Square Ottoman Tray With Behr Chalk Paint

Have you heard Behr has a new chalk paint line? If you're a regular around here then you know that I predominantly work with chalk paint for my furniture and home decor makeovers. I've used many chalk paint brands over the years and when I heard about this new line, I was itching to give it a try. This post is not sponsored, I just wanted to let you know there is another option available and what I think about it. So I figured I'd start with something small like this square ottoman tray from Goodwill that I've had in my stash for well over a year.

White Square Ottoman Tray

Square Ottoman Tray with Behr Chalk Paint

What started as a quick tray update that shouldn't have taken more than a couple of hours ended up being a three-day ordeal with a lot of hair-pulling. Instead of just sharing the pretty tray all finished, I decided to come clean and share what really happened for two reasons. 1) it's a testament that sometimes just a fresh coat of white paint is enough to beautify a piece and 2) if you are someone who is afraid to put paint to a piece of furniture or home decor for fear of ruining it, then my tray makeover is proof that you won't.

Ball Foot Square Ottoman Tray

But before we get into all of that, this is what the serving tray looked like before.

Square Ottoman Tray Before

I paid a whopping 50¢ for it at Goodwill, reduced from $1. Despite the wood chipped in some places and water ring stains, it was the perfect candidate for a makeover with a fresh coat of crisp white paint. Perfect for a summer vignette on a coffee table or ottoman.

Square Ottoman Tray Base Before Makeover

And here it is after the final makeover. Big difference, right?

French Square Ottoman Tray

I could have saved myself a lot of time and trouble had I stenciled the inside of the tray in the first place. More about that bad decision later.

French Square Ottoman Tray

Here's how I did it...

This post contains affiliate links so you can see what products I used or recommend for this project. At no cost to you, we receive a small commission if you make a purchase.

Decorative feet

I had these wooden ball knobs in my stash and glued them with E6000 to the bottom of the tray.

Square Ottoman Tray New Ball Feet

Dealing with paint bleed and water ring stains

To prep the tray for paint, first I cleaned it with a solution of warm water, Dawn dish soap, vinegar, and borax.

Square Ottoman Tray Primed

I planned on painting the tray white and knew the grey stained wood would bleed through the paint. If I were painting the tray a darker color it wouldn't have been an issue. I applied one coat of stain blocker to stop the bleed and cover the water rings on the base of the tray. Once the stain blocker was dry I was ready to give Behr chalk paint a try.

First time using Behr chalk paint

Behr chalk paint is the consistency of heavy cream and dries to a lovely matte finish that you can expect from chalk paint. It has nice self-leveling qualities with no brush strokes. Behr is a low VOC paint and I did notice a slight paint odor akin to painting with latex.

Square Ottoman Tray With Behr Chalk Paint Before

The paint dries quickly but there is a two-hour recommended recoat time. Patience is not one of my virtues and so that part kind of sucks. A lot of chalk paints that I use have a one hour window for recoats. The paint cleans up easily on brushes and your skin with soap and water.

Another thing I like about this paint is that it comes in 45 color choices but can also be tinted to over 500 colors. That's a lot of color potential! My color choice for the ottoman tray is Tin White. Like other chalk paints, it is better to apply several thin coats than fewer thick coats of paint. It took four coats to completely cover my grey stained tray. I'm looking forward to trying the paint in a darker color to see if it requires fewer coats.

How my tray went to hell in a handbasket

Now, this is where my tray went to hell in a handbasket. After I finished painting the tray white I decided it needed a little something-something. Why can't I be satisfied with the beauty and simplicity of white paint?

I decided to try another new to me product by highlighting the raised lattice detail and edges of the tray with Rose Gold Wax. The wax is beautiful but on top of white paint, it looked like I had major paint bleed (when the tannins in the wood turn white paint pink). Not the look I was going for.

So then I had the great idea of making the pink look less paint bleed-esque by decoupaging some pretty pink scrapbook paper onto the bottom of the tray. Unfortunately, I didn't have scrapbook paper large enough to fit the entire base and so I attempted to decoupage the paper in three pieces. Unlike wallpaper, scrapbook paper doesn't have a pattern repeat and it looked absolutely terrible.

