How to Style a Vintage Suitcase 5 Different Ways

Anyone else notice how insanely dark it is early in the morning now? When I got up at 5:00AM yesterday I couldn’t believe how pitch black it was and how long it took the sun to rise. It’s definitely a sign that fall (and winter) is on the way. And even though I already miss the long days of summer, I’m really trying to have a better attitude this year about the cold weather coming back. I can do it, right? I won’t complain. I CAN face winter. We’re obviously still a little ways off from that, but I wouldn’t put it pass Colorado to give us snow in October. Or even September! I wish that was a joke, but it’s happened. Anyway, I’m totally rambling now. Let’s move on to today’s post, shall we? I want to share a few tips on how to style a vintage suitcase in your home. I’ve added a couple to my collection lately, so I thought it might be fun to share five easy ways to use these little gems in your decor!

1. Stack Them For a Little Side Table

One of the easiest ways you can style vintage suitcases is to simply stack them up and use them as a little side table. If you have a few flat suitcases with the same shape this works really well. You can use it next to an armchair or even next to the bed if you have enough! Just start by putting the larger suitcase on the bottom and stack a few smaller ones on top until you get it to the height you like. Easy!

How to Style a Vintage Suitcase 5 Different Ways

2. Open It Up

If you find a suitcase with really pretty lining, open it up and style it like you would a wooden crate or tray. I got this adorable black suitcase recently and it has the cutest lining on the inside, which I think totally deserves to be seen. I simply used a few old books and a bit of greenery to style it, but I think it could be cute with family photos too.

How to Style a Vintage Suitcase 5 Different Ways

3. Paint It!

If you find a suitcase that’s a color you aren’t in love with, you can always get creative and paint it. I did this with a little suitcase I found a while back that was not exactly the prettiest color. So I grabbed my trusty Rust-Oleum chalk paint and gave it a fresh new look. You can even paint on words or other designs too–whatever your little heart desires!

How to Style a Vintage Suitcase 5 Different Ways

4. Pretty Tabletop Decor

One of my very favorite ways to use vintage suitcases is to simply incorporate them into my tabletop decor. I’ve done this on our TV console, dressers, etc. It’s a fun and easy way to add lots of character to any vignette. Plus suitcases are a great way to add height and texture too.

How to Style a Vintage Suitcase 5 Different Ways How to Style a Vintage Suitcase 5 Different Ways

5. Easy Shelf Decor

I love using smaller vintage suitcases to style shelves and cabinets. I have a few that are just the right size for this and I think it’s a really unexpected way to style a shelf. And it’s a great use for smaller suitcases.

How to Style a Vintage Suitcase 5 Different Ways How to Style a Vintage Suitcase 5 Different Ways How to Style a Vintage Suitcase 5 Different Ways

I love vintage suitcases and I have a pretty decent collection of them now. There’s just something about an old, tattered suitcase that’s traveled around the world that I find really cool. You guys know I love pieces that have a story and vintage suitcases are right up there with the best of them. Plus they all come in different sizes, shapes, and colors, so the styling possibilities are totally endless! You can even repurpose them into wall shelves and tons of other cool DIY projects. I rounded up a few from Etsy for any of you that might be interested:

Thanks you so much for stopping in today and hanging out for a bit. I always appreciate it! And while you’re here, you might want to hop over to these other similar posts:

How to Style a Vintage Crate

5 Ways to Style a Wooden Crate

How to Safely Secure an Old Door to the Wall

Leave a Comment


  1. Terri wrote:

    Hi Sarah,
    Another beautiful and inspiring blog post! Do you prefer the Rust-Oleum spray-on chalk paint, the brush on chalk paint or both depending upon the project? Thanks for sharing your beautiful home with us!

