Travel Trunk to Stellar Storage

The idea of incorporating family heirlooms into your home appeals to a lot of people. A mix of old and new décor can actually work very well together to create a space that is warm and inviting with a comfortable lived-in look.

Woodcraft’s graphic designer Tara Piggott reimagined a travel trunk built by her grandfather into a beautiful storage trunk for her home.

Travel trunks—wooden crates often covered with leather, animal hide or embossed tin—were a way for early Americans to carry belongings when traveling. Tara’s grandfather built this trunk for his sons (her father and uncle) to use during their travels on their Boy Scout trips and other adventures in the ‘70s.  Let’s see how she transformed it.


1.       Remove hardware.

Using a small screwdriver, the hardware was removed and then set aside. Tara wanted to maintain the authenticity of the piece so she chose to re-use the original vintage hardware. However, she had her husband sandblast it to regain the shine. (Shown here before.)

2.       Clean trunk surface.

Due to the age of the trunk and the fact that it had been in storage for some time, it needed a good cleaning before paint or stain could be applied. Krud Kutter and some Star Wipers rags did the trick.

3.       Mix custom color.

Tara mixed her own custom paint color using Black Dog Salvage Furniture Paint. Using 2 parts Dirt, 2 parts Patinio Greenio and 1 part Go Green, she created this beautiful fresh shade of green to complement her décor.

Custom color in a fresh shade of green
Go Green, Dirt and Patinio Greenio Black Dog Salvage Furniture Paint

4.       Paint outside.

She painted over the outside of the trunk with her new shade, using a round Black Dog Salvage furniture brush for a smooth finish.

5.       Paint inside.

Tara wanted to spiff up the inside as well so she chose a black cherry water-based stain from General Finishes, which she applied liberally with a foam brush.  The stain soaked into the wood and particle board leaving a warm, rich tone on the inside of the trunk.

Inside before stain
Sprite the kitty was a big help.

6.       Apply glaze effect.

To add a darker green aged effect on the trunk, Tara mixed some General Finishes Van Dyke Brown Glaze Effects and Black Dog Salvage Furniture Paint Go Green to get the shade she liked. She then wet distressed with that mixture, brushing it on with a chip brush and wiping off the excess.

Apply stain liberally.
Wipe off to your desired look.

Painter’s Pyramids held the trunk up off the table for ease of painting and staining around the bottom. Very handy item for painters and refinishers! 

7.       Add legs.

The original trunk did not have legs but Tara planned to use it for storage like a little bench. It took several tries to find the right legs, but she ended up with a set of 6” chunky wood ones that she liked. She attached those to the bottom four corners of the trunk. She also reattached the hardware.

Here is the completed trunk decorated in a vintage-style Christmas vignette.

How wonderful to be able to enjoy a piece of furniture from the past in a new setting! Treasures like this hold even more special meaning if they are from your own family. Tara’s grandfather had a woodworking shop in his basement where he would build and repair all sorts of items over the years. She was able to keep some special pieces made by him, including an end table, a sideboard and a desk and chair.

Do you have antiques or family furniture from the past that you would like to incorporate into your home? Stop by your local Woodcraft store and let us help you with the tools, supplies and inspiration to restore, reimagine or refurbish them.  

We hope you’ll be inspired!

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