How I Restored A Vintage Suitcase

Turning This $5 Flea Market Find Into Functional Decor

Sometimes the best decor is masquerading as something else. One of my favorite pieces in our home was found at a tiny southern flea market in Blairsville, Georgia. It was a vintage suitcase that someone had painted in a chalk white, glued a frame to the front and super glued shut. But I saw beyond that and had a vision for the piece, so I made an offer of $5 and took it home to give it new life.

The first thing I did when I got home was I used some goo gone on the glue to try and get it open. It worked and once I opened it, I was horrified.

To be honest, I almost threw the whole thing away when I saw the state that the inside was in. I mean even looking at this is appalling. But against my better judgement, I started away with vacuuming the inside to get all the dirt and stray debris out. That actually took care of most of the disaster that was the suitcase interior.

However, there were also some stains and a bit of a musty smell that seemed to come from the stains. I combined a mixture of warm water and a little bit of bleach into a spray bottle and very lightly covered the small stains and scrubbed. Once it was done drying in the sun, I closed a couple dryer sheets in there over night to help finish off the smell. The next day, I was surprised to find the smell mostly gone.

My next task was to remove the frame and all the white paint from the outside. The goo gone took care of the adhesive, but the paint needed more convincing. My grandmother told me once that nail polish remover can be a good paint remover for the lighter jobs. So I grabbed a bottle and an old stained rag and began scrubbing.

There was definitely more elbow grease and hard work required with this project than I initially thought, but once the paint came off, I was already in love with it.

Now the only obstacle left to tackle, and the biggest, was the inside. While it was now clean from the bleach and smelled better from the dryer sheets, it still was a complete eye sore and left the inside practically useless. I knew I needed to glue pad and fabric to the inside to get it functional again.

In order to completely forget the dark, dirty-looking interior, I went with a bright floral print in a yellow color that complimented the original light blue color of the outside of the suitcase. This was probably the most time-consuming part of the whole job. I had to measure all around the bottom rim, the top and bottom, and the upper lip of the suitcase to get the right sized cuts of padding and fabric. This process took me about 2-3 hours to get just right and glue down.

The next day, it was dry and ready to be showcased in my home, and thanks to completely cleaning and remodeling the interior, it could actually be used as a suitcase again. My kids have already used t countless times while staying over with the grandparents. It’s the perfect size for all the clothes and diapers they will need for a weekend stay.

I am very happy with how it turned out and very proud of all the work that went into restoring this piece. It goes amazingly with the colors of our decor and it compliments my collection of vintage suitcases I already have around the house.

What’s your favorite flip or restoration piece in your home? Share your photos here!

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