About This Blog...

I started this blog as a means of promoting my Etsy Shop. Most of the items here I have sold, or are for sale there. Take a peek. I think you'll like it.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Upcycled Wardrobe Trunk


This wardrobe trunk was sitting on the side of the road with a sign reading "free" taped to it.  It looked sad and lonely, but mostly heavy. I wasn't sure what to do with it, but it was too good to pass up.

After sitting in my shed for 6 months (stuffed full of deodorizer packs) I had the idea to make it into a bookcase-slash-storage piece.

The hanger bar and straps on the inside were removed.

The wood shelves were cut down from the salvaged top of an antique buffet that was too far gone to save. Pine strips were nailed in place to hold the shelves while I was working. Sheetrock screws through the sides of the trunk hold them securely in place.

I made some simple feet from some 2x4 blocks and screwed through the bottom of the trunk to attach them.

Removing the hanger bar was a feat! Remember, this trunk was made in a era when things were built to last (can you imagine!) I tried to be gentle, but still managed to make some good sized holes. I wasn't sure that wood filler would have worked so I used caulk. I sanded it down to even it out and lightly sanded the whole trunk so it would take paint better.

Without the hanger bar I didn't need the weird drawer at the top. I took out one drawer from the middle and cut it down with a jig saw and sanded the edge to fit in the top slot.

I gently drilled out the old rivets that held the leather pulls without messing up the wood too much. (mostly)

The bottom bin was too big to be practical, so I cut off the front panel with a jig saw, and then cut it right down the middle on my table saw. I sanded the edges and filled the holes where the pulls attached so I could use them as doors.

The wood of the new doors was too thin to hold the screws for the hinges. I added some pine strips to the edges, so the screws would have something to bite into, and attached them to the trunk.

I mixed up some left over paint I had with a tiny-tiny-tiny bit of water and used it to paint the inside of the trunk and drawers. The water helps the paint to get into the fabric so you don't lose the texture, but it took a least 3 coats to cover.

I bought a belt from salvation army to replace the pulls, made a paper template, cut the piece to length and carefully drilled holes in the leather.

I bought some rivets in an antique brass finish to attach the pulls.

The outside of the trunk was painted gold, and like the inside, it took 3 coats to cover properly.

A brown glaze was painted on and gently wiped off to antique the trunk.

I found some old airline and steam ship labels online, lightly sanded, and stained  them with coffee to antique them, and decoupaged them on the outside. 

This piece was a bit too big for my Etsy shop. (I can't imagine what the shipping cost would be) But it does a great job of taming the mess in the corner of my living room...Oh, and it looks awesome too!


  1. WOW! When I read the first few paragraphs, I didn't think it would work as a bookcase AND look good from a decorative point of view. I was SO wrong (I really should have known better from seeing your other pieces)!! What a fantastic piece! and it fits in so well in the corner with the couches. Awesome work- you have an amazing talent!

  2. We have a steamer trunk sitting in our garage that I have thought several times about doing something similar too but haven't yet found my round tuit. Maybe seeing your rendition will get me in gear.

  3. I am so glad I found you because I just found a trunk and I'm going to upcycle it having not done one before. It's in decent shape but a friend has one that's pretty rough and you are borderline genius with these ideas. Thanks

  4. Hi Scott, it's so good to finally find someone who has done up a wardrobe trunk. All the ones I have seen while searching for renovation information have been chest style trunks. You have done a nice job on yours so 'well done' and thank you for making and posting your blog of information. I am currently doing mine up, I have been on it for about 2 months. Mine is larger and a different style to yours and I plan to try and keep it as close to original as I can. I am also working my way through a blog as I go and plan to post it when completed. It will take me some time but hopefully by 4 months all going well. Seeing yours has inspired me to keep going. So thanks again. I had to laugh as I noticed you have also done some other things like suitcases and beauty cases. I am also into this theme and am about to have a beauty case pin striped with a rockabilly image put to the front. I will check out your other blogs as well. Keep up the great work Cheers Raelene