Vintage Suitcase Side Table

Don’t you just love old suitcases?  The look, the feel, the stories…

I do!  I love that they have travelled the world and held the cherished possessions of someone special.  So… when a friend asked if I could do something with these old suitcases that belonged to her parents I jumped at the chance to make them into a wonderful piece that she could keep forever. vintage suitcase stack before being made into side tableShe wanted them to be made into something that she could use in a corner of her Dining Room as a statement piece.  Her only “asks” where that they be dark in colour and look like something that had come from a Bombay catalogue. 🙂  brushing on general finishes java gel stainInstead of using traditional paint on the vintage suitcases to make them darker and a little more uniform, I used General Finishes Java Gel Stain to “paint” them. Yep, stain.  It was a bit of an experiment since the suitcases were vinyl, but it ended up turning out fantastically!  rubbing on General Finishes Java Gel StainTo stain the suitcases a darker colour (but allow some of the pretty original colours to peek through) I used a sponge brush to paint on the stain and then used a cotton cloth to rub it in.  I worked in small areas at a time and the stain adhered beautifully.  java gel stain on a vintage suitcaseTo make the vintage suitcases into a side table, I needed to add some legs to give the stack some height.  I had been saving some reclaimed wooden legs that fit the bill perfectly!  reclaimed wood furniture legsTo attach the legs to the largest suitcase that would serve at the bottom of the stack, I measured and marked off where I wanted the legs to be then drilled holes through the vinyl with a drill bit slightly smaller than the screw on the legs.  using a drill to make holes in a vintage suitcasehole drilled into vintage suitcase for reclaimed legsThe legs were then “screwed” through the holes and a washer and wing nut added on the inside of the suitcase to hold the legs in place.  attaching legs to vintage suitcaseattaching legs to vintage suitcaseAfter the legs had been attached, I gave them a coat of the General Finishes Stain so that they blended in with the stack of suitcases.  clasp on a vintage suitcaseTo simulate the old leather straps that used to be around suitcases, I made two “straps” out of chocolate coloured ribbon.  ribbon and clasps used to make strapsAfter the straps were in place, I used a little Fusion Antiquing Glaze on the silver clasps to make them look a little less “new”.  I’m telling you… I LOVE that Antiquing Glaze!fusion antiquing glaze on metalThe ribbon straps worked perfectly to hold the stack together and added another dimension to the side table.  ribbon straps on a stack of vintage suitcasesThe hardware on the suitcases was so beautiful and had such a lovely patina that I did nothing to it.  It was just too pretty to change 🙂vintage suitcase stackvintage suitcases stained with General Finishes Java Gel StainI am just so in love with these suitcases I hate to give them back!  vintage suitcase stackIf only they could tell of the places they have been… stack of vintage suitcases made into side table

Update: Since I did this project I have been asked numerous times why the middle suitcase is backwards.  All of the suitcases have a slight angle to their lids and by turning the middle one backwards, it provide the right angle to make the top suitcase completely level.  It also helped to not create a front or back so that the stack could be viewed from all sides.






I have 38 lovely thoughts, I'd love to hear yours

    1. Hi Jean, Yes, the suitcases could definitely be attached together and that would provide some stability. We wanted to keep the suitcases separate though so that they could be opened and used. If you have kids or pets around and are worried about stability, I would definitely secure them to each other.

  1. Love this project! I’ve been wanting to do this for some time now. One question – are you worried about the stability of the bottom of the lowest suitcase where the legs are attached? Did you somehow re-enforce the bottom at the bolts?

    1. Thanks! I used large washers on the inside of the suitcase so that the legs and bolts would stay firmly in place. Other then those, I didn’t use anything and it has held up very well. The suitcases were really stiff though so that helped… it was like threading a screw through wood 😉

  2. Hi there, I have somewhat of an obsession with vintage luggage. I use it as decorative storage throughout my house and I really love your project. Thank you for sharing @Vintage Charm and congratulations ~ you are being featured at tomorrow’s party!

    1. Oh thank you so much Cecilia! Isn’t vintage luggage wonderful?! I sooo want to find some more suitcases and make another one 🙂 Thanks for the feature and I’ll be sure to drop by the party! Hugs, Lisa

    1. I’m with you… I just love both the Fusion Antiquing Glaze and the General Finishes Gel Stain. They are definitely two of my most frequent go to’s and are so versatile! Thanks for stopping by 🙂 Hugs, Lisa

  3. this is a wonderful job, I have a stack of suitcases in my studio with this very intention, and Java is such an awesome colour. You did a great job, I’m sure your friend will be delighted.

    1. Aww thanks Irene! She was definitely delighted to say the least 🙂 She loved them! I would love to see what you do with your suitcases 🙂

    1. Thanks Angelina 🙂 I am so glad I decided to use the stain… it allowed the beautiful stitching to still be seen and some of the original colour to peek through.

    1. 🙂 She was totally thrilled! I sooo wish I could have kept them though 🙂 I am totally in love with the Java gel stain; I have used it on wood quite a few times and now vinyl and have only it’s praises to sing. It’s definitely one of my favourites 🙂

  4. Lisa, I am so in love with this makeover! I love old suitcases and I love that you were able to stain them to look like a set. I have been a bit of a hoarder of suitcases so I think I will try something like this. Thank you so much for sharing how you did this.

    xo Dianne

  5. This is really great! I love how you have painted them the same color t make a unified whole! A wonderful and smart repurpose!!

  6. Okay … I love the way your mind works Lisa! This is such a cool looking piece and that ribbon really does look like leather straps! I may have missed the answer to my next question but I will ask anyways … did you have to seal the finish at all in the end? I hope you have a great weekend!

    1. Haha me too… ok sometimes I like how my mind works… other time I think “did I really think that was a good idea?!” 🙂 I didn’t seal it because I didn’t really find it needed it as the stain adhered and dried really well. You could easily give it a clear coat though… especially if it was going to be used a lot or in a high traffic area. Have a great weekend too 🙂

    1. Isn’t it wonderful when you can use something totally unconventional for something like a side table? I love that you have been doing this for years… they add so much character to a space!

    1. I hope you will take a second look now 🙂 it really was not difficult and the impact is so lovely! Thanks for pinning and stopping by. Hugs, Lisa

  7. That is so creative! I love that you made them brown. I was thinking to add old suitcases to my living room niches above the fireplace and I am glad to know that it doesn’t matter what color I find, I can make them what I want. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Carolyn! It was a bit of an experiment to use the stain on the vinyl but it turned out beautifully and I would definitely do it again to change the colour of something 🙂

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