Upcycle your vintage trunk into a coffee table

I’m always spotting steamer trunks on my vintage fabric shopping sprees (more detail on those in my post about vintage fabrics). So I decided to pick one up and upcycle my newly aquired vintage trunk into a coffee table.

If you’ve got an old trunk kicking around at home in the attic, dig it out and give it a lease of new life. Here’s how you can upcycle your vintage trunk.

Upcycled vintage trunk coffee table - tutorial | Stitches to Treasure

To upcycle a vintage trunk you’ll need

  • A stiff brush/ wire brush
  • Sandpaper – course and fine grade
  • Chalk paint or furniture paint in your chosen colour
  • Clear indoor varnish
  • Paint brush
  • Newspaper/ dust sheet
  • Masking tape

Upcycled trunk tutorial | Stitches to Treasure
1)  Clean up

Firstly, give your vintage trunk a good brush down and hoover out. In mine there were the remains of some travel stickers on the trunk which were too far gone to save, so I scratched them off with a stiff brush. Inside I also found an article on the minimum wage, things were different back then…

Minimum wage | Stitches to Treasure

Vintage steamer trunk | Stitches to Treasure

After a thorough clean up it will already look a lot better. If your trunk has lovely vintage travel stickers on the outside which are salvageable you can keep those on and paint around them at the later steps.


2) Sanding (I know it’s boring but it’ll be worth it!)

Next, get to work sanding all of the wooden parts. I also sanded the metal bits with a really fine sandpaper and it turned out that they were copper. Definitely worth the extra sanding effort.

Vintage trunk upcycle tutorial | Stitches to Treasure

3) Boring bit over, now time to paint!

Cover all of the wooden and leather parts with masking tape (plus any other areas you might not want to paint).

Using furniture paint or chalk paint give your trunk a couple of coats – leaving it to dry in between. Once it’s dry remove the masking tape.

Painting a vintage trunk | Stitches to Treasure

4) Finishing touches

Finally, give the whole trunk (including the wooden, metal and leather parts two coats of clear varnish, leaving the varnish to dry before the next coat. This is pretty essential for protecting it once it becomes your coffee table.

And now you have a brand new coffee table, better put the kettle on and get a brew on the go. If you’ve caught the upcycling bug, check out my other tutorials. And don’t forget to share your upcycling projects with me on Instagram.

Upcycled vintage steamer trunk into a coffee table | Stitches to Treasure

Vintage trunk coffee table | Stitches to Treasure


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