Asked on Jan 29, 2016

HELP!! What to do with this old wicker chest?

by Carol
I've had this chest for about 20 years now. I've always kept my children's keepsakes in it and want to continue to do so but between the kids and a cat years ago, it is dire need of new covering. The base is some kind of board that's rough with groves in it so I don't think it would look good painted. Maybe cover in fabric? I need some ideas please!
  41 answers
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Jan 29, 2016
    Looks like a nice trunk. You cannot beat the old trunks. I think putting fabric on the trunk is a great idea. I do not know if you know how to to this so I found this post. See what you think.
    • Carol Carol on Jan 29, 2016
      Thank You Janet Pizaro! No can't beat it. It's been moved so many times and is still well put together
  • GrandmasHouseDIY GrandmasHouseDIY on Jan 29, 2016
    Fabric or, perhaps maybe wall paper? There is also the option of the plastic tiles that look like those beautiful old ceiling tiles and those you can just glue on, we used them for our backsplash in our kitchen and love them :) You could also paint them then after you covered it.
  • Barbara Barbara on Jan 29, 2016
    If you want to maintain a vintage look to your trunk, you might want to think about recovering it in burlap or grass cloth. Personally, I'd do burlap in a soft brown. You will need some batting and for furniture, I'd suggest poly batting in a queen bed size for quilts. Spray on adhesive, affix the batting and then spray the adhesive to the batting before layering on the fabric of your choice. Use a staple gun to attach to the corner and pull fabric taut across to each corner stapling again. You can find very detailed tutorials on youtube and pinterest for complete instructions. I wouldn't cover the under side but I might consider putting small bun feet (available at Home Depot or Lowes) on it to keep it off the floor. Clearly you will need to remove the hardware (except hinges) before beginning the project and then reattach when you are finished. It's a lovely trunk and worth salvaging. I have one that isn't a woven fabric, and I'm doing the same thing, covering with padding and fabric for a unique accent piece in our home.
    • Carol Carol on Jan 29, 2016
      Thank You Barbara! I like the grass cloth look and really love the idea of putting legs on it. I've tried cleaning it with no success
  • Cathy Cathy on Jan 29, 2016
    I would cut/trim damaged area. Glue edges secure to stop pealing. Purchase upholstering material or marine vinyl in pattern or color desired. Cut material large enough to fit/cover damaged area with an extra 1/4 inch all around. Sew material edges 1/4 in. all around. Using glue, sticky tac to cover damaged area. Batting is optional. I'd use a material that blends with décor of home. To enhance patch work, use a natural rope trim & frame the patch out with glue. Then create a star, or design in the middle out of same trim chosen. Ta LA!. Brass corners are also available in hardware home store that you can put on all edges & wheels on bottom to ease wear & tear. Put Glass or plexi glass on the top to fit edge to edge. :-) That's what I would do. Best of luck!!
  • Dbinla Dbinla on Jan 29, 2016
    You could remove the lid, clean up the damaged part, hang it over a door or on a wall, damaged side up, for extra storage. Great for towels in the bathroom, patio cushions, toys, decor items. Great way to make for more floor room.
  • Dayna Barnes Dayna Barnes on Jan 29, 2016
    Perhaps a really nice vinyl-type fabric? That way it would be liquid-repellent and easy to clean. Something like this (but maybe a different colour/pattern):
  • CK CK on Jan 29, 2016
    I understand the sentimental aspect to this chest. However, sometimes ya gotta ask yourself something my dad asks me when I try to fix something: "How long have you had it? Well, maybe it's done its work and now it doesn't owe you anything." In other words sometimes the work/expense needed to fix it might warrant getting something new to hold your family's special treasures.
    • See 2 previous
    • Carol Carol on Jan 29, 2016
      @Connie, you are correct about the thicker paper and I'll post an updated picture. Now off to stress over wallpaper design lol
  • Cindi Cindi on Jan 30, 2016
    If you like you could strip off the old burlap just from the front, sides & back (leave burlap on the top) and paint or stain around the entire chest. Place the removed burlap aside ...... find yourself an oval picture frame and staple burlap on the back of the frame, adhere the framed burlap to the front of the chest. You could monogram initials on the burlap before adhering it to the front of the chest. Would be a nice accent and still leave the top intact. What do you have to lose ? I think it would worth the effort
    • Carol Carol on Jan 30, 2016
      Thank you! I was looking for a accent piece and that's a great idea
  • Julia Sipe Bentley Julia Sipe Bentley on Jan 30, 2016
    Could you possibly use the woven material from the top and replace the top woven material with a nice cushion?
  • Elizabeth Elizabeth on Jan 30, 2016
    Since your top looks in fairly good condition, I would first remove or tape off the corner hardware and paint the top a solid color ( preferably a shade of white). Then with a razor knife I would remove all the lower portion of wicker. Replace the lower portion with your choice of whimsical fabric. Trim with ribbon or binding tape around edges. Replace corner pieces and voila.....a new storage space.
  • Angel Angel on Jan 30, 2016
    I think you should try to buy some of those inexpensive oriental look carpet runners and use those to upholster it at least on the bottom. If you decide to do the top you could use naugahide or denim for a nice contrast.
  • Sheri L. Putnam-Cline Sheri L. Putnam-Cline on Jan 30, 2016
    Might make a good decoupage project.
  • Marie Alesi Caruana Marie Alesi Caruana on Jan 30, 2016
    Would not change the top at all. Replace the lower portion with heavyweight fabric, paint or stain as cindi suggests or glue on wood slats.
  • Juanita J Juanita J on Jan 30, 2016
    I can just see the beauty here, and I would cut out the offended area, then replace the offended area with some fine weave burlap. It might take two or three pieces to make the offended area match the rest of it. Then I would spray paint it a lovely shade of light teal, covering up the fastenings of course. Then I would old paint the fasteners a high gloss gold. Then I would print out some travel/country names, ie Paris, Italy, etc. and decoupage them to the chest in various areas. It looks stunning in my mind and I can't wait to see it!
