TV Tray Makeover with Diamond Harlequin Pattern


I have a confession to make. I prefer to eat meals on the couch while watching TV to sitting at the kitchen table (which I recently made over – read about it here).

My husband, however, prefers to eat at the kitchen table.

I’ll eat straight out of my lap. But, if I want my husband to chow down in the living room, a TV tray is required.

I’ve had these plain TV trays from Bed Bath and Beyond since college. But, they’re not all that elegant, so I decided to dress them up with some General Finishes Java Gel Stain. You could also dress up your TV tray using paint if you prefer.

How to “Class Up” Your Plain Wood TV Trays:

You’ll need

  • sand paper
  • painter’s tape
  • gel stain (I used General Finishes in Java) or paint
  • topcoat (I used┬áSatin Minwax Wipe-On Poly)
  • gloves
  • sock (or paintbrush/roller)

First, sand down the top of the TV tray to get rid of the shiny topcoat. Then wipe off with a damp cloth to remove all excess dust and let dry.

Measure your tray top and determine what size you want your harlequin pattern to be. I decided on a large design with a full diamond in the center and then half-diamonds reaching to each edge.


Draw your patten on top of your tray lightly with a pencil.

Note that the harlequin diamond pattern has to be done in 2 parts because the tape will run into the area of the adjacent diamonds.

Tape off your first section of diamonds with painter’s tape.


Next, put a glove and sock over your hand and apply the gel stain inside each taped area. Or, use a paint brush or roller to apply paint.


Apply as many coats as you need to reach the look you like. I did 2 coats.


Wait for the gel stain to dry completely, then remove the tape and tape off your remaining diamonds.


Apply the same number of coats of gel stain or paint.


Once, dry, peel off your tape.

*If you want a distressed look, use sand paper or a towel and lightly sand/rub over the gel stain until you’re happy with your results.

For topcoat, I applied 5 coats of Satin Minwax Wipe-On Poly from Lowe’s.


That’s it!