How to paint suitcases is one question I get asked often ever since I published this white suitcase nightstand. People want to know all the details, as if there is some deep dark secret that I could share.
Well let me tell you, there is nothing easier, no need to be afraid. But since I get the question so often I thought I’d better show you the process firsthand.
How to paint suitcases: the steps
- Find an old suitcase.
Don’t worry about imperfections, that goes with the territory. Remove – if possible -, stickers, tape and other ‘accessories’. Clean thoroughly. When looking for suitcases to paint I don’t worry about damage because that will be covered anyway, but I search for the ones with details: reinforced edges, label holders or wooden strips. The more original details the better because those add interest once painted.
- Decide what to do about the hinges and handle hardware.
You can choose to tape it off and keep it in its original state but I usually prefer to just paint over them. Much easier and it hides rust and grime.
When I did my first one, I used spray primer. That works fine. Since then I prefer a regular primer applied with a brush. It is easier to get into all the nooks and crannies that way. Use one of those cheapo throw away brushes though, because it is likely to get damaged. Don’t waste a quality brush on a project like this.
Any primer will work, don’t worry about that. Just give it a very light coat.
- Start painting it in color of choice.
I usually start by painting the bottom, let dry, turnover and paint the sides and lid. It adds an extra step but painting one of these is a quick job that doesn’t take a lot of time. You could do it between the soup and potatoes (sorry bit of Dutch humor here).
- Bonus tip!
Before you start to paint the top part put something tall inside the suitcase so the lid can rest on it. That way you can paint underneath the lid edge too and you don’t run the risk of painting the suitcase shut by accident.
- While it is drying wiggle the hinges and lid a bit so they stay mobile and the paint won’t crack. It is not a big issue if you forget this but it might lead to a bit of cracked paint later on. Don’t worry about that, striving for perfection when painting something really old like this is pointless anyway.
I think painting these old suitcases is just the easiest and most rewarding thing ever. They really come alive again. So don’t worry and just do it, there is no science to it.
Decorating with painted suitcases
Once you’ve got yourself a painted suitcase there is a ton of things you can do with it.
- Stack ‘m and use them as a sidetable
- Put them on a matching little table to give that the height you need
- Put them under the coffee table to stash magazines, books or blankets
- Place them high on a wardrobe to give you extra out-of-season storage space that looks good at the same time
- Organise your fabric or craft supples in them in your craft room
Check out my painted suitcases shine in my bohemian living room decor
Two similar painted small suitcases, a vintage one and a newish one, form a storage team in my new craft room
Really if you have been thinking about painting a suitcase, just do it, don’t worry to much and don’t be afraid. Mind you if that suitcase happens to be an heirloom of your uncle Vincent that he carried with him when he came over on the Mayflower: Step away! leave that piece of history alone. But if you happen to have a roadside find, a suitcase thrifted for a few bucks or that you dug up in your own attic, please go ahead have no fear and slap some paint on it. It is easy. It is worth it.
So the answer to “How to paint suitcases?”, is simply: Just do it, have no fear ! Get it done!
If you like these painting tips you might also like:
My working with milk paint review and tips and tricks
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