Everyone’s Got Baggage (AKA DIY Medicine Cabinet from a Vintage Suitcase)
by saying, EVERYBODY, but everybody’s got baggage.
Am I right? Heather from the Heathered Nest here with you Remodelaholics again today. And I’m saying, honestly, you can’t be an inhabitant of this fine floating orb for very long before the baggage starts to accumulate. Then the question becomes, how do I handle this baggage? Do I succomb to the heavy weight and throw in the towel? Do I put up my dukes and fight everything til I’ve KO’d everybody who has stood in my way?
Me? I’ve got baggage, too. Know what I did with mine? Made a medicine cabinet.
You could too. Let’s have a little “talk therapy” session today about your baggage. We’ll unpack all those burdens together, and hang em on the wall. First things first. You gotta admit that you have baggage. That was easy, right? OK, but now you LITERALLY need baggage.
I got 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 MONSTER) cup-o-joe, and drive…usually to a thrift shop or any number of my local flea market style haunts. It was a beautiful day when I discovered this vintage suitcase.
They are becoming a kind of big thing lately in the upcycling world. People make coffee tables, bookshelves, you name it with these suckers. But I knew I wanted a medicine cabinet, so I was hunting for the perfect specimen. Ideally 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, as well as cool!) Here’s the discussion me (gray corner) and the Mr. (green corner) had over text about the two finalists…
In this case (get it, “case”?!) his “function” (and inexpensive price tag) won out over my dreamy alligator “form”. That’s ok, there will be other rounds in this eternal form vs. function match. The important thing is we now have a subject matter for our project.
How to Make a Medicine Cabinet from a Vintage Suitcase
Let’s talk SUPPLIES:
- hot glue/glue gun
- fabric of your choice, about 1/2-1 yard
- scissors or razor blade/exacto knife
- couple paper maps
- cardboard (for mounting mats)
- Modge Podge (or Elmer’s Glue watered down a bit)
- MDF shelving or other scrap wood
- studfinder (that used to be my job at the bars. tee hee)
- cold beer of your choice (what? it helps every DIY project to be funner. Yes, “funner” is a word)
Let’s Get down to business:
1. Clean up your case.
How much and what to do will clearly depend on how banged up your particular suitcase is. Ours had peeling liner and looked like it had sat out in the elements for…years. So, I just peeled anything that was flaking off, and gave it a quick rub down with some 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 case with fabric.
Time to cut your fabric to size and line the suitcase with your chosen material. I used this inexpensive plaid cotton for mine. But you could use anything that suit(cases) your fancy. Or use scrapbook paper, modge podge magazine clippings in there, whatever your heart desires. The possibilities are endless.
3. Modge-podge your map.
Measure and cut some cardboard panels from some stashed, old Amazon boxes or whatever you have on hand. My plan was to modge podge a map for the largest panels on the top and bottom of the case, and have the sides be covered with the fabric. So I measured a piece of cardboard to fit both panels I needed.
You can see in the shot above where I chose to use the fabric, and where I stopped it. Even if you decide to use fabric throughout your case, I would recommend following this method anyhow, and instead of modge podge, just hot glue your fabric to some cardboard. It will help you keep your corners looking tidy.
4. Affix your modge-podged panels into the suitcase.
We set ours with hot glue…LOTS of it. Then, in order to try and get a good seal on it, we used a piece of scrap lumber and some quick grip clamps to hold the panels into place to set overnight (not that hot glue takes that long to set, but it was late, and we were tired).
5. Cut your shelves.
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, particle board, whatever you got.
6. Screw in your shelving.
We did this by pre-drilling some holes in the outside of the case to prevent splintering and fracturing our suitcase, then chose to use some black drywall screws in order to make them blend into the case a bit.
7. Mount that sucker on the wall!
To do this, we used a studfinder to locate the stud(s) where we wanted to mount the cabinet, then used a level to make sure the cabinet sat 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.
So thanks for stopping by guys! And 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.
Wanna check out other Heathered Nest bathrooms & ideas? Here’s a few:
Our $1800 Kids Vintage Transportation Bath Makeover
You can also turn that old suitcase into a unique corner bookshelf:
or try another one of these great shelving ideas for your bathroom storage needs:
How did you get rid of the musty smell that most of these suitcases have. I have not been successful in getting rid it and have tried everything. Your finished project is beautiful.
Hmmm…There really wasn’t any smell with mine. I did strip all the old, in my case, it was paper lining. But I’d get rid of the fabric or whatever yours is lined with, then try and give it a good cleaning with potentially a bleach/water solution. Really depends on what your case is made of…If it’s leather, that wouldn’t be a good suggestion, obviously 😉 Good luck! Hope you can make it work!!
Love it! But where did you get the shower curtain? That is amazing!!
Thank you! I actually made that curtain on a site called CafePress.com
Thanks a lot, I went through pinterest and youtube to find how to attach the shelves/racks in the suitcase and didn’t find a single one until I found your blog. Great job, I am not sure I would be able to do it, but I have 2 huge suitcase and 2 small carryons and I need to do something with those or throw those away.
What a great idea! Thanks for sharing this with us.