When I spy something as functional as a serving tray -- with handles, yet! -- at Goodwill for less than a buck, I'm going to take it home with me.

Such was the case when I spotted a plain jane, yellow plastic tray last week.

I knew that tray was dreaming of a more adventurous life. She was marooned at the second hand store, waiting to be thrown a lifeline. I was happy to rescue her.

When you stage a home on the market, serving trays like this one can add simple structure and style to a side table, vanity, bedside table, mantel, hassock, foyer bench, or coffee table. I wrote about dressing up a tray here.

I'm always telling you, "Don't use small objects when you stage," but you can almost tweak my rule when you put the small stuff on a tray.

It didn't bother me that my tray looked jaundiced and gaudy. She just needed some fresh air. And paint. 

My first step when I got her home was to give her a bath. Once dry, I sanded her lightly, and sprayed on a coat of white primer, and then a coat of creamy white semi gloss. 

I wanted to gussy up the handles and add some personality, so I found some white nylon rope to wrap around them. I thought that would give her the "nauti-look" I was after. 

I hot glued the end of a length of rope to the underside of a handle, because I wanted to hide the end. 

   Then I started wrapping the handle with rope.

I ended the wrap on the underside of the handle, and glued the other end down.

Then, I cut the end off, nice and clean.

I tried tracing around the bottom of the tray, but in the end, I decided to be more accurate, 
and measure the actual area I wanted to  cover. 

I rough-cut the maritime chart I wanted to use. It's important to use paper with as much substance as scrapbook paper, not a regular, lightweight road map or wrapping paper. Or you can paint a stencil design on a tray, like this one that Kristi at Pink and Polkadot did.

I cut the chart out with a rotary cutter, but scissors or a mat knife would also work. The edges should be straight and clean. You should dry-fit the paper onto the tray before going further. I ironed the map to smooth the wrinkles and creases. What gal wants those to show?

I applied spray adhesive on the back of the map and then quickly set it in place.

Finally, I sprayed the whole tray with a clear sealer. My serving tray is
all decked out for her new life. 
I'm pleased with the look, and I know I'll find 
plenty of uses for this tray on our boat, or for staging a house.

If you love DIY projects and you are staging a home for sale, download my eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollarfor top-notch, do-able ideas to help get your home ship-shape!