before and afterDIY

Before & After: Wooden Trunk Make-Under

by Grace Bonney

The idea of painting older (no matter what the quality) used to be something almost everyone loved here. Comments would pile in for vintage dressers that went from brown to bright coral and then there were the in-between years where the balance between “How could you?” and “That’s fantastic!” was pretty even. But these days the vote seems to have come down pretty solidly on leaving things as-is. No painting, no detailing- the simpler the better. While a part of me relishes the idea of giving anything new life if it was headed for the dumpster, I understand the cry for something less altered. So when I saw this makeUNDER come in, I was excited to share it. DIY blogger Minni Sirelä of NimiDesign inherited an old wooden trunk from her husband’s grandmother. It was covered in thick chipped layers of paint and someone had used duct tape to cover the gap between two planks on the top. Despite its current state, Minni took it in and decided to give it some new life.

She removed the paint from the wood and metal portions using a heat gun and paint stripper. After scraping and sanding the wood clean, she used a light stain and lacquer on top to protect the wood. Voila! After years and years of someone adding coats of paints, Minni stripped this piece back down to its original glory. You can find more details on her how-to right here– thanks for sharing, Minni! xo, grace

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  • I clicked on the post because I found the black crate was REALLY nice. I was further amazed by the final result when I scrolled down though! My first opinion changed right away. All that in 2 seconds.

  • Stunning! Bravo on all your hard work. So completely worth it. The wood looks georgous.

  • Enviable before and after! Seems the tides are turning – I really love this makeunder :)

  • Great job.
    If you don’t like the shiny finish, a good option is natural wax. Here in Italy an excellent brand is ‘Cera Ambra’. Working outdoors or in a well ventilated area is a must because of the turpentine fumes.

  • Wonderful…..and I am JUST getting IN to painting furniture! (not pretty wood though…I could never do that!)

  • Hi everyone! Just wanted to say thank you Grace for posting my project and to everyone for your nice comments! They really mean a lot to me, thanks! :)

  • This is an amazing trunk, made beautifully! A grey stain would be amazing with the color of the hardware and surrounding decor, but th8s color is lovely as well!

  • Looking at the width of the boards, the wear around the lock and the irregular shape of the hinges, that looks like a late 18th- or early 19th-century trunk. If it actually is, then it was almost 100% guaranteed to originally have been painted and it’s incredibly sad that it’s been stripped all the way to bare wood rather than just the top layers.

  • Hey North Corner! Interestingly enough, I always said if I were famous I would change my name to North Conner! (my last name is Northrup and my birthname before adoption was Conner!) So love the name of course. But I am astonished at how many of your DIYs I havr going myself! Just today I washed out an emty spaghetti jar that is actually a mason jar! So yes, I will be hanging some beautiful lanterns soon thanks to you! And guess who has a trunk in her garage that I wasnt quite sure the direction I was going to take as I currently have been stripping and staining everything wood that I own, this trunk pc was exactly what I needed to see for the hardware aspect! You rock! Thanks! Lovin ya here in CA!