Different Ways To Decorate With Trunks

According to Amish Hand Crafted, a trunk (or a steamer trunk as it is sometimes called, thanks to its popular use by olden day travelers on steamer boats) is a box used for storage of clothing and for packing items you wish to carry with you during a voyage. These pieces of luggage were particularly popular between the 19th century and the early 20th century, after which lighter luggage became the norm.

You may have probably come across steamer trunks in antique stores or maybe when watching old movies. If you're lucky enough, your great grandparents could have had one or two in their heyday and they may have passed them on from generation to generation. So, if you have one lying around your house or you are keen on one day purchasing a trunk to start a collection, the next step is to consider integrating these stylish pieces into your abode.

Swap your coffee table out for a steamer trunk

One way to decorate with a trunk is to use it as a coffee table. In order to embark on this task, you first need to consider the exact measurements of the center table space you wish to fill, after which you can embark on your search to find a trunk that fits.

For example, this Chairish 19th Century chest is 30 inches wide and 18 inches high; this is comparable to the size of a small coffee table, but opting for a trunk would surely offer more of an interesting addition to your home. Imagine sitting around the unique feature with friends discussing the life the trunk has seen — that's sure to be a conversation starter which would wow your loved ones.

According to Love To Know, finding antique furniture could be a lot easier than you may imagine; you just need to go out of your way to discover antique stores near your location via web searches or through the local newspapers which sometimes have advertisements about auctions. You could explore charity shops, pawn shops and flea markets. Put your ear to the ground in order to find out more about antique fairs and yard sales. Lastly, online stores could come in handy in addition to your local Craigslist marketplace or your local Facebook Marketplace (however, try to verify any online dealers before exchanging money to avoid being duped).

Use it as a catch-all in your entryway

If your home has an entryway as well as a living room, lucky you! This just means that you're officially the proud owner of even more spots in which you can decorate with trunks. Most entryways have a spot for a small table that you can use as a spot for a catch-all. A catch-all is a handy tool which people utilize to help them store and gather items that easily go missing such as keys, pens, and other bits and bobs, according to Idle Hands Awake. While a table is usually what people use in their entry ways, why not substitute a basic table for a vintage trunk, or maybe even three trunks stacked together?

While the catch-all is doing the job of keeping clutter at bay, your trunk/entryway table would take things up a notch and insert a rich character as it holds the catch all. If your home has a particular aesthetic, and your vintage trunk's brown hue does not really fall into your desired color palette, feel free to spray paint the furniture to a color that works better with your style (via Upright And Caffeinated).

Implement your trunks as bedroom storage

Let's head over to your bedroom, also known as the place in your abode which should be your ultimate haven seeing as this is the territory where you actually lay your head. If your bed is centralized, you can choose to flank both sides with medium-sized matching trunks, to be used as nightstands. Or, if there is more than one bed in the room, say, a kids' bedroom which two siblings share, then a wider trunk can be placed between both beds and used as a centralized nightstand. Or, you can use a trunk at the foot of the bed to store extra blankets.

Trunks have a lot of depth to store items within them as well as upon them, hence, anything which cannot sit on top of the trunk can go into it. This must be music to the ears of those individuals who wish to keep the top of their bedside table more minimal for a decorative Pinterest aesthetic. Since the trunk offers inner storage, they get to stick to their aesthetic while enjoying the functional benefit of stowing away items (per Daily Crisp).

Build your trunk into an ottoman

According to Ashley Home Store Killeen, many rooms in your house, such as your master bedroom and your living room can benefit from the presence of an ottoman. If you do not already own an ottoman, you could benefit from adding it into your space, however, before you embark on any purchases, you need to consider how the new piece of furniture would look when compared to the existing furniture and accessories within your abode; would the color and aesthetic match seamlessly or would it clash royally? Also consider the color of your wall paint and how the ottoman will work against it (via EHow). 

A trunk offers all the aforementioned features of the normal ottoman but if you wish to use it frequently as extra seating in your space, you could fix a pillow and a slipcover on top of the trunk to make it a tad comfier (per Funky Junk Interiors).

Trunks can work as laundry baskets

Steamer trunks were literally created to hold clothes back in the day, so, in this modern age, what stops us from using a vintage version like the one pictured above to store our laundry?