    Posted 9.12.18 Reply
  2. Leigh wrote:

    I just bought 2 new suitcases from FB Marketplace yesterday and another off ebay! We are redecorating our guest bedroom and I am ditching the matchy-matchy dresser and nightstands for stacked suitcases and bar cart! I love this post because I might use another one in the room now opened up and showing the beautiful interior! Thank you!! 🙂

    Posted 9.12.18 Reply
  3. Donna wrote:

    My daughter had a pink metal trunk we had gotten for camp one summer. I recently chalk painted it and lined it with a vintage fabric. TOTALLY transformed. Have it sitting in a corner, open and filled with dog toys. Makes me smile every time I walk by.

    Posted 9.12.18 Reply
    • Kimberly wrote:

      Sounds beautiful! I love thinking of new ways to use older otherwise mundane things..

      Posted 9.12.18 Reply
  4. Becky wrote:

    Hi Sarah, love love suitcases but I don’t don’t have any! I saw the one in your mud room that you painted, what a great idea. I had suitcases from my Mom from years ago when her and my Dad got married. Notice I said had.😩 I sold them at my first rummage when it was not the thing. Wish I had them now. Oh well I’ll have to start looking for some. Thanks Sarah have a good day! xoxo

    Posted 9.12.18 Reply
  5. Angela Servello wrote:

    Good morning sunshine 🌞, I love the suitcases and want to get some, but am a bit leery about bugs and gross stuff. I have 2 questions, first how do you clean/ disinfect them without ruining them? Also, I love your scales where did you find them? Found some, but very expensive. Thanks for the great post, have a blessed day.🙏 Angela

    Posted 9.12.18 Reply
  6. Jan wrote:

    Loved your post and your ideas! I have an obsession with these vintage suitcases as well. I have several stacks around my house as decor. One of my side “tables” in my family room is a vintage suitcase stand with a vintage suitcase on top to serve as a tabletop. I am anxious to incorporate some of your cool, unique idea for using vintage suitcases as well! Thanks for always being such a fun inspiration!

    Posted 9.12.18 Reply
  7. Angela Smith wrote:

    Where are you in Colorado?

    Posted 9.12.18 Reply
  8. Fran wrote:

    We just left Colorado Springs today and they broke a heat record! The weather was beautiful and the mountains were amazing! Loved visiting Colorado and glad it didn’t snow! 😃 and I have my parents old suitcases and love how you use them! Thanks for the ideas!

    Posted 9.12.18 Reply
  9. Lindsay wrote:

    Where did you get your candle sticks I see on the tv console and the book shelf? Love them!

    Posted 9.13.18 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      World Market!

      Posted 9.16.18 Reply

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  • You guys told me you love before & after shots, so here’s another one for you. Swipe right to see how I styled our breakfast nook when we first moved in three years ago. This was actually after I painted the walls, they were dark brown before, and I was pretty happy with how it looked. 😬Obviously we have since updated a few things in this space—I added faux shiplap (it was my first big project & I was so proud I did it all by myself!) and then I added a new light fixture, a different table, shelves, etc. .
The thing that strikes me the most with these two photos is the difference in my style. At the time I was struggling to figure out what I liked & how I could make that work with a tight budget. It didn’t happen over night, but slowly things have evolved in this space & it looks totally different today. And if you think about it, that’s kind of the cool thing about life. Nothing we do is ever perfect when we just start out. There are bumps in the road, struggles, growing pains, etc. But as time goes on we (hopefully) evolve to be better than when we began. And even though it’s nice to get to the pretty after photo, especially if you’re impatient like me, it’s also kind of nice to appreciate the journey. Yes, that’s cheesy as heck. But it’s TRUE. I love looking back at these photos of when we first started out because it reminds me of the journey & how hard we’ve worked on our home. It’s still a work in progress,  but I’m grateful for it all!
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  • I’m still a little ways off from jumping into Christmas decor, but I did pick up a pair of these eucalyptus & pinecone wreaths from Target yesterday. I loooooooove them & now I’m getting a teeny tiny itch to add a few more pops of Christmas into this room. BUT I’m going to hold out a little longer. Anyone else still holding onto pumpkins or have you started to deck the halls?!
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