This do-it-yourself project that Jess, our resident craft genius came up, with is totally IT. Like the coolest DIY project we’ve ever seen and one that we’ve currently got proudly displayed in our home, a perfect space for that morning coffee and a few vintage books. It’s a chic herringbone tray complete with a pop of fabulous. And while it may look intimidating, we’ve sketched it all out for you so that you can see it’s actually quite simple. And quite gorgeous.

wooden tray (ours is from Bed, Bath & Beyond)
wood stain (try to match the color to the color of the tray)
foam brush
balsa wood flat sheets (we used three sheets that were each 4″x 24″x 3/32″)
turquoise paint (or color of your choice)
wood glue
utility knife
heavy books

Step 1. Paint 1/2 of one of your balsa sheets turquoise. Stain the rest of that sheet and the other two sheets with the wood stain and let dry. (You only need to paint or stain one side of each sheet.)

Step 2. On the back side of each sheet, draw a line down the center vertically (It should leave you with two inches on either side). Then use your ruler to mark every 1/2 inch down the length of the wood — draw the lines across horizontally.

Step 3. Use your utility knife to slice out each rectangle strip, keeping the size and shape as even as possible.  Once you have all your strips, you’re ready to begin gluing.

Step 4. Arrange your strips in a herringbone pattern. You’re basically making a zigzag pattern where the end of one strip overlaps the other. Start on one end of the tray, and make a zigzag line with your wood-tone strips that touches the sides of the tray. Make sure your angles are correct — you can tell if the lines of strips meeting are straight. When you are happy with the first row, you can glue it in place. Dab wood glue on both the tray and the strip, and make sure the ends of the strip are glued down so they’re not raised up later.

Here is a sketch that shows you exactly what we mean by herringbone pattern…

Step 5. Continue by adding rows down the tray. After about halfway down the tray, you’ll want to put a book down on the section you’ve glued so that the strips don’t lift up as they dry. Continue and when you are about 2/3 down the length of the tray, do two rows with the turquoise strips instead of the wood strips. Do another row of wood, one more in turquoise, and then continue in wood until you reach the other end and can’t complete another full zigzag. Put on several books and let dry for a few hours.

Step 6. Now that the center is full, you just have to fill out the edges. Hold a strip up to the spot where you would next lay it, and use your pencil to mark where you need to cut it to make it fit.

Step 7. Cut it, and glue in place. Continue until the sides are full. Lay books down again, and let it dry. Your tray is ready to go!

I KNOW! Looks like we picked it up at some fancy pants store, right? But nope. We made it all by our crafty selves and we love it so much more than if we had shelled out the big bucks. No go on and pull yourself off the couch and do something fabulously handmade. It’s so worth the effort.

An ENORMOUS thank you to Rebecca Hansen for photographing our beautiful piece of art so perfectly. We heart you.