Vintage Suitcase Side Table

Turn a stack of vintage suitcases into a chic side table with just some salvaged furniture legs and a bit of stain.
Don't you just love old suitcases? The look, the feel, the stories...

I do! I love that they have travelled the world and held the cherished possessions of someone special. So... when a friend asked if I could do something with these old suitcases that belonged to her parents I jumped at the chance to make them into a wonderful piece that she could keep forever.

She wanted them to be made into something that she could use in a corner of her Dining Room as a statement piece. Her only "asks" where that they be dark in colour and look like something that had come from a Bombay catalogue. :)
Instead of using traditional paint on the vintage suitcases to make them darker and a little more uniform, I used General Finishes Java Gel Stain to "paint" them. Yep, stain. It was a bit of an experiment since the suitcases were vinyl, but it ended up turning out fantastically!
To stain the suitcases a darker colour (but allow some of the pretty original colours to peek through) I used a sponge brush to paint on the stain and then used a cotton cloth to rub it in. I worked in small areas at a time and the stain adhered beautifully.
To make the vintage suitcases into a side table, I needed to add some legs to give the stack some height. I had been saving some reclaimed wooden legs that fit the bill perfectly!

To attach the legs to the largest suitcase that would serve at the bottom of the stack, I measured and marked off where I wanted the legs to be then drilled holes through the vinyl with a drill bit slightly smaller than the screw on the legs.
The legs were then "screwed" through the holes and a washer and wing nut added on the inside of the suitcase to hold the legs in place.
After the legs had been attached, I gave them a coat of the General Finishes Stain so that they blended in with the stack of suitcases.
To simulate the old leather straps that used to be around suitcases, I made two "straps" out of chocolate coloured ribbon.

The ribbon straps worked perfectly to hold the stack together and added another dimension to the side table.
The hardware on the suitcases was so beautiful and had such a lovely patina that I did nothing to it. It was just too pretty to change.

I am just so in love with these suitcases I hate to give them back!
If only they could tell of the places they have been...

To see more pictures and the directions, visit the full post at...
Recreated Designs
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 8 questions
  • Bernadette Bernadette on Feb 07, 2017
    Hi...great job! How did you treat the hardware? Looks like the handles were stained but the locks and snap closures?

  • Hou6529435 Hou6529435 on Feb 07, 2017
    Did you secure each suitcase to the one on the top/bottom or both to keep them from shifting while in use? Also, is it used for storage?

  • App11635530 App11635530 on Feb 08, 2017
    How do you get rid of the musty smell?

Join the conversation
3 of 175 comments
  • Melody Boling Medlock Melody Boling Medlock on May 13, 2020

    I have held onto an old suitcase for years looking at idea, after idea. This is the only one I have seen that makes me want to do it. The suitcase belonged to my grandparents. It was the very first purchase they made as a married couple. It is still in beautiful condition and I just couldn't see myself using it as a planter, nailing it to a wall or drilling holes in it.

    • Recreated Designs Recreated Designs on May 13, 2020

      I'm so glad you like it Melody and what a lovely keepsake to save from your grandparents! I love it!! I totally agree that when something has so much meaning you hate to not keep it in tact somehow. Have fun!

  • Miriam Miriam on Jan 16, 2022

    My husband and I have always love vintage suitcases. We have been using them for good 30 years as decoration, before they were popular. Some of our friends thought we were crazy and now is supper popular. I use them as end tables, coffee tables even as a tower from big to small in a corner of a room. They are from the 30’s to the 60’s we just love them.