How To Decorate An Ottoman Tray


Choose the Right Size Ottoman Tray

When it comes to decorating an ottoman tray, one of the first things to consider is the size of the tray. The size of the tray you choose should be proportionate to the size of your ottoman. A tray that is too small may get lost on a larger ottoman, while a tray that is too big can overwhelm a smaller ottoman.

Before making a purchase, measure the surface area of your ottoman. This will help you determine the appropriate dimensions for your tray. Keep in mind that you’ll want to leave some space around the edges of the tray for aesthetic purposes. A general rule of thumb is to choose a tray that is slightly smaller than the width of your ottoman.

Additionally, consider the height of your ottoman when selecting a tray. If your ottoman sits low to the ground, you may want to opt for a shallower tray to ensure that it doesn’t obstruct the view. On the other hand, if you have a taller ottoman, you can choose a deeper tray to add some visual interest.

Furthermore, think about the intended use of the ottoman tray. Will it primarily be used for serving drinks and snacks, or will it serve more as a decorative element? If the tray will be used for serving purposes, make sure it has enough space to accommodate glasses, plates, or other items you plan to place on it. If it will be more decorative, you can be more flexible with the size.

Remember, the right size ottoman tray not only enhances the overall look of your ottoman but also ensures functionality. By choosing a tray that’s the ideal size, you can create a visually appealing and practical addition to your living space.

Consider the Style of your Room

When decorating an ottoman tray, it’s important to consider the overall style and décor of your room. The tray should complement the existing aesthetic and seamlessly integrate into the space.

Start by evaluating the color palette of your room. Consider the dominant colors and choose a tray that either matches or complements those colors. For a cohesive look, opt for a tray that blends in with the room’s color scheme. Alternatively, you can choose a contrasting color to create a focal point on the ottoman.

Next, think about the style of your room. Is it modern and minimalistic, or is it more traditional and ornate? Select a tray that aligns with the overall style. For a contemporary room, choose a sleek and simple tray with clean lines. In contrast, a room with a classic or rustic style can be complemented by a tray with intricate details or a distressed finish.

Consider the materials used in your room’s décor. If you have a lot of wood furniture, a wooden tray can tie everything together. If your room features metallic accents, a tray with a metallic finish can add a touch of glamour. Don’t be afraid to mix materials for added interest. For example, if you have a room with a mix of metal and glass elements, a tray with a combination of these materials can be a great choice.

Lastly, think about the overall theme and mood of your room. If your room has a coastal theme, you can opt for a tray with nautical elements like seashells or a light and breezy color palette. For a bohemian-inspired room, consider a tray with patterns, textures, or vibrant colors to enhance the eclectic vibe.

By considering the style of your room, you can ensure that the ottoman tray seamlessly integrates into the existing décor and enhances the overall aesthetic of your space.

Select the Material of the Tray

Choosing the right material for your ottoman tray is essential as it not only affects the overall appearance but also determines its durability and functionality. With a wide range of materials available, it’s important to consider factors such as style, maintenance, and practicality when selecting the material for your tray.

Wooden trays are a popular choice as they offer a timeless and classic look. They come in various finishes, such as natural wood, stained, or painted, allowing you to match them with your existing furniture. Wood trays are durable and can withstand everyday use. However, they may require regular maintenance, such as polishing or oiling, to keep them looking their best.

Metal trays, such as stainless steel or brass, can add a touch of elegance and sophistication to your ottoman. They are sleek, shiny, and easy to clean, making them ideal for both decorative and functional purposes. Metal trays are resistant to stains and scratches, making them a practical choice for households with children or pets.

If you’re looking for a lightweight option, consider trays made from acrylic or plastic. These trays are versatile, affordable, and often available in a wide range of colors. They are easy to clean, making them suitable for households with frequent spills or messes. However, keep in mind that plastic trays may not have the same level of durability as wooden or metal trays.

If you prefer a natural and organic look, consider trays made from woven materials, such as seagrass or rattan. These trays add texture and warmth to your ottoman and can seamlessly blend with a bohemian or coastal-themed room. Woven trays are lightweight and easy to move around, but they may require more gentle cleaning and maintenance to preserve their quality.

Ultimately, the choice of material for your ottoman tray depends on your personal preferences, the style of your room, and your specific needs. Consider factors such as durability, maintenance, and the overall aesthetic you wish to achieve to make an informed decision that enhances both the function and style of your ottoman tray.

