DIY Ottoman Serving Tray

When decorating our home I always have our little guy, Greyson, in the back of my mind. I want everything we put into our home to be stylish but also functional and practical for our family. Remember, just because you have kids, doesn’t always mean you have to give up your design style!

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray | Twin Cities Moms Blog

One of my favorite home decor pieces that my husband and I have made is our serving tray for our ottoman. Ottoman tray’s are the new must-have. And even better, they mix functionality and style. You can easily remove the tray from your ottoman to kick back and relax, use as a table for your food and drinks, or easily decorate the tray to create a focal point to your space. And the best part, if you get bored with the style in your room, you can instantly freshen up your space by repainting the tray, adding a fun paper liner into the base, or simply restyling it.

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray | Twin Cities Moms Blog

And if you’re like us and have a child who likes to rearrange all of mommy’s decor on a daily basis, you probably want keep the decor pieces pretty minimal. So today I want to share a tutorial with you on how you can make your very own DIY ottoman serving tray in five simple steps.

Materials Needed

The first step is to choose and buy your materials. Depending on how much you want to spend will determine the materials you choose. There are many different material options to choose from. We were able to make our ottoman tray for under $20 using these materials:

  • Wood
  • Saw
  • Wood Glue (our favorite is Gorilla)
  • Nails
  • Hammer or Nail Gun
  • Sand Paper
  • Stain or Paint (we use Walnut Stain)
  • Poly or bar top epoxy

1. Measure and Cut

The first piece you want to cut is the largest piece, the tray bottom. Depending on the size of your ottoman will depend on the size of your tray. I like our tray to take over a good potion of our ottoman, that way the tray is nice and sturdy and you can utilize the space within the tray for its full potential!

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray | Twin Cities Moms Blog

We used our table saw to cut the bottom material to size, but any hand saw will do. Once you have the base piece down, you will want to cut your four sides. Take measurements from the base piece for the outside edge boards. For our tray we kept the 30 angle ripped side 1 1/2″ longer so it evens up with the outside edge of the other outside edge board.

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray | Twin Cities Moms Blog

After the bottom was cut to size then we ripped the sides using the 30 degree bevel again on the table saw, which means we cut the top of the bottom and base of the sides boards that will angle out.

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray | Twin Cities Moms Blog

2. Glue together

Once all the pieces are cut to size and fit nice and snug together, the next step will be to glue all the wood to the base contact areas.

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray | Twin Cities Moms Blog

There are two ways of assembling the trays: you can either glue and nail the sides together and then drop the middle tray piece in, or you can work around the middle tray from corner to corner putting each piece on as you work your way around.

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray | Twin Cities Moms Blog

We always prefer to work our way around, but we have utilized both ways. Once all four sides are glued together, finish nail them for added strength. Using a nail gun or hammer and nails you can quickly tact some nails into the base of the four outer edges for support.

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray | Twin Cities Moms Blog

3. Sand

Once you get the trays assembled and glued together, you need to sand them really well. The purpose for sanding wood is to remove any dents, gouges, imprints from the manufacturer, and to give your tray a nice, soft finish. It’s a good idea to round the sharp edges. We don’t want our littles getting any slivers or cuts! We used our electric sander for this project, but hand sand paper works just as great, if not better! If you do have an electrical sander, be very careful to not push down too hard in certain areas or you can create waves in your finished product. And make sure to always sand with the grain of the wood when sanding.

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray | Twin Cities Moms Blog

4. Stain & Seal

Once sanded and cleaned off, your serving tray is ready for stain or paint. We always use Minwax, Wood Finish, Walnut Stain. This color gives anything a nice dark, rich finish.We have also stained the outer edges and painted the inside of our tray white, which is another fun option! When working with stain, you can apply the stain with a brush or rag. If you do the rag approach, be sure to protect your hands by wearing some rubber gloves. Anything that permanently stains, will stain your skin too. Once you have applied the stain, make sure to brush off any excess. And always apply with the grain of the wood. If you would like the stain darker, you can go back over and apply more stain.

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Once the stain has dried, it’s time for poly or sealer. This will give your tray a nice, smooth finish! For added durability and spill-proofing, use a bar top sealer epoxy that will be waterproof. A simple sealer will work just as great, but you do have a greater chance of water marks from those glasses. Brush the sealer or polyurethane on with a brush in even smooth strokes, again making sure to go with the grain of the wood.

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray | Twin Cities Moms Blog

5. Style

My favorite step, styling your serving tray. With young kids, styling your ottoman tray isn’t always practical but it is fun to do! The key to styling your ottoman tray is laying different objects, textures, and I always like fun pops of color.

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray | Twin Cities Moms Blog

A few books to read, framed pictures to admire, candles for ambience, and natural textures to bring life into the space are my go-to’s and always work well to decorate the tray. I always like to bring in nature with fresh flowers or fake potted plant because it instantly refreshens your space. I recently picked up a few fake potted succulents from Target that are my new favorite styling go-to. That way my son can yank them off the ottoman at anytime and I don’t have to worry about a mess. And better yet, him breaking or tearing the flowers as the fake succulents have that rubbery texture that are impossible for anyone to damage. And of course, the most important piece to any well-styled serving tray… your family photo! 🙂

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray | Twin Cities Moms Blog

So there it is, your simple DIY serving tray for your ottoman. Hope you love yours as much as we love ours!

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray | Twin Cities Moms Blog

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