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Trunk-ated Table


I’ve had this gnarly trunk for years. It was about $40 at Marshall’s in 2002, and it’s been through the wringer. It held my books and boardgames when I was in high school and was used as my “floor table” when we took the unnecessary last shots of the night in college. It’s held old photos, shoes and blankets. I finally decided it was time to show it a little attention as a thank you for all of it’s years of service.


Right from the start I knew I wanted it to become a table. I unscrewed all of the screws on the trunk and basically left everything that was tacked on.

There was a pretty thick layer of glue coating the whole thing because I decided two years ago to do a half-hearted job of covering it in fabric. I knew it was temporary because the fabric didn’t really thrill me, but I guess no one told the glue that it was only temporary because even though I removed the fabric 10 months ago, the glue was still super tacky and gathered every stray fuzz in a 40 foot radius.

Sanded a HoleI thought sanding the trunk would help remove the glue. And yes, it did clump-up the glue and swirl it around in a mass on the trunk, but it also ate a hole through the cheap vinyl covering. No worries though, “maybe removing EVERYTHING and leaving just a wooden box would be beneficial,” said the optimistic voice in my head, which I always come to hate at the end of a project.

But honestly though, optimistic schizophrenic voices aside, what was I going to do? Call off the whole project because “I done messed up?” (that was the hillbilly voice in my head, she’s a bit more realistic.)

So I soldiered on, leaving ripped pieces of vinyl, tacks and faux leather in my wake, until I was left with a simple, naked wood box. And what does Kristen Van Loon do with a plan, ordinary piece of furniture?

SimpleShe paints it, of course!!!

PaintI chose a soft celery green that I didn’t realize would be SO soft once I put the hardware back on. But you know me, I like to ride it out until I’m crazed with exhaustion and wave the white flag. I decided to keep it going and add some legs… this is where the REAL exhaustion comes in.

LegsI turned it on it’s side because I thought it’d be a pretty sweet TV stand and I could let the trunk open and close to hide the cable box and cords. It’s a stellar concept, but contains several flaws.

1) The legs are too short for the broadness of the front. It’s uneven and stout; it looks like something Humpty Dumpty would use for travel.

2) It’s literally top-heavy. With so little room, the legs must be placed so close together that it barely balances with the trunk when it’s closed, let alone open. Angled top plates would hold the legs at an angle and distribute the weight evenly, but I only had straight ones.

3) The TV that I wanted to put on here has too wide of a base to fit. I figured that could be the case, but if everything else worked out OK then I’d use it for something else… but nothing else went as planned.

On top of those three very logical reasons for scrapping this design, there is one glaringly obvious reason to reconsider the idea– I HATED the huge contrast between the green and the hardware.

So dismantle and reconsider was the name of the next game. I took off the legs and all of the hardware and took a cue from the Kristen of two years ago; I covered it in fabric.

Spray GlueI used the same permanently dangerous glue, but this time around I didn’t have fake leather trim to maneuver around, this was a totally blank box.

MeasuringThis photo to the right is what I like to call “measuring.” I don’t need a fancy measuring tape, I just need to eyeball the basic size and start cutting. I overestimate all the time, but I’d rather waste extra fabric than get too caught up in details that will only slow me down… probably not fantastic advice to follow.

TacksI wrapped the box like a present and cut the corners to avoid the “gift box corner” that you get when ACTUALLY wrapping a present. When the glue wasn’t enough, I used tacks of various sizes to secure the material on the inside.

I broke down and bought new top plates because I decided that an angled leg is much more sturdy for a heavy piece like this AND I thought it gave it a friendlier appearance…. why is it friendlier? I can’t say for sure, but it doesn’t look as stiff and rigid. Less Victorian, more Mid-Century.

I screwed on all of the hardware, the top plates and the legs. I made another new decision; I chose to put the trunk upright because it isn’t as shocking as when it’s on it’s side. Plus I wasn’t going to be able to use it for the reason I initially intended so there was no sense in keeping it sideways.

AfterThe sunny fabric REALLY lightened up the whole piece, and the whole room for that matter.

Back endI was so happy with the outcome that I completely replaced my second-hand side table. You can tell by my “flattering” description of the old table, that I wasn’t exactly heartbroken when I moved it out to the garage.

This is an absolute upgrade!.. Now to replace that couch…


About Kristen Van Loon

My name is Kristen Van Loon and this is the chronicle of my search for *Oomf!* Not only have I deemed myself qualified to revamp, repair, refurnish and refine my house, but I also jump into any DIY project that my friends, co-workers, family and practical strangers stumble upon. I would love to tell you that this is my full-time job and my complete life mission, but I make my bread and butter elsewhere and raise a daughter (Olivia). I have some experience but no time, no formal training and no money. My only saving grace is that I love figuring things out, I’m great at improvising and I’m always inspired. For the record, some things that I do (play with electricity, for one) may seem risky, and some of them are. I will always tell you what I’ve done, but I won’t ever suggest things for you that aren’t safe. Even though I push the envelope, I am only marginally incompetent. If sources (father, my brain, Google) tell me not to do something then I usually won’t. But if I do try and it blows up in my face (figuratively or literally) you will hear all about it, and you hopefully won’t attempt it. At the end of the day, I hope to inspire you. Space-Lift isn’t just a blog, it’s a verb. It’s an action that brightens your surroundings by assaulting everything that needs improvement. Nothing is off limits, and all possibilities will be considered.

4 responses »

  1. That is an amazing trunk. Never would have thought to use fabric to spice it up. Good work!


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