Hi everyone, it’s Joan, and I’m back to share a fun diy suitcase makeover. A few weeks ago I hit the scavenging jackpot when I was offered the chance to go thru a pile of props used by a theatre company. The theatre company had housed all their costumes, props, stage accessories…you name it, in an old elementary school. Unfortunately, (or fortunately for me) the school was being demolished and they had to move all their stuff. They had a day to do it.
Most of the props had seen better days but there were a few things that caught my eye including this old vintage suitcase. It was missing the handle, one of the locks didn’t work and it smelled. I love it already!
It was disgustingly dirty and the first order of business was to give him a good scrubbing.
The inside was no better. It smelled like an old unused suitcase (imagine that!)
I know, it’s a shame to rip out that beautiful, orange silky fabric with all the stains and pockets. But I have no shame, and it did smell better already.
Even with the scrubbing, the outside still looked dirty, so I made the executive decision to give him a couple of coats of white chalk paint.
For the inside, a pattern was made of tissue paper to the exact size of the top and bottom of the suitcase.
The pattern was then transferred to a thin plywood and the plywood was cut out with a jigsaw.
The plywood looks better already. It’s not attached yet, just making sure the board fits.
You can still see a lot of the remnants of the glue that held the fabric and some cardboard. The plywood will cover the bottom and top but the sides still need to be cleaned up better. Used a squirt bottle filled with water to wet down the glue and used a putty knife and razor blade to scrape out all the excess. I had no idea that old suitcases were actually made of wood.
If you like, you can leave the plywood as is, paint it, stain it…it’s up to you. I wanted mine covered with fabric.
The wood plywood was used as a pattern to cut the fabric. Doesn’t have to be exact, just leave about an inch and a half on all sides. Do remember to iron your fabric before attaching.
Because the plywood was so thin, I couldn’t staple, used a glue gun instead to attach the fabric. Just like you would cover a chair, work out from the center, pulling tight as you go.
The interior sides were then painted white with a white semi gloss trim paint.
I wanted stripes on the outside so these were measured out…
…and painted. Above, it only has one coat, it did end up needing 2 coats of the yellow.
Two shelves were cut, the exact width of the plywood backer, rough edges were sanded, then they too were painted with the semi-gloss white paint.
The shelves were attached with screws to the back of the plywood.
For the interior of the door, I wanted something to hold necklaces, bracelets, or anything else dangly. Two leftover pieces of trim were cut, about 1/2 inch shorter than the width of the plywood. They, too, were sanded and painted with the semi-gloss white paint, then screwed on from the back to the fabric covered plywood.
The shelves were only held on with screws from the back of the plywood so a couple of finish nails were used to hold the shelf in place. Those holes were then filled and painted.
When all the paint was dry, the outside got a coat of clear wax.
Both panels were attached with builders adhesive (liquid nails) and pressed into position.
The sides of the shelves got a bit of paintable caulk to fill in all the gaps. When the caulk was dry, any areas that still needed it, received a little paint touch up.
Screwed in cup hooks to the trim. If you have longer dangly things, the trim board can be placed higher in the suitcase.
A knob from Hobby Lobby (looks antique doesn’t it?) is attached to the lower corner.
The mirror is a Goodwill find. Was actually looking for a rectangle mirror, when I found this one. Perfect size. The mirror got a coat of black paint then it was also attached with Liquid Nails.
Sorry for all the pictures, sometimes they tell a story far better then I ever could.
Have I inspired you to dig in Grandma’s attic for her old suitcase?
see more of Joan’s projects below: