Sunday, January 16, 2011

Steamer Trunk Restoration

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but a few months ago my Mom and I stumbled upon this awesome steamer trunk at a local auction. We had our eyes on it the entire night and right before the auction closed, they finally put it up for bid. Savvy bidders that we are, my Mom and I managed to snag the trunk for $15. We were both so excited to start cleaning it up and restoring it, with the hope that I could eventually use it as a neat storage space for my workspace. Lo and behold, life happened and we haven't had a chance to do any work on it, until yesterday.

Here are some pictures of the trunk before we even got started on it:

These drawers and shelf will be perfect for storing my candle supplies!

We're not sure what we'll do with this side yet, we were thinking of putting in some additional shelving and taking out what looks like a shoe bag at the bottom
We're assuming that those rods up top were used to hang pants or dress clothes, but for my purposes they would be perfect for drying tapers!

How cool is it that it still has the company name on there? I think cleaning up this spot is going to be my favorite part of this project  ;)
 After I took pictures to document our "before" stage of this monstrous project, we started by measuring each of the sections on the inside of the trunk since we're planning on reupholstering the interior. With all of our measurements complete, my Mom and I searched through her endless supply of fabrics and picked out these:

The Currier & Ives-type fabric on the left will be used for the background of the interior, while the solid fabric will be for the shelves and drawers.
The next step was to iron the fabric before we could start placing it. We decided to start with one of the drawers first, so I ironed the solid fabric, which is actually a gorgeous cream color, but the photos don't do it any justice.

Phew! It seemed like it took forever to iron all of the fabric, but in reality I think that's just because I hate ironing. With the fabric now smooth and pristine, we cut sections for the drawer, leaving an extra 1/2-inch all around to cover the corners. After cutting the pieces I then had to iron them again because apparently this is what you do when you sew...which is probably one of the reasons I've never really been into sewing.

After all of that ironing, I was more than happy to move to the next step, which was to adhere the pieces to the drawer. We were debating whether or not to remove the original fabric first, but ultimately decided to just leave it on because we were afraid that trying to remove it would do too much damage to the actual structure of the drawer. We used this great spray-on fabric glue from Elmer's. My only caution when using this would be to wear gloves--we foolishly skipped this step and ended up with sticky fingers the rest of the day. But at least it worked really well in keeping the fabric on and it even smoothed down nicely, too. We only covered the three sides, leaving the front for another day because we'll have to tackle what to do with the drawer pulls. But here's what it looks like so far:

We were both a bit disappointed with the edges, so we've decided to trim them with a black fabric to mimic the leather trim that's on the outside of the trunk. Now we just need to decide which fabric we'll be using for that!

By this time it was already getting late and we were both really hungry, so we decided to call it a night and promised each other that we'd keep working on it in the next few weeks/months. For now, I'll leave you with a shot of the drawer sitting in the trunk, just to give you and idea of how it will look.
All in all I think it's coming along really nicely (albeit slowly) and I'm super excited to continue working on it. Has anyone else ever worked on restoring something like this? If so, do you have any wisdom you'd like to impart? I'm sure my Mom and I would be ever so grateful for any pointers  ;)

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