Painted Tray in Spring Pastel Colors

Painted Tray in Spring Pastel Colors

Now that I’m doing the right thing and staying home, I can’t breeze by a thrift store for project inspiration. Instead, I went “garage shopping” and decided that this rectangular wooden tray was ripe for upcycling. I needed a relaxing activity to calm my nerves and thought that painting it might be just the ticket.

rectangular wooden tray

But first, what an odd finish/paint job on this tray, right? The black and red is NOT working for me. It’s such a great wooden tray with those floral carvings, but that color…blegh!

My plan was to give it a makeover that was inspired by a tole chandelier that I spotted while on a junkin’ journey to Charleston, SC. It was a great example of Italian toleware- pastel painted metal flowers.

tole chandelier

So, keep that tole chandelier in your mind while I work on this rectangular wooden tray. Because that’s the look I’ll be going for!

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Spring Makeover on a Rectangular Wooden Tray

First things first, I needed to paint the entire tray white. And OF COURSE, I was low on white spray paint.

But, I used up a couple of cans (one in a semi-glossy and one in a satin finish) to get the job done. Make do with what you’ve got, right?

painting a rectangular wooden tray

When all was said and done, I had a nice bright white canvas to try play with. Tole flowers (or my version of them), here I come!

painted wooden tray

Speaking of tole painting, I’ve actually tried it once before on this upcycled candle holder project.

Anyway, I gathered some craft paint in a variety of Spring pastel colors, as well as some small craft paint brushes.

spring pastel colors

Then, I focused on painting the details of the tray, which was VERY relaxing and soothing. I also didn’t worry about doing a perfect job.

But it felt wonderfully freeing to concentrate on petals and leaves and cancel out the world for a little while.

tole flowers on a painted tray

Painted Tray Like a Tole Chandelier

I added touches of color to the pronounced flowers and a few of the leaves. When I was satisfied, this is what the wooden tray looked like.

Next, I grabbed some fine-grit flexible sandpaper and began to distress the edges. I also rubbed the sandpaper over the areas of tole painting to dilute the bright colors.

distressing a painted tray

It was looking SO much better! As if it were a cousin of that vintage chandelier that I showed you earlier!

tole flowers on a rectangular wooden tray

Finally, I sealed the entire tray with painted furniture wax. I always use Annie Sloan clear wax, but there are lot of other options out there.

Either way, I swirled on some wax and buffed it off until the tray was smooth as butter.

sealing with annie sloan clear wax

And that was it. My painted tray was done!

Painted Tray in Spring Pastel Colors

And just like that, I had transformed that rectangular wooden tray into some Spring decor. Doesn’t it resemble that tole chandelier?

upcycling a rectangular wooden tray

If you have any pieces in your thrift store stash that have embossed or raised details, it may be perfect for tole painting. And I hope the process is as relaxing and calming for you as it was for me.

rectangular wooden tray as spring decor

This will be lovely as Spring decor, won’t it? I left the center plain (i.e., no stenciling) because I figure I may cover it with flowers, candles, eggs, or other Spring-y bits and pieces.

I hope you are staying home as much as possible right now, too! If you are, it’s a great time to get your garden started. And if you have any old, rusty baking pans, they work perfectly as propagation trays!

Propagation tray or seed pots by upcycling a muffin pan from the thrift store

Craft on!


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spring decor with a painted tray

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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. I love it!

  2. Cheryl Atkinson says

    Hi. Thank you for sharing. I have never heard of tole painting but now I know and it looks like it would be relaxing. I may have to search in my stash for something. Stay safe and stay home!

  3. That turned out so pretty!


  4. Well this is fabulous! You would never in a million years know what this cheerful, springy tray looked like before. I’ve never tried Tole painting but can see it could be a lot of fun and can take you in so many directions. There are more than a few unfortunate pieces out there that could use this little pick-me-up! 😉

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Thank you, Sheila! It may not be true tole painting, but it scratched that itch during these trying times.

  5. Rebecca Payne says

    I love this idea

  6. Love your tray! I did told painting years ago and totally forgot about doing it again.

  7. That original tray was one ugly thing! You sure transformed it! I bet your tray will be a lovely “frame” stood up on a shelf to frame a springy vignette, too. Your imagination and insight never fails to amaze me.

  8. Mary Loveland says

    Nice job, “soothing” is good!

  9. Naomi Shelton says

    I love it! So Springy and Happy! It will look lovely with a candle and a jar of flowers and maybe a bunny on it. Or…some easter eggs in a little basket. Great job, “Sadie”! And thanks for the idea of seed starting in muffin tins. What a good idea!

    Stay well.

  10. I love the spring tray! Perfect for serving tasty goodies!

  11. Wow, what a beautiful transfermation. I love you work. Thanks for sharing. I will keep an eye out for something like this.

  12. Sonja Hansen says

    Yes, that certainly was ripe for some attention. Great save. That sad tray no longer needs to hide itself in shame!

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