that time I forgot to take pictures of my trunk project

so I have this trunk…a $30 craigslist find from 6 years ago that’s recently been given a whole new life. But as the title of this post suggests, I did indeed forget to take pictures of the entire project till the very very end—an egregious error I’ll be sure not to make again (though I do hope you keep reading cause it was a super cool project)!

I started with a vintage steamer trunk (circa 1930 from the Horn Luggage Co.), which you can see was a slightly putrescent yellowish green all over. (I didn’t paint the bottom panel specially so I could show you this later—jk, I just didn’t feel like it was worth it since no one will ever see it. and i know you can't tell in the pic, but it really does have a greenish tint) The inside was basically just covered in tattered brown/gold paper. I don’t remember where I saw it, but someone online mentioned putting legs on her steamer trunk to turn it into a storage trunk for the foot of her bed. Lightbulb! I have one of those! And so it began.
In the tutorial I saw, she just spray-painted the whole thing, but I knew from the start I wanted to save the original metal framework and leather straps. Thus, I took a tiny brush and went to work by hand. To save you from what could be an extremely long write-up (and still was in the end–sorry), imagine a stop motion film project run-down with these bullets:
  • two coats of hand painted light grey paint, then stare at it a while realizing there’s no going back
  • slight rub-down with a bar of dove soap for distressing later (this is a great tip I read somewhere online—since the paint doesn’t adhere well to the soap, you can sand the top layer off more easily later)
  • trip to lowes to find historically accurate blues & two coats of hand painted slate blue
  • a thorough going-over with coarse and fine sanding blocks (more so in the predestined soap areas)
  • step back and be happy…then realize it needs more aging which results in another trip to lowes to get Minwax English chestnut wood stain
  • wood stain wash all the painted panels – To do this I brushed on the stain with a 99¢ bristle brush then used an old rag to rub most of it off. I did this several times, letting it sit longer in corners till I got an nice chestnut wash over everything. This really brought out a warmer tone to the paint and gave it a nice authentically-aged look.
  • two coats of hand painted polyurethane on painted panels (satin finish, water based) then a what-the-hey mentality resulting in two coats also to the metal framework and leather straps (an excellent idea in the end!)
  • cover the entire inside with cute leftover contact paper (compliments of my sister and shown in pics below)
  • back to lowes to figure out how to get the legs on. Since the trunk’s panels aren’t solid wood (some kind of wood, chipboard, veneer business), I needed something more substantial on the inside for the leg brackets to grab on to. Trusty lowes guy suggested adding some cedar planks (which will also help keep out bugs later).
  • measure and buy cedar planks and wood glue, assemble in bottom of trunk
  • buy legs and brackets (6” or 4” legs, that is the question…4” in the end), stain legs with same English chestnut from wash, two coats of same satin polyurethane
  • bribe friend at work with a drill to come help install the brackets (holla to Doug!)
  • screw in the legs and add some extra floor scratch protector stickies
  • turn it over and marvel at my Frankenstein-esque creation!
And that’s all she wrote…well, mostly. It seems like the world’s longest project, but it was really fun to do knowing that it’s going to last a long time now and turned out exactly the way I wanted it to. Plus, its short stumpy legs make it look like it’s squatting, or fat…I’m naming him Boris... Boris the Blanket Chest.

If you’ve read this far I applaud you and if you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them…just shoot me a comment! In the meantime, I’ll be staring at my trunk with glee and ignoring the 8 other projects already piled up on my craft desk.

1 comment:

Thanks so much for your comment! I really love reading them and look forward to hearing what you have to say!