We wear clothes every day of our lives, most of which we tend to wash and repeat. Therefore, this means that at some point in our lives we have all had to pile together our laundry when our clothes became dirty. (If you are a mega superstar fashionista who can afford new clothes everyday, this category is obviously not for you). Whether we do our laundry at our home or we go out to do the laundry, Furniture Design India maintains that a solid laundry basket can offer a functional feature within your abode.

There are different types and styles of laundry baskets and hampers. The most popular ones are wicker baskets although they have their limitations; there are also molded plastic baskets, fabric hampers and so many others. A trunk is a useful, often more aesthetically-pleasing, choice. Take things a step further by inserting a removable liner or washable cloth bag inside the trunk which will carry the clothes (as opposed to putting them directly into it), as this will keep the musty odor from the soiled clothes away from the trunk (via Crown Choice).

Stack them as a collection for an artsy focal point

One way to truly represent your personality is by having meaningful art or your favorite collections displayed throughout your living space. It could be wall paintings, sculptures, framed posters, a vase collection, or a vast coin collection framed and mounted on the wall. Let's consider empty vases for a second. Vases are used for storage of flowers yet even when they do not store flowers, they're still used in the home as a form of elegant decor and can be an artsy focal point, particularly when grouped in a vignette (via Camille Styles). If vase vignettes are a thing, then trunk vignettes could be a thing as well. 

If you actually have a bunch of trunks or if you plan to start a trunk collection, no matter the aesthetic your space has, be it vintage, modern or country style, trunks can add even more interest (per Scaramanga). These pieces are already works of art, so keep that in mind when choosing where to display them.

You could also create a space in the corner of your living room, where you could stack them according to their sizes. Under the staircase is another great display area for your antique art pieces. No matter where you decide to display you trunks, the achieved effect will have you looking like the interior decorator of the year.

Convert your trunk into a lounge chair

Remember the cool trick we dished on making your trunk inspired ottoman, comfortable enough to sit on? Well, if you find a big trunk, large enough to have the width and height of a lounge chair, you may want to fit in cushions and have the trunk transformed into an actual seat. Back in the day, quality steamer trunks were made from all sorts of sturdy material to withstand the wear and tear of the long journey ahead, some of which could take weeks and even months. The sturdiness means that you will definitely need to put in extra work on your trunk lounger chair to ensure it's comfortable enough for seating (per Antique Mall).

This work could be executed by a professional handyman or you could be daring enough to seize this opportunity to engage in a DIY project of measuring, stuffing and sewing the cushions yourself (via Sail Rite).

The good news is that, even if the DIY does not quite come out the way you had envisioned and the chair is not as big, practical or as comfy as expected, you can still display it as a form of decor.

Turn a trunk into a dining table

According to a study reported by K102, a poll was taken to find out how Americans relate to dining areas and dining tables. The highest percentage of poll takers mentioned dining furniture as the greatest sign of having your life together.

This being said, we cannot ignore the fact that eating breakfast in your bed or on the sofa has become the norm for most families. However, if you have the space for a dining table, go for it! It offers families an avenue to connect deeper and for single occupants, a chance to disconnect from phones or work, and be mindful of their consumption (via La Belle Assiete).

We know what you're thinking: Changing old dining habits of not sitting at the table is easier said than done, but when you have an exciting steamer trunk dining table like the one pictured above, we bet this will be the new and only spot where you'd choose to dine. To add an elevated element to this dining feature, seek out sturdy iron legs to attach to your antique trunk at a height that works well with your dining chairs (per Home Talk).

Integrate trunks as living room side tables

Now that you have your dining "trunk inspired" table, let's revisit your living room. If you've decided to add a trunk coffee table, we might as well go all in by adding matching trunk side tables to be situated next to your chairs.

The difference between living room side tables and the aforementioned furniture is that sometimes you may require your compact side table to be mobile (via Instructables). You may wish to drag it closer to you to prop the snacks when you're eating whilst watching television or place your digital device such as your laptop on it and move it to a perfect distance so you can use it comfortably. Small- to medium-sized trunks can be implemented as side tables, and by adding wheels to the corners of the base through a DIY, you could enjoy mobility at its finest.

