Woman Transforms Folding Trays from Goodwill into Stunning Accent Pieces with Only $10

Transforming old pieces of furniture never gets old. Dig around in your garage, catch a yard sale, or sift through a local secondhand shop and you’re bound to find the perfect candidate.

DIY and craft blogger Katie of Character & Charm came across some old tray tables at a Goodwill and decided to spruce them up. She snatched up a set of four for a meager $5, took them home, and got to work on this project.

To give them a vintage rustic vibe, Katie used chalk paint and a sander for a distressed finish. What makes Katie’s project unique is that she took advantage of some free online tools to achieve her design. Don’t worry – they’re easy to use. Check out the instructions for Katie’s tutorial below!

DIY Distressed Table Trays

Image of DIY table.Character and Charm


  • Folding trays (or other wooden furniture piece)
  • Chalk paint in black and white (or your colors of choice)
  • Medium paint brush
  • Fine tip paint brush
  • Clear satin polycrylic
  • Colored chalk
  • Fine point marker
  • Coarse sandpaper
  • Orbital sander


  1. Measure It

    Measure the length and width of the table top(s).

  2. Clean & Paint It

    Clean off the tables with a damp cloth and then paint with white chalk paint. Allow to dry. Katie notes that chalk paint does not require pre-sanding.

  3. Customize the Template

    Use the Pic Monkey tool to create your custom font template. Click on “Design”, then “Custom size”. You’ll need to convert your measurements to pixels before adding the size. Select your font, make your design, and save it as a jpg file.

  4. Make a Poster

    trays stencilsCharacter and Charm

    Next, upload your Pic Monkey file to Block Posters to create a poster.

  5. Center It

    Rub the colored chalk onto the back of your poster. With the design facing up, trace an outline of the design onto the tray top with the pen.

  6. Fill it In

    Remove the sign and trace the lettering with the marker. With the fine tip brush, fill in the letters using black chalk paint. Allow to dry.

  7. Sand It

    Sand the edges of the table and lettering on the areas you want to look distressed. Wipe away excess residue.

  8. Seal It

    Paint the table with polycrylic to seal it. Let dry overnight.


Luckily Katie had most of her materials on hand so this only cost her a total of $10 to make. With these online tools, you can go to work on any furniture piece that will go well with chalk paint. However, if you’re wondering if regular stencils will do the same thing as these apps, they absolutely can!

For those of you who are artistically endowed, there’s no reason that you can’t hand-paint a design to give it a more personal touch. To see how Katie did it and for more tips on this project, check out her blog, Character and Charm!

What do you think of Katie’s finished vintage style tray tables? Which piece of furniture would you try this on in your home?