How to Make a Chic Butler’s Tray Table from Thrifty Finds

Creative & affordable ways to use TV tables and pretty serving trays to make chic butler’s tray tables to decorate a home.

TV tray tables, luggage racks, and trays of all shapes and sizes are abundant at flea markets and thrift stores if you can’t unearth any hidden away in your basement.

All can be transformed into a tray table for the side of a bed, sofa or chair in any room.

What Is a Butler’s Tray Table?


Butler’s tables are both stylish and versatile pieces of accent furniture! The tray top comes off so you can use it as  – a tray.

Whoever invented it – smart idea. The bottom part of the table can be folded up to store or to easily move from room to room.


Here is my butler’s tray table close up – it is very old Asian inspired design.


With a folding base and removable tray top – a butler’s table can be used in more ways than one. Tray tables keep a room looking organized as it keeps items organized that might otherwise look cluttered into décor.


It is a side table one minute, and simply a tray to carry something or to place on the bed with a book or a snack.


On this tray table, I placed a basket on the bottom section to hold rolled towels in my guest room.


The tray holds some basic necessities my guests may need – water, reading material, an alarm clock, tissues, and…


…chocolate in the way of Kisses.

How to Make a Butler’s Tray Table

If you don’t have a butler’s table and like the idea of having one, look no further than local yard sales and thrift stores.


I found these plastic TV tray tables and silver tray at my local thrift store to make my own chic butler’s tray table. They look pretty mundane, but with the magic of some spray paint.


An ordinary TV tray goes from cheap to chic when a wicker basket is placed on top.


If you have a wicker tray where items get wobbly because they are placed on the uneven surface of the wicker, try adding a pretty DIY Wicker tray Insert that you can easily make with cardboard, fabric and or decorative paper.


Don’t like baskets? How about creating a chic traditional look? Spray paint the TV table black and place a $4.00 thrift store silver tray on top.


Tres Chic!

Other Places to Use a Butler’s Table:

  • Eating Alfresco? Place the stand next to the main dining table and bring out the food on the tray. This gives you extra table space.
  • Use the tray alone to turn an ottoman into a table.
  • Eat in front of the TV in style.
  • Set it up as a party bar.

A butler’s tray table is one of the most versatile pieces of furniture you will ever own.

Make it shabby, make it chic, make it rustic, make it simply – in your own style!

To see the other ways I transformed this guest room on a budget, don’t miss how to Update a Hand Me Down Dresser. Make a Bed Hanging to add focal point. Add No-Sew Drapery Panels and hang them on PVC Curtain Rod and Finials.

More Ideas on How to Decorate With Trays

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  1. How did you hang the mirror on the bed curtains?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Heather –

      To hang the mirror over the bed curtain, I first added a EZ screw-in style hollow wall anchor to the wall behind the curtain. I placed it where I wanted the mirror to hang. I measured to get this at the right place.

      Once that wall anchor was in the wall, I added the a heavy duty screw into it. This screw is what the mirror hangs on. I hung the curtain and arranged the folds evenly across the wall. Next I found the center and felt around for the wall anchor/screw and snipped a tiny hole in the fabric to expose it.

      On the back of the mirror, I added a heavy duty hook hanger that screws in. Then hung it on the wall. For extra security, I wrapped wire through the hook on the back of the mirror and over the screw.

      EZ Screw Wall Anchor I used:
      Heavy Duty Picture hanging hook:

  2. Debbie Cothran says:

    Love these DIY’S!

  3. Eleanor Hawkins says:


  4. Love the black side table tray. Did I miss something in your post or did the TV tray already have the upper & lower rod looking supports on it? You were able to set your basket on the bottom “rods” I’ve ever seen ate tray like that, would love to though. I also liked your idea for the drawer pulls with the glass beadsw/ initials.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lyn – The black tray table is an antique tray table that was handed down to me. It is complete with the upper and lower supports. In this post, I tried to make plain TV tables I had look more like it by adding baskets and trays to the tops of them.

  5. I stumbled upon your website whilst looking for ideas and must stay that I’m quite impressed. Thanks to you, I’ve now come up with an idea for an old plain wooden t.v. table and a wooden nesting tray that fits on top perfectly. I’m going to paint both pieces in a high gloss black acrylic paint then line the tray with a black and white brocade patterned vinyl placemat to create a gorgeous butler’s table! Can’t wait to get started.

    1. Love these DIY’S!

  6. The Hungry Housewives says:

    Love the original one but the silver one is my favorite! I love this idea! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Stephanie Lynn says:

    Hi Diane, Your guest room is fabulous! Love the ‘curtain’ framed bed and starburst mirror. The side table is so clever. Thanks so much for linking to the Sunday Showcase Party – I greatly appreciate it. I have featured this today. Enjoy the rest of your week ~ Stephanie Lynn

  8. Fell out of bed feeling down. This has britgehned my day!

  9. Shannon @ Cozy Home Scenes says:

    Can I say how much I love this room? I almost decorated my room with purple and green, so I love the white and purple you did. It looks so soft and homey. I like all the details you put into making this a cozy area for your guests. Very creative use of those normally ugly plastic tables. I like the look with the silver tray.

