French Love Letter Tray

Hello awesome Friends! I have a sweet makeover for ya’ll today!

I must have passed by this tray at the Antique Mall where I have my booth at least a dozen times:


I just loved the details of the frame.

I finally decided to just buy it already. I thought maybe I could put some pretty fabric under the glass, only when I removed the outermost felt layer on the back, I discovered mold between the layers…


Gross! Then I discovered the glass was not clear, but covered in foil-like paper…


I have included a few affiliate links so you can find the products I used. Read my full disclosure here.

After scraping it with a razor blade, the glass looked terrible, so on to plan B…I decided to cut a new bottom for the tray using hardboard with my jig saw:


A nice fresh coat of white paint and a pretty French love letter stencil saved the day!

French love letter stencil updates this pretty tray!


French love letter stencil updates this pretty tray!

I had hoped to keep that glass top intact with the tray, but this is a pretty alternative. Honestly I was happy to remove everything that may have come in contact with that mold.

The stencil I used is this one from Royal Design Studio. I originally bought it for another piece of furniture. This stencil is another option that is a bit less expensive.

I used spray adhesive (just sprayed the back of the stencil) to hold the stencil in place. Then I used a small brush and this paint to paint in the stencil, trying to brush away from the edges as I went.

French love letter stencil

After removing the stencil, you could see all the breaks in the letters, a dead giveaway that it is a stencil:

French love letter stencil

I went back with this script liner brush and filled in the breaks and fixed any bleeding edges:

French script stencil

I lightly sanded the surface with 220 grit sandpaper after the paint had plenty of time to dry. This smoothed out any rough spots.

It looks so much less like a stencil now:

French love letter stencil updates this pretty tray!

I prefer to use a brush rather than a “pouncer” to stencil because I just think it looks better, even if I do have to go back and touch it up a bit.

French love letter stencil updates this pretty tray!

I sealed with Annie Sloan’s clear wax.

French love letter stencil updates this pretty tray!

I loved the original patina of the frame, but the white paint and a little sanding brings out those pretty details so well.

French love letter stencil updates this pretty tray!

And I know it’s “clean” now. 🙂

French love letter stencil updates this pretty tray!


French love letter stencil updates this pretty tray!

I used my point driver to secure the hardboard to the frame, then covered the bottom in pretty paper. I added felt discs to the bottom as well to protect the furniture beneath.

French love letter stencil updates this pretty tray!


French love letter stencil updates this pretty tray!

If you enjoyed this makeover, you’ll probably like this one too:


See how I transformed this old flatware box HERE!

I’ll see you Tuesday with the makeover of this $5 yard sale tray:

UPDATE: See what this tray looks like now (is it even still a tray?) HERE!



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  1. Turned out beautiful and much better I might add!

  2. Christina in FL says

    Yes, we have another winner! 🙂 Ugh about the mold. Super transformation Christy.
    I look forward to your art in my email every day. Thank you! 🙂

    • Aww you are so sweet, thank you!! The mold was a really gross find, but luckily it’s gone for good! XOXO

  3. Again, I’m not disappointed when I receive your emails on Tues and Thurs. Love the love letter tray but of course I love everything you do. You are such an inspiration.

  4. Very pretty! I love the black and cream with the French script. Such a sweet makeover.

  5. I have an old family picture with a frame that looks similar – I might try this – you did a beautiful job – love following and seeing on your projects

  6. Such talent! Bravo! Beautiful job.

  7. What a pretty tray! Yikes, that mold…! You saved this one from itself, haha!

  8. Tina Matteson says

    LOVE this! I just got two similar trays at the local thrift store and sprayed them white and distressed the edges… but I really like the stenciled letters idea!

  9. Marcie Lovett says

    Beautiful save, Christy! That jigsaw certainly earned its keep.

  10. Sherry Stuifbergen says

    Can’t wait to see your “vision” on the flatware box. The tray looks great too. Your styling ideas are great. Maybe you could give us some tips on how you get so much done in the course of a day. My projects take alot of time…you do THREE a week! How do you do it? You also have to spend alot of time at the thrift stores. It seems you are so lucky with your treasure finds. What is your routine? maybe that is a post you can do….how to budget your time to do creative projects. You would be the ONE to tell us.

