Sunday, April 15, 2012

Decorating With Vintage Suitcases

I look for vintage suitcases every time I enter a thrift store or go to a flea market. I've paid as little as $1.99 and paid as much as $35 for something really special. I find them to be very versatile, they have great storage potential, and they can be incorporated into nearly any home's design aesthetic.


Likely you've seen images of stacked cases accessorizing rooms in countless country, flea market, or shabby chic home decorating magazines. The reason? They're relatively inexpensive, fairly easy to find, and they're visually appealing.


The suitcases in this stack were purchased for a collective cost of only $15. Not only do they serve as a side table in the family room, but they also hold assorted memorabilia and provide the perfect place on which to set my vintage typewriter. The top case still bears the airline tags from it's previous owner, adding charm and character.


This stack of four fills an awkward space in the family room. It serves as a great base for this vignette. The brown Samsonite was a piece of my parents' luggage they purchased shortly after they were married, the black case on top was given to me by my sister, and the two gray Samsonite pieces I purchased for $10 at a local junk store. So, for a cost of only about $35 (that includes the vintage fan and rotary phone) I've got a unique display and the awkward space is no more.


This third stack of cases sits at the end of our bed. Their varying tweed and leather textures add warmth and character to the room. I keep my quilting projects in them. They're perfect for storing instructions, fabrics, and all the assorted notions and tools needed for the project.


Hard-sided suitcases have a strong structure that allows them to be modified and re-purposed.
I'd seen pictures of modified cases on the internet and was intrigued, so I tried my hand at creating a small side table with this gray tweed American Tourister Tri-Taper case. The case I found at a local thrift store for a mere $4.99; the table legs I purchased at a big-box home improvement store. I attached the legs with hardware requiring nothing more than an electric drill and some nuts and bolts. The entire process took no more than 30 minutes. This table now resides in my son's apartment - a perfectly bohemian table for college life in downtown Austin.


When I found this large blue Samsonite case I immediately knew I wanted to try creating another table. The base of the table is a chair some neighbors left behind when they moved. The chair was solidly constructed, so I just cut the back off and bolted the suitcase on top. We use it as a bedside table in my son's old room. The case stores an extra set of linens.


Because suitcases come in so many different designs, colors, shapes, and sizes they can be used to accessorize nearly any room of your home. And they provide additional storage for necessary items that tend to clutter up your living spaces.


Like many of you we have lots of small electronic devices, each with its own accompanying tangle of cords and attachments. We want them to be easily accessible but don't want the clutter. Our solution - store them in these small Samsonite train cases which tuck neatly under the old church pew in our living room. The brown leather tones blend beautifully with the earth tones of the room, and our electronic devices stay hidden when not in use but are well within reach when we need them.



This gray tweed American Tourister train case sits on the bookshelves of our son's old room. Tucked safely inside are some of his old toys and collectibles that would otherwise just add clutter and look messy.


I found this old trunk at a local thrift store and paid only $12 for it. It was pretty beat up and had thick layers of black and maroon paint. Some of the metal was bent and rusted, but I saw potential. I brought it home and sanded through much of the thick paint exposing metal rivets, nail heads, and fasteners. Now its...well...charming! It sits outside on the front porch between our wicker chairs and serves as a table on which we set our morning coffee.


So if and when you stumble upon vintage suitcases during your next trip to the junk store, take a moment or two to consider how they could add character to your home, provide the solution to a storage problem, or serve as inspiration for your next creative project.

All photos by Paulette Rodriguez

1 comment:

  1. Great idea to make them into a bedside table for extra linens! I store craft supplies in my little makeup cases :) So much fun at crops!

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