This conversation used to happen often: “Where are my keys?” “I don’t know!” “I can’t go anywhere till I find the keys!” People running with flailing arms, finding keys in hanging pant pockets, on a basement table, in the fridge… In the fridge? Someone had too much going on that day. But now keys are rarely lost. Our solution is to put keys in the same place, every time, just inside the door. A key tray is a perfect spot. It’s also a thoughtful gift for your family’s sanity and any absent-minded friends. So, I thought why not decorate the key tray and make it pretty?
For this project’s style, I took a few cues from things in our entryway, inside the front door: A framed drawing of the piazza of Tuscan village Greve-in-Chianti as it looked in the 1500s; an old, rusty riad skeleton key from Marrakech and vintage kimono fabrics. So I wanted to make a key tray look old. I started with a brand new shiny white porcelain tray, so this was a fun transformation!
Supplies used for this project:
- Royal Design Studio’s Ankara Impression A Stencil
- Royal Design Studio’s Paisley shape stencil from the Sari Border Series Indian Furniture Stencil
- Rectangular tray – I found a porcelain tray at Target for $9
- Zinsser primer
- Chalk PaintTM by Annie Sloan – Coco, French Linen and Country Grey
- Annie Sloan Soft Wax – Clear
- Stencil Creme – Antique Gold
- Royal Stencil Size – Clear
- Maltese Gold Metal Finish Foil
- Stencil brushes
- Paint and chip brushes
- Paper towel
It was brave to paint a porcelain tray. But hey, I like challenges. I wasn’t sure how well the Chalk Paint would stick because the porcelain surface is so shiny and slick. So I started with a coat of Zinsser primer, found in the deep corners of our basement. The primer wound up pulling off as I painted the Chalk Paint. Maybe I didn’t give the primer enough time to dry. Maybe it was old and not mixed super well. I scraped it all off with paper towel which was very easy, as the primer slid off like melted butter. Uncertain, but not giving up yet, I painted Chalk Paint in Coco directly on the porcelain tray. And it stuck! They say you really don’t need primer with Chalk Paint, and you can believe it.
So you can try using primer or skip it. The can shows prominently in my supplies photo above, so I thought I’d share this experience too.
Two coats of Chalk Paint gave good coverage. Then to give a dusty aged look, I made some random streak lines with a lighter color, French Linen, which probably got covered up in the next steps. You never know how a project will unfold. Sometimes your plans will change as you go along. Just roll with it!
After you have a good base coat on the tray, choose a stencil or two. I used a Turkish Ankara stencil and an Indian paisley stencil. Both of these stencils were just used in my last project – patterned Moroccan gift boxes. So look for new projects and re-use your stencils!
The Ankara medallion stencil was painted with a lighter Country Grey Chalk Paint, so the design would contrast with the darker Coco color. Once I finished stenciling, I decided it looked funny to have the Country Grey only around the medallion, so I swirled some Country Grey all over the rest of the tray. After the primer debacle, it was another change in plans, but that’s okay. The Ankara medallion really pops now. Then with a chip brush I drew some light lines of French Linen over the whole tray again.
My inspiration for this project was a tray that has mixed patterns on it, one a gold border. I love the look. So for the second stencil, I chose a little paisley border, very different than the medallion for some contrast. You can mix and match crazy stencil combos when you are playing with a small piece like this.
The paisley border was painted with Antique Gold Stencil Creme. That looked perfectly fine, and you could call the project done!
As an optional step, I chose to add another layer of gold to the paisleys. Maybe that came from our painting project during the Paint and Play trip in Marrakech – I saw how layering four or five colors adds a lot, even if you can’t see much of the first layers of color.
So, consider adding metallic foil over a painted pattern. To do this, place your stencil back over the painted pattern, and apply clear Stencil Size through the stencil. I painted the Stencil Size unevenly, skipping some areas so the gold foil would be uneven. When the Stencil Size is tacky to the touch, rub the foil until you see it is separated from the sheet of foil and adhered to the tray.
Then add a little more glimmer by lightly brushing Antique Gold Stencil Creme all over the tray, catching gold paint on the edges.
As a final step, protect the tray with Clear Wax from Annie Sloan. Apply wax with a big soft brush, let the wax set, and then buff it to make a subtle sheen.
You might have noticed the tray has raised edges, and you might wonder, how do you stencil on that curve? Very carefully. Here are a few tips that can help:
- You might need to trim away some extra stencil material to help it lay flatter.
- I held the stencil close to the tray with a finger for each little area of the medallion and paisleys that went up an edge.
- Most importantly, paint with a nearly dry brush! Dip just the tip of your stencil in paint, then swirl your brush on paper towel to offload most of the paint. This is really important. Stenciling with a nearly dry brush is the key to preventing paint from squeezing under the stencil. If the paint is too light, you can always paint another light layer to make the color darker.
- You can also use stencil adhesive spray, and it works great to help you paint crisp shapes in tough spots. I did not use it on this project because of worries about the adhesive pulling paint off the porcelain.