March 26, 2013

Before & After: From Throw-away Trunk to Repurposed TV Stand

Remember that old trunk we found in our back alley headed for the landfill earlier this month? Well, with a little TLC and imagination, we've repurposed it into our new TV stand, complete with castor wheels...

I'd spotted this trunk on the far end of our back alley when we headed out from the garage to run errands that morning. I pointed it out to Mary and we both agreed if it was still hanging out later in the day when we got back home we'd check it out. Well, it was still there several hours later when we returned. By that time, I was tired from running errands and frankly, the last thing I wanted to do was go check out the trunk, convincing myself the previous owners probably had a great reason for getting rid of it (maybe it was falling apart, moldy, had rodents, or something gross inside).

Mary still wanted to go take a look so once we got inside I changed my mind again and thought there's no harm in checking it out. We were both nervous walking up to the trunk, thinking it might be rotted, dirty or have some other "surprise" in store for us. The only real surprise turned out being that the trunk was a little dusty, had a torn handle and a few wrinkles on the outer bottom lining, but was in great shape otherwise. It seemed like it may have been a simple case of moving day or spring cleaning for the previous owner and this trunk just didn't make the cut.

What's even cooler is how this vintage trunk was made right here in Virginia by the Dependo Trunk & Bag Company — man would we love to know the history on it:

We decided to haul it back over to our garage, where I broke out the cleaning supplies and gave the entire thing and inside and outside deep clean.

While testing out all the hardware and closures on the trunk, I slammed the lock shut without even thinking twice about it — it was second nature. It wasn't until I'd added that final push to ensure the lock closed properly that I realized we didn't have the key to this mystery trunk — #fail.

After the initial shock and embarrassment of closing the lock, I Googled around to see if there was a basic picklocking method for getting it open (after trying a knife on my own), and then I found something even better — a website called Antique Keys filled with universal replacement keys for basic trunks and locks like the one on ours. For $5 I decided to take a chance and ordered a key in hopes it would not only open our trunk, but provide us with a key we wouldn't have had in the first place.

Tip: look on your trunk (ours was an everlast T44) for any identifying lock details and Google it for replacement keys — you can find them pretty easily on Ebay, and other sites like the one I got ours from above.

After realizing the trunk was in good condition, it was then we decided it would make a great upgrade to the trunk we've been using for our TV stand. We'd already been on the hunt for a taller trunk since we wanted a little more height below the TV. Here's a shot from back in September showing the TV on the smaller trunk we had it resting on before:

We also decided this would be a great piece to add some castor wheels to — they could not only provide a couple extra inches of height, but they'd make the trunk easier to maneuver in the space and give it a little bit of that industrial repurposed vibe we love so much.

We headed over to our local hardware store to see what kind of castors they had on hand and we found a set of four industrial steel ones we thought would make a good fit without overwhelming the trunk. Yes, we are those weird people that take photos of ourselves at the hardware store:

You can find castor wheels in most any hardware store, farm supply store or even online — there are some awesome and truly industrial vintage ones that can be found on Etsy

Once we decided on the castors, we headed over to the screws isle to match up the perfect fit with the holes in the castors. We went with shorter ones since we knew we'd be drilling through the bottom of the trunk:

Then we headed back home, flipped over the trunk and pulled out the power drill to secure these guys in place:

I lined them up evenly on each bottom corner and quite literally drilled the castors directly into the bottom of our trunk.

Note the careful eyes of my supervisor below — can you see him blending in with the bricks?

Note: Since we found the trunk in the back alley for free and the bottom wasn't in the most pristine of shape to begin with, we weren't too concerned with drilling our castors directly onto the bottom of the piece. We also knew this side of the trunk would never be seen since we're using it as a stand and while it provides great storage, we'll probably rarely open it — so the little holes left in the bottom were not a biggie in our book for this project.

After the castors were securely on, we brought the trunk inside to take a look at it:

We were thrilled at well it turned it out, but Mary said the bright silver tone of the castors against the worn brass tones of the metal trunk hardware were bothering her. She is a much more visual and detail oriented person than I can be, and that's just one of the reasons I love her.