Decide on a Color Scheme

When decorating an ottoman tray, choosing the right color scheme is crucial to create a cohesive and visually appealing look. The right color palette can set the mood, highlight specific design elements, and tie the overall room decor together.

Start by examining the existing color scheme in your room. Take note of the dominant colors used in the upholstery, curtains, walls, and other furniture pieces. This will help guide your color choices for the ottoman tray. You can opt for a monochromatic scheme by using different shades of a single color, or you can introduce complementary colors to create contrast and visual interest.

If you prefer a neutral and understated look, choose a tray in shades of white, beige, or gray. Neutral colors work well in almost any room and can easily blend with existing decor. They create a calming and sophisticated atmosphere. However, be mindful of the level of contrast when using neutral colors to ensure that the tray doesn’t get lost among other elements in the room.

For a vibrant and energetic feel, consider using bold and saturated colors. Adding a pop of color to your ottoman tray can make it a focal point in the room. Look for trays in vibrant hues such as teal, emerald green, or mustard yellow. These colors can bring excitement and personality to your space. Pair them with accessories in complementary colors or use them as accents against a neutral background.

If you prefer a harmonious and calming ambiance, opt for a tray in a complementary color to the dominant colors in the room. Complementary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel, such as blue and orange or purple and yellow. These contrasting colors create a sense of balance and cohesion. For example, if your room features predominantly warm tones, a tray in shades of blue or green can add a cool and refreshing touch.

Remember to consider the mood you want to create in the room. Warm tones like red, orange, and yellow can create a cozy and inviting atmosphere, while cool tones like blue and green can evoke a sense of calmness and serenity. Take into account the overall theme and style of your room to ensure that the color scheme of the ottoman tray complements and enhances the space.

By deciding on a thoughtful and intentional color scheme, you can transform your ottoman tray into a visually stunning and cohesive element in your room’s decor.

Create a Focal Point with a Centerpiece

One of the key elements in decorating an ottoman tray is creating a focal point with a centerpiece. The centerpiece acts as the main attraction and adds visual interest to the tray, drawing the eye and serving as a conversation starter. Here are some ideas for creating a captivating centerpiece for your ottoman tray.

1. Floral Arrangement: A beautiful vase with fresh flowers or a faux floral arrangement can instantly add elegance and a touch of nature to the tray. Choose flowers that complement the color scheme of your room and consider the size and shape of the vase to ensure it fits proportionally on the tray.

2. Decorative Bowl: Opt for a decorative bowl filled with colorful fruits, decorative orbs, or potpourri. This not only adds a pop of color but also adds a textural element to the tray. Choose a bowl that coordinates with the style and material of the tray to create a cohesive look.

3. Candle Display: Candles are a classic centerpiece option that can create a cozy and intimate ambiance. Arrange a cluster of candles of varying heights and sizes on the tray. Consider using scented candles to add a pleasant aroma to the room and create a multisensory experience.

4. Sculptural Piece: Choose a unique and visually intriguing sculpture or art piece as the centerpiece. It could be a small figurine, a metal sculpture, or a decorative objet d’art that reflects your personal taste and adds a touch of personality to the tray. Ensure that the size of the sculpture is proportionate to the tray and doesn’t overpower it.

5. Terrarium or Succulent Garden: Create a mini garden on your ottoman tray by arranging a collection of small succulents or creating a terrarium. These low-maintenance plants not only add a touch of greenery but also bring a sense of tranquility and vitality to the tray.

6. Decorative Tray or Box: Another option for a centerpiece is to use a decorative tray or box that acts as a vessel to hold smaller items. Fill it with colorful stones, decorative seashells, or small trinkets that add interest and texture to the tray. This option allows for versatility and customization as you can easily change the items in the tray according to the season or your mood.

Remember, the centerpiece should be the star of the show on your ottoman tray. It should be visually captivating, complement the overall style and color scheme, and serve as a focal point that grabs attention and adds a personal touch to your space.

Layer Decorative Items

Layering decorative items on your ottoman tray adds depth, dimension, and visual interest to the overall design. By strategically arranging various objects, you can create a captivating and layered look that enhances the aesthetic appeal of the tray. Here are some ideas on how to effectively layer decorative items on your ottoman tray.

