Transform an old trunk into a bar station or coffee bar! Check out this step-by-step tutorial for inspiration for your own old trunk makeover!
Get more furniture makeover ideas here!
I hunt for used furniture online all the time! Some pieces are more traditional like a dresser or a buffet, but then other times I find pieces like this old trunk and instantly a light bulb goes off!
My imagination wheels started turning in my head and I came up with a cool idea to repurpose this trunk.
I hope this post inspires you to think outside the box the next time you see something online, at a flea market, or on the curbside.
“Trust that little voice in your head that says, ‘wouldn’t it be interesting if…’; and then do it.” – Duane Michals.
When I saw this old beat-up trunk on Marketplace, I instantly thought that I’d never seen anything like it. I had this idea, wouldn’t this trunk be a great bar station!?
Most trunks have a single lid with storage under the lid. This trunk was very different with a door and 3 drawers.
My thought was bottles and glasses could be stored behind the door and items such as cocktail napkins, straws, and other accessories could be stored in the drawers.
I immediately scooped this piece up!
I brainstormed a little more on this piece and searched for some legs, new hardware, and color to paint this piece. Here is a list of all the items I used for this makeover:
Supplies Used for this old trunk makeover
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- Bar Keeper’s Cleaner Spray
- Brasso Cleaner
- White Vinegar
- Fine Steel Wool
- Wood Filler
- 120 Grit Sand Paper & 220 Grit Sand Paper
- Tack Cloth
- Paint – Dark Everglade by Behr
- BBFrosch Paint Powder
- Varathane Water Based Poly – Satin Finish
- Gold Hair Pin Legs
- Gold and Lucite Drawer Pulls
- Peel and Stick Wall Paper
Prepping Old Trunk for Paint
The first step for this makeover was to remove all of the brass hardware covering all of the edges and corners. The hardware was very dirty and did not look shiny.
I wanted to make this look like a high-end piece and it would be easier to clean the hardware once it was removed.
How to Clean Old Hardware
After removing the hardware I shined it up in the bathtub. I let it soak in some hot water with vinegar for 20 minutes.
This part took a little more effort to get the pieces cleaned, but it was worth it. I alternated using Brasso and Bar Keeper’s Friend Spray with the steel wool to clean up the hardware.
Learn about another way to clean old furniture hardware here.
New Hardware, Legs, and Wallpaper
While I worked on cleaning the brass corner caps, I searched for new hardware, legs, and peel-and-stick wallpaper.
Check out some more gold painted furniture here.
But I also got the idea that I would wallpaper the inside of the bar station, behind the door, versus painting the inside. So, I decided I would use the same wallpaper to line the 3 drawers.
See how we used wallpaper on the inside drawers of this WW2 dresser makeover in this post about how to paint over oil based paint!
Check out the best material to line dresser drawers and how to install it yourself here.
Here’s a picture of the hardware, legs, and wallpaper I decided on.
Repair, Fill Old Hardware Holes and Sand Trunk
I also worked on repairs and sanding while the brass edging was cleaned up. Before I could paint, I wanted to smooth out the surface of the trunk.
If you look at the “before” picture, you will notice there were a lot of scratches and some parts of the wood had a rough texture. I wanted to have a smooth surface for a more modern feel.
I used wood filler to patch all the scratches and smooth out the rough spots on the wood.
I cleaned all the sanding dust off of the piece with a tack cloth.
**Note: Learn the best way to change hardware and fill old hardware holes here.
Priming Trunk Before Painting
The trunk was ready for painting at this point, and I used the BIN shellac primer and applied 2 coats, letting the primer dry between each coat. Learn more about the best primers for painting furniture and how to choose the right one here.
I then sanded the trunk with 220-grit sandpaper before applying the next layer of paint.
Painting an Old Trunk
For my furniture pieces, I like to use BBFrosch transformation powder. BBFrosch allows you to use any latex paint on your furniture.
I like that I can choose any color and I can create my own “chalk paint.” The BBFrosch powder adds durability and helps with the adhesion of the paint to your surface.
Check out my honest BB Frosch Paint Transformer Review to learn more about the features, and pros and cons of this product.
You can also create your very own chalk paint with this homemade chalk paint recipe.
For this piece, I selected Behr’s Dark Everglade color in an eggshell finish and added the BBFrosch powder to my paint.
Check out more green chalk painted furniture ideas here for inspiration.
It took three coats of paint to cover the white primer. You can have your primer tinted if you are using a dark color and then it will take 2 coats of paint.
Topcoating a Painted Trunk
Installing Hardware, Legs, and Wallpaper
Then I reattached the metal edging and corner caps with new rounded brass tacks.
How to Add Legs to a Trunk
The next step was to attach the hairpin legs. I secured the legs through the bottom of the trunk with some bolts and finish cap nuts.
**Note: Learn more about how to add hairpin legs to furniture here!
Use Peel and Stick Wallpaper
The last part was to add the new hardware and put up the peel-and-stick wallpaper inside the drawers and the cabinet part. I used 2 rolls of the peel and stick wallpaper.
First, I measured the size of each wall and the “floor” of the cabinet and cut a piece of the wallpaper a little bigger than each size.
I then started at the top of each wall and made sure the wallpaper looked straight and used an old credit card to smooth it out on the wall.
Once the wallpaper was smoothed out on each wall, I used a razor blade knife to trim around the edges for a clean look.
This trunk was completely transformed into a brand-new piece of furniture!
More Before And After Makeovers
Click any of these “before” photos below to view the “after” of that makeover.
I hope this tutorial inspires you to look at items for sale in a new light that you can reuse into something different than its original purpose (kinda like this repurposed MCM desk into nightstands makeover). You are only limited by your imagination!
This piece was transformed by Caroline of Living on Salt Water Designs! “I grew up in Eastern NC and I have a love for being out on the water. Equal to my love of the water is painting furniture and DIYing. Nothing makes me happier than a good before and after comparison. I love seeing a vision come to life and a complete transformation that brings life to a new piece.”
- Remove and clean the old hardware from the old trunk. Repair any damages, fill in old hardware holes and scuff sand the surface of the trunk.
- Prime trunk with 2 coats and let the primer dry between each coat. Then sand the trunk with 220-grit sandpaper before painting.
- Mix latex paint with the BBFrosch powder to make homemade chalk paint. The transformer powder adds durability and helps with the adhesion of the paint to your surface. Paint trunk with 2-3 coats.
- After the paint dries completely, apply a water-based poly to help protect the finish from wear and tear.
- Reattach the metal edging and corner caps. Attach the hairpin legs through the bottom of the trunk with some bolts and finish cap nuts.
- Add new hardware and stick the wallpaper inside the trunk drawers and cabinet.
More Furniture Makeovers
- Painted Cedar Chest Makeover
- Painted Hallway Cabinet Makeover
- Apothecary Style Vintage Nightstands Makeover
- Dark Green Painted Furniture
- Painting a Bed Frame Black
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