Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

DIY steamer trunk before & after

A friend of mine bought an old steamer trunk and sold it to me for a great price. I am a huge book collector and wanted to try something out of the ordinary. I found many projects on Pinterest for steamer trunks, but most of them were for tables, and wine bars. These old trunks can often be found at thrift stores, on Ebay, at antique stores, and at garage sales. You might be able to find one in your own family. I’ve always found old trunks intriguing, the idea of  who they belonged to, where they have been, and what time-period they were from. This particular trunk was estimated to have been from the 1930’s. In ripping out the old floral fabric, we found an old bullet shell casing. I save it along with a swatch of the fabric washed it and preserved them in a shadow box displayed with before pictures above the finished shelf. It is important to me to show the history of the trunk. As I was getting ready to turn the trunk into a bookshelf, I noticed some surface damages to the trunk, which changed my plan on how I wanted to change it.

  Sand, get ready to paint steamer chest

You will need:

  • Sandpaper or an electric sander if you have access to one
  • Rags
  • Kilz spray- 2 cans
  • Putty Knife
  • Brass Cleaner or other metal cleaner (depending on what type of the metal parts of the trunk)
  • Spray Paint in 2 Coordinating Colors or Chalk Paint (but I suggest doing research first on the paint before choosing)
  • Metallic Paint (if the metal on the trunk is unable to be salvaged, as mine wasn’t)
  • Polyurethane Spray
  • Tape Measure
  • Wood Glue
  • Metal  Shelf Support Strip
  • Shelf Support Clips Zinc
  • Legs or Wheels, Depending on Your Style
  • Shelves

paint steamer chest

The metal on the trunk did not seem to be real brass -only parts of it were even metal, and the metal was corroded. I attempted to clean it up to preserve it, but soon decided it would look better if I painted over it.

The first step in revising the trunk was sanding it, and I had to cut out some of the top layer that had been warped and damaged. The second step was adding the legs. We drilled small holes into the metal corners, and found the legs at Home Depot. Painting with primer was next. I used an Ivory Silk spray paint with primer. I painted the entire outside, hardware included. I was going for the distressed and damaged look. After coating a couple of times, I painted the metal with silver oil-based paint. I used a black oil-based paint and a dry sponge to distress the metal parts and the ivory once dry.


Inside, Legs, Distress Trim Steamer Trunk Shelf

Next I painted the bottom, and the legs. Once they dried, we turned it upright again. Next, we cleaned up the inside, stripping the fabric, and spraying with the Kilz. Once thoroughly dry, I painted the inside black. We installed the shelf support strips with wood glue, and braced them  wood scraps until the glue set hardened.

Steamer Trunk Shelf Side Two Finished

I measured the inside of the shelf and took the dimensions to Home Depot, and they cut the shelves for me. I painted them the same ivory color as the outside of the trunk. Once dry, I distressed them with the black paint and sponge. Once I was sure everything was touched up, I sprayed the entire shelf with polyurethane spray.


Finished Book Steamer Chest Book Shelf W Books

 I hope you enjoy my little DIY project! This was my first big project, and I’m pretty proud of the result!

bullet casing from steamer trunk 2

Bullet casing found in trunk.



So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Trish Eklund

Trish Eklund is a 40-something mom of two, a lover of words, a photographer of the abandoned, and a co-parent with her blended family. She has been a Nebraska transplant for the last 17 years. Learn more about Trish at her blended family website, http://familyfusioncommunity.com/ and her photography website, http://abandonedforgottendecayed.com/, and the Huffington Post Divorce Page. Her abandoned photography has been featured on Only in Your State-Nebraska. Trish Eklund has an essay, Happy Endings, in the anthology, Hey, Who’s In My House? Stepkids Speak Out by Erin Mantz.

Lent For Kids: 40 Ways To Spend 40 Days

In: Featured, Kids
Cross with bird

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season leading to Easter. Our 3-year-old has been talking about the Easter bunny since January, when he finally understood that Christmas was over. While I’m happy he’s excited for the upcoming holiday, I really want to find some good, concrete ways to help him learn that this time of year is not only about bunnies and candy in eggs. So, I’ve decided to come up with 40 ways to spend the 40 days of Lent with kids. Some of these will work better with older children, while others are great for...

Keep Reading

Chocolate Pot de Crème

In: Featured, Kitchen

Chocolate and romance go hand in hand and with Valentine’s Day around the bend, why not have a beautifully simple and romantic dessert on the menu? With Valentine’s Day falling on a Saturday, it might be a little more difficult to get those reservations to go out to eat to celebrate. If you end up staying home, why not have an easy, romantic dessert to finish your meal? Made in a blender or food processor and refrigerated, this recipe is easy to make and the result can be a beautiful and elegant dessert that will put the perfect cap on...