Sorry, I deleted those photos from my phone in total frustration and didn't intend on sharing the mishap on the blog at the time. Beyond frustrated at this point, I ripped the paper off and removed the remaining bits of paper with a spray bottle and rubbing it off with my fingers. Then I called it a night and off to bed I went.

Sometimes before throwing in the towel on a project, you just need to walk away. 

What I did to fix the mess and make it tray chic again

Unfortunately, some of the paint went along with the paper and the tray was one hot mess. Back to square one, priming and painting the interior of the tray white again but first I had to remove that rose gold wax.

Wax Tip - Clear wax removes colored wax.

I simply dipped a lint-free rag into clear wax and rubbed off the rose gold wax. Worked like a charm!

First time using Behr Decorative Finish Wax 

Behr also has a Decorative Finish Wax line with clear and color waxes recommended for their chalk paint. Wanting to give it a try I applied the clear wax with a wax brush onto the exterior ONLY of my tray.

Square Ottoman Tray Behr Clear Wax

I can honestly say that I was pleased with their wax, a little goes a long way. It goes on like butter and buffs to a nice satin sheen with little effort.

Silver highlights

Normally I would distress the tray but because there wasn't enough of a contrast with the original finish, I only distressed the metallic lattice detail on the sides. I replaced the rose gold highlights with silver gilding wax instead. A little goes a long way with this stuff so I put just a dab on the tip of my finger and lightly rubbed it on.

Ottoman Tray Silver Gilding Wax

I like how it ties in with the metallic silver on the distressed lattice and the gray paint color of the stencil.

Silver Gilded Highlights Square Ottoman Tray

French stencil

Speaking of the stencil, instead of scrapbook paper I gave the tray that extra something-something with this French stencil and graphite color craft paint.

Water resistant clear coat 

Considering the tray may have water filled flower vases set on it or used as a serving tray, I protected the interior ONLY of the tray with two coats of water repellent clear coat.

Would I use Behr chalk paint and wax again?

Absolutely! I was happy with the product, it has a competitive price point, and I like the convenience of picking it up at my local Home Depot store while shopping for other project supplies.

The project takeaway

I could have thrown my hands in the air and given up on this tray after my mishap. But after walking away for several hours and calming myself down, I was able to come back to it with fresh new eyes and salvage the hot mess. Like I always say, it's just paint! If you don't like the results, sand it back a little with 150-grit sandpaper to give the new paint color some bite and start again.

No worries if you've already waxed the piece. Denatured mineral spirits will remove the wax and not the paint. Even though the wax on my tray hadn't cured yet, I was able to paint right over it because it had been buffed and no longer tacky.

I loved the final results of my square ottoman tray so much that when I placed it on the living room ottoman to take photos, I decided it's a keeper. So you'll be seeing more of this tray staged on future furniture makeover posts.

More tray ideas

Rustic Homestead Blend Coffee Tray

Large Thrift Store Tray Makeover

Photo Tray Turned Farmhouse Coffee Serving Tray

Plastic Tray Updated With Chalk Paint

If you have any questions about this makeover, please leave them in the comment section below or press the Contact Me button at the top of the blog to drop me an email. I love hearing from you!

Square Ottoman Tray Makeover

Square Ottoman Tray Makeover Before and After
I share my projects at these inspiring link parties.



  1. The tray turned out quite lovely for all of the rocky start. I've got one of those rocky start projects on the go right now - hopefully it will end as well as yours!

    1. Sorry to hear, they are the worst! I hope you can salvaged whatever it is you're working on. I think my hot mess was a blessing in disguise because I'm thrilled with the final outcome. Good luck!

  2. ...."how my tray went to hell in a hand basket" cracked me up Marie... sorry - must be this head cold that's screwing with my sense of humour. Anyway, the tray looks amazing and thanks for the heads up on the Behr chalkpaint and wax. I had no idea! Have a great evening my friend. x

    1. Hope you're feeling better soon, Denise! You should try the Behr chalk paint and tell me what you think of it if you do.

