cold beer of your choice (What? It helps with every DIY project)
Let’s consider this a little “talk therapy” session about your baggage. We’ll unpack all those burdens together, and hang em on the wall.
The first step, of course, is admitting you’ve got baggage. That wasn’t so bad, right? OK, but now you LITERALLY need baggage.
I found mine during one of my own “shopping therapy” sessions. That’s when I leave the house, solo, with just a wad of cash and a BIG (I’m talking H-U-G-E) bathtub-o-coffee, and drive…
My car tends to lead me to yard sales, thrift shops or one of my favorite local flea markets. On this particular therapy session, I discovered this beautiful vintage suitcase.
Sure, he’s a tad banged up. A little used, abused, rough around the edges. He’s clearly got baggage…but again, don’t we all? Makes him all the more real and Velveteen-Rabbit-esque and beautiful in my eyes.
These vintage suitcases are becoming a kind of big thing lately in the upcycling circuits. They are made into tables, shelves, you name it. I knew I wanted a medicine cabinet, so I was hunting for the perfect specimen.
I needed a very rectangular (no rounded edges) hard case, that was at least deep enough for a roll of toilet paper (it’s gotta be functional, right?)
I texted husband during my therapy session about the two finalists I found. He’s the green text, I’m the gray.
In this case (get it, “case”) hubby’s “function” (and affinity for the inexpensive price tag) won out over my dreamy alligator “form”. That’s ok, there will be other rounds in this eternal form vs. function battle. At any rate, we found our guinea pig for this project.
Let’s get down to business…
How to make your DIY bathroom vanity:
1. Clean your suitcase, as needed.
This step will vary greatly depending on the condition of your particular suitcase.
Mine had a peeling liner and looked like it had sat out in the elements for…years. I peeled anything that was flaking off, then simply cleaned out the dust and grime with soapy water.
The guts of the case are going to be covered with new fabric or paper, or what-have-you, so don’t stress about this part too much.
2. Line the vintage suitcase with fabric/material of your choice.
Now it’s time to line the suitcase with our chosen material. We used a bit of fabric and some paper maps. But you could use anything that suit(cases) your fancy.
I chose these materials mostly because I’m cheap, and these were items I already had at home. I used hot glue to secure the fabric to the sides of my case.
3. Mod-Podge (glue) the map.
We covered the back of the case as well as the inside of the front door with maps that we mounted on cardboard cut to size.
In the shot above, you’ll see that I chose to use the fabric on the sides of the case because, for me, that material was easier to work with.
Even if you decide to use fabric throughout your case, I would still recommend mounting your fabric on cardboard for the back of the case and inside the front door, simply because it helps keep the corners looking neat, and will also help eliminate wrinkles and bubbling. If you use fabric, you can stick to the hot glue. Mod Podge is only necessary if you’re working with paper of some sort.
Mod Podge is easy to work with. I like using these inexpensive foam brushes with it. You’ll need to use enough glue to almost saturate the map…getting enough glue on there will make it easier to smooth out wrinkles, but be careful of going way overboard because if you do that, the map/paper may start to rip and tear.
4. Affix map panels into the vintage suitcase.
After your Mod Podged panels are completely dry, you’re ready to mount them into the case.
To do this, we used hot glue…a LOT of hot glue. To get the best adherence we could, after we set the panel in place, we used a piece of scrap lumber and some quick grip clamps (which are super useful for all kinds of projects, btw) to hold the maps in place and set overnight (not that hot glue takes that long to set, but it was late, and we didn’t want to hang out holding it there for any length of time).
5. Cut the shelving.
Take a look at your case and decide how many shelves you need. We did this by taking some things we knew we would want to store there and setting them inside to see how many shelves we could and should fit based on the size of those desired items.
In our case, we ended up with two shelves.
We used a piece of old shelving we had stashed in the garage.
You could easily use some scrap lumber, barn board, MDF/melamine, particle board, whatever you got.
6. Screw in the shelving.
Pre-drill some holes in the outside of the case to prevent splintering and fracturing of the suitcase. We then used black drywall screws in order to make them blend into the case a bit.
7. Mount that baby on the wall!
Use a stud finder to locate the stud(s) where you want to mount your suitcase. Before you start fastening it up there, don’t forget to stick a level on it to make sure it is sitting correctly. We pre-drilled a couple of holes in line with the stud, then screwed in our cabinet.
We used washers as well as the screws. If you don’t have the ability to hit a stud, you’ll want to make sure to use several wall anchors, and you’ll choose the appropriate type based upon the weight of your case and the anticipated contents.
Thanks for stopping by! As they’d say in Steel Magnolias…I love you more than my luggage. And as you can now see, that really IS saying a lot.
Pin this project for later! And if you decide to try it, leave a comment on the pin! That helps others know whether they want to try it, too!
Pssst…before you go, I sure would love to hang out with you again really soon! Sign up now and get a FREE copy of “Builder-Grade To Beautiful: 10 Totally Transformative Home Decorating Solutions, All Under $100!” Click here to enter your email or on the image below. Your copy will be sent right away!
A former doctor of physical therapy, Heather Thibodeau went from rehabilitating people to homes as the primary creative force behind the DIY and home decorating website, The Heathered Nest.
With her work being published both in print and online in places such as Better Homes & Gardens, House Beautiful, Good Housekeeping, Real Simple and more, Heather's goal is to help people create a home they love, one DIY project at a time.
Amy Carnrick says
What a great idea! Thanks for sharing!
I found your post via Roadkill Rescue and this is one of the more impressive rescues. Considering the original state of the suitcase it is amazing that the upcycled medicine cabinet looks great. I really like your choice of fabric and it goes really well with the maps.
Thanks so much Rebecca!! I’m really flattered to hear that!