  • Celeste Celeste on Jan 30, 2016
    Strip the bottom half and recover with fabric and paint the lid a complimentary color
  • Dot D Collett Dot D Collett on Jan 30, 2016
    I like the woven rush matting. New trim (Metal?) maybe slightly wider at the edges where it exists now and at (around) the corners (where the cats scratch) would look great. The tear could be woven together. The mats cleaned and resealed or painted.
  • Barbara Barbara on Jan 30, 2016
    Remove hardware, take off straw and trim. Purchase nagahyde for bottom and durable print cotton duck cloth for top. I would use furniture tacks on bottom but original hardware on top. Also adding feet or rollers
  • Johnchip Johnchip on Jan 30, 2016
    Ouch! Time to let it go. Move on.
  • Sue Asher Sue Asher on Jan 30, 2016
    What about using some metal sashing (copper or tin) over the length of the top of the bottom covering the tear. Replace the clasp over the metal. Upholstery tacks and a stain would complete an industrial look. OR you could use sisal rope wrapped around the top and the bottom where they come together covering the tear. Hey Rankin! I grew up in Crane!
  • Lynn Lynn on Jan 30, 2016
    you could also use the best parts of the bottom, make squares of them and frame with dollar store frames. that way you will be keeping as much of the original as you can.
  • Linda Y Linda Y on Jan 30, 2016
    For a quick cheap fix cover with embossed wallpaper and rub coloured wax polish onto it to match or contrast the colour of the top, that would also be easily redone if the cats have another go!
  • Carol Carol on Jan 30, 2016
    Keep the top and decoupage the bottom with old post cards and written letters from antique store or estate sale. Could be hard to find. I saw one done like this and it was lovely.
  • Sandra Allen Sandra Allen on Jan 30, 2016
    I would get some old jeans from a thrift store and cut them in strips. Trim back the edged of the torn wicker, then, start in the back with hot glue and wrap them around the bottom. Then, paint the top a lighter blue, darker blue, or yellow...a complimentary color. To bring them together, I would make a small and larger "patch" of denim, glue it on, then do "stitches" with fabric paint that share half on the denim and half on the paint. This will look like an old fashioned patch on the jeans. Good luck!!
  • Lynn Palmatier Lynn Palmatier on Jan 30, 2016
    You have many good ideas here, but I am going to give you another to thinks about. Being unsure of your experience in doing DIY projects, you can checking your fabric center or and see if you have an fabric outlet that carries either grass rugs or rolls of woven grass. I worked in a store that used to get grass rugs for summer use. A decent size rug could provide enough footage to cover the sides of your chest. You may also think of pvc vinyl fabric like they use on outdoor furniture. There is also indoor outdoor rugs that could provide something to put on the sides. Chances are you will need to use a good straight edge and a carpet knife to cut the rug items. You definitely should check a fabric store if they have any ideas or sources for pvc fabrics... Just something to think about. Alot depends on the construction of the chest itself. some are definitely thicker than your grass mat look, Your top looks in pretty good shape and can be a textured top to a flatter/smoother side. Also check online for woven wicker/rattan edging. Hope this gives you something else to consider.... Use you creativity. Let us know what the final outcome is...
  • DORLIS DORLIS on Jan 30, 2016
    I like blujeans for anything for kids, they can take a lot more rough treatment. If you decide you want something different the strips can be removed. I also like the idea of textured wallpaper. I have seen some very nice projects with this. Search Pinterest and Hometalk.
  • Kathy Bitzan Kathy Bitzan on Jan 30, 2016
    Lynn P and I had he same thoughts on finding the grass looking mats or maybe a fabric of your choice would be great. Show it off when you get it done. I sure would like to see it. Looks like a great chest.
  • Wendy Barden Wendy Barden on Jan 30, 2016
    Cut off the broken parts along the bottom . Paint that wood in Your Color Choice . Leave the top alone if it still looks good and flip that baby on the side and add shelves inside . It can be a cute accent storage or if You do a Christmas Theme you can display items with the door open : }'s
  • Debbie Kuhar Debbie Kuhar on Jan 30, 2016
    If you want it to look classy, why not do it in vinal or leather. But some fancy thumb tacks & have them all over to hold the what ever material you want to put on.
  • Susan Bechamp Susan Bechamp on Jan 30, 2016
    Pick up a Japanese tatami mat (or two depending on size of your trunk). Use the tatami mat to cover the body of the trunk. These mats usually have fabric binding at the edges. The mats can be clear coated to protect them and make them more washable.
  • Verna Mae Schlueter Verna Mae Schlueter on Jan 31, 2016
    maybe add some bamboo trim to cover damaged area?
    comment photo
  • Cindi Cindi on Jan 31, 2016
    Well, I'd say this wicker has seen better days, and unless you replaced it all, I would think it would be hard to match. I think I would cut out the whole side that is chewed up, and the other side to match, and replace with wood, or the bamboo idea sounds nice, then paint the rest, since it's stained so bad, just make a whole new chest out of it.
  • Duv310660 Duv310660 on Jan 31, 2016
    I thought of fabric, wall paper or anaglypta (embossed wallpaper) on the bottom; see if you can clean the top well enough to do an all-over stencil (so pretty on tight wicker like this - try a gel-stain if the colour of the top is too uneven.
  • Kaytedec Kaytedec on Jan 31, 2016
    What does the back look like? Can you take the lid off and turn it around, then the funky side will face the wall. You can still stain or paint it, cand add feet.
  • Elizabeth Aldam Elizabeth Aldam on Feb 01, 2016
    I would try to cover the damaged part with some similar material and then cover the whole thing with a nice fabric.
  • Merri Jo Ounan Merri Jo Ounan on Feb 01, 2016
    Cover with batting and then staple fabric so it's a padded chest? I'd use something dark or sturdy that won't get soiled easily. Burlap would be sturdy. Spray it with some kind of Scotchguard.
  • Maci jolley Maci jolley on Mar 16, 2019

