VerdiBou’s Top 10 Ways to Use Vintage Luggage

Here at VerdiBou, we love finding vintage luggage when we go to auctions.  We’ve scored some pretty sweet pieces over the past two years, some of which have yet to be re-upholstered by yours truly and posted to our Etsy site…but many of them have been sold and used in some very interesting and creative ways.  So, I thought it would be fun to round up some ideas for re-using and styling vintage luggage.

Top 10 Luggage by Verdibou

#10: Medicine Cabinet/Towel Holder

As I was doing research, this idea shocked me the most.  I would never have thought of using a suitcase for this purpose, but it can actually turn out pretty cute.  Case in point:

{Vanity Towel Holder via Design Sponge, click on the photo for link and tutorial}

#9: Vintage Tablescape/Party Decor

Use vintage luggage to add variety to your dessert or food table at your next party!  Elevate cake stands to add height to your table or use it for displaying small appetizers or silverware.  I like this idea because you don’t have to destroy the nature of the suitcase, you can use it as is, and after the party you can put it back where it typically resides in your home.

{Vintage Airplane Party via Hostess with the Mostess, click on the photo for link}

{Burlap & Lace via Jenny Cookies, click on the photo for link}

#8: Picnic Basket

As part of our Fall 4 Me Collection last Autumn, we staged our Camel Samsonite Suitcase as a Picnic Basket.  It’s not a far cry from it’s intended purpose, after all, but something you might not think about.   Having items that can serve more than one function is key when trying to declutter your home and live with less.  Who needs a picnic basket AND a suitcase taking up space in a closet?

001_Fall 4 Me SuitcaseHere’s another suitcase turned picnic basket via Funky Time:

{Picnic Basket via Funky Time, click on the image for link and tutorial}

#7: Stationary Station

Contain your stationary to one place and make writing those thank you notes a delight. 🙂

{Stationary Suitcase via Inkspot Workshop, original website could not be found}

#6 Side Table/End Table

This might be the most popular and easiest way to use a vintage suitcase.  Stack ’em up and put them in a convenient location like beside your bed or next to your favorite chair…

{Suitcase Side Table via A Beach Cottage, click on image for link}

#5: Wedding Decor

We were excited to find out that the buyer of our Red Hat Box was going to use it in her wedding.  It seems she isn’t the only one with this great idea, there are many ways to use vintage suitcases as part of wedding decor – as table decoration, as the card holder at the gift table, or to hold flip-flops at an outdoor wedding.  The possibilities are endless!  Click on the image for a great post on “Destination Wedding Inspiration.”

{Luggage used at Weddings via Fly Away Bride}

# 4: Memory Box

Our very own Turquoise Samsonite Suitcase was featured on the buyer’s blog, Bluebird Kisses where she described how she was going to use the piece as a Memory Box for her young infant.  Such a sweet idea!

{Memory Box via Bluebird Kisses, click on the image for link}

#3 Storage/Toy Box/Magazine Holder

Okay, I said that #6 was the easiest but I think it’s this one.  With the side tables, you do have to put some thought into coordinating the suitcases so that they stack well and compliment the room decor.  When using a suitcase as storage – you just throw stuff in it and voila! Leave it out on a shelf, push it under your bed or tuck it into your closet.  It’s that simple – and so much prettier than a plastic bin.  Think magazines, books, photos, DVDs, toys…etc.

#2: Photo Prop

If you’re a photographer, or even a hobbyist photographer – you should try incorporating vintage luggage into your shots.  They add rustic charm, add whimsy and enhance travel themes.

{Photo Prop via VintageJoRay on Etsy, click on the image for link}

#1: Travel!

I saved the best for last!  Use your vintage luggage for traveling!  I know it sounds absurd but if it’s in good condition, why not?  You will look super stylish and it will stand out from the sea of black nylon business carry-ons.  Come on, you know you want to.

{Travel via My Monography on Etsy, click on the image for link}

For more ideas on how to use your old vintage luggage, check out my Pinterest Board Vintage Luggage!  There you’ll find a few ideas that didn’t make the Top 10 but are still noteworthy, like Speakers & a Charging Station!  Too cool.  And don’t forget to check our shop, we usually have at least one suitcase for sale at all times…currently it’s this lovely white American Tourister. 🙂 See you next time.

