Upcycling an Old Trunk

how to upcycle an old trunk by second sale consignments

It’s that time of the year when we do a lot of traveling. Modern day luggage is all about lightweight, easy to carry pieces. But not that long ago big, heavy, sturdy trunks were the way most people packed and traveled. But with people trading in steamer trunks for rolling carry-ons, vintage trunks are easy to find at thrift and consignment stores as well as estate sales for great prices. Here at Second Sale, we nearly always have at least one trunk in stock. They vary greatly in style, design and condition, but they are always unique and interesting pieces.

But if you’re not using a trunk to carry all your worldly possessions on your next trip, what other purposes can they serve? It turns out – plenty! Check out just a few of these ideas for how to upcycle that old vintage trunk you find on your next shopping excursion.

Have Bar, Will Travel

Maybe our all-time favorite use of a vintage steamer trunk is the trunk bar.

trunk bar

Via HomeTalk

Set up a trunk on it’s side and wedge it open. Many trunks, especially large travel trunks, have shelving and containers inside that will be perfect for bottles, glasses and accoutrements without any sort of retrofitting. But for trunks that don’t have this, building basic shelves is a simple and easy DIY project.

You could also take the front off a smaller trunk, paint the base, slap on some legs and create an open wine or mini bar.

trunk mini bar

Via Pinterest


Coffee Table Trunk

Trunks are the perfect size for a coffee table, but if your trunk isn’t high enough or if you’re using a large vintage suitcase, just add some metal hairpin legs, and you have the perfect combination of industrial, shabby chic and rustic. Custom made hairpin legs can be purchased for extremely reasonable prices on sites like Etsy.

trunk coffee table

Via DIY Network

Sit On It

For those people who love to sew, turning a trunk into a custom bench is a quick and easy weekend project. Just add some padding and a fun fabric and you’ve increased your room’s storage AND seating. Vintage feet or legs give it a little more height and character.

trunk bench

Via Pinterest


Bring Fido

Maybe the most clever idea we came upon was converting an old trunk into a feeding station for your furry friend. Holes on the top hold removable stainless steel bowls, while the inside of the trunk provides storage for kibble.

trunk dog food bowl

Via Pinterest


Top Heavy

Sometimes you find a trunk you just love, but the top isn’t stable enough to be used for an everyday coffee table. Often straps and hardware can get in the way. But a simple wooden top that is stained and sealed against water can be attached to the top of the trunk to make it a functional piece of furniture.

trunk table top

Via BrePurposed


Let it be

And of course, there’s the option to just let your vintage trunk shine all on its own. Often trunks are perfectly functional and beautiful exactly how you find them. In that case, just bring that baby home and enjoy!



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