Repurposed Picture Frame Coastal Serving Tray

One can never have enough trays around the house, am I right?  Perfect for corralling interesting objects on tabletops and dressers or using them for their intended purpose. But did you know that you can turn thrift store picture frames into budget-friendly trays? I turned one of mine into a lovely coastal serving tray to use on our deck in the Summer. In this post, I'll show you how easy it was to make.

Coastal Picture Frame Serving Tray For The Patio

While we live in the landlocked Canadian prairies, it's always nice to bring the ocean to us with coastal decor during the dog days of Summer. While I wish our new tray was sitting poolside it will certainly be handy on our deck for BBQ's and meals alfresco. The pretty time-worn coastal paint colors make me happy and remind me of visits to our much beloved Vancouver Island.

Repurposed Picture Frame Coastal Serving Tray 

Pine wainscotting is perfect to use for the tray base because it's easy to install but also adds more of that lovely coastal charm.

My husband brought the seahorse pictured below back from Hawaii over 40 years ago. The rock is from my collection of heart-shaped rocks picked along river beds or rocky beaches on our travels.

Coastal Picture Frame Serving Tray For Summer

Pictured below is the picture frame I used to make the coastal serving tray. A few years ago I made a fun chalkboard menu for our DIY Outdoor Bar|Potting Bench. Last Fall I forgot to store it in the shed over the winter and this happened...

Coastal Serving Tray From Repurposed Picture Frame

When I heard the challenge this month for our Thrifty Chicks group is to repurpose a Frame, well I knew exactly what I was going to make. My warped and battered chalkboard menu with its weathered wood frame would make a gorgeous timeworn serving tray painted pretty coastal blues and greens.

Coastal Picture Frame Serving Tray Drybrushed Paint Layers

Before I get into the details of how I turned the battered chalkboard into a picture frame tray, I should tell you a little about the Thrifty Chicks group. On the second Wednesday of every month, my creative junk loving friends and I come together to transform, upcycle or repurpose a junk find based on a theme. As I mentioned above, this month the theme is repurposing a frame.

Coastal Picture Frame Serving Tray For Summer Entertaining

What you'll need to make it...

I've included affiliate links so you can see what products I used or recommend to make this coastal serving tray. See my disclosure policy.

Coastal Picture Frame Serving Tray Supplies

How to prep the battered picture frame for paint

Inspired by the chipping paint, I decided to work with it by removing the loose paint with 150 grit sandpaper and sealing the remaining paint with a stain blocker/sealer that I had on hand.

Coastal Picture Frame Serving Tray Chipped Paint Sealed

Dry brushed layered paint technique

Not wanting to cover the sage green and primer red chippy paint colors, I applied light layers of mineral chalk paint using a dry brush paint technique.

To do this start with the darkest color - mine is called Peacock blue. Dip just the tips of an inexpensive chip brush into the paint and dab the excess onto a paper towel so very little paint is left on the brush. Using long brush strokes and light pressure, let the paint hit the frame where it may. No need to fret if you get too much paint in some areas. We'll cover those with the next layers of paint.

After the first layer dries (mere minutes), repeat the steps above with the next color - mine is called The Gulf. And finally layer the lightest paint color - mine is called Sea Glass. See how the original chippy paint colors still show underneath and the new dry brushed colors give it more of that time-worn and textured patina?

But we're not finished with the layers just yet...

Coastal Picture Frame Serving Tray Chalk Paint Layers

How to age the painted layers with glaze

To protect the frame and give the painted layers more time-worn patina, we're going to layer two different colors of glaze over the paint.

Glazing Tip:

My preference when using glaze is to dampen an inexpensive chip brush first by dipping just the tips in some water. It helps move the glaze further.

We'll start by using Van Dyke brown glaze and a little goes a long way! Dip the tips of the dampened brush into the dark glaze and brush it on much like you did the paint. Make sure it nestles in all the ridges of the frame and remove the excess with a lint-free rag. Next up is another layer of Whitewash glaze, applied in the same manner.

Pine beadboard wainscotting tray base

Knotty pine beadboard wainscotting found at most home improvement stores are perfect to use for the base of the tray. With its tongue and groove slats, it's so easy to cut and adds more of that coastal charm.

