How To: Steamer Trunk Re-Vamp!

So I've had quite a bit of inquiries about the process of re-vamping my steamer trunk,
so instead of just responding on the comment posts I thought I'd make a whole blog post on the steps I used to refinish my trunk!

Items Needed:
- Steamer Trunk!!!
- Box Cutter
- 3 Old Rags
- Wood Stain
- Heavy Duty Rubber Gloves
- Clear Coat (optional)
-Rustoleum Black High-Gloss Paint
- 2 Small Flat Bristle Paint Brush
- 4, 2 1/2 wooden legs

- Fabric of your choice!

1. Find the perfect Steamer Trunk -they can be found at garage sales, thrift/antique stores, flea markets, and (sadly) even in people's trash piles!
And for me, the worse the better!!
2. Use a box cutter to cut along all of the edges to remove the fabric from the trunk. This is much easier than attempting to rip the fabric or remove the brackets.
3. Once done, use a moist old rag to wipe down the entire trunk! Mine was covered in a weird turquoise powder that stained the wood, I think it was from whatever they used to dye the old fabric. I was lucky enough that it rubbed right off!

Doesn't it look 100x better already!?!
4. Now comes the really fun part, the wood staining! I used Minwax's Dark Walnut Stain and loved the results. I used one of the small flat brushes to brush on the stain around the metal perimeters, as to not accidentally stain it. Once I did the perimeter I used the tip of an old rag to rub on the rest of the stain, in that area.
Remember, always rub WITH the grain, not in circles AND work quickly! Especially with using the brush and a rag make sure you blend the painted stain with the stain that was rubbed on so it is a consistent color. If the color isn't deep enough, do another coat!
5. Once the staining process is done, you can choose to clear coat it, however, I chose to leave mine because I loved the way it looked as is. Next comes the trim work. Using the other small flat brush paint all of the trim work with the Rustoleum paint, I used highgloss black but you could use a dark brown, gold, silver, etc... Just be prepared to spend a few hours and will need some good pain pills for your back hehe.6. I chose to add feet to my for a little added height, and because it will be placed on carpet and didn't want to have a giant rectangle on the floor if I chose to move it. I purchased them at Home Depot for around $2/a piece, and painted them in the same black paint I used for the trim. To attach them I drilled four holes in the bottom and used the given bolts, but had to purchase some matching washers and lock washers to complete the installation. Just make sure you do this BEFORE you add the fabric to the inside!!!
7. Now comes the fun part, picking your fabric! I chose to do a big punch of color, but you could choose whatever makes YOU happy. It doesn't match anything in my house, but that is what I liked. Every time I have people over for game night and they get a board game out of my trunk it will be such a surprise, which is what I wanted! The fabric I chose was a purple and navy print satin that I got for a whopping $6/yard at Joann etc...Hooray!
8. Now comes the harder part, lining the inside with fabric. I chose to use hot glue to affix the fabric since it was so delicate, but if I was using a heavy cotton or canvas and staple gun would have worked just fine. The hardest part I found was getting all of the corners done perfectly, it takes a lot of patience but the end product was totally worth it. To do the top edges, so that no raw ends were showing, I folded the fabric over and glued, but if you are so inclined you could hem the pieces before hand.9. Now the last part...ENJOY IT, SHOW IT OFF & HAVE A PARTY!!!

I hope this tutorial helped and if you decide to tackle your own project please send me your Before & Afters, I'd love to show them off on the blog!


  1. Oh My! That came out great! Nice job! I wish I could find my dad's old trunk!!!

  2. Seriously, *such* a fabulous job! You're like a hero in my book for transforming this ratty thing into *such* a beauty! Even just imagining the amount of elbow grease it took to take off the crud on just the outside... man. *fabulous* job, Nikki!

  3. This is so amazing... we have an ancient family steamer that's sadly been sitting under our outside porch for 20 years... it's so ucky and I thought we'd just have to toss it... now you've given me a way to save it, thanks SO much!

  4. Just finally saw this cross-posted over at D*S. I've got an old trunk inherited from a grandparent, thanks for the instructions! I can't wait to try this, I just hope I can figure out how to get rid of the overwhelming mothball smell...