Home » Chalk Painting » Butler’s trays

Butler’s trays


Butler’s trays or tables originated in the 18th century.  They were meant to be portable as the tray was not attached to the base, usually a pair of x-shaped legs.  In the 20th century, they became fixed and are seen as coffee tables or perhaps as an end table.  Some Butler’s tables have a fixed gallery as seen in this photo,

but most are the Chippendale style that consists of a rectangular table with hinged sides.  When down, the table is oval-shaped as in this photo:

My table is from the 1970’s and had a honey-oak stain.  The base has an Asian motif which seemed incongruous with the original colour of the wood.  It has been through a few transformations before I finally decided on this version.  At first, I thought it would look good whitewashed but that didn’t do much for it.  Then I added Provence to the top and tried a beachy look :IMG_0668

It was attractive but it didn’t sell.  Then, I thought I would try a Union Jack, using the blue that was already there.  That was a disaster.  Even though it was waxed, the Frog tape kept pulling up the paint.  I can’t tell you how many times I repainted certain areas and in the end, I didn’t like the effect.  So, months later, I decided to start again.  I could have painted the whole thing red which would have highlighted the Asian influence but if you have ever made stripes, you know that they have to be sanded down a lot or they will show through chalk paint.  Once I started that, I realized that with all my layers of paint, I would need to strip it.  On to version # 3.  If you look closely, you can see that there are variations in the stain.  Some woods absorb their original stain so much that even after stripping, sanding and bleaching, they will not come out evenly.  I have decided (ha) that this adds character.  I stained it with ebony (next time I will try a dye) and gave it a Danish oil finish.  Danish oil gives a hand-rubbed finish that is better looking than poly.  I painted the base with MMS Typewriter and added gilding to the edge.  The black looks great with the gilding and it plays to the Asian motif. Now I would say that it has a classic Hollywood Regency look.


arty”>Creativity Unleashed Link Party</div
Tickled Pink at 504 Main



2 thoughts on “Butler’s trays

  1. Wow. It looks great. I applaud your tenacity. You stuck with it until you nailed it. Bravo. I own a butler’s tray (coffee) table which I purchased from Ethan Allen over 25 years ago when my style was formal English traditional. My style has changed but I still have the table (cherry wood) and still love it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s