DIY Coffee Table – The Luggage Travelling Trunk

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Before I get into how I was able to re-vamp this thing, here is how I came about this trunk in the first place:

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This trunk was my grandmother’s when she came over to Canada from Portugal. She used it to store towels upon towels during Cambridge’s boom in textiles and having family members work in such factories. She kept towels to give out as gifts to family when visiting back home and saved her favourites for her grandchildren to one day have. After moving into a nursing home last year, this trunk made it back to our house as we were cleaning out rooms. I have always loved this trunk, but I have never been too fond of it’s colour, inside or out. It wasn’t until I spoke with Andrew’s mother about how she re-finished one of her father’s war trunks that inspired me to look into redoing my grandmother’s.

What I needed for this project:

  • 1 antique trunk (did not buy, but you can find your own at antique markets)
  • Aspire Chalk Paint (Colour: Endless) – ($40.00 CAD)
  • 3 sponge brushes – 1 for chalk paint, 1 for Modge Podge, 1 for the sealer ($1.00 CAD each at the dollar store)
  • 1 fine-tip brush (for smaller detailing)
  • 1 large jar of Modge Podge ($13.99)
  • Enough scrapbooking sheets to cover the inside of trunk (I used a little over 20 sheets) (about $7.00)
  • Scissors
  • Exactoknife
  • 1 piece of 400 sandpaper (very fine grit) (about $5.00 from Lowe’s)
  • Aspire Mineral Paint (sealer) ($25.00)

Step 1 – Chalk Paint

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I first started painting on the chalk paint and instantly had a sinking feeling as I saw it going on…it looked awful. I continued to paint and thought it would improve with a little drying…the more I painted, the more I panicked!

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If you are reading this looking for a chalk paint review, please keep reading, because by the end of this project I really did fall in love with chalk paint. Do not let the beginning stages scare you if you are a first-time chalk paint user!

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I painted every nook and cranny on this trunk with one coat, and then went back to it to paint a second and third coat afterwards. The beauty about chalk paint is that it dries almost instantly, so you can apply your additional coats the same day. Due to time constrictions I had when I started this trunk, I was not able to paint it all in one day. I also was very finicky and used a fine-tipped brush to get around the brass finishings.

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Step 2 – Wallpapering

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After I had completed painting the outside of my trunk, I started looking into wallpapering options for the inside. I had spoken to Andrew’s mom at different points during this project to see what she did. She wallpapered the inside of her trunk and ordered her wallpaper online. She wanted to find an antique coloured paper that had luggage prints all over it. I thought this was a very cute idea and I wanted to do the same! I went the next day to my local paint & wallpaper store, flipped through their books, found the PERFECT wallpaper with teal/grey/black luggage stacked on one another, went to go order…I was shot down by a price tag of $109. No thank you! I went to one more wallpaper store afterwards to try and find a cheaper alternative, but it was a no go. Apparently to order wallpaper is outrageous and you are better off trying to find something that stores already have in stock. This wasn’t going to work for me though, because I wanted the luggage/travel theme, but I wasn’t willing to spend over $100 on paper.

After some brainstorming, I thought of a cheaper alternative. I went to Michael’s and bought scrapbooking sheets to Modge Podge inside my trunk. How much cheaper you ask? For all the sheets I bought it cost me a total of $7.00  and for a bottle of Modge Podge $13.99. I spent a total of $20.99 to redo the inside of my trunk  – I think I did good.

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The scrapbooking sheets that I chose were postcard/travel themed and still had an antique colour to them, which contrasted great with the black on my trunk and brass fixtures.

I found it worked best to put Modge Podge on the trunk surface first, completely covering every inch, then I laid my paper down and smoothed it out from corner to corner, getting rid of any air bubbles. I then heavily coated the top of the paper with more Modge Podge, sealing the edges to the trunk surface. To get those smaller pieces and tricky corners, I measured the appropriate amount of paper I would need to cover the space, then used scissors or an exactoknife (whichever I required in the moment) to make sure my paper fit. After sizing my paper, I then repeated the same steps with putting Modge Podge on the surface and sealing my paper to the trunk. Be careful not to get Modge Podge on any of your chalk painted surfaces, because it leaves a glossy mess that you will need to paint over later!

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Step 3 – Sanding & Sealer

After everything was painted and Modge Podged, it was time to put the final finish on the outside of the trunk. I used Aspire’s Mineral Paint. I sanded every surface of my trunk using 400 grit sand paper. It is important to use a very fine grit, because you want to just even out those brush strokes or where paint was applied too heavily. After a light sanding, using a new, clean brush, I started to put on the sealer. I made sure to cover again ever surface.

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It was recommended to do at least three coats to make sure the trunk was extra protected. When buying this sealer, I told the lady that I was going to use my trunk as a coffee table. She instantly steered me away from the wax sealer, which I was originally looking into purchasing and pointed me in the direction of the mineral paint. She said that the wax sealer would need to be re-applied once every year, where as the mineral paint you just need to put on your three coats minimum and you are good for life. Also, she said that the best protection for any chalk paint surface comes from the mineral paint coats, the wax does not do nearly the same job. With this knowledge, I bought the mineral paint, and was super excited to find out it was not $40 like the wax, but a not-so-costly $25! I applied 4-5 coats just to be safe, waiting 30-40 minutes between each coat.

The Final Product

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Voila! A finished luggage trunk that adds a wonderful touch to my travel-themed apartment! Not only does it act as a coffee table, but it also holds all my blankets and pillows for those nights I want to cozy up on the couch.

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TOTAL DIY COST = $94.99 (CAD)

Could I have paid this price, saved the hassle and bought a brand new coffee table from Ikea – absolutely. But what an heirloom I can show off proudly to friends and family, and to match my travel themed decor to boot – it’s a no brainer, despite the work involved, I would do it all again.  Completely worth it this trunk was!

Things I Learned

  • Don’t paint outside on hot, sticky days. This is probably why chalk paint scared me at the beginning, because of my own doings
  • Be patient – yes it is long project, but look at the results! I couldn’t be happier with how my trunk turned out. A little piece of my family history that I can proudly pass down.
  • CLEAN YOUR BRUSHES! Don’t be lazy like myself, rather clean them after every use so you can keep your brushes in good shape and not have to throw them out later to buy new ones

. . . . . .

I had fun with this project, but glad to be finished. Onto the next project, re-finishing my kitchen table!

Have you ever used chalk paint before?

What DIYs would you recommend using this paint type on?

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