Start with a base: Begin by selecting a foundational item to anchor the tray. This could be a decorative tray liner, a piece of fabric, a textured placemat, or a patterned wallpaper cut to fit the tray’s dimensions. The base provides a backdrop for other items and sets the tone for the overall style and theme.

Add height with books: Place a stack of books on the tray to create height variation. Choose books with interesting covers or spines that complement the color scheme or theme of your room. You can experiment with different sizes and orientations to achieve the desired visual effect. This not only adds height but also gives the tray a more sophisticated and curated look.

Introduce decorative trays or plates: Place smaller decorative trays or plates on top of the books or directly on the base. These can be used to hold smaller items or to serve as a platform for other decorative elements. Look for trays or plates that have an interesting pattern, texture, or color that complements the overall design.

Arrange small decorative objects: Fill the remaining space on the tray with smaller decorative objects such as decorative orbs, figurines, small plants, or ornaments. These items should be chosen to match the color scheme, style, and theme of the room. You can arrange them in a visually pleasing way, ensuring that they are evenly distributed and not overcrowding the tray.

Incorporate textures and patterns: To add visual interest and dimension, include items with different textures and patterns. This could be a textured ceramic vase, a patterned coaster, a soft velvet object, or a woven decorative item. Mix and match textures to create a visually stimulating and tactile experience.

Consider asymmetry and balance: While layering items, keep in mind the principles of asymmetry and balance. Alternate the heights and sizes of objects to create an interesting and dynamic composition. However, ensure that there is a sense of balance and harmony across the tray, so it doesn’t appear cluttered or chaotic.

Don’t forget negative space: Negative space, or empty space, is just as important as the objects on the tray. Allow some areas of the tray to remain empty to provide breathing room and balance the visual composition. This negative space helps draw attention to the objects and highlights their significance.

By layering decorative items on your ottoman tray, you can create a visually captivating and personalized display. Experiment with different objects, textures, and patterns to find a combination that reflects your style and enhances the overall aesthetic appeal of your room.

Add Height and Texture with Books and Candles

Books and candles are versatile decorative elements that can add both height and texture to your ottoman tray. Incorporating these items not only adds visual interest but also creates a cozy and inviting atmosphere. Here are some tips on how to effectively incorporate books and candles to enhance your ottoman tray.


1. Choose books with interesting covers or spines that complement the color scheme or theme of your room. You can select books that align with your personal interests, such as art, fashion, or travel, to personalize the space and reflect your personality.

2. Stack the books to create different heights and add dimension to the tray. Place larger books at the bottom and gradually decrease the size as you stack them. You can also experiment with arranging the books horizontally or diagonally for a more dynamic look.

3. Consider using books of varying colors or cover designs to create a more vibrant and eclectic display. Mix and match books with different hues or opt for a monochromatic color palette to maintain a cohesive look.


1. Select candles of various heights and sizes to add visual interest. Use candle holders or small pedestals to elevate shorter candles and create a multi-level display. This adds a sense of depth to the tray and enhances the overall aesthetic.

2. Choose candles with different scents to create a pleasant and relaxing atmosphere. Select fragrances that complement the mood and ambiance of your room, such as lavender for a calming effect or citrus for a refreshing touch.

3. Incorporate candle colors that harmonize with the color scheme of your room. Consider using candles in similar shades to create a unified look or opt for contrasting colors to add a pop of visual interest and create a focal point on the tray.

Arrangement Tips:

1. Place the books and candles strategically on the tray, considering balance and symmetry. Position them in a way that doesn’t overcrowd the surface but allows for negative space to create a visually pleasing arrangement.

2. Integrate other decorative elements, such as small plants, decorative orbs, or figurines, between the books and candles to add further texture and variety.

3. Experiment with different tray placements and orientations to find the most aesthetically pleasing arrangement. You can place the books and candles near the edges of the tray or in the center, depending on the overall design and your personal preference.

By adding height and texture with books and candles, you can elevate the style and ambiance of your ottoman tray. The combination of these elements creates a visually appealing and inviting display that enhances the overall aesthetic of your space.

Incorporate Natural Elements

Incorporating natural elements into your ottoman tray decor can bring a touch of freshness and organic beauty to your space. By integrating elements from nature, you can create a serene and inviting atmosphere. Here are some ideas on how to incorporate natural elements into your ottoman tray arrangement:

1. Greenery and Plants: Add a touch of nature by incorporating small potted plants or fresh foliage on your tray. Choose plants that thrive in indoor environments, such as succulents or small leafy plants. The vibrant greenery not only adds visual interest but also purifies the air and enhances the overall ambience of the room.

