Warm weather means outdoor entertaining. And with all those guests dropping by, it's time to take stock of serve ware and brighten up home accents. To add interest to a room or for handy serving options, nothing beats a tray.
Materials for trays include papier-máché — more for decoration than for everyday use — plastics, wood and metal. On an ottoman or a side table, large woven basketlike trays add textural interest to a room, or use them as a caddy to transport dishes to the patio for impromptu barbecues.
Vintage trays are popular collectibles and easily found at antiques stores and shows. Hand-painted tole pieces, for instance, featuring colorful fruit or floral scenes, can be found for less than $100.
Trays from CB2, a sister company of Crate & Barrel, are available in a chic clear acrylic or eye-popping orange. They're perfect for carrying drinks and snacks indoors and out. To clean up, just wipe with a damp cloth.
A rustic Luzon tray from Williams-Sonoma is crafted from woven split rattan with rope handles, making it easy to carry. Measuring as large as 24 inches in diameter, it has plenty of room for toting dishes and cutlery from kitchen to table. Or use it as an accent piece in a den to store magazines and TV remotes.
Add an international flair to summer gatherings with round trays from Ballard Designs modeled after those used in French bistros. Colorful art screen-printed on a sturdy metal base makes this a built-to-last piece of serve ware as well as an attractive accent to display on your bar.