, a repository for receipts. Two stoneware sauce dishes were repurposed to hold paper clips and earbuds, get down to business without feeling too corporate. An added bonus: You can easily whisk your whole station to an off-site—say, in the living room.

Shop Now: Unison Pinstripe Linen-Coated Trays in Navy, $38 for large, $18 for small, unisonhome.com; Plain Goods Enameled Utility Clip, $8, plain-goods.com; Poppin Stapler in Slate Blue, $15, poppin.com; Standard Issue Blue Notepad, $13, papersource.com; Crate & Barrel Floral Sauce Dish in Mai Blue, $5, crateandbarrel.com; Crate & Barrel Crisscross Sauce Dish in Mai Blue, $5, crateandbarrel.com.

entry way organizational tray
Credit: Illustration by Enya Todd

Make an Entrance

A tray by the front door makes daily comings and goings a lot less harried, even when you're running late. Designate a foyer catchall for house and car keys; it's a sanity-saver when multiple family members are on the move. Choose an ample-enough size, and it becomes the sole drop-off spot for mail, masks, sunglasses, and school permission slips, too.

Shop Now: CB2 Jax Large Black Leather Bar Tray, $60, cb2.com.

bar spirits organizational tray
Credit: Illustration by Enya Todd

Lift Your Spirits

Lorna's space-smart answer to a bar cart: a tray stocked with liquors, mixers, and cocktail tools that's portable and party-ready. "Set it down, and anything from a sideboard to an end table becomes an instant drinks station," she says. Cut-glass decanters can hold house-favorite bourbons and whiskeys alongside glasses. A stack of small bowls filled with nuts and garnishes just before guests arrive completes the top-shelf look.

Shop Now: Kate and Laurel Marbury Tray in White and Gold, $80, homedepot.com.

bedside table organizational tray
Credit: Frank Frances

Sleep Tight

A bedside tray might not be a proven cure for insomnia, but we're willing to bet that you rest easier when your nightstand is clutter-free. Lorna embraced the constraints of this marble-motif stunner and pared back her evening essentials to a carafe, a scented candle, an analog clock—no cell-phone alarms here—and a clay dish for jewelry. Pretty dreamy.

Shop Now: Jayson Home Bubble Marbled Tray in Large, $85, jaysonhome.com; Braun Classic Alarm Clock, $40, shophorne.com; Sir/Madam Seeded-Glass Carafe Set in Deep Sage, $68, hawkinsnewyork.com; Tatine Brass Candle in Ancient Hinoki, $48, cb2.com.

kitchen cooking essentials tray
Credit: Frank Frances

Clean Up the Kitchen

To streamline meal prep, borrow a time-saving trick from restaurants (and Martha), and create a mise en place of quick-access spices and condiments. This wipe-clean copper tray, originally intended for potted plants, is watertight, so oil and vinegar spills stay contained, and its slim proportions squeeze into the narrowest stove-side spot. Clear cruets and raw-wood dishes hold our kitchen's favorite sea salts, and look elegant enough to move straight to the table come dinnertime. Afterward, just lift it and wipe the counter in one satisfying swoop.

Shop Now: Habit+Form Solid-Copper Medium Rectangular Tray, $48, shopterrain.com; Peugeot-Châtel Pepper Mill, $65, us.peugeot-saveurs.com; Hawkins New York Simple Oil Cruet, $24, food52.com; Sagaform Nature Serving Set with Oak Stopper, $30, everythingkitchens.com; Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, $7, thespicehouse.com; Saltverk Lava Salt, $13, saltverk.com; Jacobsen Salt Co. Pure Flake Sea Salt, $14, jacobsensalt.com.

children play area tray
Credit: Illustration by Enya Todd

Give It the Slip

Some see a rimmed baking sheet. We see a stowaway tray: a work surface to hold your children's boundless creativity that lets you stash their in-progress projects at a moment's notice. When you hit pause on play-time, simply slide the bakeware—and your fledgling Frida or Frank Lloyd Wright's glitter and glue, bevy of beads, or Lego castle—under a bed or a sofa, and it's preserved as is, preventing masterpiece meltdowns (and messes underfoot).

self care fragrance tray
Credit: Illustration by Enya Todd

Set a Chic Scene

Alcohol in perfume, errant face oil, dripping candles, and water rings can do a number on porous surfaces, glossy veneers, and soft woods like pine. Lorna safeguards dresser tops from spills and stains with a marble tray. The luxe material spares furniture and turns a hodgepodge of fragrances, votives, and display-worthy creams into a cohesive tableau worthy of a grand hotel. Move it from bureau to bathroom vanity (or even the back of the loo, if it fits), and earn four stars for style.

Shop Now: Jayson Home Faris Tray, $95, jaysonhome.com.

Styling by Lorna Aragon