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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.

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 Storage Chest Suitcase - Set of 2 (Dark Brown) | Decorative Storage Wood Trunk with Straps

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

Comments

  • Posted: February 26, 2020 19:00

    Maria

    Absolutely beautiful. I love the suitcases transformation so much
    • Posted: February 27, 2020 05:04

      acraftymix

      Thank you, Maria 🤗 We're still so happy with how it turned out.
  • Posted: February 23, 2020 13:05

    Diane

    Fantastic
  • Posted: February 21, 2020 16:07

    Phyllis

    This is really out-of-the-box crazy thinking and I Love IT. Can hardly wait to create something with the luggage obsession I have. Thanks for Sharing!!
    • Posted: February 22, 2020 07:18

      acraftymix

      You're most welcome Phyllis and I'm so happy you like the idea. Have fun making yours
    • Posted: February 22, 2020 15:23

      Ann

      Great attention paid to detail, looks fabulous!
    • Posted: February 23, 2020 01:52

      Anonymous

      Absolutely beautiful, unique and brilliant. ❤️
      • Posted: February 23, 2020 05:59

        acraftymix

        💞 Thank you so very much Phyllis
    • Posted: February 24, 2020 00:04

      Hope Powell

      Michelle, that is the most awesome DIY project I have ever seen. I absolutely love it.
      • Posted: February 24, 2020 05:06

        acraftymix

        Thank you so much, Hope. We're so happy with how it turned out
  • Posted: February 19, 2020 15:56

    Melanie Donovan

    I liked the new suitcase-bureau -- Each time you put something "away", you could pretend you were packing for your next trip :)
    • Posted: February 19, 2020 16:11

      acraftymix

      I absolutely love that idea Melanie. It makes packing things away so much more special 😍
  • Posted: February 19, 2020 14:04

    andrea caamano

    This just came up on my feed, 2/19/10, this is brilliant. Great job.
    • Posted: February 19, 2020 14:18

      acraftymix

      Whoooo Hooo, thank you, Andrea
  • Posted: February 19, 2020 13:55

    connie mann

    OMG!!! This is the most beautiful dresser I have ever seen!! You guys are amazing. I would love to try this but feel I would not be as successful. Thank you for sharing.
    • Posted: February 19, 2020 14:21

      acraftymix

      Oh Connie, how I wish I could give you a hug and tell you that YOU can do this and it will be a huge hit. Most of the work is in the sanding and prepping the chest of drawers and then it's just painting, cutting and gluing. I hope you give it a try 💞
  • Posted: February 19, 2020 13:44

    Nancy Z

    This is one of the most amazing dressers I've ever seen. This is THE MOST AMAZING DIY project!! Wow!!!
    • Posted: February 19, 2020 14:21

      acraftymix

      Thank you so very, very much 😍
  • Posted: May 23, 2019 03:25

    Kaz

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

    Anonymous

    Love this idea
    • Posted: May 12, 2019 04:59

      acraftymix

      Thank you very much
    • Posted: February 22, 2020 15:18

      Ann

      You did a great job, love it!
  • Posted: April 4, 2019 14:32

    Anonymous

    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

      acraftymix

      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

          acraftymix

          🤗 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

      acraftymix

      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

      acraftymix

      💞 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

    MeMe

    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

      acraftymix

      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