A Crafty Mix


How to Turn a Boring Bureau into an Epic Stack of Suitcases

How to turn a boring chest of drawers into this classic stack of suitcases #DresserMakeover #diyhomedecor #homedecorideas #RepurposedDresser #acraftymix #RepurposedFurniture #SuitcaseDresser #chestofdrawers #DIYdresser

I have always loved those pictures of vintage suitcases stacked one on top of the other. There’s just something about the look that makes me think of a life well-traveled and filled with adventure. Those stack of suitcases evoke memories of faraway places and conquering the unknown, like these beauties from Overstock.com. Aren’t they gorgeous?

Three Colored Vintage Style Luggage Suitcase from Overstock

I wanted my own stack of suitcases sooo badly. But they’ve become horribly expensive, and it’s quite a challenge finding a set that looks good together. We do however have a very boring pine chest of drawers, or bureau as it’s called in America, that desperately needed a makeover.

There's just something about a vintage stack of suitcases that I love. Come see how we gave a boring chest of drawers this classic look #diyhomedecor #homedecorideas #DresserMakeover  #RepurposedDresser #acraftymix #RepurposedFurniture #SuitcaseDresser #chestofdrawers #DIYdresser

We’ve had the chest of drawers for about 20 years now, and her bones were still good, unlike that other cupboard that was falling apart. The drawers slide nicely and there’s tons of storage space for all our t-shirts and jerseys. But she needed a facelift. Kinda like her owner 😉 And the only facelift I wanted to give her involved these really battered suitcases that we found at the local hospice.

Sometimes when things are falling apart they may actually be falling into placeClick to Tweet

Broken suitcases before they were destroyed to make the epic stack of luggage dresser. #DIYHOmeDecor #SuitcaseDresser #Tutorial

There was even a tatty old handbag thrown into the mix.

There's just something about a vintage stack of suitcases that I love. Come see how we gave a boring chest of drawers the look

I think I paid R40 for everything, which included two briefcases, the handbag, 4 floppy suitcases and one of those old cardboard school suitcases. That’s not even $5, but they were really badly damaged.

Okay, before we get to the tutorial, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly newsletter so you’ll never miss a post!

How To Repurpose a Chest Of Drawers into a Stack of Suitcases

To start the makeover we removed everything worth saving from those battered suitcases. The handles, locks, buckles, straps, bits of leather even the tags if they were pretty enough.

There's just something about a vintage stack of suitcases that I love. Come see how we gave a boring chest of drawers the look

Some of the handles were easy to remove, and for some of the others, we had to use a combination of tin snips, hammer and brute force to get them off 😀

There's just something about a vintage stack of suitcases that I love. Come see how we gave a boring chest of drawers the look

Once the suitcases had been totally destroyed, we had everything we needed to turn that boring dresser into a vintage stack of suitcases.

Getting the Chest of Drawers Ready for her Makeover

We removed all the drawers and took the little wooden knobs off.

There's just something about a vintage stack of suitcases that I love. Come see how we gave a boring chest of drawers the look

Using lots of elbow grease and a sander we stripped the varnish and gave the frame of the dresser a deep lustrous coat of Rustoleum’s American Walnut stain and sealer to match the decor in our bedroom.

There's just something about a vintage stack of suitcases that I love. Come see how we gave a boring chest of drawers the look

Then it was time to start playing around. Both the hubby and I work full time as IT geeks for large banks so the only time we can DIY is usually over a weekend. Fortunately for us, most banks in South Africa have an IT freeze during December, which means we can’t work. And that gave us more than enough time to tackle the drawers.

Each Drawer Needed to Look Unique

I really wanted them all to be different and still form a harmonious whole. So I needed to limit myself to colors from the same temperature family or find one or two colors and then use variations of those colors. Because the dresser had been stained in a rich brown, we decided to stick with the warmer tones. The first drawer we made over was this one.

There's just something about a vintage stack of suitcases that I love. Come see how we gave a boring chest of drawers the look

We sprayed the whole drawer with a metallic copper which seemed like a good idea, but as soon as we put the drawer next to the walnut stained dresser, it looked too cold and, well metallic!! Bling, bling definitely didn’t fit the whole vintage feel we were going for. To tone her down, we used a piece of hessian as a stencil before applying a coat of brown paint over the metallic paint.

