Style Court

Nine Years of Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes


Storage Trunk with Jollifier

 [Photo via Anthro catalog, January 2012.]

Hoping to spend the first day of the new year lounging, reading, or daydreaming about future projects? In case you're thinking about the latter, I thought I'd share my DIY trunk. Boxes like this are fun because, in terms of design, they can be interpreted in so many different ways. It's another project with endless possibilities.

[My dad got things started by building a pine box strong enough to hold weighty stacks of books.]

[Unless otherwise noted, the following photos are my own.]

Just to recap, I originally wanted an antique dhurrie-covered trunk like the ones I've seen at Guinevere. But with no striped dhurrie remnants stashed away in my closet and a strong desire to keep costs under control, I changed the focus to a simple, readily available solid fabric (fewer yards are needed with solids).

Inspired by classic canvas-covered steamer trunks and Billy Kirk's waxed cotton bags, I gravitated to the rich, dark Australian canvas available over at Mims Maine.

This rugged waxed cotton would've been a really pragmatic -- and beautiful -- way to go. It can be wiped clean and it's meant to have a complex patina. Plus, MM owner Natasha is incredibly helpful. And she has all sorts of terrific textiles. Her super-sturdy gray-green linen canvas caused me to shift course yet again.

Apparently a lot of other people loved this particular linen too; most of the yardage was already sold by the time I stumbled across it. In the end I picked up an ample roll of artist's linen canvas, with the idea of painting stripes on the fabric. Binders (adjacent to Atlanta's disco Kroger) is where I found the unprimed variety available by the roll or by the foot.

The flaxen shade and texture appealed to me, but to keep expenses to a minimum, I'd recommend cotton canvas instead.

Depending on the size of the trunk, three to four yards allows a little breathing room for mishaps.

Speaking of which, the fabric-appropriate spray adhesive typically suggested for projects like this didn't work so well for me. At first it was perfection -- we followed the directions carefully and kept the linen pressed flat to the wood, weighted down for added security with heavy books. The results were initially crisp and seamless but 48 hours later the linen puckered. So, we turned to the backup plan: staples and nailheads.

Boxes are ideal for first-time experiments because, with no pesky curves in the way, it's relatively easy to do the math, wrap fabric around corners and cover raw edges with trim. While leather is my preferred look for trunk edging, I had no prior experience with it and was a bit hesitant. As an alternative, my dad shaved down wood (corner moulding available at lumber supply stores and flat strips generally used for lattice work) to make it much thinner. Sheet metal is another option.

Painted stripes were scrapped in favor of military-esque webbing from Hancock's and twill tape from Paper Source. Glue didn't enter the picture. Again, staples and antiqued brass tacks from the neighborhood hardware store did the trick. More nailhead styles and finishes (like pewter, my next time choice) can be found here.

[Screengrab from The Darjeeling Limited.]

Remember the elephants inside the train cars in Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited? And of course the animal motif of the film's ever-present bags and trunks? For my trunk's interior jollifier I was fixated on these.

I wanted to come up with something a seven-year-old could help with. 

Stencils were my first thought, but the examples I came across were a bit off -- either in scale, style, or price. Decoupage and rubber stamps were the final choice. (If I get to the VMFA in the summer of 2012 to see the East Coast debut of Maharaja: The Splendors of India’s Great Kings, the Indian painting will be a happy reminder each time I open the trunk.) For something more personal, a child who loves to draw could do a freehand embellishment or you could do an inspiration board-style collage similar to Schuyler Samperton's bathroom wall.

[Image courtesy Schuyler Samperton.]

The other hardware I've covered in previous posts.

To review, I was very drawn to Sibella Court's luggage-inspired pulls (actually intended for drawers not trunk lids) so I'm trying them in lieu of a latch. However, if you're searching for something heavy duty, I spied a selection of vintage locks here.  And, again, Horton Brasses offers beautifully crafted hardware. The leather handles I ordered were a breeze (for Dad) to install and are very durable.

Court's nautical pliant rope handles caught my eye also; these are currently in stock at Atlanta's Westside Anthro, BTW.

[Image via Anthropologie.]

Happy brainstorming.

I'm not affiliated with or sponsored by the designers, stylists or businesses referenced in this post.


Mrs. Blandings said...

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Kudos to you and your team - it looks terrific.

Style Court said...

Patricia -- thank you! Happy 2012.


Laura Casey Interiors said...

Beautiful Courtney!! What a treasure. Happy New Year!

Style Court said...

Thanks so much, Laura. I'm really enjoying it. Now I just need to organize the inside! Happy New Year!

Clint Smith said...

wow! gorgeous!

Style Court said...

Oh my, thank you Clint!

caitlin said...

this is fantastic!

Style Court said...

Caitlin-- thanks!

My Dog-Eared Pages said...

I just love it! And, the surprise inside inspired by such an eccentric gem of a film, is just a lovely touch with your monogram! Adore Courtney.
; )

Style Court said...

Oh, thank you Barbara! Thanks so much for appreciating the detail.