So what did she do? She went out to garage and came back with a bottle of chemical metal patina she'd had in storage from her jewelry making classes back in college — Jax silver blackener

She said she could paint it on the wheels and while they weren't technically made of silver that it should give them enough of a patina to darken them up. If you know the type of metal you are working with, you can get different chemical solution formulated especially for it, like a pewter or copper patina.

I was pretty amazed at how she just painted the clear liquid onto the castors and they seemed to magically blacken up into even more of an industrial feel:

See how much darker the wheel and hardware got after the patina was painted on:

Once the patina was dry (in a couple hours), we flipped the trunk back over and set it up in the TV area. Here's what we've got going on right now:

Not bad if I don't say so myself! And yes, that is March Madness on the TV. Next up, we need to figure out how to hide the cable and dvd player boxes that hang out next to the TV.

Here's the photo of Mary trying to get the perfect shot of our new TV stand:

What the other side of the camera looked like:

And her outtakes of Basil showing exactly how he feels about her taking over his bed:

How does he always seem to steal the show?

Key Update: After pretty much completing the transformation from trunk to TV stand, a little package arrived in the mail.

It was our replacement trunk key — and guess what? It worked like a charm!

So for about $30 (breakdown: $24 for the castors and $5 for the replacement key), we've got a new TV stand we're loving. We took the smaller trunk out to the garage for safe keeping at this point, but already have a few ideas up our sleeves for bringing it back inside with updates of it's own. We'll be sure to keep you posted on that front, though we probably won't be tackling it as quickly as we did this guy.

What great finds have you come across lately? We always feel so lucky when we come across something and realize we'll be able to make it work for our space.

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  1. Love your pillows! I am in search of some new ones for our living room. Where did you find those, if you don't mind my asking :) Love the trunk as a TV stand also. :)

    1. Thanks Mindyz!

      We picked up these pillows during a trip to Ikea just over a year ago! They still have them in stock and they're super affordable. We wrote more about that trip in this post with links to the pillows here:

      You can also see how puffed and nice they looked when we first put them on the couches here:

      So glad to know you think they still look good, ha!

    2. Oh they do still look great! Thanks so much for the link. I am going to go to Ikea online and take a look!!

      Love your blog by the way. :)


  2. So cool! I love the way it turned out. The castors were a brilliant idea :)

  3. I love it!! You're a lucky duck! Those trunks are so pricey in antique stores! I keep looking at them and drooling...but haven't found a find like this yet, although, over by our dumpster, I found 2 vintage suitcases (blue and yellow) in fabulous condition last weekend!!!

    1. Jasanna, good vintage suitcases are hard to come by — great find!

  4. Oh my goodness, very cool find, such and easy project! Basil is so adorable and expressive. :)

  5. You didn't even have to dive into the dumpster to get this awesome trunk!!! Love the stool you use for your t.v. that udder balm I spy? My husband is a grand dumpster diver!!

    1. Ha, lisa, you have good eyes! Yes, we are bag balm addicts around here!

  6. I can't believe someone would throw that away! What a cool find! And I love that you made it into a TV stand.

  7. I read your blog as often as I can & I have to say I just LOVE your trunk..... & Basil of course!
    xxx from Australia

  8. I think you guys should hide the cable box, etc inside the trunk and vent it/make it function like YHL did in this post:

    Love the trunk!

    1. Oh, great idea Ellen — LOVE the little ball receiver. Will look into this and have to report back if we can make it work! Thanks so much for the link!

  9. I totally second Ellen's comments suggesting that you should conceal your tv cables and wires all inside the trunk altogether. It is afterall a storage trunk, so why not take advantage of it and utilize all of its purposes. I definitely look forward to pictures of that project should you be successful in achieving that. Overall, you are such a lucky bird in finding such a treasure. And a creative one while at it!

    1. Thanks Matt and that is still on the table to do!


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