There's just something about a vintage stack of suitcases that I love. Come see how we gave a boring chest of drawers the look

Keeping The Real Suitcase Look

One of the other things I really wanted to do was retain that tactile feeling of a real suitcase. So we used contact adhesive to glue some of the leather we’d salvaged from the damaged suitcases to cover the drawers. The drawers are quite wide, so the leather had to be joined. The salvaged suitcase buckles were perfect for hiding the small gap where the leather came together. We just glued them over the join.

There's just something about a vintage stack of suitcases that I love. Come see how we gave a boring chest of drawers the look

And if you don’t have enough salvaged leather bits to cover a long drawer and hide the joins, you can always turn one drawer into two suitcases 😉

How to turn a boring chest of drawers into this classic stack of suitcases #DresserMakeover #diyhomedecor #homedecorideas #RepurposedDresser #RepurposedFurniture #SuitcaseDresser

Oh and save those leftover faux leather bits so you can use the pieces to repurpose DVD cases to make an awesome vertical garden. All the suitcase handles were screwed onto the front of the drawers.

There's just something about a vintage stack of suitcases that I love. Come see how we gave a boring chest of drawers the look

And the locks, buckles and, straps were either glued on or screwed on.

Adding the broken suitcase bits and pieces  to make the epic stack of luggage dresser. #DIYHOmeDecor #SuitcaseDresser #Tutorial

And for the lip of the suitcase, I used a permanent marker and a ruler.

Adding Fun Labels

No stack of suitcases is complete without a stamp or sticker to show where you’ve been, right? The Graphics Fairy was my go-to place to get a few of those. As luck would have it, one of the labels was for Sinclair’s conditioning powder. Can you guess what the hubby’s surname is 😉

There's just something about a vintage stack of suitcases that I love. Come see how we gave a boring chest of drawers the look

I have to be honest. The dresser facelift took us way longer than I thought, but I’m really happy with how it turned out.

A beautiful rich stain brings everything together in this stunning dresser makeover #stackofsuitcases #luggagedrawers #acraftymix

Every drawer is unique, and besides the time and the stain, it only cost us about R150 for the whole makeover. That’s about $10 😀 And since the handles are all screwed into the drawers, pulling them open is a breeze. We used a thread sealant called Loctite on the screws before we screwed them in, just to make sure they don’t come loose. Those babies ain’t going nowhere 😉

How to turn a boring chest of drawers into this classic stack of suitcases #DresserMakeover #diyhomedecor #homedecorideas #RepurposedDresser #acraftymix #RepurposedFurniture #SuitcaseDresser #chestofdrawers #DIYdresser

What do you think? Was it worth the time? I really wanted to write a post about how we changed each drawer, but looking through all the photos, I forgot to take a whole bunch. So the best I can do is share some tips if you’d like to do something similar.

Tips on how to repurpose a bureau or chest of drawers into a stack of suitcases

  • Look for really, really damaged suitcases. The ones with big rips in them and bent frames. All you want is the “hardware” (the handles, locks, buckles and interesting bits). If the locks don’t close that’s also okay. You can just glue them shut.
  • Before painting or staining the dresser, choose a color palette that matches or compliments your existing decor.  We have terracotta tiles throughout the house, so we tend to stick with warmer colors.
  • Choose a muted, neutral color for the frame of the dresser to anchor the piece. The walnut stain we used creates a beautiful backdrop to showcase each drawer.
  • Don’t worry too much if the suitcases don’t match. Everything can be painted. We used a wash of acrylic paint to “warm-up” the leather that we stuck on the drawer second from the bottom. Even the hardware can be painted to fit your color scheme
Never underestimate the power of paint Click to Tweet
  • If you don’t want to glue leather onto the drawers you can play around with interesting stencils or just paint each drawer before adding the hardware.
  • Add interesting touches and don’t be scared to mix and match the salvaged bits. Look at pictures of actual suitcases and try and mimic the look. We used bits of leather on the corner of some of the drawers and stuck then on with glue and thumbtacks.

Mix and match pieces from the broken suitcases to create interest
  • To create a “lip” (the portion that where the lid goes over the suitcase) just use a ruler and a sharpie to draw a line all the way across. About 1/3 of the way down from the top.
  • Make sure to align the handles in the center of the drawers before screwing them in. You don’t want your luggage chest of drawers to look like it’s going to topple over 😉
  • Treat each drawer as an individual work of art. Take your time. We tackled one drawer a day and experimented with all the bits and pieces until we were happy before sticking or screwing everything down.
  • A few labels or stamps add to the vintage feel. The Graphics Fairy has a whole bunch that you can download for free. She’s the best.

