DIY Trunk Restoration

Updated: Sep 26, 2019

I picked up this gem of a trunk at a yard sale for 7$. While I don't know the exact history of this particular one, they were known as 'foot lockers' and typically used by folks in the military to store personal belongings. If you're able to score yourself one of these, they make a great addition to any room. As with most rescued treasures, they usually require a little TLC to restore their magic. If you're looking for the supply list and step-by-step process used for this revival, see below!

You'll need the following supplies [pictured L-R]: Fossil (Chalk) Paint, Mod Podge, Multi-Surface Metallic Paint, Polycrylic Sealer, Paint Brushes (multiple sizes), Sand-paper. Supplies not in photo: cleaning supplies, paper / fabric for trunk lining.

1. Give the exterior of the trunk a thorough wipe-down (for this I just used my multi-purpose lemon vinegar spray). Once dry, lightly the buff the exterior surface with sandpaper.

2. Most trunks are lined with a paper or fabric covering. If the trunk was stored properly and stayed dry, the lining should be in good condition. If it's bubbled, discoloured or there are signs of rot, you'll need to remove all or parts of the liner. For the most part, the liner of this trunk was in good condition except for the bottom. Thoroughly clean the interior with a spray solution (and for this part I broke out the bleach so that I could eliminate the mildew) and let it sit in the sunshine for at least 5 hours.

3. Much better. You'll see that I left some of the old liner in tact. As it was in good condition, I did not want to unnecessarily expose these parts of the trunk to too much water and cleaning solution.

4. Start lining. To line your trunk you can use wallpaper, fabric or lightweight scrapbook paper. My advice here is to use an all-over print that you won't have to be too fussy about when lining up the pattern. Working one section at a time, apply a light coat of Mod-Podge to the back of the paper and to the interior of the trunk. Smooth out any wrinkles or air pockets (a plastic bank / rewards card works well for this). I worked around the interior sides and then the bottom before finally completing the interior lid.

5. To increase the durability of the liner, I sealed it with one coat of Polycrylic. Leave the trunk open and allow it to sit outside for the entire curing time (2-3 hours).

6. Do a test swatch of your paint to check coverage and to ensure that you're happy with the color. I used DecoArt's American Decor - Chalky Finish, in color Primitive. It covered well, but ultimately required two coats for full coverage.

7. To paint the exterior, I worked on one side at a time, alternating between painting the trim and the body of the trunk. For the trim, I lightly applied FolkArt's Multi-surface metallic acrylic paint in 2976 Chocolate Brown. Note, I only applied this to the trim and not to the corner brackets, hinges, or hardware as I liked the natural patina that it acquired over the years.

8. Once your paint has dried, add 1-3 coats of Polycrylic to seal it and protect the fruits of your labour! I'm thinking this will find a home as a coffee table, so it needs to be durable.

Feedback? Questions? Let me know. I'd be happy to chat about a project you're working on.