Ahoy, me mateys!

Disclaimer:  Bad Pirate puns, jokes and pirate-ese ahead.  Consider yourself warned!

Captain Jack Sparrow would be proud – we found ourselves a treasure chest!

Now here’s the question of the ages – what do you suppose is inside it???  *creaky noises*, lid opens….

*Gasp*!!!!!  It’s empty!  *Even bigger gasp* – it’s filled with wallpaper!!!!!!  AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!  Run away!  Run away!!!!!!

Wallpaper!!! AHHHHH!!!

Seriously, lovelies….we were on the hunt for a coffee table for our soon-to-be-finished Room of Requirement and after looking on Craigslist and realizing that old Steamer trunks are in grand supply in the Portland area, we decided to give this forty dollar (yes, FORTY DOLLARS!!) beauty a shot o’ rum (I’m reaching on the pirate references here – just go with it)!  Especially since most of the old trunks we found on Craigslist were well over $100 and of the “Camelback” variety – i.e., curved on top and not flat, so not exactly a good contender for a coffee table.  They’re all the rage nowadays like this beauty from Pottery Barn which is a cool $1300 – yowzers!  RUN AWAY, JACK SPARROW, RUN AWAY!!!!

So…..forty dabloons, eh?  Needs a little spit polish?  Hell, for forty bucks I could give it a whole treasure chest of spit polish!  Arrrr!  Spit polish…do they sell spit polish?  Blank stare………..What the hell am I doing with this old trunk?  I’ve never restored anything in me life!!  I mean, I’ve painted wood pieces and given new life to old pieces of furniture, but this is an antique!!  Ummm…..ahoy, me mateys!  Care to lend a hook to a fellow mariner in distress??

I’m posting a plea for any and all advice and ideas.  First off, I want to mention that I do not plan to restore this trunk.  I want to maintain the aged character of this piece while also “freezing” it in limbo if that makes any sense so that it will be useful to us.  In other words, I don’t want it to get more tattered, old and beat up, and I don’t want it to look any prettier than it already is.  I want it to stay in its current beat up fashion on the outside.  This piece is, after all, for a man cave.  It needs to be beat up so that it can have “dude cred”.  Like street cred only dude-li-er.  So far, here is what I can tell you:

  • This is an old trunk (probably over a hundred years according to the guy we purchased it from and even if it’s not – it was only $40!).  The whole structure is framed in wood which appears to be in relatively good shape.

  • The exterior is wrapped in canvas and then was painted (probably originally a black color that has faded to give it that “Ahoy” type of look that we are absolutely loving!).  Then there are metal “straps” to kind of hold the whole thing together which are rusted and look so cool and very Captain Jack Sparrow-y-just-dug-it-out-of-the-sand.  There are some holes in the canvas and rust, but overall we love the look and character of that aspect to it and don’t plan to change that up too much.
  • The interior of the trunk is *also* canvas (with that classic wallpaper on top).  I started by removing the wallpaper and “bleaching” out the canvas to get rid of mildewy smells and spots, but after careful consideration (since the hubs and I are definitely more confident/comfortable with carpentry than with seamstress-er-y), we are considering removing *all* of the canvas fabric on the inside and I’m wondering if this is a wise idea.  We plan to sand down the wood frame (remove any errant glue, staples, etc), fill it with wood filler, sand again and then Mod-Podge the inside to a newer-ish finish, hopefully with some fun decorative scrapbook paper or wrapping paper or whatever.  We plan to use this trunk for blanket/linen storage in our yet-to-be-finished Room of Requirement.  I think that the Mod Podge would likely “seal in” any grossness of the wood, though I feel much better about wood on my blankets than 100 year old canvas.  Agreed?  Do they make wrapping paper/scrapbook paper in these sizes or should I layer on several kinds of paper?
  • The exterior is a little beat up but *looks* amazing!  I don’t want the trunk to get any worse for the wear, but I want to, again, seal in any grossness so that it won’t shed any more of the canvas and/or rust up our carpet in any way.  I was thinking about possibly taking some clear lacquer and/or polyurethane to “seal in” any errant canvas shavings, etc, etc.  The hubby is not so fond of this idea and I can understand why.  It might give the chest a “shiny” appearance and/or a chance to “flake off” so I’m open to suggestions on how to preserve the old look without ruining it in the process.  Any thoughts/ideas/suggestions???  Mod Podge again?