I Love Our Epic Stack of Suitcases

Every time I look at the chest of drawers, erhmm I mean stack of suitcases, I feel like a modern-day Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, dreaming of a world of travel. I’m ready to pack up and go at a moment’s notice 😉 And she looks so lovely with our room divider nightstands.

How to turn a boring chest of drawers into this classic stack of suitcases #DresserMakeover #diyhomedecor #homedecorideas #RepurposedDresser #acraftymix #RepurposedFurniture #SuitcaseDresser #chestofdrawers #DIYdresser

But I would love to know what you think of the idea of turning a boring dresser into a stack of suitcases. Is it something you would do?

If you like the idea of repurposing a chest of drawers into a stack of suitcases, please don’t forget to share and pin it for later.

How to turn a boring chest of drawers into this classic stack of suitcases #DresserMakeover #diyhomedecor #homedecorideas #RepurposedDresser #acraftymix #RepurposedFurniture #SuitcaseDresser #chestofdrawers #DIYdresser

What about you? Do you love vintage suitcases as much as I do? By the way, if you’re struggling to find some of the things we used, I’ve got you covered. Disclosure: If you click on the links below, we may receive a commission from Amazon. But don’t worry it won’t come out of your pocket, and it helps us come up with more unique DIY and craft ideas for you;-)

IKEA RAST dresser, Wood Color
Hillman Hardware Essentials 852408 Luggage Handles 6' Brown
And if you prefer to buy rather than DIY then perhaps these beauties will appeal.
Sale Vintiquewise(TM) 3-Colored Vintage Style Luggage Suitcase/Trunk, Set of 3
Vintiquewise(TM) Old Vintage Suitcase/Decorative Trunk, Set of 3
SLPR Worthington Wooden Suitcase with Straps (Set of 2, Dark Brown) | Old-Fashioned Antique Vintage Style Nesting Trunks for Shelf Home Decor Birthday Parties Wedding Decoration Displays Crafts

And as always, wishing you a wonderful, crafty week filled with lots of love. Thank you for popping in for a visit.

Made with love by a Crafty Mix

Categories:   Craft Tutorials, DIY Tutorials, Furniture Hacks, Home Decor Crafts


  • Posted: May 23, 2019 03:25


    Gorgeous..all that effort paid off..
  • Posted: May 11, 2019 14:18


    Love this idea
  • Posted: April 4, 2019 14:32


    Now this is really amazing. I love old, stacked suitcases, too. You really made it all fit together. How did you get suitcases that all fit in the drawer holes?
    • Posted: April 6, 2019 04:19


      Hi there 💖, each suitcase is actually a drawer that's been made to look like the front of a suitcase using whatever we could salvage from those really old, bent and battered ones we found at the thrift store.
      • Posted: April 6, 2019 20:06

        Laura Salvatore

        I absolutely love this. And frankly, I think it is FAR more useful and much better looking than the ones I have seen using the entire suitcases. Brilliant! I am so impressed.
        • Posted: April 7, 2019 05:39


          🤗 Thank you so very much Laura, I really appreciate that
  • Posted: March 7, 2019 18:54

    Lynnette Young

    absolutely stunning and so very clever! You are very inspiring with your creative concepts!
    • Posted: March 8, 2019 04:46


      Thank you so very much Lynnette, that means a lot to me
  • Posted: February 5, 2019 21:16

    Sam - Raggedy Bits

    Oh my, Michelle!! I don't know how I missed your AWESOME makeover!! This has to be the best chest of drawer project I have ever seen! You truly are so creative and clever!! Well done!!
    • Posted: February 6, 2019 05:12


      💞 Thank you Sam, that means a lot coming from you. There are so many beautiful projects floating around the internet all the time, it's often difficult to see them all
  • Posted: January 29, 2019 20:39


    So much talent!
  • Posted: January 10, 2019 04:12

    Judi K (Tasmania, Australia)

