Embark on an Easy Voyage with this DIY Project: Transform Vintage Suitcases into an Accent Table

Take an exciting transformational journey by upcycling a pair of vintage suitcases into one totally unique accent table.  These Goodwill-found suitcases go from lost in the attic to found in your favorite room because they make a table that is whimsical and useful.  It is amazing how traveling has changed over the years, along with the accessories and items we use to get us to our various destinations and back.  Today, luggage pieces have wheels, long hangs, and soft-side construction.  Not too long ago, the types of suitcases featured here were in style with their boxy look and solid—and heavy—construction. 

So, let your DIY voyage begin!

Here’s How:

1.      Start your next DIY adventure at Goodwill

Pull out your phone, select your favorite GPS app, and plug in Goodwill. The nearest Goodwill store is likely only a short drive away, especially as Goodwill of Greater Washington opens more stores in the community.   

In the section of the store that sells luggage, check out their collection to see if any old-school, vintage pieces await you there.  Old suitcases, like the pair featured in this blog, are super easy to transform and offer another storage option for your home, condo, or apartment. 

Expert Tip:

If possible, select suitcases that are flat on each side and more squared-off in design.  This will make upcycling them this way easier than ones that might have a slight angle to them.  Since we are using them as a table, we want them to have a flat, horizontal surface to hold things and keep our cup of coffee or glass of wine upright.

2.      Wipe away the years, not the tears

Give your suitcases a good and robust wipe-down to remove dust and grime collected over the years and across the miles.  Consider using a soft-scrub cleansing product to loose up dirt and fingerprints. 

Inside, use a hand-held vacuum cleaner to ensure all debris is out of there, too.

3.      Get a leg up on your transformational talents—and your project

Since we plan to use this travel-twosome as an accent table, we want it to be easy and comfortable to reach over and set something on it when it’s done.  Most accent or end tables are between 22 and 30 inches high. 

To ensure your table falls within this range AND to raise it off the floor, consider giving it some short legs.   Following the reuse and rethink of the focus of this blog, short wooden legs from an old sofa were enlisted.  They were unscrewed from the bottom of the sofa, and the center screw was easily removed with pliers.  Now, they are ready for their new role!

Determine which suitcase you want to be your base one, then flip it over and use wood glue to secure the wooden legs to one of its sides. A two-inch space was measured from the edge, and then the wooden part was positioned in place after a generous application of the glue was brushed on with a small brush. Allow ample drying time, then flip it back, placing the suitcase with its legs downward.  

Open up your suitcase and use your drill to add screw holes through the suitcase (now table bottom) and into the wooden leg part.  Screw in the screw through the hole to add extra stability, and you are great to go with level one of your transformation.

4.      Secure the second layer

  • Position your second suitcase on top of the first one (now with its stubby, fun legs). 
  • After you determine where it will go, apply more wood glue to the bottom side and put it in place. 
  • Open up suitcase #2 and use your drill to add a hole through it into suitcase #1. 
  • Place a bolt through the hole in suitcase #2’s bottom and add a nut on it through the bolt part coming through the top, inside part of suitcase #1. 
  • Tighten the bolt well, and you will be ready to rock and roll!

5.      Place, accessorize, applaud—your new table & yourself!

Given the universal appeal and connection to travel and suitcases, your newly created accent table will look at home in any decorative style and in any room of your place. 

Put it next to your sofa and take advantage of its storage by filling it with items to keep out of sight.  Add a small lamp or a decorative tray on top.  Place it in a child’s room by the bed and use it to hold seasonal clothing items.   Use it as a side table in your home office by putting it next to a chair and putting relevant supplies inside. 

You have a world of possibilities as to how and where you can use this totally charming and eye-catching accent table!  Bon DIY voyage!

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Tim Kime

Artist, Motivational Speaker, Life Coach

Tim Kime is an artist, life coach, and connector. He is the President of Kime Leadership Associates, offering executive coaching, meeting facilitating, and motivational speaking. He is also the Chief Creative Force of Transformation Junkies which upcycles furniture and other household items into functional works of art. He combined his two passions—unleashing the potential in people and transforming items with the launch of the Art of Possibilities Workshops. These workshops are part upcycling, part dreaming, and part goal setting.