Oh how I wish I had “before” photos!  This project was a vision in my mind back in Sept. 2009.  Then I began the project in Jan. 2010, before I had a blog, hence no photos, but I will do my best in retelling this story.
In Sept. 2009, at one of the Heritage Homes where I work, they have my favorite kind of décor, and interior design.  It is decorated in an “old world” style, yet with modern designer paint colors, gorgeous silky, shiny, rich flowing curtains, amazing rich color area rugs, gorgeous lamps, both Wrought Iron and Tiffany style, and on and on it goes.  I love this décor.  Well, they had recently purchased a coffee table that I fell in love with.  Of course, they had purchased it at a very high end Furniture Designer Store, at the cost of $1500.00.  In looking at this coffee table, I knew we could build one at a fraction of the cost. (please forgive this picture, it was taken in Sept. with my cell phone - not great, but enough to get the idea of what it looks like)

I had seen on many occasions, those old wooden/canvas travel trunks in various second hand and antique stores, so I thought that is where I would start to look.  Well, it took five months of searching before I finally found one.  And it was Dang Ugly!  However, I could see it had the right “bones”.  I knew it would take some doing to clean it up, so I bought it for $50.00.  The lady in the store asked me what I was going to do with it.  I told her, sand it down, stain it, and put it onto a table to be used as a coffee table.  She proceeded to tell me if I did that, it would loose it’s antique value.  I did not say anything, but thought “good”, this thing is so ugly, anything would make it better!

By the way, we think it dates back to the early 1920-30's.  Now to describe this hideous, ugly travel trunk:
The top is wood, stained red, then someone had painted blue and green checkers on the top.  The sides were a nasty red canvas material, and the hardware was very old, not nice looking brass.  The leather handle straps on the side of the trunk were in good condition, but I did not like the golden color.

Too ugly for words.

Once I brought it home, my DH, looked at it dumbfounded, not saying a word.  I told him what I would like us to do, to resurrect this poor trunk.  He did not say anything, other than to shake his head and walk away. What can I say, some guys just don’t have “vision”.  You have to see past the ugly to see the beautiful!

So, began the slow, slow process of sanding.  Lordy be!  I never thought it would be this hard!  I only got one checker panel sanded, which was done by hand and took many hours.  Then, I guess, I just ran out of steam.  It sat like this for 6 months.  Every day I would look at it, thinking, I have to get on with it.  So, finally, I did.

Painstakingly, ever so slowly, those nasty checkers were finally off.  But then, I did not know how to sand the top wooden braces.  They were an awkward shape.  So I just did a light sanding.  Next came the red canvas.  Lord have mercy.  There were 2 strips, the small top section and the wider bottom, both of which went around the entire trunk.  I decided to paint the smaller canvas strip with Black Fabric Paint.  It looked a little better, but I was not satisfied, as it looked too dull.

I decided to leave it for a few days, and concentrate on stains.  I knew I wanted something in a dark, rich brown, and ended up using a gel stain called Brazillian Redwood.  I began to slather it on.  All over.  On the red nasty canvas, then the painted flat black canvas, the old ugly brass fittings, and even the leather handles - I kept slathering it on.  Wow.  It went from ugly to gorgeous.

My DH was stunned.  Who knew?  He would ask.  Vision, that’s all you need.  Now the next step was for DH to build a table to put the trunk on.  It turns out, that although the wood on the trunk is thin, it is Mahogany.  Given that I did not want to spend too much money, we went with Fir.  My DH, built a lovely table, and it was even his idea to use the decorative thumbtacks along the outside edges. (Maybe he does have vision after all!)  I began staining, soon to find out, that fir is much lighter in color, and now it did not match up with the rich dark brown of the trunk.  So, I decided to liberally “paint” on the stain, to achieve a rich dark color. And it worked!

This was definitely a labor of love….and the best part, with all of the materials, it cost a total of $140.00!   A far cry from $1500.00.  These photos do not do justice - it is much prettier in real life.  I am not sure why, but I had a difficult time taking these pictures.  But if you click on the picture, you will get a better view.  Mine looks more "rustic", but I like rustic, and it adds to it's charm, don't you think?

Here is a side view - I was pleasantly surprised that the leather handells took the stain so well:

We are so happy this project is finally finished.  Now we are on the search for a new living room chair, actually, we have been looking for about a year hopefully our search will bring us to something we really love.

Ina Gawne


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

July 31, 2010