How to Transform a Vintage Trunk into a Coffee Table

Deb Foglia
Written by Deb Foglia
Updated September 7, 2016
Using an old trunk as a coffee table will add some rustic charm to your family room. (Photo by Deb Foglia)

If you love the farmhouse style, then mixing vintage pieces with new decor is a must!

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Adding some farmhouse charm

I've been helping a friend transform her home to have more farmhouse character these past few months. We lightened up the walls and have been adding some touches of farmhouse accessories, along with a few vintage finds, to create a beautiful rustic room.

Fortunately, we came across one very lucky piece when her grandparents’ trunk was up for grabs. It fit in front of the couch perfectly and just needed a little bit of love. 

Before, the trunk was a greenish color and had a contrasting black trim. There was some scuffing and rips throughout the trunk, but we felt we should embrace the character. I especially wanted to highlight the natural crackling in the structure. I chose to keep it simple and neutral and just add some white paint and a little dark wax over it to enhance the distressing. 

Take a look at some antiques from your parents or grandparents or check out an antique store for a great find. (Photo by Deb Foglia)


  • White latex paint (flat finish)

  • Dark wax (Annie Sloan)

Some nicks and imperfections in the trunk will help enhance the rustic charm of your coffee table. (Photo by Deb Foglia)

How to refinish a vintage trunk

Clean the trunk really well using soap and water. Apply the flat-finish latex paint to the surface. I did about two coats. Once dry, use sand paper to lightly distress the finish.

I chose to keep my trunk as white as possible, so I only used a very small amount of dark wax. Keep the brush as dry as you can; you only want to enhance the crackling and not antique the piece completely. 

Add some knick-knacks to pull the look of the room together. (Photo courtesy of Deb Foglia)

It’s that simple to create a great afternoon project to add more character to a living room space. The best part about a trunk is that it can be used for storage as well. Line the inside of the trunk and place blankets, pillows, or even toys that you plan to hide away. 

Now, it's a wonderful sentimental piece that brought interest and character to this evolving space.

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