Sparkling DIY Resin Tray
If you have been following along with me through quarantine, you've probably seen my excessive home office updates that have been going on in my basement. If you haven't seen all the updates; the short version is that I've been spray painting literally everything in my house gold.
In all honesty, I never expected to re-do our basement and convert it into a home office. When we moved into our house, we loved the space, but were going to make it into a 'man cave' (but a cute/modern one) so that we could keep all of Will's video games down there, his sports memorabilia, etc. etc. etc. and the storage area would serve as a place for all of my extra 'stuff' (inventory, paints, things like that for the business that I didn't want out/for anyone to see).
BUT a year and a half into living here, we really didn't touch anything down there. Will has games set up upstairs (hidden/out of sight, but allows for us to be together when he's playing if we're on the same level and I'm working on projects at the same time). It's been working for us, but the basement hasn't.
After COVID hit the US and I started working from home in my day job, full-time, we really had a need for a separate workspace for me because working from the kitchen island or my couch was not always cutting it. I am in sales, so on the phone/on calls for most of the day. Will is a CPA so on the computer in concentration mode when he's working from home. Being in an open concept row home, it just didn't work when Will was working on the dining room table and me essentially right next to him just chatting away all day. We needed to work from different levels of the house to make it work for both of us.
So there is how our decision to convert/update the basement came to be!
What does this have to do with a DIY resin tray?! Well.... In all of my basement clean out frenzy I found some awesome serving trays in storage that I had purchased to originally sell for personalized wedding gifts, but with weddings being postponed for the most part, I decided to convert one for personal use.
The 'before' of our basement is super plain/basic/no thought was really put in. We got the couch from Wayfair and the leather foot rest/ottoman storage thing from Amazon just to hold space in the basement so it wasn't totally empty (as seen below).
I always wanted to find a tray to put on the ottoman and we decided on that instead of an actual coffee table in front of the couch because it holds all of our extra pillows/blankets. We figured it'd be a little more comfortable in the basement than a hard table since the couch is smaller and if we did watch a movie down there we'd need versatility in putting our feet up, etc. I never bought a tray because I wanted to figure out the vibe/decor situation first. Obviously this wasn't staying as pictured.
At the same time that we bought that ottoman, I also got one for our bedroom upstairs. Our bed is too tall for baby Coco to jump on her own, so I needed something like a step for her to jump on first. I, personally, wanted something that could function as decor rather than just a pet step so we decided on another blanket storage ottoman.
I don't have a great photo of the entire bedroom, but you get the idea:
After my new office space started to take shape and I decided on colors, furniture arrangements and after I found my stash of trays in storage, I decided to DIY it!
I created an Amazon list on my affiliate page for easy access to all of the products I used (or ones that are very similar) so you can create your own shopping list directly from there, or pick and choose your favorites and edit colors, design, etc.! Whatever matches your space and style.
I'll also let you know here exactly which products I used, so you know, but some on the list are more cost-effective options that I've used on other products, too!
Click here for a link to the entire list of items on Amazon.
What you'll need:
unfinished wooden tray
spray paint (I used 2 different colors for mine: gold and white)
painters tape if you're using different colors on the tray
resin/epoxy mix kit (with gloves, mixers, and cups)
dried flowers (optional)
Disclaimer: I've only worked with resin/epoxy twice in my life. I've only used one brand that worked for me the first time, so I stuck with it. I've heard some crazy horror stories of epoxy fails, so please make sure to do your research and read reviews on any brand and follow their specific instructions carefully before you start.
I'll provide you some tips and tricks that I used, personally, but am by no means an expert. I also HIGHLY recommend doing all painting/epoxy mixing and pouring outside in a well ventilated space because both have fumes associated.
First, start by painting your tray and letting it dry completely. Click here for the exact tray I used/had in my basement. It's from Target and I believe they still have them in store and online! The one at Target is about $8 and I linked some from Amazon, too, that are unfinished and similar, but the closest one in style looks like it's $15.
I started by spray painting the bottom of my tray first (no taping required yet) with Krylon brand Metallic Gold. I get my spray paint (both the gold and the white) from Sherwin Williams because there is a store in walking distance from my house. Click here for the exact paint I used for the gold. It's $5.99 from SW and looks to be $13-18 on Amazon, which is a crazy price jump, but I realize the stores aren't accessible from everywhere. Another option I found on Amazon that is a little more reasonable is Rust-Oleum brand for $8. I have used this brand before and it's great, however, I would recommend priming your wood with white first before using that gold, as it is more see-through. Krylon brand metallic gold doesn't require a primer and covers completely on the first coat.
