How to decorate an old trunk

An old trunk might look like a piece of junk but with a little patience and few materials it can look brand new.

It's amazing what you can find in a storage shed or attic. A great find like an old trunk in Grandpa's basement has a lot of potential. It might look like a beat-up, dusty old thing now but you can make it beautiful again. If the trunk has holes or dents it might be a little too challenging to fix it up as good as new. Examine the trunk to see if it's basically sound. Clean it well before starting the project.

There are many ways to decorate a trunk, some simplistic, others more difficult. You can make a travel trunk easily enough by doing a collage on the trunk with a travel theme. Attach travel brochures, location logos cut from tee shirts, ticket stubs and bumper stickers. Use decoupage glue for the project since a coat of it over the top of the collage will protect it during travel.

A collage can also be made from various fabrics. Cut the cloth to different sizes and even add fancy edges if desired. Glue the cloth pieces all over the trunk at different angles. To further enhance the look add ribbon, buttons, string, edging and lace. You don't have to make the collage from different colors of fabric. You can choose a theme, like wild animals, and purchase cloth with related images.

If you have lots of old photos of family members they look great on a trunk. Laminating the pictures before gluing them on helps to protect them. Once a photo is laminated the laminate cannot be removed without damaging the photo so run off copies of the photo instead of using the original.

Old trunks look fantastic when they've been upholstered in leather. Real leather is expensive and difficult to work with but you can purchase faux leather which is a vinyl-type of covering that is much more pliable. Whichever you choose it takes a little patience to upholster a trunk. Start by lining the inside with velvet, satin or whatever you choose. Use fabric glue to attach it. Pad it first with thin foam if desired. You can also use fabric glue to attach the vinyl or leather to the outside of the trunk. Leather doesn't stretch easily but vinyl is a little more elasticized. Cut pieces to allow for this. Cut one piece that will wrap around the entire trunk. If the fabric isn't long enough cut one piece to go from one corner, around the next one and stopping at the third corner. Then cut another piece of the same size to go from that corner back around to the beginning corner.

Depending upon how the trunk is made you can then use gimp tacks to outline the trunk and lid. The tacks are short with a large, often beveled head that are tapped in with a tack hammer or rubber mallet. Use the tacks to decorate both sides of each corner edge. Outline the bottom and top perimeters of the trunk with the tacks. Also outline the perimeter of the trunk lid. Replace existing hardware if necessary.

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