Showing posts with label repurposed. Show all posts
Showing posts with label repurposed. Show all posts

Thursday, February 17, 2022

DIY Vintage Suitcase Coffee Table

Vintage Suitcase Coffee Table

I have loved old chests and trunks since my childhood.  Now that I qualify as vintage myself, I take an even greater delight in finding, and transforming, items that have a story older than my own.  Perhaps it is nostalgia.  Whatever it is, I am always on the lookout for something with an interesting history.

This DIY project actually began in the aisles of my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore (a nonprofit I enthusiastically support).  As a rescuer at heart, I couldn't let a battered metal traveling case sit there abandoned and unwanted.  There was no doubt in my mind that an item with plenty of mileage on it had interesting stories to tell, that it had more than proven its worth, and that it should be given the chance to be useful once more.  I laid down my five dollars and started imagining what that chest could become.

These metal trunks were in use during the 1940s and 1950s.

Any search on Pinterest will show you that DIYers are pretty gung-ho about converting antique trunks, chests, and suitcases into all kinds of cool furniture pieces.  You can also find a number of these reclaimed treasures being sold on Etsy.  This is a popular trend with staying power.  I can't imagine these vintage pieces ever going out of vogue.

Top of Trunk - Mostly Surface Scratches in the Paint


Bottom of Trunk Had Seen Better Days


Inside of Case - Paper Lining - Perfume Spills

You can see from the "before" pics that I had my work cut out for me.  As is common with these old metal cases, there was a good deal of rust to contend with, and the inside paper lining was spotted in places (smelling, thankfully, of perfume).  The first order of business was to remove the surface rust with abrasive pads.  I didn't want to lose the character and patina of age, so I was careful to remove only the top layer of corrosion.  A person can ruin a good antique by doing too much restoration.


Removing Rust - Power Drill Abrasive Pad

Dremel Abrasive Buff - Perfect in Tight Spots

The rust had created a distressed metal effect that artisans work hard to achieve.


Trunk Lid Primed With Spray Paint

To deal with the minor stains inside the trunk, I painted over the paper lining.  I could have attempted to strip out the paper, but the likelihood of getting all of it removed without creating a bigger mess was too great.  I knew the primer would not only cover the stains, but would make the trunk smell clean and fresh.  Once the paint coats were dry, I sprayed a clear matte acrylic sealer over them.  


New Liner - Tissue Paper Decoupage

In determining a decorative finish for the interior, I considered several options: stenciling a design, applying a decoupage treatment, lining with fabric, using decorative stick-on tiles, or inserting a thin cork liner. I decided to go with a lovely tissue paper decoupage (using a matte Mod Podge finish).

Towards the end of the project, I changed my mind about the exterior finish. Originally, my intent was to simply sand the finish and leave it with a wire brushed finish. That would have worked for my rustic cabin decor. However, once I decided to sell this piece, I felt a freshly painted finish would be more appealing to potential buyers. I used Rust-Oleum Chalked Spray Paint (in a neutral linen white) and then gave the trim a light distressing with fine grit sand paper.

After Pic - Suitcase Coffee Table Transformation

I could see the finish line in sight as I attached four hairpin legs to the bottom of the trunk.  Because the metal skin on the case is very thin, I reinforced the bottom interior of the trunk (essentially creating a false bottom).  This provided the added stability and thickness needed to bolt the legs securely to the case.

Would I tackle a project like this again?  Absolutely!  It's not easy to walk away from a vintage item needing some TLC.  Besides, these chests are iconic and incredibly versatile.  Not only will someone gain a unique conversational piece, but this suitcase is a great place to store things like remote controls, or dreams of future travel.

This coffee table and I now share our own unique story.  Sometimes, in quiet moments, I feel transported as I imagine where it has previously been, what it carried, and who might have packed and unpacked it time and time again.  I find myself composing little vignettes about the Sisterhood of the Traveling Case.  Pretty good entertainment for the price of a five-dollar admission. 









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Thursday, September 2, 2021

DIY Cable Spool Cat Scratching Post

 

Stenciled Cable Spool

I'm that person who can't pass up an abandoned cable spool.  When I saw this little spool, I knew it wanted to go home with me.  So, I adopted it, spiffed it up, and gave it a new life.  Here's how to turn a cable spool into a cat scratching post or mini table for your porch or patio.  


Recycled Cable Spool

Step 1: Pick up a small spool anywhere wires or cables are used or sold.  I found this one at a big box home improvement store.


Spool Parts Ready for Prepping

Step 2: Separate the parts in preparation for sanding, painting, and finishing the wood.  All I had to do was unscrew the top bolts to release the three sections.


Sanding the Spool

Step 3: Sand the spool's top and bottom wood sections.

Step 4: Decide how you want to treat the wood.  I chose to lightly torch the wood to accent the grain and give it nice warm tones without stain.


Sealing the Wood - Spar Urethane

Step 5: Seal the wood and cardboard spool parts with an indoor/outdoor Spar Urethane.  I used a spray application to make it quick and easy (and fast-drying).  


Boho Medallion Stencil

Step 6: Decorate the spool top if desired.  I happened to have the perfect sized stencil (Boho Medallion) on hand for another project.  I chose to use a charcoal colored chalk spray paint that was a lovely balance to the natural wood (and a match with the metal spool bolts).  


Sisal Rope Wound Around Spool

Step 7: Reassemble the spool.  Wrap sisal rope around the cylinder.  It took a little bit more than 50-feet of 3/8" sisal.  


Recycled Cable Spool (After)

This was a really enjoyable DIY project.  Though I imagine using this recycled spool as a scratching post for my rescue cats, I can also see using it as a small end table on my porch.  I'm picturing it as a coffee table situated next to my Adirondack chair, or as a sweet little piece of furniture for the catio I'm building.

Who says it has to have only one use?  How do you envision it?  I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments below.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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