How to Paint a Suitcase

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In this post I’ll show you how easy it is to paint a suitcase.

During my free time on the weekends I love to garage sale. My husband hates it so I always bribe him with coffee and a doughnut. Some days can be hit or miss but garage sales are where I find most of my refurbishing items. That just so happens, is where I found these two suitcases. They were in pretty decent shape when I got them, but then I put them in my work shed for months on end and they got a little yucky. Which was a bummer because that meant that it would be harder to use them for something.

My Inspiration

However, I was watching one of those flipping house shows where they make a hideousness house into a gorgeous home that I could never in a million years afford to purchase. In one of the episodes they had suitcases stacked in a corner and they were all weathered and vintage looking. I thought, how great, you can customize each one to your home! For example, you can choose size, suitcase style, color, and how weathered you want it.

I am certain you can tell by now (aside from my color gray adoration) that I love shabby chic and vintage looking things. So, I decided to turn my ugly old garage sale suitcases into cute vintage looking ones. Here it is, how to paint a suitcase!

Here are the supplies I used:


Crackle Medium

Chalk Paint (I only used this on the small one and I used Lilac)

Main Paint Color


This gives you an idea of what I started with. As you can see very bland and out date looking.

I wanted to show you two ways to do this. For the large I did not do a base coat. While for the small a did a base coat of lilac chalk paint. So you can decide right at the beginning. If you choose to do a base coat that will be our first step.

If you choose no base coat it will look like this one. I recommend you read the directions on the crackle medium that you get, each one may be different. For mine it says to coat the whole piece and let it completely dry. I did find out that with the brand I bought, the heavier that I coat the crackle the more cracked it will look. You can see that I did a heavier coat on the larger suitcase because the cracks are more apparent.

Once you let that completely dry you can do your top coat. I recommend you do this step fast, otherwise you will get a bit of a blended look like you can see below on the left photo. Also an apparent difference is a base coat. I think if I were to redo it without a base coat, I would make the top coat a closer matching color (maybe darker tan). On the right is the version with the Lilac base coat, by adding that step it covered the whole case and gives it a cleaner look.


Here is how they ended up turning out! I am happy with the smaller one but I think I will redo the bigger one to match a little better. But the whole process was really easy! The longest part was just waiting for the paint to dry.

Here are a couple tips when you try your hand at painting suitcases.

When you begin wipe your product down.

Be patient and let the crackle medium dry ALL the way

Have a matching or intentionally contrasting base and top coat

Put your top coat on swiftly or it will blend

It would also be fun to do typography on the front of one once it is completed. Maybe that needs to be my next step?

  1. Ingrid Opstad

    May 26, 2017 at 11:45 am

    What a great idea, love the vintage look!

    Ingrid |

  2. Brook

    May 26, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    This looks so fun! I’ll have to give it a try.

    1. rfolger

      May 26, 2017 at 4:42 pm

      They really are fun to make! Especially since every time they turn out just a little different.

  3. Bryce Rae

    May 26, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    I love this sort of thing as well , except my DIY skills aren’t the best. I’m currently watching HGTV as I type this comment.

  4. Kit Stanwood

    May 26, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    That’s awesome! I’ve never though of painting a suit case before! I’ve been wanting to do more yard sale stuff too!

    1. rfolger

      May 26, 2017 at 7:47 pm

      It’s something that I never thought of before either, but it adds just the right amount of vintage feel and color to the room.

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