Coastal Picture Frame Serving Tray Pine Wainscotting

Cut the pieces to fit either vertically or horizontally on the tray using a miter saw. If power tools aren't your thing, you can cut them with an inexpensive miter box and hand saw. I laid mine vertically and lucky for me, four full pieces fit the length of the tray perfectly without having to trim the boards.

Coastal Picture Frame Serving Tray Cut Pine Slats

Paint the beadboard before installation

Paint the beadboard slats before installation using the same coastal paint colors as the tray. Once the paint is dry, age the beadboard with the same colored glazes used on the frame as well. On the underside, I painted the slats in just the sea glass color but aged them with both glaze colors.

Coastal Picture Frame Serving Tray Painted Slat Base

Installing the beadboard wooden base

Apply a thin bead of No More Nails Glue onto the tongues of each slat and glue them all together. They bond within minutes with this amazing glue.

Coastal Picture Frame Serving Tray Glued Wood Base

Flip the picture frame upside down and add a bead of glue around the bottom edge and set the beadboard base over top. Add some weight onto the base to hold it down while the glue cures.

Coastal Picture Frame Serving Tray Slat Base Attached

Once the glue is completely cured, apply two to three thin coats of a water repellent clear coat so there is no need to worry about spills. This is my go-to water-repellent sealer.

Adding sisal rope handles to the serving tray

Determine where the rope handles will go on each side of the frame. Find the center and measure two inches on either side and mark the spots. Repeat on the other side of the tray. With a drill and a 1/16" drill bit, drill a pilot hole on each mark.

Coastal Picture Frame Serving Tray Handle Pilot Holes

Determine the thickness of the sisal twine rope and drill a hole approximately the same size (my drill bit is 5/16").

Coastal Picture Frame Serving Tray Rope Handle Holes

Thread the sisal rope through from the top and knot it on the underside. Measure the handle to approximately 7-inches long and thread it through the opposite hole and tie a knot. Repeat the above steps on the opposite side of the tray.

Coastal Picture Frame Serving Tray Sisal Rope Handles

That's it, you're done! While it may seem there are a lot of steps in this tutorial, it really is quite quick and easy to make. The paint and the glue dry fast and this tray can be made in an afternoon.

My hope is that I've inspired you to visit the framed art aisle of your local thrift store and try your hand at making your own handy and custom picture frame serving tray. No power tools are required to make this tray but it goes much quicker if you do.

I'm almost embarrassed to share this link but when I first started blogging I made this Picture Frame Transformed Into A Tray with an ornate frame. I kept the glass on the frame and added pretty paper underneath. Press here for more budget-friendly tray ideas.

Coastal Serving Tray From Repurposed Picture Frame

How To Turn Picture Frames Into Handy Serving Trays

I welcome you to join me with a visit to my Thrifty Chick friend's blogs to see what they did with these frames...
Thrifty Chicks Group Frame Challenge Before Photos
Update A Frame For Valentine's Day by Shoppe No. 5
Picture Frame Coastal Serving Tray (that's me)
A Frame Transformation + Vintage Button Valentine by Adirondack Girl At Heart
Upcycled Valentine Picture Frame by Little Vintage Cottage
Sheet Metal Frame by Lora B. Create & Ponder

You will find this project linked to these fabulous PARTIES.



  1. This is gorgeous, Marie! I love the idea, colors and materials you used! So clever! Thanks for linking up with us on Inspiration Monday this week and sharing your fun ideas!

    1. Hi Kristi, I'm glad you like the picture frame tray! Thanks for co-hosting the IM party, one of my favorites 😀

  2. Wow! What a change! A wonderful idea and the result I like it very much.

    1. Thank you so much, Simona, I'm glad you like this idea 😀

  3. What a great upcycle and I just love those colors. Thank you so much for sharing with To Grandma's House We Go, I'll be featuring you next week.

    1. I'm thrilled you'll be featuring it, Chas, thank you so much!

  4. Loving this and the color choices. It's perfect. I love to upcycle frames and plan on making one like this. Create idea.

    1. Thanks so much, Michele! So glad I inspired you to make one. Super easy to make. Have fun makng yours!

  5. One of my all-time fave posts! ;-) I have it pinned on several boards! LOL!

    1. You just made my Sunday morning, Julie! Thank you so much and for the multiple pins 😊

  6. Thanks for sharing at Inspire Me Monday. I wanted to let you know that you are one of my featured links this week. Come check it out at

    1. Thank you so much, Bonbon, you made my Monday morning! xo


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