Interviewed by the Washington Post about TV tray tables … What do you think of these oldies but goodies?

vintage-tv-trays-quakerThe Washington Post’s home and design reporter Jura Koncius recently emailed me, wanting to talk about TV tray tables. She was working on a feature to go with the launch of the new fall TV season: a what’s-old-is-new-again look at these throwbacks to the early days of television and how they still might relate to our lives today. Did I use them? What did I know about them? Are folks into them? It was a lot of fun talking to her! Read her story here.

And then, Open Thread:

Do you use TV tray tables? Do you have stories about growing up with them? Are you on the lookout for vintage, like the set above from ebay seller heathers684 (affiliate link). Even: What are you watching on TV this season that you’d like to recommend?


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  1. Colleen says

    I grew up with a fiberglass set; not sure whether they were a house-warming gift to my folks or maybe a Top-Value stamps acquisition. Oh, what a treat it was to eat on YOUR OWN table in the living room–no sharing necessary!
    I found a nice metal set with a bamboo design and the cart about ten years ago. My husband thought I was crazy, but we use them frequently and he can’t believe he never knew about them growing up.
    He likes the old b/w western with Steve McQueen, “Dead or Alive”, I think it is. I usually enjoy Perry Mason in the mornings. Or TCM.

  2. says

    I am still looking for a set of trays that are not rusted/ banged up. Seems many got put in the basement or the kids playhouse. As for TV, we usually watch the old stuff. Dick Van Dyke, Bachelor Father (when it was on), Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, The Lucy Show, The Doris Day Show all had awesome MC houses. As for the new stuff, we watch the PBS period shows like Poldark, Mr. Selfridge, and Grandtchester (1950’s). And TCM is a staple 🙂

  3. yellow says

    My husband and I picked up a faux square-parquet finish set framed in soft brassy metal on it’s own very mid-century styled rolling cart – with clear plastic glitter wheels – that we were instantly enamored with this past summer. It was cheap and we were trying to fill out our dining room.

    I’d since decided we needed to sell it as things are now a little full, and we’d probably rarely use them. BUT… last week I made a cream tea with sandwiches, setup two trays for all the accoutrements, and watched a good, long film. Next time I’ll invite a friend! Those trays are not going anywhere now : )

    • Mark says

      Wow! We had that very same set when I was growing up! I remeber the glitter wheels. Mom had to buy a new set because….somehow the old metal ones, white with gold trim and flowers on them was used as toboggans after a snow storm. 🙂
      I wonder how that happened??!

  4. lynn says

    I have a couple that look almost exactly like that pattern! My grandmother’s set from 1961 (I even have a pic of her standing with them when she first got them). As a kid I played “school” on the back porch using those TV trays for my neighborhood friend “students”.

  5. Geronimom says

    I’ve got two of the exact set shown in the article (black & turquoise) – always look at thrift stores & estate sales to try and find some more matching ones. I did find a rack with 4 of the faux parquet wood w/gold trim for only $5 so of course I had to rescue those😉. And I stumbled upon one lone avocado, orange & gold tray in that crazy sixties/seventies daisy print – nabbed it as well. We eat with ours all the time. For us it’s typically vintage shows like TCM, I love Lucy, Gilligan, Brady Bunch, Bewitched, Hogan’s Heros, Star Trek or Twilight Zone. I will flip to HGTV once in awhile too – they now have a new show called Hunting Vintage that I enjoy. And who doesn’t love Antique Roadshow (I especially enjoy the British version!)? Wish we got that vintage game show channel – sounds like a hoot!

  6. tammyCA says

    Ha, when I started to read the article I immediately thought of the Reagans eating off trays in the White House..strange things we remember.
    I have a lone TV tray found at GW that was cruddy so I painted it black with gold starbursts. I actually use it when I’m crafting in front if the TV (beads don’t go rolling off). I also have a plain painted wood set with stand that we never use & I’ll probably donate soon..and I have 2 floral tole trays that have short metal folding legs – I guess these are breakfast in bed trays. And I have a whole bunch of the pretty vintage metal snack trays.
    Back in the ’70s, I loved a certain frozen dinner it was the Italian one with a type of lasagna & flan I think..I’ve never seen them since, where’d they go?

  7. Penne says

    I was fortunate to find two matching tables with a very colorful autumn scene on the fiberglass trays. The legs had rust spots and the plastic caps were cruddy and broken, but some light sanding, a little spray paint, and new caps–they look great. Only problem-I rarely eat at home and have never owned a TV. I keep wanting to change that, but never get the chance. I have fond memories of eating on these TV trays at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house, but it was always in the kitchen. She would not allow food in the living room.

  8. Pat in PA says

    I have a set of green-topped with a gold design and matching gold legs with a little bit of masking tape on the bar underneath that indicates the one to pull out and set up/fold closed. I’m calculating that I’ve had them for around 35 or so years!! I’ve never thought of getting rid of them and they hold a special corner to tuck in when not in use. Don’t use them too much in the summertime, but when soup season comes around and the evenings grow dark earlier, I like to use them to sip soup and watch a good TV program–all the ones that have been mentioned, and of course, the PBS/BBC goodies.

  9. Margie C. says

    We absolutely used them growing up in the 1960s and ’70s. I’m clearing things out of my parents’ home this year and can probably send you a photo of the ones we used.

  10. Diana says

    We still have a partial set that we received along the way 30+ years ago but rarely use anymore. I grew up with a set but my mom was adamant about eating dinner at the table…promptly at 6:00. “Turn off the TV, dinners ready!” Lol!

  11. Patty says

    Both my parents and grandparents had aluminum sets,but my grandma also had three stacking tables with spindle legs that stood about a foot high.My two sisters and I used to sit on the single carpeted step between the dining area and the living room,each with our own table.When my grandma passed away those little tables went to me.The legs on one wobble,but I still use the other two today as side tables next to my easy chair.

  12. Kristin says

    We had a set that were dark faux-wood laminate over some kind of particleboard, with a ribbed brass edging. That was in the 80s, though. As kids my brother and I also had our own lap-height metal ones, mine was She-Ra and his had Alf on it.

    I have a new wool rug in the living room now so the only things allowed in there are water and popcorn, but my son has a plastic lap-height tray from Ikea in a fun aqua color that he can have those on while he watches tv in the afternoon or on weekends.

  13. Eliza says

    Always wanted them as a kid. Our neighbors, with parents about 15 yrs younger than mine, had a set but they had everything that was “modern”, we had everything that was “classic” I guess you could say. Years later my mom did buy a set but they are plain old wood, so boring. Now I need to go scout ebay to finally get my own!

  14. Millie says

    Wow Pam, how much fun is this conversation about TV trays. I like a lot of others remember watching Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights eating off them and now I have my own wonderful black & gold painted set in the rolling cart and, insert drum roll here…mine came with a matching serving/bar cart! Total was only $18.00 from an estate sale and me and the hubby use them almost nightly in my 1959 rancher…

  15. Scott says

    My Gran, who had the coolest stuff, had one almost exactly like the picture, black background floral, except the legs were brass instead of black.

    Every time I spot one in an antique mall I have a pleasant flashback to her living room as it was set up when I was young.

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