    Not sure how long ago this article was posted, but just came across it on your blog now (10/01/19). Just wanted to say this has to be the most brilliant DIY project I have ever seen! You are a genius Michelle. I'm not very crafty, but this has truly inspired me to re-create something similar. I too am an avid traveller, so old suitcases are right up my alley. Got me thinking about somehow transferring old passport stamps onto part of it, just like your stencils. And now, I'm spending the afternoon scrolling through your miriad of other posts lol!
    • Posted: January 10, 2019 04:56


      Awwww Judi, you just made my day, thank you so much. We made the luggage dresser two years ago and it's still one of my all time favorite makeovers. I think your idea of incorporating passport stamps is genius, especially since they'll bring back all those wonderful memories for you 💞
  • Posted: January 5, 2019 02:50


    What a great idea! So creative. It looks wonderful.
    • Posted: January 5, 2019 04:10


      Thank you so much Paula 😍
  • Posted: January 4, 2019 20:58


    WOW....I love it!! So cool. You are so talented!!!
  • Posted: January 4, 2019 13:44


    first time here ,and love the dresser and I love the detailing of this. It is really cool . inspiring in fact. I am 80 and I know this has to be a big project. I will try to do something smaller,
    • Posted: January 7, 2019 13:55


      Thank you so much 😍 Time wise it's a big project but the actual work was quite easy. I hope you enjoy making over your smaller version too
  • Posted: December 29, 2018 22:50


    This was really inspiaring beutifull work cant whate to try it love it.
    • Posted: December 30, 2018 10:27


      Thank you very much Carly, I'm so happy you like it
  • Posted: December 29, 2018 19:45

    Connie Parker

    Well, you wowed me! I've forwarded the picture and description of your chest of suitcases on to my granddaughters, and to another friend who, like me, enjoys "thrifting", which is shopping at thrift stores. Your project is perfect for the kind of stuff we rummage through every weekend! You and husband are real artists. You deserve to win a prize. Best regards, friend.
    • Posted: December 30, 2018 10:28


      Oh Connie, thank you so much for the comment and the vote. We appreciate that so much 💌
  • Posted: December 29, 2018 18:41


    This has to be the absolute BEST DIY ever!!! Well done....................
    • Posted: December 30, 2018 09:19


      Thanks so much Sharon 😍
  • Posted: December 29, 2018 14:48


    I love this makeover! What I don't understand is how the drawers pull open, since you removed the knobs. Are the salvaged handles or straps what is used, and how are they attached? I would think even strong glue would wear out after a while?
    • Posted: December 30, 2018 09:18


      Hi Anon, the handles have all been screwed into the drawer fronts. We did put a little bit of loctite on the screws first to make sure they don't come out
  • Posted: December 29, 2018 12:33

    Ginger Lambert

    This ❣️ I am in love. I travel so this speaks to my ❤️. I also just cast my vote for you. So excited I could participate from Oatmeal, TX ( Yep! For Real) I'm going to the thrift store as soon as I can. The chest looks like it's real suitcases! Thank you for sharing
    • Posted: December 29, 2018 12:50


      Awwwww Ginger, thank you so much for that 💞 We appreciate your vote so much. And you're most welcome, I'm so happy you liked the tutorial too
  • Posted: December 28, 2018 18:37

    Fran Winchester

    I think this is wonderful! What a great idea. You did a beautiful job!
    • Posted: December 29, 2018 05:33


      Thank you very much Fran
  • Posted: December 28, 2018 15:53


    I’m awestruck the creative juices that went into the making of this dresser!! I too have admired and wished to stumble upon those vintage suitcases to stack together but can honestly say I love this more! Love how you repurposed a boring dresser into a work of art . Thank you for the inspiration 🗺
    • Posted: December 29, 2018 05:34


      You're most welcome Karen. I'm really glad you enjoyed the makeover. It still puts a smile on my face everytime I wake up 💞
  • Posted: December 28, 2018 14:11

    Jackie Kelley

    i have seen and maybe done dozens of diy great ideas but this one is the best! i can't wait to get started. I have the old suitcases that just sit on the floor, not too practical because what i want is always in the bottom one. I have a great vintage dresser that i never wanted to paint, just didn't feel right but now...wow. GREAT GREAT work you two. I voted right away, because you guys deserve it. Thanks for sharing. It is my 1st project for 2019.
    • Posted: December 29, 2018 05:36


