How I turned a tiered tray into an airy and coastal-inspired floral centerpiece

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I’ve had this galvanized metal tiered tray from Sam’s Club moving from space to space in my house for a couple years now. It’s beautiful, but it never seemed to quite fit in any of my spaces as the tiered tray it was designed to be. And I don’t entertain many formal parties where I serve food on tiered trays.

So I just keep moving this tray around trying to find a good spot for it.

I most recently had it on my dining room table, but it just seemed bare sitting there between the candle stands. It just looked not-quite-finished.

Here’s what it looked like on the dining room table:

empty galvanized tiered tray on dining table
empty tiered tray on dining table side view

So, one day I decided I wanted to make it into a floral arrangement. I thought, “Wow. That would be a nice sized statement piece for the middle of the dining room table.”

This tiered tray is no rinky-dink little thing. It’s about 20 inches tall and 18 inches wide at the base, so it makes for a really substantial centerpiece once it’s stylized.

I went to Michael’s to purchase the floral pieces when they opened back up for in store visits after the Covid shutdowns. I find it difficult to purchase floral stems online when you can’t see or feel them.

My dining room is transitioning from a darker, traditional look to a brighter and lighter space with a hint of coastal or seaside touches so I purchased some really lush looking flowers that went with my new décor in that room. I was super excited to realize that because of the shutdown, all the spring and summer flowers at Michael’s were on deep discount, like 60% off!

I got great deals on those floral pieces. I spent around $15-20 total for all the floral pieces, a few extra bucks on floral foam and moss from the dollar store and I already had the tiered tray. So the whole project cost me around $25 to make, and the tiered tray was around $20 when I originally purchased it from Sam’s Club. They don’t currently sell this exact same tray, but they do have this one that’s quite similar and has a really cool wooden handle. You do need to be a member of Sam’s Club to purchase from them, so keep that in mind if you would like this tray.

Here are the steps to creating this beautiful piece:

Step 1: Glue floral foam pieces to the tray

Because I wanted this piece to be very lush and full, I put foam all over the whole tray. But if you were only going to place flowers in the middle near the assembly tube, then you would only need to put foam there.

tiered tray filled with floral foam

I had to cut some of the pieces of foam to be able to get a good coverage of foam in the tray. Then I just used hot glue to adhere them to the tray so the weight of the flowers would make the foam move around.

I used a total of 3-4 packs of the floral foam from the dollar store to cover both tiers of the tray.

Step 2: Glue moss to the floral foam

I knew I wouldn’t have enough flowers to cover every last inch of the floral foam, so I needed the moss to cover it and keep the green foam from peeking out.

Dollar store moss is quite economical for what you get and the quality is the same as anywhere else.

gluing moss to floral foam in tiered tray

I highly recommend buying it there instead of craft stores.

The one thing about working with the moss is it comes very compacted in a bag. So I had to take the whole bundle out, loosen it up and even cut some pieces off with good scissors to work with it. But it’s totally worth it. I was able to cover both levels of this tray with 2 bags of moss from the dollar store with some creative placements and stretching of the moss. I used the brown moss in this project because it seemed to be the better option for the coastal inspiration, but the green moss would work just as well.

The type of hot glue really doesn’t make a difference for this project. I basically purchase whatever is the best value at the time. This Gorilla hot glue is a really great value at the time of writing this article. There are a lot of sticks of glue included for the price, and it will go a long way if you use hot glue a lot. I’m pretty sure I used 2 whole glue sticks in this project alone.

Step 3: Place main color flowers

I knew I only had 3 large blue flowers to work with. So I needed to get all the white flower in place and covering a much of the arrangement as possible before deciding where to place the blue flowers.

I probably could have used one more bundle of the white flowers, but it all worked out in the end, and I just love it.

I had to cut the stems to about 6 inches, with some being even shorter to accommodate the shallow tray edges.

tiered tray with white flower cut
tiered tray w main flowers placed

Step 4: Place accent color flowers

I moved the three blue flowers around a few times to see if I liked having some on the bottom and some on top. I had originally intended to have some blue on both levels.

tiered tray with accent color flowers placed

But as I moved them around, I realized there weren’t quite enough blue flowers to spread them out that way. So I settled for placing all three on the top tier where they can be easily seen and where they look more uniform in placement.

I really love how those blue flowers add just the right amount of color while keeping this arrangement light and airy!

Step 5: Place sprigs of greenery

The final step was to place some stems of baby’s breath into the arrangement in a seemingly random, but really well thought out placement. I wanted the height and fullness of the added tiny flowers.

tiered tray w greenery sprigs placed

Plus the small size adds an element of texture to the whole arrangement.

And I’m so glad I got those! I think they make the final arrangement look so much more professional than just using the large flowers.

I had to decide how many of the leaves I was going to keep, and I didn’t keep many because I just really enjoy the look of tightly bunched flowers with little to no leaves. But if you love the look of leaves sticking out between the flowers, there were lots of leaves of different shades on the flower stems that could have been incorporated as well.

I cut the leaves from the stems and kept them for a future project. Maybe I’ll make a leaf wreath or something? We’ll see. Stay tuned to see if I can work some magic with those leaves!

The final product is something really special. Not only does it provide a point of interest in the room and give height to the center of the table, but it’s custom to fit my décor! That’s my favorite part. Not all DIY projects will be money-savers. But, if you can make something special and custom that you just can’t buy off the shelf, it can be totally worth it.

All in, I’ve probably got about $45-50 and about 40 minutes of work into the whole arrangement, including the tiered tray, and that’s a really good bargain for a custom designed piece that’s perfect for my space!

Light and airy coastal look and tips for floral arrangements header

I really love how this arrangement turned out! The height of it is perfect for a centerpiece on my dining table and it really makes all the dark furniture seem less heavy in the room. It’s amazing to me how you can transform a room with a few inexpensive changes and little imagination.

tiered tray floral decor final result
tiered tray floral decor final result side view
tiered tray floral decor final result top view

Six tips for making professional looking floral arrangements

If you like taking things you already have around the house and transforming them into floral arrangement, here are some tips for using tiered trays, old pots, planters, vases or even bowls around your house to turn them into a beautiful floral arrangement you can be proud of:

  1. Buy more flowers than you think you’ll need. I always think I know how many it’s going to take, and even when I purchase more than that, I can end up a little short sometimes. Decide how much you’ll need, then add about 1/3 more.
  2. Use different size flowers in one arrangement for added texture and interest. It really does look more professional this way.
  3. Cut stems at different lengths for a more natural appeal. I used tall baby’s breath and shorter large flowers in this arrangement and it really made the whole arrangement look robust and attractive.
  4. Use hot glue to hold floral foam in place when it probably won’t stay on its own once flowers are added.
  5. Use large flowers as a base for a statement piece and small or medium sized flowers for small spaces or for an understated look.
  6. Don’t use the greenery and leaves unless you want to. If you like them, keep them. But if not, just save them for another project.

I hope this quick and easy project inspires you to repurpose something in your home to make it more beautiful. That was the goal for me. I didn’t want to get rid of the tiered tray, so I found a way to make it look purposeful.

Do you ever purchase things you like, but you don’t know how you’re going to use them yet? If you have something you love that isn’t quite working out, and you decide to create something new and more beautiful out of it, leave me a comment and tell me what you did. I get inspired by your ideas, so keep them coming!

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