How to Refinish A Vintage Trunk in Desperate Need of a Makeover

Would you believe me if I told you that I bought this vintage trunk more than ten years ago without ever giving it a makeover? It’s true! Apparently, I am capable of leaving some things just the way they are!

Vintage trunk with chippy blue paint

Okay, maybe that is not entirely true; I scraped off a few loose flakes of blue paint to prevent them from making a mess. But that’s it – until now. I finally decided it was time to give the trunk a new look.

Prepping Before the Vintage Trunk Makeover

I began with a paint stripper, but that was a complete waste of time. This blue paint is as stubborn as can be! There were also very few smooth areas to scrape the paint off. The wood is in rough shape, and the metal is bent and buckled all over.

Removing broken slats from a vintage trunk

The decorative slats were broken and loose, so I decided to remove them and make the refinishing process a lot easier.

Sanding a vintage trunk to prep for a makeover

My orbital sander is my best friend! Because of all the nooks and crannies, I thought the mouse sander would be the best tool for the job, but I soon realized that it was not strong enough to get rid of the blue paint without sanding for days on end. I did not have the patience for that!

Sanding the inside of a vintage trunk

The inside of the trunk was covered in some sort of decorative paper at one point in time. Only a few tiny pieces were still visible. It was so old and brittle that it turned to dust as I wiped over it. I decided to sand it all away and clean the inside well.

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Because of all the uneven surfaces, I decided that a few remaining bits of blue paint wouldn’t be the end of the world.

I quite liked the look of the raw wood and metal. I did consider leaving it this way, but I was also curious to try out one of Dixie Belle’s new wood stain colors: Golden Ash.

Staining the Wood of the Trunk

Staining a vintage trunk to give it a makeover

Dixie Belle No Pain Gel Stain is an absolute joy to work with. No pain, indeed, is the best name to describe this product. I am also a fan of this new color, Golden Ash. It’s a rich dark brown, and I think I will use it again (soon) when I refinish my dining room chairs.

Usually, I would use a foam brush or sponge to apply stain, but for this rough surface, a paintbrush worked best.

Wiping off excess wood stain

After applying the stain, you need to wipe away the excess. In this case, there was not that much to wipe away. This guy was thirsty!

Applying Gilding Wax

Painting gilding wax on all the metal of a vintage trunk

If you know me, you also know that I always sneak in a bit of gilding wax somewhere. I could not resist brushing it on all the metal edges and hardware.

Gilded detail on a trunk

It’s a bit flashy, I know. My kids say it looks like a treasure chest.

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I do like the new look. It still looks vintage but a little more classy.

I am going to move it down to the basement and use it as storage for all the throw blankets we use while watching TV.

Vintage trunk makeover completed

Miss Blossom approves! She is here for it.

Cat inspecting the inside of the trunk

She also tried out the inside because it’s very similar to a box, and there are soft and snuggly blankets in there!

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Bonus video

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