01_White Suitcase


Have you Noticed…

That VerdiBou is having a SALE on select Fall 4 Me merchandise?  Scurry over to see which items have been discounted.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Process {Re-upholstering Vintage Luggage}

As promised, here’s a quick rundown of what it takes to re-upholster vintage luggage.  It’s relatively easy but takes quite a bit of time due to the precision needed in order to have it look professional.  First & foremost, assess the interior of your suitcase.  Some vintage luggage is in good shape!  Our hat box didn’t need re-upholstering because the interior still looks great.  For the sake of being sustainable and not jeopardizing the value of your vintage find, you should leave it as close to its original condition as you can.  However, because of the very nature of luggage, many vintage pieces are pretty scary inside with stains and odors.  We’re talking 30+ years of use…there’s bound to be a few shampoo spills in a suitcase’s life span.  That’s when re-upholstering can really bring new life to your luggage!

So rip out that old interior lining and pick out a fun new fabric!  You’ll be left with a wooden shell that looks something like this.  Pay close attention to the old fabric and how it was originally attached.  I’ve learned a lot just by analyzing the upholstery during “deconstruction.”

Assess the amount of fabric you’ll need and think about how many pieces it will take.  This particular suitcase only took 4 pieces of fabric, cut to size.  The other 2 that I’ve re-upholstered have taken 6, but the lid on this one is very shallow and so it only needed 1 piece, without side pieces.  The lower portion of the suitcase, however, is much deeper.  It will take one piece in the center and 2 for the sides.

For the sake of brevity, I’m hoping these photos will explain more than words.  (I hate reading long instructions!!) Here are the basics.  Cut the fabric pieces to the appropriate length and width, adding 2-3 inches on each side.  This extra fabric will be folded under and stapled to the wooden structure.  I find it easiest to iron the pieces so that the edges make a crisp line along the perimeter of the suitcase.  During this process, I’m continually laying the fabric in place to make sure it’s going to fit perfectly.

Then it’s time to pin and staple!  If you have a helper, you don’t need to clamp the fabric in place, extra hands are very valuable (but not always available!)  Before stapling, I cut 1 inch strips of card stock and put that at the very edge of the folded fabric.  Again, this helps maintain that crisp edge, and is a trick I discovered when ripping out the original lining. It also allows you to staple farther away from the actual edge of the suitcase which usually has metal fittings that the staples won’t go through.  😉

Make sure to find the smallest staples you can, these suitcases are not very thick and you don’t want sharp staples sticking out of your suitcase!  Once one side is stapled, I clamp the other side in place and work underneath the fabric, stapling the other side.  The depth of the suitcase allows for this slack in the fabric.  The lid of this suitcase was not deep at all, so I was only able to staple one side and used upholstery tacks on the remainder.

Now, only the sides remain.  For this suitcase, I decided to add 1″ foam to the sides to give it a little cushion.  The upholstery tacks that I’ve been able to find are longer than my staples, so having thicker sides helps the tacks not go all the way through the suitcase.

Cut the foam to size and wrap the fabric around it like a present.  I usually secure it with staples or tape.  Then I place the upholstery tacks at each corner and typically one in the center.  Once in place, hammer the tacks until they are secure in the wood.  This leaves a nice tufted look to the sides.

And voila!  Your updated luggage is ready for use, travel or otherwise. 😉

This was a quick tutorial, let me know if you have any questions!


Update:  If you liked this post, you might also like our “Top 10 Ways to Use Vintage Luggage!”

New Arrivals: Come 2 Play!

Wow!  I’d like a 3-day weekend more often.  I was very productive, if I do say so myself.  And what do I have to show for it?  A full shop!  I added 8 new items this evening, one of which is the Air King Vintage Suitcase mentioned in the Sneak Peak a few days ago.  It’s so bright and cheery inside!

This suitcase is part of our new Collection, “Come 2 Play,” which features yellow and pink nursery decor items.  Many of the items are not nursery specific, however, so don’t hesitate to look around if you don’t have a little one to buy for!  My favorite item is this little yellow fawn, now featured in the blog header.  He makes my heart melt! 😉

Go check out the rest of the Collection in our shop under “Come 2 Play.”

Verdibou Sneak Peak: More Vintage Luggage!

I’ll be posting this and other new items to our shop in the next few days!  I’ll also share with you my process of re-upholstering these suitcases in an upcoming blog post.  Stay tuned. 😉

If you missed our other vintage luggage, click on the images below to see the past Etsy listings.

Brownies & Brown Cups

I needed a little pick-me-up this evening so I came home and made cocoa brownies!  Mmmmm.  They were so yummy after a long, rainy day at work.  It was just the thing to give me that little boost of energy that I needed in order to post the remaining items in our Fall 4 Me Collection.  And here they are.

So totally retro and bright! (it’s good to stock up on the CHEER for those rainy days like today.)