In order to attach caster wheels, peruse the different styles and pick which one works for your furniture; from corner mount casters to retracting casters (via Woodcraft). You may also be able to find steamer trunks or modern versions that already have the wheels attached.

Use your trunks as storage for your precious cargo

As long as you live in your home, clutter will most likely tend to arise, hence its up to you, as a mature individual in full control of your surroundings, to anticipate this occurrence and be well prepared to stop the clutter from increasing. One way to do this is to collect containers and just keep them aside for whenever you may need them. 

The variety of sizes which trunks come in puts you at an advantage to be able to choose what works best for your mission. Bigger-sized trunks can come in handy to store bigger items in your homes such as your handy garage tools or even as a stowaway meets focal point design for your seasonal Christmas tree, according to Funky Junk interiors. And since trunks have been proven to be a versatile storage tool, small or medium sized versions decorated with pillows and other necessities could come in handy as a pet bed for your furry ward.

Trunks make fantastic entertainment consoles

Our next decor technique affects how your television is watched, because you already know things will never be the same when you integrate a trunk as your entertainment console. The beauty about the trunk as a stand is that it directly correlates with the need for the owner of a stand/console to be able to enjoy storage, thanks to the inner storage space, according to Home Zone.

Before implementing the antique piece to work alongside your television, you need to decide if you wish to mount your TV or have it stand on the furniture. Both are useful techniques, but it's worth keeping in mind that if you mount your television straight onto the wall you would need extra material to cover up connecting wires and connections, and if you're renting, you need to double check with your landlord before drilling any holes in your walls (via Zeglin's).

Create a vanity table out of a trunk

A vanity table, a boudoir or a dressing table, (no matter what you call it) — these furniture heroes have been making life easy for individuals who need an organized special area to engage in daily grooming since the time of the ancient Egyptians (per Hunker)

Vanities tend to have mirrors placed on their tops, in order to allow you regard your image while you indulge in your beauty processes. They also boast storage for you to keep your items organized and your surroundings clutter-free, particularly 19th century versions which boast compartments to store smaller goods (via Get Away Tips). In addition to this, a steamer trunk is sturdy enough to carry the items which sit on top of a vanity, particularly a large mirror and task lights.

You can attach it to a wide stool to give it extra height, or you can enjoy a modern take on this style by opting for a ready-made replica version like this Amazon steamer trunk constructed in the form of a chest of drawers with a mirror attached to the top.

Make your trunk a mobile bar cart

Whether it's your liquor, your wine, the glasses used to consume the liquor, your napkins, or even your cocktail making tools, a mini bar in your home could come in handy. It will contain all your items, and, depending on the style you choose, it could also elevate your room's aesthetic by showcasing character and flair, according to Closet Factory.

There are so many different forms to consider: Chic mirrored trays to gather your stash, converted horse boxes with wheels, rustic wooden bars, and sleek mounted glass versions with shelves — so many versions are available and you don't necessarily need to splurge on a grand version to enjoy a luxurious feel (via McGee's).

If you're looking for a quirky, fun bar or you desire something more classic and elegant, why not implement a vintage trunk to act as an elevated chest of drinks? The standard brown hue is a classic, but since our home bar will definitely be a highlight for you and your guests, you might as well keep this feature fun and colorful; you could opt for a yellow or purple version like the ones stocked at Trunk Outlet. However, at a price point of $1000 and more, this ready-made version may be too expensive, therefore, feel free to paint the version you currently have using spray paint.

Use your trunk as a bookcase

Imagine if you can insert wooden planks into the edges of your trunks, just like you would do when executing a DIY crate bookcase project like Amy Latta Creations. Since the crate offers a casing in the form of its exterior, you would need fewer planks and equipment to make it. This also goes for your steamer trunk. 

If you are sold on turning your trunk into a bookcase, the next choice you can make is deciding where in your home you wish to place it. In a small room, you may want to save floor space by mounting your trunk to the wall, perhaps above your study table or opposite your bed (via Bedroom Style Review).

If you have no desire to hang anything on the wall, it can be installed in the form of a rollable case to keep it mobile. In a bigger living room or the home study, you may want to fill your space and make it cozy by placing your sturdy trunk onto stable wooden legs in a section of the room, thereby dividing the room into zones to command attention (via Reddit).