What’s the hardest-working accessory in your home? Chances are, it’s a tray — whether you use it for ferrying drinks to friends, framing a decorative vignette or corralling mail by the front door.
“We use trays for a lot of different things,” said Krista Schrock, a principal of the Los Angeles-based firm Disc Interiors.
Sure, they’re useful for serving cocktails and canapés, but they’re also invaluable for making any sort of mess look organized.
“The No. 1 place we use them is on ottomans,” Ms. Schrock said, where they function as a landing spot for magazines, books and remote controls.
But they’re just as useful for organizing bathroom accessories on a vanity, jewelry on a dresser, liquor in a wet bar or keys and sunglasses on a console, because they instantly make clutter look like something more collected.
A tray “frames things, which helps set a nice visual tone when you want something decorative,” she said. “I use them all over my house.”
What’s the best material for a tray? “Brass, marble and wood are our go-tos,” Ms. Schrock said, noting that she prefers simple designs with tactile appeal.
Should it have handles? “On larger-scale ones, we definitely like handles,” she said. “But on smaller ones, it’s less important.”
Is one shape better than another? “Rectangular is most common, but I love a round tray too,” Ms. Schrock said. “It’s nice to use different shapes and sizes in different places.”
Round brass trays with leather inserts, in various colors
From $170 at Skultuna: 011-46-21-783-03 or skultuna.com
Bubble Marbled Trays
Composite wood trays covered with marbleized paper
From $62 at Jayson Home: 800-472-1885 or jaysonhome.com
Walnut Rectangle Tray
Walnut tray with cotton-cord-wrapped handles
From $450 at Heide Martin Design Studio: 614-787-3501 or heidemartin.com
Ayres Merida Trays
Carved marble trays in various sizes and colors
From $90 at Lawson-Fenning: 323-934-0048 or lawsonfenning.com