What to do with old trunks?

by Wendy
I have 3 old trunks, that I would like to be more functional, any ideas?
  20 answers
  • Deb Farrenkopf Deb Farrenkopf on Jul 24, 2016
    I have an old trunk that belonged to my grandfather. I use it to store linens, sheets, blankets, etc.
  • Kathy Radford Kathy Radford on Jul 24, 2016
    I use one in the bathroom for sheets and blankets. They also make excellent coffee tables in the living room and provide great storage as well. I love the wood on them and use a furniture oil on them.
  • Linda Baker Linda Baker on Jul 24, 2016
    I have done over several and have 9 more to go. I take clorox and soap and water and strip everything off the inside of it unless it has some real good paper labels on the inside. Take the drawer out if it has one and clean it too. Then spray it with a water hose. Set it in the sun and let it dry. Then I take some pre-quilted fabric of your choice, and with wall paper paste, I line the trunk, starting with the sides. Do the sides first and then at the back top, take the fabric and bring it down the back, across the bottom and then up the front side. This way you can tuck the edges in the corners and cover up everything from the sides. Because I was doing some trunks over for special people, I cross-stitched the birthday or anniversary, wedding, etc. for the top. I sewed the cross stitch on top of the fabric, squaring it nicely in the center. Then I took a nice trim from the fabric store and glued that all around the edges, including the edges of the cross stitch. Let it dry and it will be beautiful. Because you never know where or what this trunk has been thru, get it clean and smelling nice before you proceed. That's it!
  • Nick Nick on Jul 24, 2016
    I'll take one
  • Terra Gazelle Terra Gazelle on Jul 24, 2016
    Its depends on if they are flat tops or rounded and what size. I Have one at the foot on my bed as a blanket chest, and a place to sit...I have one as a place to store fabric....I want one for a coffee table... I have seen really cute repainted ones in a child's room as a toy box.
  • Alixe Young Alixe Young on Jul 24, 2016
    If the trunk is the right height use it as a coffee table -it will be great to store stuff too -you can leave it natural or get a piece of acrylic to cover it for a level suface - and it can be painted if it works better for you
  • Laurie Kilts Laurie Kilts on Jul 24, 2016
    Lots of ideas - the coffee table is good, but jazz it up with industrial wheels and if the trunk isn't quality wood paint it a nice deep charcoal gray, very chic! you can also turn the trunk on its' side and use it as a shelf with a very cool door, another trick if the top isn't the best build it up with 2x4's and fill w/ some river rocks and faux succulents - top with an old window or piece of glass, looks awesome! You can also decopouge it, with paper (scrapebooking or pages out of an old book/dictionary or???) or materiral, depending on your taste you can go from very masculine burlap to a cottage French writing motif, all can look quite elegant! Play with (of course depending on finsih status) stains/paint and w When is you're post-op appt.? waxes too, develop unique patinas, mix other elements such as mosaic, copper piping, etc, the unexpected always works. You could also mount a mirror to the top and mount on a wall as a cabinet, or fix the top so it stays permanently open and deck out the inside as an awesome pet bed, oh and..........
    • Mar8791369 Mar8791369 on Jan 02, 2017

      love this idea , wish I had a trunk. I used on old coffee found at curb and turned into a bench at end of bed. table was in perfect condition . my hubby just helped me put batting stapled on it and I added material to top. looks great

  • Sparkles Sparkles on Jul 25, 2016
    I would love to see pictures of all the different ways everyone has described. they all sound beautiful.
  • Karen Carl Karen Carl on Jul 26, 2016
    I've seen a few on "Flea Market Flips" where they have put wheels on the bottom and made a table as suggested. They also turned it on end and make a beverage cabinet out of it. My sister in law used one for storing her Christmas decorations in her basement family room.
  • Linda Baker Linda Baker on Dec 17, 2016

    No, I would not put clothes or quilts directly next to the cedar. It is wood and can make brown marks that you probably can never remove. I quilt and I know what old quilts look like when they were exposed to wood. Just my opinion. I had a cedar chest and found stains on some of my stuff. I sold it.

    • Terra Gazelle Terra Gazelle on Jan 08, 2017

      I have a Lane Blanket Chest that is lined with cedar..it has left no stains on anything. I also have a 100+ year old cedar wardrobe that I have used with no staining.