    Wow! I have exact trunk. Identical. Found it at the end of someone drivewAy on trash night. I snatched it up quickly.

  • Deb Deb on Mar 16, 2019

    Cut off the leg of a old pair of pants. Do the same to a pair of pantyhose. Stuff the pantyhose with poly fill, paper towels. Grocer bags , newspapers, anything you have to fill in the foot and leg. Tie it shut at the top. Put a shoe and suck on the foot and the pant leg on to cover the leg. Then stuff it in the hole . Make it look like some one trying to get out. Then add travel stickers from all over the world. A nice thick rope tied around it would be fun to. If someone asks just say it’s crazy uncle Harry. He doesn’t talk much.

  • Reblcant Reblcant on Mar 16, 2019

    There are some great ideas to use grass cloth or burlap. Putting the bun feet n it would be nice touch. I'm wondering if you can use somekind of wood stain on the top? Then do a gras cloth on bottom I'm thinking the grass cloth may be a little challenging to do on the top.

    Don't replace the trunk with something new or take it apart; it's your memory chest and a trunk is always useful storage either for old memories or new!

  • Michelle Bryant Kolb Michelle Bryant Kolb on Nov 13, 2019

    I have this exact problem with a white wicker covered trunk! Could you possibly post pictures?? I would love to see how it turned out.



  • Rachel Johnson Rachel Johnson on Jun 17, 2020

    What is the brand of this trunk??? I had one exactly like it when I was little and ive been trying so hard to find another one. The metal corners and latch are the exact same. Ours was white and matched our 90s wicker bedroom. Please let me know if you can. I dont have many things left from my childhood so it would mean a lot to me.

  • Jan Jan on Jul 30, 2023

    I love the responses as I too have an old wicker trunk. The inside is still in great shape, the wheels need changed out,, and, the wicker is tired. Iw that I am retired I have time to fool with it