Keep Reading

Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup

In: Featured, Kitchen

Written By:  Rachel Gnagy @ Inscribed Photography & Design (recipe originally from here) One of my favorite ‘girly’ meals to make is soup served in bread bowls. I love getting the Broccoli Cheese soup at Quizno’s (it’s healthy because it has broccoli, right?) and Panera’s Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice soup. YUM. So when I saw a recipe on Pinterest for creamy chicken and rice soup, I thought I would give it a try! You will need: 1 Tablespoon of olive oil 2-3 carrots, sliced 2 cloves of garlic, minced 5 cups of chicken stock 1 cup of cooked chicken,...

Keep Reading

Chicken Cordon Bleu for Two

In: Featured, Kitchen

Written By:  Rachel @ Inscribed Photography (Recipe originally from here) Valentine’s Day is coming up and with that in mind I wanted to bring you an easy, delicious meal for you and your special man. This recipe is by far the easiest Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe and it is super yummy too! Pair it with some steamed veggies on the side and something chocolatey for dessert and you’re all set for a romantic dinner for two. For the chicken, you will need: 2 chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise 8 slices of deli ham 8 slices of Swiss cheese 1...

Keep Reading

Easy Weeknight Beef Stroganoff

In: Featured, Kitchen

We all have those heirloom recipes we grew up with, but when you get married you inherit a whole new set of recipes your spouse grew up with, too. This stroganoff recipe is one that my husband grew up eating and then cooked frequently for himself before I took over in the kitchen. (ha.) He made it for me once while we were dating, and I will admit – I was super skeptical. Generally, these sorts of humble dishes aren’t my cup of tea – the ones made with cream-of canned soups and noodles. However, I tried it and was...

Keep Reading

Hanging Onto Hope: The Dream That Saved My Baby Girl

In: Faith, Featured, Journal, Kids
Hanging Onto Hope: The Dream That Saved My Baby Girl www.herviewfromhome.com

Family and friends often assure pregnant women that their “maternal instincts” can be relied on to guide them into motherhood. This previously undiscovered gift will reveal itself the first time she holds her child. As a mother of four I believe in this instinct, but also recognize that experience and wisdom help. The birth of our fifth child, Kinsley, has introduced me to another source of guidance and strength that I never anticipated. Kinsley was born the day after Christmas. She was pink, beautiful and certified by the medical staff as being in perfect health. She was welcomed with unconditional...

Keep Reading

Bow Your Head and Vote, Yes the Outcome is Rigged

In: Featured
Bow Your Head and Vote, Yes the Outcome is Rigged www.herviewfromhome.com

“Keep in mind this is God’s plan! And who am I to dare question God’s plan!” I say it over and over as I watch this mess unfold before me. This mess, America is calling an election. I have never been impressed with the two-party system. It allows too much power to a select few and limits our freedoms. So, as I watch and listen and pray, as Trump and Clinton march to the White House, I only hope more Americans now see the disaster that is the two-party system. Two people that should be sitting in jail are now...

Keep Reading

This Kick-Ass Cancer Survivor Shares 20 Easy Ways To Make Your Life Healthier Today

In: Featured, Health, Healthy Living, Mental Health, Motherhood
This Kick-Ass Cancer Survivor Shares 20 Easy Ways To Make Your Life Healthier Today www.herviewfromhome.com

I recently went through quite an experience with my health. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in September of 2015. Following my diagnosis, I underwent a treatment regimen of chemotherapy, double mastectomy, and then, 28 rounds of radiation.  Before my diagnosis, I felt the healthiest I have probably, in my whole life. I was exercising regularly. Eating, conscious of my health. And after birthing three kids in 6 years, finding ways to focus on myself once again. And then — WHAM — cancer.  Excuuuuuuuuse me?!?! Cancer?!? I was, for all intents and purposes, a 33-year-old with great habits and a great...

Keep Reading

The Great Melt Down

In: Faith, Featured, Kids, Kitchen
The Great Melt Down www.herviewfromhome.com

When my brother Bobby and I were little kids, one of the great treats of summer was a journey to a neighboring town where my dad would buy each of us a hand-dipped ice cream cone. During the drive home, my mom would turn around from the front seat and point out drips that we back-seat-riders needed to lick up quick. I, the ever-eager pleaser, would anxiously eat my ice cream as quickly as possible, barely taking a breath between licks. Bobby, on the other hand, came up with the more reasonable response. He would grin at Mom and bite...

Keep Reading

The Best (and free) Drug Prevention Strategy

In: Featured, Health, Healthy Living, Kids, Relationships
The Best (and free) Drug Prevention Strategy www.herviewfromhome.com

A secret Facebook group has been uncovered by police that connects kids as young as 12 years-old to places where they can buy drugs. (see the link to the story at the end of this blog)  Shocking? Yes. Surprising? No. Kids find a way, don’t they? So what can we do? There are apps we can buy. There are rules we can make. There are punishments we can deliver.  Yet the best prevention of all is our relationship with our young people.  Time together, conversation, and honest sharing of our lives is the most effective way to influence our kids–even...

Keep Reading