  3. That tray was a great score in the first place, but it looks so nice now despite the "mishap." I'm not surprised it's a keeper. I appreciate your sharing the "fails," as well as the successes Marie.

    1. I know, right, can't beat that price tag! I'm glad you appreciated the share of my big fail, Florence! I wasn't going to include it in the post but realized that it may encourage someone to keep going who also has a big fail project on their hands. Thank you! xo

  4. You are persistent, you tray looks lovely. Your phrase "going to hell in a hand basket" is one I use often. Glad to hear someone else does too. Will have to try the Behr chalk paint. Pinned it!

    1. LOL, I use it all the time and glad to see I'm not the only one either! Yes, do try the chalk paint and I'd love to hear what you think about it. We just used the rest of that can to whitewash my daughter's brick fireplace and it looks amazing!

  5. Love it!!! I would keep it too! Great job.

  6. You know I love trays. Fantastic save! You made it so beautiful, Marie. Sharing!

    1. Thank you sweet friend for the visit, the sweet comment, and the share 🤗

  7. I think that tray would have gone straight into the chuck-it-in-the-fudge-it-bucket if it was me :D Great save twice over Marie

    1. I was determined to give that poor little 50 cent tray a Cinderella story! I'm so glad I did because now I have a pretty tray on my living room ottoman to enjoy for many years.

  8. I love it, Marie! I'm glad you regrouped after the paper mishap! It turned out so cute. I have a wooden tray that I got at a thrift store and have been meaning to give a make-over. I am inspired to get some chalk paint and give it a go. I love the little feet you put on yours so I might have to get some of the round wooden knobs, too.

    Thanks for the inspiration--as always.

    1. Aw, your welcome Naomi! Yes, get yourself some chalk paint and revitalize your thrift store tray, you'll be happy you did! Stay away from scrapbook paper though LOL

  9. Hi Marie. I really appreciate your story and tenacity. I often find it a real challenge to go that extra step, and when it mucks up I think I must have a screw loose. I think on a little tray it would have been filed in the go away can, but yours certainly looks worth the extra effort. I guess it new what it wanted to be lol

    1. Stubborn and determined are my middle names. LOL I loved the unique raised lattice detail on this tray too much to give up and I'm so glad I didn't because it looks so pretty on our living room ottoman now. Goodness, Leanna it's definitely not about loose screws, we ALL have hit and misses!

  10. Well, that looks great... even with the mess you had! Love the colors and the stencil, Marie!

    1. Thank you Julie, I'm so glad I was able to salvage the mess. Love this version so much better so it was like a blessing in disguise!

  11. I have such a love for thrift store tray makeovers and yours turned out beautifully. Great tips on what not to do and how to save it. I'll be featuring this at today's Snickerdoodle Party. Looking forward to seeing what you'll share this week!

  12. Marie,
    Sometimes those simple projects turn into nightmares. Been there, done that, but your tray turned out lovely. Congrats on being featured on Over The Moon Linky Party.

    1. They sure do, Bev, but the reward after being able to salvage them is so worth it. Thank you for the feature and hugs backatcha 🤗

  13. This turned out so incredibly lovely! Thank you for sharing with us at the To grandma's house we go link party, I'll be featuring you on my site on Wednesday when the new party starts :)

  14. What a great project and story Marie! I saw you on the Shabbyfufu/Designthusiasm Style Showcase and hopped right over. Your tray is so lovely - thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Thank you so much, Barbara both for your sweet comments and the visit - welcome 😊

  15. Hi Marie! I'm so sorry you had so many issues with painting this tray. It turned out beautifully in the end, though!! <3 I read through every word and it's such a pain when you know how you want something to look and it's not going there. Glad you were able to salvage this piece and that it came out better than originally planned!!! Happy to share your post at Share Your Style #215 this week.

    Happy summer and enjoy your tray,
    Barb :)

    1. Thank you so much, Barb for the feature! I was thrilled when I saw it this morning when visiting the party. Sometimes these oops become a blessing in disguise and that was certainly the case with this tray. Turned out way nicer than my origiinal vision.


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