2. Seashells and Beach Treasures: If you have a coastal or beach-themed room, consider incorporating seashells, starfish, or coral pieces into your ottoman tray display. These natural elements instantly evoke a sense of tranquility and beachside charm. Arrange them in a visually appealing manner or place them in a decorative dish or glass jar for a cohesive look.

3. Natural Stones and Pebbles: Use smooth, polished stones or pebbles to add texture and earthy tones to your tray. These natural elements can be arranged in a pattern or scattered around other decorative items. You can also consider using larger stones as bookends or paperweights to add stability and interest to the display.

4. Driftwood or Branches: Incorporate pieces of driftwood or small branches to bring a rustic, organic feel to your ottoman tray. These natural elements can be placed vertically in a tall glass vase or arranged horizontally on the tray. They add a unique and textured element that complements various styles of decor.

5. Natural Fibers: Choose tray liners, placemats, or decorative elements made from natural fibers like jute, sisal, or bamboo. These materials add a warm and earthy touch to the tray, creating a harmonious blend with natural elements. They also provide a textured backdrop for other items on the tray.

6. Dried Florals or Pinecones: Incorporate dried flowers, blossoms, or pinecones to bring the beauty of nature indoors. These elements add a touch of elegance and can be arranged in a vase or strategically placed on the tray. Their earthy colors and delicate textures add visual interest and a cozy feel to the overall arrangement.

When incorporating natural elements, consider the overall style and theme of your room. Choose elements that complement the existing decor and color palette. Be mindful of proportions and ensure the natural elements blend seamlessly with other decorative items on the ottoman tray.

By incorporating natural elements into your ottoman tray decor, you can infuse your space with the beauty and serenity of nature, creating a harmonious and inviting atmosphere.

Personalize with Sentimental or Meaningful Items

Adding sentimental or meaningful items to your ottoman tray allows you to infuse your personality and create a truly unique and heartfelt display. These personalized touches can spark joy, evoke cherished memories, or reflect your interests and values. Here are some ideas on how to personalize your ottoman tray with sentimental or meaningful items:

1. Family Photographs: Incorporate small picture frames with photographs of loved ones. These can be a mix of family portraits, candid shots, or treasured memories. Display them on a bookstand or arrange them directly on the tray. This not only adds a personal touch but also serves as a reminder of the people who are important to you.

2. Keepsakes and Mementos: Display small keepsakes or mementos that hold sentimental value to you. These could be items such as a seashell collected during a memorable vacation, a meaningful piece of jewelry, or a trinket from a special event. Arrange them in a decorative dish or place them directly on the tray as focal points.

3. Personalized Quotes or Words: Incorporate framed quotes or words that hold significance to you. These can be inspirational quotes, meaningful phrases, or even song lyrics that resonate with you. Choose a beautiful frame or create DIY artwork to add a personal touch to the tray.

4. Hobbies and Interests: Showcase items related to your hobbies or interests. If you’re an avid reader, include a bookmark or a small stack of your favorite books. If you love music, incorporate a vinyl record or a pair of headphones. These items reflect your passions and can serve as great conversation starters.

5. Meaningful Artwork: Display artwork that holds sentimental value or evokes emotions. This can be a painting, a drawing, or a print that carries special meaning to you. Choose pieces that complement the style and color scheme of your room and use easels or small tabletop frames to showcase them on the tray.

6. Personalized Trinket Trays: Place a small trinket tray on the ottoman tray to hold sentimental items like rings, bracelets, or small keepsakes. These trays can have a sentimental message or design that resonates with you, adding both functionality and personalization to the tray.

Personalizing your ottoman tray with sentimental or meaningful items creates a space that truly reflects your personality and tells your story. It brings warmth and individuality to your decor and serves as a daily reminder of the things that hold deep meaning in your life.

Keep it Functional with Coasters and Storage Solutions

While decorating an ottoman tray, it’s important to strike a balance between style and functionality. Incorporating practical elements not only adds convenience but also ensures that your ottoman tray serves a purpose beyond aesthetics. Here are some ideas on how to keep your ottoman tray functional with coasters and storage solutions:

1. Coasters: Coasters are essential for protecting the surface of your ottoman from spills and heat damage. Choose coasters that coordinate with the overall style and color scheme of your room. Consider materials like cork, ceramic, or silicone that are both stylish and functional. Place coasters strategically on the tray to provide a designated space for placing drinks or other items.

