Thursday, October 17, 2013

Restyling and Repurposing Vintage Luggage

As you can see, I've been painting more pink this week!  While working on making over a few vintage suitcases and trunks, I ran into some issues that required creative thinking to resolve.  I also dreamed up some ideas on how to use these freshly made over pieces and thought I would share those with you here, along with some of the solutions I came up with for fixing the problems I ran into.
This trunk has been sitting in the garage awaiting a makeover for many months now!  See all of that tape residue in the before photo?  I tried some of the "goo" remover solutions but none of them seemed to do the trick.  I finally decided to try painting right over the top of it, thinking it would just add some texture, right?  Right, indeed!  Chalk Paint® Decorative Paint by Annie Sloan covered all of that right up and after a good waxing, it has a beautiful, durable new finish. Honestly I can only see signs of that tape residue in a couple of small places, and it really just adds to the patina! 
 When making over suitcases and trunks, I will often paint the hardware a contrasting color.  I loved the antique gold patina on the hardware of this trunk and therefore decided to leave it and let it be the focal point of the finished piece.  It was a little time consuming, but I just took a small paint brush and worked carefully around each piece.  I think the end result is well worth the extra effort!

I painted this piece in Antoinette accented in Old White followed be clear and dark wax.  It looks lovely with my other craft storage pieces in my studio and fits perfectly under my desk!  I am considering using it to house my printer and paper!  It will require a bit of retro-fitting and when I get around to it, I will share the results in another post!

This vintage suitcase had the most horrible odor.  Had I noticed the smell at the barn sale where I found it, it probably wouldn't have come home with me.  The interior looked really stains, rips or holes.  I had hoped to preserve it.  I read about all kinds of methods for getting rid of beans, dryer sheets, vinegar, Febreeze.  I tried them all...and gave them ample time to work!  All of those things help to mask an odor, but they don't actually remove it.  I finally decided that the fabric would have to be removed.  Do you know what I found under the suitcase lining?  MOLD!  Yuck!  So, keep that in mind if you have an old piece of luggage with a musky odor.  No amount of Febreeze is going to get rid of that!

I don't have a specific method for removing suitcase lining, just grab a hold of it and pull!  Once I had it all out of there, I cleaned it up the best I could and painted the interior with Kilz primer which is designed to block stains and odors.  I then left the suitcase open in the garage to dry for a couple of days and applied a second coat of Kilz.  I had to make sure that mold was gone for good!  Once the primer had completely dried, I decoupaged book pages to the suitcase interior.

Suitcases and trunks are great for all kinds of storage but I love the idea of using them to display a vignette as well!  This suitcase was perfect for this as it stays open nicely on it's own and even has a hook for holding hangers.

I picked up this amazing old Singer sewing machine while on a little road trip with my mom a couple of weeks ago.  It's in pretty rough shape but just look at those sweet birds!  I love it!

 The craftsmanship and detail put into these old machines just fascinates me. 

The freshly painted book page lined suitcase turned out to be the perfect host for a little sewing vignette.  I plan to take it to the shop this week along with some vintage sewing notions and linens.
The exterior of this case was also painted in Antoinette and I went a little crazy with a stencil in Old White.  After a coat of clear wax, I added a good amount of dark to give this piece that old, weathered and worn look.

 That's one boring old stinky suitcase restyled, repurposed and de-odorized!

 Don't overlook trunks and luggage at estate sales and thrift shops just because the exterior has ugly stickers or tape residue, or isn't a desirable color, or the interior lining is ripped stained or smelly!  These pieces are fantastic for storage and/or display.  With Chalk Paint®, and a little imagination these pieces can be beautiful and functional once again!
Thank you so much for your sweet visit today!  Enjoy the rest of your week!  
Get out there and create something lovely!
Best Wishes and Blessings,
Sharing with...
Home Sweet Home at The Charm of Home
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Home
Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home
Furniture Feature Friday at Miss Mustard Seed
 Furniture & Paint Party at Start at Home
Treasure Hunt Thursday at From My Front Porch To Yours
What's it Wednesday at Elephants and Ivy
Make it Pretty Monday at The Dedicated House


  1. what a fantastic transformation! Love the pink and thanks for sharing what you used. I have an old suitcase that I've been thinking...should I ..could I know I can thanks to you! Gonna pin this to my vintage suitcase board. Happy to have found you.Happy to be a new follower.

  2. I love vintage luggage and you have made them beautiful!

  3. Those are gorgeous! Absolutely beautiful. xo Diana

  4. I'm curious if you have any creative solutions for broken leather handles on trunks?

  5. I've ordered OdorXit to try on those musty smells. Often listen to Gary Sullivan DIY home improvement radio show on the weekend. Will let you know how it works. Love the new look on those suitcases especially painting around the hardware. Tedious but so worth it. Great job.

  6. I love vintage luggage but often don't buy it for the same reasons you encountered here. Thanks for the great advice. Both pieces came out great.

  7. Wow, good job seeing beyond the surface, Amanda - I love it! Will have to start checking out luggage at estate sales. And it will fit in my car when it's time to go home...Bonus!

  8. I love vintage luggage and pink in general: I love it!

  9. This turned out SO well Amanda. I love the idea of retrofitting old trunks and suitcases for other uses too. It is always such a pleasure to stop by and see each new creation you come up with.
    Big blessings to you,

  10. I think I need to subscribe to your blog. Seeing and hearing about what you did with just one suitcase has me convinced I want to see what else you'll be doing .You are an excellent stager, how your put old beautiful things on display. I love to make vignettes as you have done. I applaud your talent. I wish I could find some old luggage. I have an old suitcase so think I might have to try to make it pretty. I need someplace to store some of my glass candle sticks, ball mason jars, things like that, then I could put the cases in a corner in our room to appreciate and have my glass pieces available when I want to use them. You are a wonderful inspiration as to what can be done. Happy weekend

  11. I love what you've done with the suitcases and how creative you are. I am pinning this post for future use! Visiting from What's It Wednesday.

  12. I came across your post at The Dedicated House. I love what you've done with the suitcases. I've got a few vintage ones that I've been wanting to paint and never thought of using chalkpaint and the waxes!! I love the patina that was acquired.
    My sewing room is pink and sage and I may have to 'borrow' your sewing vignette to use in that room. You've inspired me....they are absolutely beautiful!!

    thank you for linking up!! I am featuring you at my party going on now!!

    start at home

  14. Just gorgeous! I love the stencils and the polka dots - and the colour you chose is so lovely! Seriously in love with this :)

  15. Just amazing makeovers! LOVE them! I rarely find vintage suitcases in my travels :(

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  19. looks really amazing!!! good job!

  20. For the mold, I would recommend cleaning it out with bleach - just put some on a rag and wipe it out good. Then let it sit open in the sun for a day or two - that should take care of it. If you still have a lingering odor, then Febreeze or a little spritzing with lavender water will do the trick. You would still have to remove the fabric lining, of course, but that is much better than tossing it! And cheaper than Kilz.

    I love what you did with the trunk - I have one covered in 1970s green orange and black contact paper! I didn't really want to go to all the trouble of trying to remove it, but maybe a couple coats of paint will do the trick!

  21. I'm curious what you suggest to age new luggage to look vintage. I have three suitcases with the woven straw exterior and leather like vinyl for edging. I'm a photographer wanting to use these as props for newborn and children's portraits. Lovely work!


Thank you so much for your sweet notes! I love hearing from you!