DIY Projects Lifestyle Thrifting & Vintage

A Classic DIY Buffalo Check Tray in Black & Red

April 8, 2020

Buffalo check has been back on the scene for awhile now, and I’ve been wanting to give this pattern a DIY try. See how I turned a sweet strawberry painted tray into a bold black and red check bad boy. Find out what I did for a painting shortcut to create this classic pattern, and decide for yourself if this tray is here to stay!

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I’m happy to be back with the Thrifty Chicks gals for another monthly DIY makeover challenge. This month our theme is all about trays, and we are grateful to take a pause and bring these projects your way. Our hope is to inspire you to add a little DIY to your day. At the end of this post I will share links to all of our projects and hopefully you will have a chance to visit each one.

Thrifty Chicks DIY projects based on a common theme.

Oval Wooden Tray Makeover

Finding a wooden tray was harder than I thought. I set out months ago to try and nail this piece down because I wanted lots of time to tackle the painting part. As popular as it is, I’ve never painted buffalo check before!

I found this tray sometime before Christmas and I’m so glad I did. In light of what’s happening on a world scale, I am doing my part and staying home. I’m not out thrifting and haven’t set foot in a thrift store in a few months. In fact, the last I checked the thrifts are currently closed where I live.

When I was out hunting I was hoping to find a round wooden tray, but as it turned out wooden trays of any shape or size were oddly hard to come by. I think it’s because it was just before Christmas so trays were being snapped up. Eventually I lucked out and dug this oval tray out from under a heap of stuff on a low, dark shelf.

A Base Coat In Black Spray Paint

Right away I knew I was going to give this tray a facelift with a coat of black spray paint. This would give me an easy base to work from for the stripes to create the check pattern.

I know it seems a shame to paint over the strawberry pattern on the green tray, but I think it probably had its day in the limelight. This cutesy Holly Hobbie-ish style is not really my thing.

Painting A Buffalo Check Pattern

Before I tackled the pattern I scoured Pinterest for some DIY tutorials on how to paint a buffalo check. I know I’m late to this trending party, so I read through quite a few tutorials before narrowing it down. In the end it was the tutorial on Chalk It Up Fancy blog that I worked with.

For this project I already had all the supplies I needed:

  • Painters tape (1-1/2″ width)
  • Red chalk paint
  • Paintbrush (1″, inexpensive, slightly stiffer bristles)
  • And, the oval tray pre-prepped with its black base coat

I didn’t want to get too fussed with perfection, I just wanted to have fun trying out this new-to-me technique. The tray wasn’t perfectly symmetrical, so I did my best to evenly tape out the first set of stripes. I’ll admit, there was some winging it along the way.

The tutorial I followed works with 3 paint colours, but I did mine in just black and red. I gave the long red stripes two coats of paint and let them dry. When I painted the cross-stripes I only gave them one coat.

This is where the stiffer bristled paintbrush came in. To get the 3-tone look of buffalo check I worked with the the texture left behind by the bristles to give the illusion of the lighter red in the check. You can see how the black base is allowed to show through.

I did end up with a few spots where the paint went on a little thicker than the rest, but overall it wasn’t too bad. When I removed the tape these are the spots where the paint wanted to lift.

When I taped off the tray for the stripes one thing I didn’t do was tape around the inside edge. In hindsight I would probably do that, but I didn’t really think about it because I was so focused on laying out the stripes. You can see where the red crept up the sides a bit.

I had toyed with doing a touch up with black paint, and I might still do that. I’m not sure how much it bothers me just yet. If you think about it, buffalo check leans to the rugged side. Like a cabin in the woods kind of rugged side. See more on my idea of cabin decor here.

I decided to present this tray very simply. Buffalo check is visually busy and can be quite bossy. Especially the bold red and black, so you want to be careful in your presentation.

I knew my Eames black house bird would do this tray justice and would definitely be able to hold his own. He’s got quite the personality and no matter how bad boy this check tries to be, it’s no match for ‘Bird’. That’s what I call this guy.

I included the rocks because I thought the organic touch would be perfect with the overall theme, and Bird seems to be okay with them. Besides, each one has its own little backstory, so featuring them here makes me smile.

