‘Where are my keys?’: a frustratingly familiar phrase, made all the more sickening when running late for work or a first date. Instead, maybe it’s your wallet that’s amiss? And, sure enough you’re doing a mental-backtrack to where you used it last while padding down your trouser pockets.
It’s time you bought a valet tray. A safe place for putting your Every Day Carry (EDC) – wallet, keys et al. – the valet tray will put an end to unnecessary leaving-the-house frenzy. Plus, the best valet trays are designed so luxuriously, they double as interior art, adding some depth and texture to a boring bench top or bedside table.
So, stop scattering your pocket change and keys all over the house. Click through the slideshow for the 20 best valet trays to keep your kit looking fit.
The valet tray takes its organisational traits from the clothes valet. Reaching back some 200 years, men with money and fine clothes had a clothes valet (a manservant of sorts) to organise their wardrobes and care for it when not being worn. Valets also helped the aristocracy change throughout the day; moving from morning suits to cocktail attire to evening dinner party tails without a hitch (for a pop-culture reference think Lord Grantham and valet Bates from Downton Abby).
Nowadays, the valet’s been reduced to a neat place to store and organise your personal things. Designed more succinctly and smart, it’s followed menswear’s evolution into more pared back, quality wardrobe.
Traditional valet trays are quadrilateral in shape ranging from cubic to square to oblong or rectangle. Softer styles have four corners pinched or fettered, held shut with snap fasteners or ties, with the ability to be opened for a completely flat look. Others are hard-surface with just one compartment or several built-in, to separates your treasures.
Nowadays, round trays are popular too, ranging from coaster size for coins to dinner plate, ideal for your EDC: keys, phone, wallet and watch.
The pinched corner trays required a material that can move such as leather or suede. Like all leather products – wallets, shoes, belts – pay attention to quality and style, choosing between smooth or pebble-grain and types: calfskin, bovine, bison and the more exotic like ostrich or crocodile. Some come with dust bags to protect expensive things and a removable inlay. The coolest part? Get yours monogrammed for a personal touch.
Felt – made from thick merino wool – is another material option and adds some texture relatively simple object. For solid, hard trays look to acrylic, available in a variety of colours and a fairer price-point. Otherwise, stainless steel is luxuriously sleek or worn in brass for a rustic feel.
Finally, wood is a popular choice. The grain adds warmth to your table and some come handmade with a unique finish, so your valet tray will be as special as the watch it holds.
Where’s It Go?
The valet tray has a few solid placement options around the home. On your bedside table or nightstand, on your kitchen bench and lounge coffee table. And even the mantlepiece. Where you place it will depend on the size, material and aesthetic of the tray, keeping smaller ones by bed and larger ones on display on a shelf or larger table.
Organise time! Click through the slideshow for the 20 best valet trays to keep your kit looking fit – at home or the office.