      Wow Jackie 🙊 Thank you. I hope you have loads of fun doing yours in 2019 and shout anytime if something doesn't make sense.
  • Posted: December 28, 2018 13:46


    Love this project. You are so creative!
    • Posted: December 29, 2018 05:30


      Thank you so very much Elaine
  • Posted: December 28, 2018 10:52


    This is a work of art, truly. Such an amazing and inspiring piece you've created. xo
    • Posted: December 28, 2018 12:22


      🙊 Thank you so very much Jane. I really appreciate that so much
  • Posted: October 16, 2018 23:17


    I love This ! Looks good it could fit in anywhere Amazing job well done you 2 . 👍👍
    • Posted: October 17, 2018 03:59


      Thank you Heike 🙂 The luggage dresser was a true labour of love but so worth it
  • Posted: October 2, 2018 15:59


    Awesome job!!! Love it!!
    • Posted: October 2, 2018 16:10


      Thank you Imogene and I absolutely love your name. How pretty
      • Posted: October 5, 2018 18:43

        Lois Brown

        I absolutely LOVE this. You have inspired me! One quick question. Are the handles secure enough to use as pulls? Did you use something special to secure these! I can't wait to look at your other projects. Thanks!
        • Posted: October 6, 2018 06:12


          Thank you very much Lois 😍 and yes those handles are definitely strong enough. They've just been screwed into the drawers and haven't budged and we use the dresser every single day. I'll see if I can find a picture of us adding the handles. I know we took some and I'll add t the post.
  • Posted: October 2, 2018 15:50

    Ann Davis

    Wow! I love this. It is really awesome.
    • Posted: October 2, 2018 16:10


      Thank you so much Ann 😍
  • Posted: September 30, 2018 00:39


    Congratulations and a big pat on the back. You've done an awsome job and I really look forward to seeing more of your projects. Talk about eye appeal!
    • Posted: September 30, 2018 04:30


      THank you so much Anon. She's one of our favorite recycled makeovers 💕
  • Posted: September 29, 2018 14:10


    Gee, what a "happy" looking couple. You both look so bored. He looks like he's ready to slap you and you look like you're ready to fall asleep. Get a new picture! Your picture alone makes me not want to read your blog.
    • Posted: October 1, 2018 16:10


      Oh my Cate. I'm not sure how to respond to your comment. We both prefer making and recycling things to posing for pretty photos. First off my husband would never slap me, he's a gentleman and you're right I do look like I'm ready to fall asleep 😀 That's my night time look. We share DIY and craft tutorials on our blog and I'm sorry that our profile picture didn't appeal to you. It's one of the few we've got of the two of us so it's kinda special to me.
    • Posted: October 1, 2018 17:12


      Cate, no one forced you to come to the blog. Obviously, you came here to admire the beautiful piece that the very talented Michelle and Shaun have created. We are all here to learn and praise this very generous couple who share their talent with us. If you are more into looks, perhaps you should go to a beauty blog! Now, is there anything nice you can say about this dresser?
      • Posted: October 1, 2018 17:22


        Well Said Mary. Thank You. You cannot please all the people all the time.. 😃
    • Posted: October 1, 2018 20:40


      Geez lady you have some issues. Why would you say something so nasty
    • Posted: October 2, 2018 19:43


      I'm sure they won't lose any sleep over you not reading their blog! What an idiot!
    • Posted: December 28, 2018 17:49


      I think his look says, he is admiring her! Love it!
      • Posted: December 29, 2018 05:33


        🤗 You're the best Anon. Thank you
      • Posted: October 27, 2019 02:35


        Oh Cate...what a sad world you live in, when all you can do is post such a negative (extremely personal ) comment to a lady who does the most amazing crafts (AKA Art !) That I just stumbled across today.I truely feel for you.
  • Posted: September 29, 2018 13:59


    Omg! I am so in love! What a professional job, y’all are amazing, thank you so much for sharing
    • Posted: September 30, 2018 04:40


      It's a huge pleasure Sharon and thank you so much for your lovely comment
    • Posted: January 4, 2019 14:48


      This is so unique. Thanks for sharing.
      • Posted: April 7, 2019 06:14


        You're welcome Linda, I'm so happy you liked the idea
  • Posted: September 12, 2018 22:26


    Michelle this dresser is amazing!!
    • Posted: September 13, 2018 04:25


      Thanks so much Susan 🤗