Art Alternatives Enamel Butcher Tray 2022

Photograph: The Strategist; Photos: Writers

If you have read any of our Strategist editor draws, you’ll know that our writers and editors buy a lot of stuff, and while we put a lot of thought into every item that goes into our carts, there are still standouts. To close out the year, we’ve asked our employees to write about the best things they bought in the past 12 months. Today Emma Wartzman is on the enamel tray she loves so much she’s bought one for every room in her house.

After my rock collecting phase ended when I was about 10 years old, I’ve never been one to collect certain types of things. That said, when I look around my apartment at 30, it’s clear that I have something going for me. While I wouldn’t call this a purposeful collection, it seems I accidentally ended up with one a lot of them in different shapes, sizes, materials, colors and patterns, sitting on tables, shelves and tables in almost every room.

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While I love them all, the unassuming one has become my favorite – so much so that I now have five. They are made of enamel and intended as artists’ palettes for mixing paint. (You can find similar ones at most art supply stores and all over the internet.) I first heard about them early last year from Dan Pelosi, who told me he uses some at his annual holiday cookie decorating party to set out frosting and tools. He described them as not precious and easy to clean, and at only $18 each, I was convinced to buy a pair right away.

They went to my kitchen. One is at the top of my island and holds cooking essentials like salt, pepper, honey and olive oil. Another is tucked away, blocking off a candy container at the bottom of a particularly unsightly cabinet (because the tray was so cheap I didn’t mind not showing it). A few months later, I hosted a bunch of friends and found that I didn’t have enough plates to serve all the food I had prepared. I hastily (and temporarily) popped the lids off the candy containers and turned the tray into a container for a pile of roast potatoes. People commented on how beautiful it was and that night I ordered another one to keep on hand for the same purpose. It became especially useful in the summer, sturdy enough to go outside on the barbecue. It held heaps of smoked corn on the cob without wobbling, and with the tall sides, I had no worries about the juices from some of the charred chicken thighs spilling over.

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During a bathroom remodel just a few months ago, I swapped out a marble tray that held my toiletries and makeup for yet another enamel number. Even though it has been exposed to the inevitable oil drips and humid environments, the material has proven to be very easy to wipe down. Most recently, I bought a larger size (about half a pan) to store things like coasters and candles on my coffee table. In this last spot it especially looks more expensive than it is, the bright white is a nice contrast to the wood tones in my living room, with navy blue trim that varies slightly from bank to bank.

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Art Alternatives Enamel Butcher Tray
A very good deal

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