After I paint the bottom/let dry, I turned the tray over and sprayed the edges gold, too. I still haven't taped off the middle part yet because the white will cover any gold that gets on the bottom/center part now. If you're using different colors or your outside color is significantly darker than what you're painting the bottom, I recommend taping first.
White spray paint doesn't usually make much of a difference in brand like the gold does, but since I got my gold in-store, I got white with it. So the white spray paint I used was also Krylon brand. I linked it on the Amazon supply list, but again, it's $13 there for the same brand in white. I added the Rust-Oleum equivalent from Amazon (which I have used before and would recommend, they also carry it at Ace Hardware) but on Amazon it's only $4 for the flat white.
Once your tray is painted how you like and dry it's time for the fun part! Again, I have only worked with resin twice in my life, so I'm only going to link the brand that I used here (from Amazon) because I don't have experience with any others and it's been great/no trouble each time I've used it. This size was also perfect - I used the entire amount on just my tray and didn't have any left over, so I would not recommend getting any less unless you bought a smaller tray. I did buy a smaller amount the first time to make coasters and it wasn't enough. I would say it's a lot better to have too much than too little in this case.
Follow the directions in the box completely as you're mixing your resin/epoxy. They specifically say to mix the resin for at least 5 minutes (or until the streaks are completely gone) and this is KEY. I wouldn't mix for any less than the full 5 minutes.
Yes, your arm might start to get tired. lol.....
When I did my tray the first time, I poured about 1/2 of the resin/epoxy mix into the tray first and then added glitter on top. If I did this again, I would add glitter directly to the resin as I'm mixing it, so it gets distributed a little more evenly.
I uploaded a 2-part time-lapse video sample to my YouTube channel for easier access and so you can see what I mean here!
After I added 1/2 the resin mix, then my first layer of glitter and mixed it around, I added dried flowers. These I also got on Amazon and there are LOTS of options/ colors available. The exact pack I ordered is available here. I only was able to cover a corner of my tray (which is what I wanted) with this one pack, so if you want more flowers or for it to cover the entire bottom of the tray, I would recommend ordering 2-3 packs.
Once the flowers are placed, keep in mind they will move around as you add more resin, so this doesn't need to be exactly perfect.
Part 2 and my flower arranging process can be seen here if you're interested!
After organizing my flowers, I poured the remaining 1/2 of the resin mix to the tray. Keep in mind, if you didn't order the same amount of epoxy, the same style of tray, etc. that you don't want your epoxy to overflow through the handles on the side of the tray. If they do, you'll get weird drips on the outside of the tray that are shiny, so just be aware as your pouring that the handle holes are there.
Once the remaining epoxy is poured, you can readjust your flowers to make sure they dry in the desired position and also take this time to check for imperfections you want to cover or move around before everything sets. For example, if there are any air bubbles in your resin, you can use a tooth pick to pop them. Or if your flowers float too close to the surface, you can push them down back under the resin. If they are sitting on top, keep in mind the surface might not dry totally smooth. It would have texture and bumps if the leaves or flowers are poking out.
You can usually see the smoothness of the top pretty easily if you get a side view on the surface level (as pictured).
Learning experience tip: Something I didn't know and made the mistake of/didn't think about when I was pouring my resin and letting it dry is that the wooden tray isn't sealed perfectly. That means, the liquid resin/epoxy can drip through the cracks and sides of the tray to the bottom. BE REALLY CAREFUL that you are elevating the tray on a box or something and have additional materials under the elevated tray to catch and resin that might drip.
Here, you can see I did prop my tray up on an old base for a flower pot, but I didn't have anything underneath to catch drips, and YES it did get onto my counter and I freaked out. but caught it early enough that it came right off with no issue. I got super super lucky, though, so don't risk it.
You can see here now that the tray is totally dry where the epoxy/resin was dripping through the unsealed wood. This is how it got on my counter, so I can't stress enough to be careful with it. I also moved it into a box once I caught my mistake and the box did kind of dry to where the drips were coming out. If this happens to you, you can easily touch it up with more gold spray paint, but since it's on the bottom I don't mind it because you never see the imperfections.
If everything is how you'd like it, all that's left to do is pour yourself a glass of wine and wait!
I recommend because of the thickness of your board waiting a full 24 hours for everything to set and dry. Once it's dry and ready to use, I actually flipped my tray over and added little plastic feet to the bottom, but this is totally optional. They're super cheap on Amazon.
We're still in the process of updating our basement, but after I created the tray I took photos of it upstairs in our bed room and LOVED how it looked on the gray ottoman rather than the leather one. SO - they got switched!
I'm absolutely loving how it's coming together with the gray/white/gold color scheme. So much brighter and more 'me' and really a space I feel like I can be productive in.
I would love to see if you guys re-create your own tray, tag me and show it off!
If you have questions, as always, feel free to reach out and let's chat!