    1. Hi Shannon –

      Thanks. Since I was working on a budget, the color scheme for my guest room was kind of chosen for me as I had leftover paint from my dining room. It went well with the black and white accents I had in this room. I found the purple and white blanket at Ross for 5.99. I think it is one of my favorite bargain store buys!

  10. I love this! I’d like to invite you to post it on Masterpiece Monday at Boogieboard Cottage. The link will be up all week, I hope you can join in. Have a nice week, Mary :O)

  11. very nice idea love it

    1. Hi Angie-

      Thanks. I wanted to search for more trays at yard sales this weekend, but they all got rained out.

  12. abeachcottage says:

    Gosh, what a wonderful guest room! You did a great job with it. Love your butler’s table idea. Thanks for sharing and thanks for linking to Beach Cottage Good Life Wednesdays.

  13. Lilianna Grace says:

    That room is adorable, I would love to take some inspiration from it! You’re right, that table is definately a versitile piece. We may be in for a big cross country move soon and I will be using your blog as my main resource! BTW…Kisses with almonds are my absolute favorite!

  14. LOVE this!!! After I send this I’m going to shop my house so I can do this!

    Found you on Stories of A-Z!


  15. What a great idea! I love how yours looks. I think I will try to make one with a large silver tray I have.


  16. Marie @ Sally Lee by the Sea says:

    The finished room is a real showstopper! I love the idea of a butler’s table and thank you for sharing how to make one from garage sale finds.

    Happy BC Good Life Wednesday :O)

  17. I am all over this idea! I think there is an old tray in our basement. Fingers crossed!

    1. Hi Rene –

      I hope you find one, if not Saturday is only 5 days away to go and check out some yard sales.

  18. just blog hopping and found your blog.. a new follower!

  19. Sallie @ Texas Cottage says:

    I love the colors in your guest room! The butler’s table is a super idea. I especially like the items you included for your guests’ comfort.

    1. Thanks Sallie-

      I prefer neutral backdrops and am truly working on a budget since my hubby is out of work. I mixed two paints I had in my basement to achieve most of what I painted in the room. I used leftover paint from my dining room and mixed it with white for the walls. I also mixed two half gallons of two different colors of white I had to create enough paint to paint the dresser, too. I am s-t-r-e-c-h-i-n-g my decorating dollars for sure.

  20. I always leave items for my guests too :)

    1. Hi Jen-
      Love the name of your blog, very cute, clever, and such a big part of our daily lives as moms :) When my hubs and I were first married we stayed at a friend of his home in Newport, RI. The room we stayed in was so comfy and catered to our every need. I was IMPRESSED! Since then I have tried to create a place for my guests that will be super comfy and as private as possible. What you can’t see in the room is a TV across from the bed, and Ipod dock, extra blankets and pillows in the closet, and a black out shade for the window.

  21. A Few Pennies says:

    Your room is lovely! What creative, neat ways to make a tray-table. I even have some of things to get busy and make myself one. Have a great week.

  22. Great ways to use those and I love the silver tray one. I have a bamboo rattan butler’s tray and it is put away. May need to drag that baby back out.

    1. Hi Kim-

      That is one of the best things about the tray tables – they are so easy to store and when you need them easy to retrieve, too. Your home is so beautiful I am sure it will go perfectly in any of your rooms.

  23. This looks amazing, I love how you make things beautiful with items you have.

  24. Cori Smith says:


    I love this table! Makes you think differently about those types of thrift finds, for sure.

    The room looks so great.

    Thanks for the inspiration!


    1. Hi Cori-

      Thanks. I try to look at everything I see with “new eyes” and get excited with the process of thinking out of the box. There are so many things that I would love to have, but can’t afford and being able to create something I love out of ordinary stuff and junk truly makes me smile.

  25. Love your butler’s tray ideas. No guest room should be complete without one. Can’t wait to look around for what I have that could be transformed. Thanks for the inspiration. ~CJ

  26. Gorgeous room and I’m loving those butler’s tray ideas. I’ve got and old luggage stand that I could do something like this with.

  27. Such a great idea! I love tray tables in bed for so many reasons. Such a clever way to tie in the silver tray.
    Love it and your beautiful room too!

  28. Stephanie Day says:

    Wow! what a gorgeous room and I love what you did with those tables/trays. Now I will have to look out for those when I am thrifting!

    1. Hi Stephanie-

      This is the time of year to find one as everyone is spring cleaning and getting rid of unwanted stuff. I hope you find one.

  29. Handy Man, Crafty Woman says:

    This looks really great! Came over from The Girl Creative.

  30. i like this idea. i am using a wooden type tv table that i painted white as an end table by my sofa. i think my lamp will look very chic sitting on a silver tray. thanks for the inspiration. got to go find me a silver tray (i chalkboarded mine and gave them away). oh well…i stop by the thrift store 3-4 times a week!