Old Suitcases, New Decor

Sorry for the long delay–first of all, the photos wouldn’t STAY up on this blog!  I’d get it posted, check it, and it would be fine.  A day later, the Blog Spider had stolen them and whisked them away.  Only a blank white box remained.

It truly was very sad.  Not that I shed any tears over it.  I just went off and did something else.  Now, I’m BAAAACCCKKKK!

So, apologies for that–I’ve tried, honestly I have.  Let’s see if I’m more successful with this post.


Friend Vanna has been working with her family clearing out decades of treasures from her in-laws house.  Make that houses.  And a barn.  And they’ve all been at this for……many years.  We can accumulate a whole lot of stuff in our lifetimes, and I’m pleased to report that her in-laws both had good, long and happy lives.  They are missed, of course, but meanwhile the business of disposing of all the treasures was at hand.

At the end, deciding nothing else would be sold or claimed, Vanna sent me some photos asking if I’d like some of the old suitcases (among some other treasures).  YES, YES AND YES! I replied.

Old suitcases often have been used for happy trips–road trips, airline trips, plane trips.  While participating in the adventures, they get banged up–I’m talking about the suitcases here, but in our case, sometimes it’s us as well, but hopefully not.  Tends to ruin a vacation, you know.  But I digress……

Later, when the style changed, these particular old suitcases were used for storage.  Time takes its toll and they needed a good cleaning and sweeping before I might repurpose them.

Be forewarned:  this  refurbishing takes hours.  I’m not complaining, I’m just saying that there is much elbow grease, soap and water involved, plus in this case, some navy blue shoe polish.

When cleaning old things, be careful with any harsh cleaners–old suitcases may have rich colors, some of it is grime!, but pretty none-the-less.  Using harsh cleaning products can remove some of that color, so be careful using it.  Best to try a damp cloth, some mild soap and see how well you can clean with those.  One of the suitcases had some dried white paint–and a small scraper and rubbing a while on each spot got it off.  In addition, there was some old masking tape which had sufficed for labels.  Over the years, in the heat and cold and dampness, the tape had become one with the suitcase cover, so removing it was not easy.  Ultimately, after scraping and rubbing, and using vegetable oil to try to get some of the stickiness off, I used some navy blue shoe polish to improve the looks.  It worked fairly well.

Note:  old suitcases have a history and a story–they are not supposed to look ‘like new.’  I like the patina of old things–it adds character.  If I wanted all new, I’d go buy from a store.  I don’t.  I want warmth, uniqueness, a sense of theme.  Not everyone likes this approach to decorating and I understand that.  But I do.  It’s also a less expensive way to approach decorating, but frankly I don’t do it because of that.

Finally, I had them ready for display.  So here they are in my family room which has a definite British theme:

A book about England sits on top.

Carrying through the British theme to the mantle, a mug with the English flag insignia and a ‘tea’ lamp (holds a candle) sitting on some miniature suitcases.

THANK YOU SO MUCH VANNA!  They add much interest to the room I think.

Most of these items were from yard sales!  If one will take time, (repeat the mantra), YOU CAN FIND ANYTHING AT A YARD SALE!

Happy hunting!