before and after

before & after: suitcase + ottoman + pinboard how-to

by Grace Bonney

d*s reader laura hale was browsing through her local thrift store when she saw this “lonely little grey train case miserably tossed in a corner”. despite being full of dings and stains, laura thought took it home for a little tlc and a handmade makeover. she primed the entire case inside and out, painted the outside fields white, the trim black, and the inside fuchsia, and then decoupaged poppies from her favorite snow & graham wrapping paper onto the interior and exterior. a few coats of poly (to keep it stain resistant) later, it’s now laura’s “favorite thing”. great work, laura!


this ottoman makeover comes from graphic designer rachel shingleton. tired of the brown pleather upholstery on her storage cubes (which were sitting around collecting dust) rachel decided to whip up a few colorful covers made from fabric she found on etsy. a few hours later her storage ottomans had gone from dark and dreary to bright and cheerful. thanks for sharing, rachel!

[have a before & after you’d like to share on d*s? just send me an email right here with your images!]


CLICK HERE to see leila’s beautiful burlap and button pinboard makeover (including a fun how-to!) after the jump!

leila of in the tweeds sent over this lovely frame makeover. after repainting the frame and adding a cork layer to the frame’s back, leila added a burlap cover and created her own vintage button thumbtacks (tutorial here!) to create a truly custom corkboard. the final look is, as leila wrote, “night and day” and the little custom thumbtacks are such a nice touch. great work, leila!

Suggested For You


  • Ta very muchly D*S, Fab makeovers as always!
    Could I ask what paint was used for the train case and the same question for the frame?

  • I love the little suitcase, I just picked up a classic suitcase from a thrift store a few weeks ago that would LOVE a little TLC like that. So yes, what kind of paint?

  • Love that pinboard!
    Before and After Thursday is my favorite day. I keep my blog reader open so I can be alerted just seconds after a post. :) I’m officially addicted.

  • There’s no tutorial at that link you have listed for the vintage button thumbtacks. It says this- Sorry, no posts matched your criteria. I can’t wait to try out the burlap pinboard though! I was just going through a bunch of unused frames the other day and I have plenty of colorful thrifted burlap that I’ve been wondering what to do with.

  • love love love button push pins! now i know what i need to do with all my saved buttons! so exciting!

  • I love these! You guys site has become a daily must read for me! My husband an I are hoping to purchase our first home and it needs a little TLC, you share the perfect ideas that I’d like to incorporate into my home!

  • That inspiration board is perfect! I used to have an ugly, long one that would have been ok at a school or something but not in my room. When I painted my room (three walls gray and one wall a dark yet soft and warm purple) I took it down and decided to use an old gold frame that was sitting around the house not being used. At first I was happy to just use the cardboard without laying some cork in it but that quickly got old and isn’t as good as cork for sticking with pins (go figure). So I wanted to put cork in but felt that it needed something else but I could not figure it out. The burlap is perfect! And I was looking for some sort of alternative to the regular thumbtacks that aren’t very pretty and those are very nice! If I find a bunch of animal buttons I will now exactly what to do with them :) Thanks for such a fantastic blog!

  • Thanks for posting my corkboard makeover, Grace! :) And glad y’all like it!

    For the paint’s frame, all I did was first prime it with some Kilz white primer spray paint, then cover it with 2 coats of Rust-Oleum Universal glossy white spray paint.

    • I am not a craft person but always wanted a pretty bulletin board for my home office. Today I found a very nice old frame and now need help. Do I buy corkboard and then cover it with fabric? Is that all there is to it? Will that support and hold the pushpins? Do I then staple it all to the back of the frame. If these are simple questions, I apologize. I am not handy in any way.

      Thanks for your help.

  • The pinboard is fab! Just what I need for my new house. I’m afraid I liked the little train case before!! A great job has been done of it, but that beautiful soft grey was lovely; I would have cleaned it up, polished the metalwork and relined the insides with a soft blue & cream stripe.

  • i’m with Molly on this one… the pinboard is fab, but that train case before was sooooooo lovely. sometimes i love before and afters, but other times, they make me sad. though, i do realise that everyone has different tastes to me. i just love that original train case…

  • @Monique, about the lamp — my husband purchased it for me four years ago from a local boutique. I cannot for the life of me remember the manufacturer. But another cool line is by Stray Dog Imports. Fun fun fun!

  • LOVE that train case! Very cute, feminine, fun. I’ve often seen abused suitcases like that and thought about purchasing them, but I figured I’d just have to live with their ratty looks. Glad to know they can be reborn with just a few materials; I will have to try this next time I spot one at a garage sale!

  • I love the suitcase. It’s so awesome to hear how people find sad, lonely items and give them new life. I wish more people did this. And, I wish I had the eye for it.

Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, that comment on people's physical appearance, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.