Great Grandma's Steamer Trunk

Lisa Yax Sayers
by Lisa Yax Sayers
1 Material
2 Days
My mother gave me my Great Grandmother's steamer trunk, which is about 120 years old. I wanted to just spruce it up and get rid of the musty smell. Mission accomplished!
The trunk is covered in canvas which I lightly sanded in places where paint had been splattered on it.
Both the drawer and the trunk itself were lined with paper. This is what was holding the musty smell.
I used a mixture of white vinegar and water to spray the paper. Let it sit and then scraped it off. It was a simple process. And did the job pretty well!
After removing paper I lightly sanded and gave the drawer and inside a coat of shellac! Smell gone!
I used Java Gel stain to give some life back to the outside of the trunk! Here you can see the lower panel, where I already applied the stain, compared to the top panel. I applied the stain everywhere!
Gave it a light coat of a satin, water based sealer.
And looks perfect in my guest room. I love it's look and it works as great storage.
Before and After
Suggested materials:
  • 120 sandpaper, vinegar, shellac, Java Gel Stain, satin sealer,
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3 of 12 comments
  • Emily Emily on Aug 18, 2017
    Hi Lisa, your trunk is not a steamer trunk unless it stands on one end and has drawers and a hanging place. Your trunk looks like a very nice serviceable vintage/antique trunk.

  • Kathie Epeneter Kathie Epeneter on Apr 07, 2019

    Your trunk project is exactly the look I want for mine! Wonderful inspiration!

    As you'll see, I'm starting with rotten red.