Vintage Travel Decor Ideas: DIY Trunk Coffee Table

Vintage travel decor never goes out of style, especially when you combine it with the function of a DIY trunk coffee table. You get high-end style with storage all on a budget!

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Watch how Michelle of Serendipity House creates this DIY trunk coffee table, or keep scrolling for a supply list and step-by-step instructions.

If this is your first time using IOD Transfers, check out this post for all the basics as well as our best tips and tricks.


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Step 1: Apply two thick coats of light gray-green paint.

Use a cross-hatch brush pattern (like an “X”) to create texture and stroke lines on the trunk with the paint. Cover the entire trunk including any hardware, seams, and lock, but avoid painting the leather handles. Cover them with painter’s tape to avoid any mishaps. 😆

Allow the first coat of paint to dry fully before applying the second coat.

Step 2: Sand and distress the trunk.

Create areas where some of the metal from the hardware and other contours of the trunk show through. Think of where natural wear would show – corners, edges, and any other raised points.

Use a vacuum or wet wipe to clean off all the dust from sanding.

Step 3: Apply a high-quality water-based topcoat.

Using long even strokes, seal your DIY trunk coffee table with a matte topcoat. Wait 24 hours for it to dry completely.

Step 4: Cut apart, arrange and rub on the Exploration Transfer pieces you want to use.

Use the application tool provided with your transfer to gently rub on the furniture transfer. Slow lift the grid-lined backing to make sure all parts of the image are transferred. If you find you missed a piece, just lay it back down and keep transferring.

Feel free to layer and arrange the vintage travel designs to create just the look you want. Michelle created a train-themed DIY trunk coffee table but you can use the old-time airplanes, hot air balloons, or wooden sailing ships.

Note: If this is your first time using IOD Transfers, check out this product basics video for extra tips and pointers for easy release and adhesion to your project.

Step 5: Burnish the vintage travel-inspired images.

Cut a piece of the leftover non-stick backing and use it to firmly rub the entire transferred image. This is to make sure all the edges securely adhere to the trunk.

Step 6: Apply a satin sealer over your entire DIY trunk coffee table.

Brush on an even, thin topcoat and allow to dry completely.

Step 7: Antique the trunk to give it an authentic, time-worn feel.

Apply a liquid antiquing patina or dark wax. Work in small sections – applying and wiping the antiquing medium with a lint-free cloth as you go. Work the antiquing medium into all the seams and hardware – wherever dirt and dust would settle. Allow the trunk to dry fully.

Add flecks of bronze and brown paint by dipping an old toothbrush in the paint and lightly flicking it. You can do this by stroking the bristles with your finger.

Mist the flecks with a spray water bottle before the dry to create an organic movement of the paint droplets.

Step 8: Install the casters.

Following the directions on the package, secure a caster on each of the four corners of the trunk.

And you’re DONE with your DIY coffee table!

Do you love vintage travel decor? Get inspired by these other DIY home decor ideas using the IOD Exploration Transfer.

Is vintage travel decor your style? Let us know in the comments below.

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  1. Sandra Malbrough on July 28, 2021 at 8:42 am

    What a fantastic idea for an old trunk. It really turned out great. Love the Wall Art that Ellen J Goods. So many beautiful inspiration pieces.

  2. Beth Kelly on July 28, 2021 at 8:56 am

    I just finished my first one . I love the look.

  3. Susan Chilberg on July 28, 2021 at 1:18 pm

    I have a little bombe shaped piece… maybe a jewelry box? That needs IOD magic….. and one old window left to do!! The window in this publication would be perfect to do!!
    Thanks for the wonderful inspirations!!

    • IOD Customer Service IOD Customer Service on July 28, 2021 at 2:37 pm

      Great ideas!! That transfer has so many options, you could get both of them done with one!!!

  4. Susan Chilberg on July 28, 2021 at 1:20 pm

    I think the bicycle needs to be on some kind of wood hanger for my daughter & son-in-law! They are biking enthusiasts and are right now riding the RAGBRAI in Iowa!!!

  5. Adriana on July 28, 2021 at 2:08 pm

    I have that exact trunk (a Freecycle gift) and have been waiting for months to get inspiration to upcycle it! Wow! It looks fab!
    Thank you,

    • IOD Customer Service IOD Customer Service on July 28, 2021 at 2:35 pm

      I LOVE freecycle!! What an exciting thing to find. Glad you’re inspired!!!

  6. Y on July 29, 2021 at 7:52 am

    Omgosh! It turned out beautiful! I am now going to be on the lookout for yes! A trunk! What an inspiration!!!

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