2. Storage Containers or Boxes: Incorporate small storage containers or boxes on your ottoman tray to keep small items organized. These can be decorative boxes, baskets, or trays that blend well with your overall decor. Use them to store remote controls, reading glasses, or other small essentials, keeping your ottoman neat and clutter-free. Select storage containers that offer a balance between functionality and aesthetic appeal.

3. Multiple Trays or Compartments: If you have a large ottoman or need more storage space, consider using multi-compartment trays or trays with removable sections. These trays allow you to segregate and organize different items effectively. You can keep remotes in one section, coasters in another, and decorative items in separate compartments. This ensures easy access to essentials while maintaining an organized appearance.

4. Ottoman Tray with Built-in Storage: Invest in an ottoman tray that comes with built-in storage options. These trays often feature hidden compartments or lift-up lids, allowing you to store items like magazines, blankets, or extra cushions within the ottoman itself. This maximizes the functionality of your tray while keeping your living space organized and tidy.

5. Magazine Holders: If you enjoy reading magazines or books on your ottoman, incorporate a magazine holder or rack into your tray arrangement. A sleek magazine holder can keep your reading materials upright and easily accessible. Choose a holder that complements the aesthetic of your tray and can accommodate the size and quantity of your magazines.

6. Remote Control Organizer: If your ottoman tray often becomes a landing spot for remote controls, consider using a remote control organizer. These compact organizers have separate compartments to neatly store your remotes. Look for ones that have slots or pockets that fit different remote sizes and can be easily incorporated into your ottoman tray arrangement.

By incorporating practical elements like coasters and storage solutions, you can make your ottoman tray both aesthetically pleasing and functional. These additions allow you to keep your space organized, protect the ottoman surface, and ensure that your essentials are within reach. A functional ottoman tray enhances your overall living experience and showcases your attention to detail in creating a well-balanced and efficient space.

Maintain Balance and Symmetry

When decorating an ottoman tray, maintaining balance and symmetry is essential to create a visually pleasing and harmonious arrangement. Balance and symmetry bring a sense of order and cohesion to the overall design. Here are some tips on how to achieve balance and symmetry in your ottoman tray decor:

1. Centerpiece Placement: Place the centerpiece of your ottoman tray in the center to establish a focal point. This could be a vase of flowers, a decorative bowl, or a unique sculpture. By placing it centrally, it can anchor the arrangement and serve as a visual point of reference for other items on the tray.

2. Grouping Objects: Group items in pairs or small clusters to create symmetry. This can be achieved by placing identical or similar items on either side of the centerpiece. For example, you can position candle holders, small vases, or decorative objects in symmetrical positions on each side of the tray.

3. Balancing Heights and Sizes: Arrange items of varying heights and sizes to maintain balance. For instance, if you have a tall centerpiece, pair it with smaller objects of similar height on both sides. Avoid having one side of the tray appear “heavier” than the other by alternating heights and sizes. This creates visual interest without causing the tray to appear lopsided or cluttered.

4. Color Balance: Ensure that the colors used in the arrangement are balanced. If you have a colorful centerpiece, distribute smaller objects in complementary or contrasting colors throughout the tray. This helps distribute visual weight and creates harmony in the overall color scheme. Balance bold and vibrant colors with neutral or muted tones to avoid overwhelming the tray with one dominant color.

5. Negative Space: Allow for negative space on the tray to create a sense of openness and breathing room. Negative space refers to the empty space around the objects on the tray. Without adequate negative space, the arrangement can feel cluttered or chaotic. Aim for a balanced distribution of objects while leaving some areas of the tray empty to maintain a visually pleasing arrangement.

6. Mirroring Technique: If you have a larger ottoman or a tray that can accommodate it, consider using a mirroring technique. This involves creating a mirrored arrangement by placing identical objects in the same positions on both sides of the tray. This technique enhances symmetry and creates an elegant and refined look.

Remember, achieving balance and symmetry is about creating a visually appealing and harmonious arrangement. While following these principles, also consider your personal style and the overall aesthetic of your space. Adapt the tips to suit your preferences and experiment with different combinations until you achieve the desired balance and symmetry in your ottoman tray decor.