Repurposed flea market finds

Steamer Trunk Makeover

Before makeover, cleaning in my front yard

Vintage steamer trunks are very versatile and have become popular in urban, industrial, shabby chic home decor, including steampunk styling.  I have had one of my own for over 35 years.  Vintage trunks belong at the end of the bed to store blankets or as an end table storing photo albums and scrap books. This one was found as a leftover garage sale item the owner needed to get it gone.  No reason for me to buy it but I did anyway.  Must be I needed a scrubbing project because this was one.

Scraping Off the Fabric

There was some kind of fabric that covered the outside panels.  Using a razor box cutter, putty knife, scrapper and every other tool, the fabric was removed, thread by thread.  Some fabric peeled off in big sheets while other pieces clung onto the trunk for forceful removal.  Next, the wood and metal strappings were wire brushed cleans using Acetone.  Halfway through this process I sincerely doubted what I was doing this for but I kept going.

Wire brushing with Acetone

I really liked the way the wood looked after the fabric was gone.  Clean and bright.  That’s when I decided to try white washing.  With practice I learned to dilute chalk paint then wait until it is 1/2 to 3/4 dry before ragging it off.  It works best on rough sawn wood for sure like pallets are.

Added Knobby Legs

The metal strappings were refreshed using General Finishes Lamp Black, brackets brightened with Rub-N-Buff gold (no studio should be without that stuff), and the wood straps stained.

Steamer Trunk Whitewash Makeover

The first topcoat I used spray lacquer.  Brushing on a topcoat I worried would lift the gold off the brackets and other terrible things.  After the first spray coat, I followed up with brush on Shellac.

YouTube is so helpful for do-it-yourselfers.  On it I found how to line a trunk with spray adhesive, poster board and fabric.

I really like the way it turned out especially with the knobby legs I found at Home Depot for a tremendous $13 EACH including brackets.  Yikes.  Like lipstick, when you need it, you NEED it.  The legs make the trunk modern, chic and a more use-able furniture piece.

Sold it at Antique Mercantile Jackson MI 1-24-2018