  • Kj Kj on Dec 21, 2016

    If you have a dome top, you could remove the top, replace it with an old (shabby chic) wooden window frame, seal it and use it as a coffee table, with storage. Along that line you could do they same thing but put various sized succulent potted plants in it, a living window table or coffee table. If you have a window alcove, like in a cape dormer, buy or make a nice comfy cushion with a plywood backing, slide the trunk in, and create a nice window seat. You could even take out a front panel, cut it down so you can make shelves for books, stuffed animals, etc.

    My mom would strip them down, inside and out, give a good scrubbing to the inside, then wallpaper the inside to give a nice clean look. I use an old tool chest which has been cleaned, rewallpapered, and refinished for keeping blankets clean and handy for those cold New England nights.

    if the condition of the trunks are not great, use them in a garden to create height for potted plants and as a focal point.

    Good luck sorting out all the great suggestions folks have made!

  • Mar8791369 Mar8791369 on Dec 23, 2016

    I used an old trunk for storage at the end of our bed! Clean it out thoroughly and let dry in sun. Mine was in good shape so just left as is and place an antique quilt over it. Good luck

  • Karen Rae Lvine Karen Rae Lvine on Dec 26, 2016

    Here are some suitcase and trunk ideas I've been saving. Please let us know what you come up with!


  • Jean C Andrews Jean C Andrews on Jan 05, 2017

    As for me, I would leave the trunk just as it is, because painting it or restoring it would make the value go down. If it is in really bad shape, I might think a little different; but keep as much in its original condition as you can.

  • Pat Pat on Jan 06, 2017

    I have 3 trunks, I stacked them smaller on top. Added big labels with twine to secure. Then placed silk plants & lamp on top. This created a LOT of storage for quest bed spare blankets & pillows, hide-a-bed linens, BIG 1st Aid items and other medical stuff I didn't want to get rid of but didn't need access to (hope to NEVER again!).

  • Linda Linda on Jan 06, 2017

    I have a trunk I found at the curb a few years ago [the woman at the house looked at me like I was crazy, lol].....but I washed it out, and repainted the inside white, and added decoupage cut outs [antique looking, of course]....then I took a pretty floral wrapping paper and adhered that to the outside, with dark green painted trim where the metal trim was in need of a spruce up. I would love to get my trunk up on casters....I use it as a coffee table, but it interferes with where my toes need to be! It's time for a re-do.....so maybe I will take someone's suggestion and paint it grey! Also, make sure that you don't need everyday access to what is stored inside....anything you have on the top is a nuisance to move! My trunk has my computer on it, lol!

    • See 1 previous
    • Linda Linda on Jan 18, 2017

      That's a good idea, too! I just would like to be able to move it to make more floor space when I need it, since my living room is very small!

  • Mar8791369 Mar8791369 on Jan 07, 2017

    Didn't have an old trunk but this coffee table was sitting at the curb. solid and just had some doggie chew marks on one end, wasn't sure what I was going to do with it but knew I wanted it. So, sanded down lightly and place thick batting on top and stapled underneath where it wouldn't show (hubby helped with this part holding it taught while I used staple gun. had some pretty cotton fabric in my stash and stapled that over batting and hello, using at the end of an antique bed! It even has a small drawer built in. What do u think?

  • Terra Gazelle Terra Gazelle on Jan 08, 2017

    I bought an over sized trunk at an action and it is now on my porch used as a firewood box.

    I have one at the end of my bed. Its oriental and carved with the same flowers that I have on a antique scarf I have over it from the early 18 cen.

    I have one I am going to tip on its side. I plan on putting shelves in to use for a wine bar..holding glasses and wines. That's the plan anyway.

  • Judy Judy on Jan 09, 2017

    At one time I used my inherited trunk as a display for antiques and collectables. I just kept the lid up, covered the "tray" with lace doilies, and put my favorites on the tray as well as inside the open lid. I still used the bottom of the trunk for blanket storage. Times changed, and now I also use it for linen storage at the foot of the bed.

  • April Monaco April Monaco on Jan 10, 2017

    I used one I got for free that had no top to put shoes and boots inside my front door in, it has awesome character and so I didn't do anything to it but trim up the edges so it looked finished off, other than that it is "itself" and neatens my entryway a bunch!