vintage suitcase chair

My latest sytyc project for ‘upcycle’ week. A little less sewing than usual and a little more decor-y. 

I love vintage luggage! It’s so nostalgic to me, I always am reminded of my grandfather’s travel journal that he wrote in the 40s. As a bonus, this suitcase smelled like my grandpa’s house when I bought it! Talk about nostalgia.

When I think of upcycling, I think of turning something into something completely different. So I picked up this old suitcase for under $3 and upcycled it into a chair. I even used some extra sheets for a double upcycled. I whipped out the power tools for this one; added some legs, tufted cushions and a few other details. And you’ve got yourself a statement piece. As a bonus, it’s sooo comfy to sit on. 

I love that it still looks like a suitcase, it has an old world appeal. So kick up your heels and take a seat in this vintage suitcase chair.


You need:
vintage suitcase
4 legs
4 screw on leg attachments
1 piece of thin plywood cut to fit inside your suitcase
foam or pillows to fit in your suitcase

Suitcase sizes vary so you’ll have to figure out how much pillow or foam you want to make your cushions how you want them. 
Start with a suitcase:

step 1: spray paint legs

step 2: cover the pillows/foam with your fabric and tuft them. To tuft a pillow use a needle and thick thread. Tie it in a knot and sew through the pillow and back until you have a nice “tuft.” Just push the whole needle through your pillow and tie a knot. It’s a little tricky to get the needle through the pillow, but it is easier if you hold the pillow down with one hand (or a knee) while you sew. Or if you have a handy helper around, have them hold the plushness of the pillow down to make it easier. Make sure you don’t poke yourself though! You may consider using a thimble.

I used a pattern of 3 tufts, 2 tufts, 3 tufts, in a brick pattern.

Then pull the fabric around the back of the pillow and baste it on with a needle and thread.

When you’ve sewn it on, squirt a little hot glue in the back of each of the tufts to keep the thread tight.
Step 3: Put the piece of plywood in the bottom of the suitcase and turn both upside down onto a shoebox or bucket as a stand. Now, place your screw on leg holders in the corners of the suitcase. Screw it on. The screws will go through to the plywood, making your chair extra sturdy.

Once your holders are all set, screw in your (dried) legs. 
Step 4: Put a layer of foam in the bottom of the suitcase to raise the cushion just a little. I glued them all in place. Since the bottom of my suitcase, which will be the bottom of my chair, is a little deeper than the top, I wanted the pillow to stand up more. The foam just raises it up a little.

Step 5: Put a layer of good glue in the top of your suitcase and push your top cushion down.
Push it down firmly with your hands and let it dry for an hour or so with weights on top. I’m a wimp and had 3-pounders handy. (which are plenty with the 30 day shred. Ugg. I’m not that wimpy, really!)

Then put it in the corner of your bedroom. A perfect little nook for reading tales of adventure(?) or love stories. Whatever.

We love it. 


  1. says

    Oh my gosh!! This is the cutest thing ever!! Where did you get the legs?! I am moving at the end of June and this would be super cute in the new place!
    Ps. I’m a new fan of yours! I read tons of your posts this weekend! Love your style and ideas!

    Xo meaghan

  2. says

    WOW!!! I can’t believe how creative and awesome this is! Fabulous job!

  3. says

    This is fabulous!! Great work!
    I have a vintage-y couch that I don’t really like, but it’s what we have so I’m trying to work with it. This chair would be amazing to pull together the vintage/modern look I’m trying to pull off. Now off to find the right suitcase, thank you for the idea!!

  4. says

    What a WONDERFUL idea. It looks fluffy coz. I picked up an almost identical suitcase last week. I am going to give it to my son for his third birthday filled with play clothes. I am always so sad when gals in other states post their prices for items I also picked up. Cali is sooo expensive, even the thrift stores, my suitcase was $6.

  5. says

    I knew this had to be yours when I saw it over at sytyc! I LOVE it (and totally voted for it). I have been wanting to try this for a long time. I think it would work well as a child’s chair too since it is probably low to the ground. Thanks for sharing.

  6. says

    You know what would make this better? NOTHING! You hit the ball out of the park! jules

  7. says

    YOu’ve done it again. YOu are AMAZING! This is incredibly creative and adorable. I am highlighting this tonight at

  8. says

    Very creative! I like when people think outside the box or should I say suitcase! I am your newest follower! Come visit sometime!

