Monday, November 12, 2012

DIY Leather Trunk Makeover

As promised last week, I'm excited to share with you my latest furniture re-do project. I had so much fun modernizing and beautifying this old leather trunk (which is solidly built but wasn't too attractive), and I must say I love how it turned out! 

The trunk is my husband's--something he received through his military training--and it's about ten years old. It was in our garage, not really being used for anything, and during a few of my other DIY projects I had inadvertently and accidentally splattered paint on the top of it. Even though it wasn't terribly pretty to begin with, this made it worse--and I felt badly because my husband always had a fondness for the trunk.

I asked him if I could redeem myself by making this trunk I'd accidentally mucked up into something beautiful that we could use in our home and see everyday. And he ended up really loving the final result! That made me happy.

The makeover itself was very easy. I cleaned it thoroughly first, and scrubbed the inside with vinegar and let it sit in the sun to get rid of the musty smell inside. The white paint I used was Rustoleum's white spray paint/primer, and I thought it worked beautifully. Spray paint has a little bit of a negative stigma but I think it's ideal for certain projects. I used 4 very thin coats and I let it dry for 10-15 minutes between each coat. The spray paint I used works on metals, wood, fabrics, plastic and more, so I'm confident it was a good choice for the mix of materials in this trunk.

I wanted the leather handles to remain unpainted so I taped them up carefully with painters tape before I began. Once the 4 coats were fully dry, I took off the tape from the handles (and squealed a little because I think they look so great against the white--very vintage and industrial), and began to distress. Using a regular piece of sandpaper I sanded the trunk fairly heavily and also quite randomly, to give it as authentic a look as possible. I focused on the corners and the spots where the leather was already starting to look a little bit roughed up. I was going for a rustic, aged look so I wasn't worried about perfection.

In addition to being such a unique and fun piece I know the storage will certainly come in handy. We haven't put anything inside yet, but I could see it in a living room filled with cozy throws and pillows, as a toy chest in a child's room, at the foot of a bed filled with sweaters and blankets, or as a filing cabinet in a home office. Maybe we'll shuffle it around and use it in all of these ways! I think it's something we'll use and love for a long time.


  1. I can hear you squealing :-))

    1. You've seen me do many a DIY project :)

  2. Eeeeeeee! I LOVE it Kate! Came out just perfect! :-)

  3. Oh, and P.S., I'm a huge fan of the leather handles too...

  4. This looks great! It would look really cool with a floral stencil pattern of some sort on it, too.

    <3 Melissa

  5. I love it..its so shabby chic!!


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