In the end I’m happy with how the tray turned out. I wasn’t too keen on the chalk paint itself. It was a freebie and not a brand I would use again, although the colour is great.

Thrifty Chicks Project Links

I mentioned earlier that I would share links to each of the other projects, and you will find these links below. If you are looking for DIY tray ideas you will want to check out what each of these talented ladies have been up to!

From the top, LtoR:

  1. Tania from Little Vintage Cottage – Upcycled Wooden Tray
  2. That’s me!
  3. Linda from Itsy Bits and Pieces – Simple DIY Farmhouse Tray
  4. Kathleen from Our Hopeful Home – Thrift Store Tray Transformation
  5. Tuula from Color Me Thrifty – Silver Tray Makeover with Spray Paint and Doily
  6. Lora from Lora B Create and Ponder – How to Upcycle Vintage Metal Trays into a Tiered Stand
Pinned & Shared at Audrey Would

Have you ever given anything a DIY buffalo check treatment? What steps did you take to create the checked effect?

Thanks for stopping by. I’m so glad you did.

Audrey Would Vintage Home blog

Photographs © Audrey Would! Vintage Home unless otherwise indicated.

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  • Reply Michelle April 10, 2020 at 12:51 pm

    It turned out so good! It’s so pretty!

    • Reply Sheila Zeller April 10, 2020 at 1:13 pm

      Thank you so much Michelle! I took my photos with morning light and I love the warmth it brought out in the tray.

  • Reply Tuula @ Color Me Thrifty April 8, 2020 at 6:46 pm

    Buffalo check is such a fun pattern to work with. Your tray turned out great!

    • Reply Sheila Zeller April 10, 2020 at 1:14 pm

      Thank you Tuula! I really did have fun with this one, so who knows. I might try it again in other colours another day!

  • Reply Lora Bloomquist April 8, 2020 at 10:08 am

    This turned out really cute, Sheila! I want to see more of the awesome thing it’s sitting on, though:) Really like how you styled it all, too!

    • Reply Sheila Zeller April 10, 2020 at 1:18 pm

      Thank you Lora! So the awesome thing it’s sitting on is a set of 4 wooden placemats that are made with flat wooden beads, I guess you would call them beads. I thrifted them in the summertime for eating outside on our deck. They’re lots of fun!

  • Reply How to Upcycle Vintage Metal Trays into a Tiered Stand - Lora B. Create & Ponder April 8, 2020 at 8:40 am

    […] Audrey Would, “A Classic DIY Buffalo Check Tray” […]

  • Reply Our Hopeful Home April 8, 2020 at 8:30 am

    I’m a huge buffalo check fan – it was one of my Christmas themes! Great idea painting the tray black first. Love it! xo Kathleen

    • Reply Sheila Zeller April 10, 2020 at 1:11 pm

      Thank you Kathleen! I’m a fan of buffalo check for Christmas too. I love the cozy feel of it. I was actually a little hesitant to do this for a Spring reveal, but I really wanted to try the technique so took a leap of faith to give it a whirl.

  • Reply Laura L WALKER April 8, 2020 at 8:14 am

    You did an amazing freehand job. Perfect spot for your blackbird.

    • Reply Sheila Zeller April 10, 2020 at 1:06 pm

      Thank you so much Laura! It was so much fun to paint it without trying to make it perfect. 🙂

  • Reply Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces April 8, 2020 at 6:35 am

    Your tray looks wonderful, Sheila! I did a checkerboard freehand from a pattern I transferred…why didn’t I think of tape? Fun project!

    • Reply Sheila Zeller April 8, 2020 at 7:40 am

      Thank you Linda! Oh my gosh…freehand? Yes, your ‘Thrift the Look Cabin Decor’. I had to sneak back in and check (no pun intended, haha). You did such a great job with your checks.

  • Reply littlevintagecottage April 8, 2020 at 5:22 am

    This is really nice Sheila! Buffalo check was something fun and unexpected :o)


    • Reply Sheila Zeller April 8, 2020 at 7:24 am

      Thank you Tania! I really wanted to give this pattern a try and the tray challenge seemed like an easy place to start!

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