    • Thanks, Sherry! That flatware box was an older project, you should be able to click through and see it now. 🙂 Hmmm…tips for getting stuff done? I think you give me too much credit ha ha, but I would say there are two things that keep me on track. The first is I don’t watch TV hardly at all…I know myself too well and I will get nothing done if it is on! The second thing that helps me stay on track is I keep a planner and each night I plan out the following day hour by hour. I love being able to cross things off the list lol! And the secret to getting good thrift store deals is to go A LOT! 😀

  11. OMG, you didn’t really ruin that beautiful tray by covering up those gorgeous details with paint, did you?

    • That wasn’t patina, it was dirt, and after discovering mold inside, I had no problems painting it.

  12. the tray was beautiful before. It had character. It evoked a feeling of the past and kinder times. Now it is ordinary, fake, with a fake letter written on it. Why does everything have to be painted white, then made to look fake old?? (and BTW: it is intact, not in tact)

    • I’m sorry you didn’t care for the makeover, Patricia. This tray was sitting in the same spot in a booth in my antique mall for several months. I honestly loved the frame as is and that is why I finally bought it. (Not sure anyone would have in its current state.) After removing the backing and discovering mold, I decided to paint it. Thanks for the info on intact…I think I’ve been writing that wrong all along!

  13. well, this is the third time I have tried to “speak my mind.” I wonder why it is so important to paint every lovely old thing you find? Before, the tray was beautiful. It had character, it was elegant. Now it is all fake. It has fake distressing, a fake “love letter”….it is a fake color. It looks new. (BTW: the word is “intact”…not in tact)

    • Your comment doesn’t show up until I approve it, so that I don’t miss any comments or reader questions, especially on older posts as I like to respond to every comment.

  14. It came out beautiful!

  15. I never would of thought about it having mold. That could have made someone very sick and they would never have known what was causing it. Scary! But, it turned out beautiful as always. Thank you so much for all the inspiration.

    • I know, right? I’m so glad I took it apart and saw that so it could be fixed! Thank you so much, Kim! XO

  16. Karen Moore says

    Turned out very pretty. Perseverance paid off.

  17. Lovely, Christy! Good calls on everything. 🙂 Do you have a tutorial on stenciling? I just can’t seem to get mine to not smudge/bleed as I’m taking the stencil off. 🙁

    Hope all is going well with you!

  18. So cute Christy! But mold?! Eek! Never know what we’ll find! Lol

    • Thanks, Nancy!! I know, gross!! What if I had planned to use it as is? Never would have guessed it had mold inside! XOXO

  19. It is lovely! I was a little worried about losing the pretty detail on the glass, but this is lovely!

    • Thank you, Rose! I loved the detail on the glass…I kept it just in case I can use it in the future! 🙂

  20. vicki wright says

    Beeeautiful job, as always:)

  21. Cindy Pierce says

    That my friend turned out beautiful! I just love that frame!!

    • Thanks so much, Cindy!! I hated to see that tray just sitting there for so long, so I just had to buy it. 🙂

  22. Goodness, what a beautiful tray makeover! It would make a gorgeous wedding gift. Want that stencil!

    • Thanks so much, Marie!! I love that stencil as well, and yes it would make a lovely wedding gift! XOXO

  23. Such a pretty makeover! Thanks for the step-by-step tutorial. I have been using trays for arranging objects into vignettes for several years, now, and I have built up quite a collection of them. I might try your techniques on one of them. You can pick up trays really cheap at yard sales and Goodwill. I like collecting them. Thanks!

    • Thank you, Carol! I love trays too, and always keep an eye out for them when I’m thrifting. 🙂

  24. yucks- stay on the mold!!!! The tray came out nice. I like it both ways. I wouldn’t have had the heart to paint it…..but it is pretty much a given that that is what you would do. It would be a sweet brush set holder in a little girls room, now that is is white. The cherubs had to go!!! Oh!!! you won’t believe this….as I stared at the before picture, I thought…where have I seen the before? I have the same exact book ends!!! The design part is made out of “chalk” build up….on your too???
    Are your hydrangeas white??? before they turn blue??? Beauties!!!
    Have a good weekend,

    • Oh I really did honestly and truly love the frame of the tray in its before state, and I almost regretted painting it. But you know I can’t stop myself when it comes to paint ha ha!! And those hydrangeas are fake shhhhh… 😀 Have a great weekend!! XOXO

  25. Love what you did to the tray. I so want it!