  9. says

    Very very creative! Thanks for the tutorial. I might have to try something like this some day!

  10. says

    I love this! I have a collection of vintage cases that are just begging to be made into stools. Thank you!!

  11. says

    WOW! I am visiting from Tatertots and Jello and I feel humbled by your creativity. Great work.

    :) crafty texas girls

  12. says

    kate this is so, SO cool. How do you come up with these crazy good ideas???

  13. says

    I saw one just like this on Pinterest and thought how cool it would be to make one…so glad you did a tutorial…amazing..xo

  14. says

    Along with Rebekah E I would like to know how you keep the top part of the suitcase up to support your back. Or is this just a decoration and not really meant to be a chair?

  15. says

    This is amazing! My grandmother keeps a bunch of vintage suitcases in the closet under the stairs. All I could think of was rushing over to nab one to make! Thanks for the tutorial! <3

  16. says

    this is genius!

    i have 6 vintage suit cases taking up residence as storage in my house. wouldn’t one of them love to be revamped into this!?!

  17. says

    Did you add anything to support the back or does it just stay like that?

    I love this idea!

  18. says

    I really love this and want to make it ! but how have you supported the back ?? y suitcase just flops open :(

  19. says

    I have the same question as Roisin…how did you keep the back upwards instead of falling back?


  20. says

    awesome! i was always scared of having to tuft the seat, but this is such an easy solution now!

  21. says

    I’d add a metal strip or chain (like you see with toy boxes and trunks) to help support the back. Very simple add on. I love the idea!

  22. says

    I love the idea, and adding a strap (metal/leather/vinyl) or chain to support the back would add sturdiness. Look at toy boxes and steamer trunks and you’ll see what I mean.

  23. says

    I’ve got a vintage suitcase and I was going to sell it. But now, I’m going to create a chair :) Thank you for inspiration!

  24. says

    Sigh. I just love these cool chairs. I’ve been seeing them around the internet for a little while, but have never seen a tutorial before. Love. Thanks for sharing!

  25. says

    Wow it looks fab. iv been looking though all your tutorials and they are all so great i love your blog. new follower here xxx

  26. says

    I love the idea of this chair! One question, where did you find the chair legs? Would they have them at lowes or home depot?

  27. says

    First of all, love this idea! Second, where did you find the chair leg kits? Could I get them at Lowes or Home Depot?

  28. says

    Love this idea…Seen on Pinterest…took me forever to find your tutorial..i have tons of suitcases in my basement and looks as though one will become my new chair….I had been using them to paint my handpainted roses on and recovering the inside and recently made a suitcase shelf with one for an art show…awesome job…These legs can be bought at home depot and lowes for those asking…

  29. says

    just wondering on how the back support would work? or is this chair mainly just for decoration… i love the idea and want to make one..

  30. says

    I’m wondering the same thing as many others here – did you support the lid in any way so it’s possible to use it as a real chair….or is the lid simply supported by the wall behind it?

  31. says

    Yep, like many others, I love this idea. And like many others, I am very curious how/if the back is supported. Hope to hear some feedback soon! Thanks!

  32. says

    She did say to put it in the corner of your bedroom, so I’m thinking the walls support the back because as good a tutorial as she did, she would have said something about a back support had she put one in. ;o)

  33. says

    In answer to the questions above^^

    No, I did not support the back. The chair sits fairly low to the ground, when you sit on it you naturally sit as you would sit in a stool. And yes, I have it up against a wall! It looks nice and supports the back :)

    The hinges of the suitcase are very strong, but the chair itself probably wouldn’t balance if you leaned back since it is pretty lightweight. Total conversation piece though!!

    Good luck if you plan to try it!

  34. says

    My husband and I came up with a solution to the back of the chair. My idea was to put hinges on the inside to counter the hinges on the outside. This gave my husband the idea of getting L shaped brackets and screwing them in on the outside. You can get ones that bend a bit if you need to make adjustments. I plan on finishing the top part tmrw so I don’t know if it’ll support much weight but at least it gives you more options than just putting it in the corner or against a wall

  35. says

    I am going to fill an old suitcase with foam and put on legs for an ottoman, as one of the pictures looks like one. I may even have it be opened to make a large one, with durable fabric on top. I am eager to try it.

  36. Catie says

    I was wondering where you got the green foam from? I can’t seem to find any like anywhere.. Thanks!