Asked on Jan 07, 2015

Re-purposing a metal trunk

Margaret Senn
by Margaret Senn
I have an old metal trunk that I want to upcycle to a coffee table. I plan to add small wheels, but was not sure how to paint the outside or re-do the inside. It has leather handles that are in poor shape too.
Outside of the trunk
  14 answers
  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Jan 07, 2015
    I had one with chipped and missing reddish paint that someone else had probably painted with some initials and a couple of stickers.. I just coated it with poly. Don't worry about the leather handles being in poor shape - it adds to the character. No one will see the inside but if you want to keep close to the original, I'd just poly so it's clean for storage. If you want to paint the outside, just use a metal paint or a combo of colours - lots to chose from, and some have texture such as a hammered finish.
  • Margaret Senn Margaret Senn on Jan 07, 2015
    Thanks good ideas. I posted a couple pictures.
    • See 4 previous
    • Brenda LeCloux Brenda LeCloux on Jan 09, 2015
      I only did the outside inside was nice.
  • Scott Valentine Scott Valentine on Jan 08, 2015
    Trunks and suitcases are my favorite things to upcycle. Check out my blog.
  • Jeri Estep Jeri Estep on Jan 08, 2015
    The inside can be lovely if you cover with new fabric
  • We specialize in repurposing all sorts of vintage items... Your trunk is great and would make a great coffee table. We make steel corner legs that bring the trunk up of the floor about 6 inches -- any height you need. If we can help let us know. You would just drill some holes and bolt them on -- very simple. Or the legs can be welded to a steel frame and all then sits on the frame.
    • Margaret Senn Margaret Senn on Jan 08, 2015
      @The little white barn co. Thanks the foundation that i am donating this to specifically asked for wheels. but i will keep you in mind because i have a lot of trunks and suitcases to re-purpose.
  • Lindcurt Lindcurt on Jan 08, 2015
    Renovator's Supply has replacement handles. Google it. It's on line.
  • Diane Lynch-Berland Diane Lynch-Berland on Jan 09, 2015
    I have one also...I want to re-purpose for a coffee table! Mine is an old military trunk!
    • See 4 previous
    • Diane Lynch-Berland Diane Lynch-Berland on Jan 09, 2015
      @Margaret Senn I can think of 2 ways, keep it neutral or go for an eye catching color-an accent color! I LOVE LOVE the idea about covering it in family photos. At the end of last year I had gone through photos sorting and what not and pulled out a few that I would really like to display, thanks! I love this! Now getting to it is another story. I just finished painting the entire ceiling in my house. Now I am on to the living rm & dining rm walls-after that onto to the coffee table! so it may be a wee bit since weekends are so very short!
  • Lindcurt Lindcurt on Jan 09, 2015
    You might try for trunk repair parts. Renovator's supply used to have a lot of stuff but do not appear to have so much anymore. But it is a great recource for reproduction hardware.
  • Margaret Senn Margaret Senn on Jan 15, 2015
    thank you everyone for the help. once i finish it i will post a picture.
  • Margaret Senn Margaret Senn on Mar 17, 2015
    Finished the trunk. Painted the outside black, highlighted some of the metal with a bronze leaf paint. And decoupaged monopoly money to the inside.
  • Lindcurt Lindcurt on Mar 18, 2015
    Awesome, A chest full of money:)
  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Dec 20, 2022


    Wallpaper the inside or line with fabric . Use Canvas on outside and and paint framework tan.