So there you have it.  A project is in store!  I am open to any and all suggestions and looking forward to any feedback anybody can give me!  Please comment below so I can reference this later.  I can’t wait to get this project started and roll it into our completed room just as soon as we can!!  ANY AND ALL SUGGESTIONS WELCOME!!!!

EXTRA CREDIT:  What is your favorite pirate joke??  Here’s mine:

A pirate walks into a bar with a giant ship’s wheel stuck to his belt.  He walks up to the bartender and asks for a good spot of rum.  The bartender gives him his drink and asks, “Hey, what’s with that giant ship’s wheel stuck to your belt?”  The pirate answers, “Arrr….it’s drivin’ me nuts!”  (Much better when read aloud and in a pirate voice)


10 thoughts on “Ahoy, me mateys!

  1. Last year we moved into our current apartment, and the old tenants had a dresser that they didn’t want to take with them. It was pretty beat up, scratched, and the wooden drawers were a little gross. It was free, though, and made completely out of REAL wood (not pressed stuff from IKEA like the rest of our stuff), so naturally I insisted we keep it.

    My husband (I believe you and your husband know Elian, from college, :)), was not so sure about my idea, but I actually used Young House Love’s dresser/changing table tutorial, and repurposed it for storage in our kitchen. I ended up painting the outside, so I don’t have advice for you there, but I used wrapping paper and modpodge on the inside of the drawers, and it worked out beautifully! I had to match up the edges so the pattern was continuous across, but it wasn’t hard at all. It’s really sturdy, and still looks great after a year!

    Long story short, I highly recommend wrapping paper and modpodge on the inside! If it can stand up to my kitchen utensils, it can definitely stand up to blankets! 🙂

  2. Lowes sells beautiful thin tongue & groove cedar paneling for lining in the insides of closets and this would also make a wonderful ‘interior’ for the trunk (if you like the smell of cedar) – especially if you have or keep wool blankets or sweaters?

  3. L – I don’t know if they still have it, but I once saw at the Container Store contact paper that looked like felt or maybe crushed velvet meant for lining drawers…that might be an idea…I think they had all sorts of options in the contact paper area, and cool ones…not the ugly ones we grew up with;-)…but I don’t know how easy it would be to work with or how well it would hold up…i do like the lined cedar idea though….remember my guest bathroom closet?…with that smell…even after we put that Kilz primer in there, i still have a hint of stink in there…so my towels always have a weird odor…you wouldn’t want your blankets to smell like mildew all the time. i know it’s rainy…but if you have the patience…maybe you could wait for a really sunny day and sit it outside in the sun after you gut the inside, but before you move to the next step (i know it’s february in Portland)..anyway, setting old, especially wooden things, in the sun helps with smells. There is also a type of coal product (i think) that helps with smells in closed spaces. Ok…my 2 cents.

  4. BTW, I am an alumnus of OU.
    I like that you want the outside of the trunk to stay original. What I would do to seal it is first take a stiff brush like a scrub brush and beat the hell out of the outside. All the flaking rust, dirt and fibers will come off. If they’re coming off that way then they would fall off by themselves or get stuck on a paint brush anyway. Then paint on SATIN polyurethane. It will not have that shiny fake look but you will be able to dust and clean it later. Then for the inside, do the same with the scrub brush on the canvas. I don’t think it is worth it, nor necessary to tear it out. Then paint it with oil based primer. Stinky but it will soak into the canvas instead of just sitting on top of it. Then do your mod podge. Then seal that with glossy poly. My concern it that the colors may bleed from colored paper over time and get on the contents. It also leaves a better finish for wiping down. Mod podge tends to grab dirt; I found out by doing that to the tops of tables and to lampshades.

    Good luck with your project and love your blog!

    • Hi, J-Bell!

      Thanks for the advice! I’ve already since removed the canvas (more on that later), but will DEFINITELY take to heart some of your sage advice! Love it! Thanks for stopping by!


  5. Pingback: The tile floor is in!!! And another video update… « Tell'er All About It

  6. Pingback: Ahoy, me mateys – Part 2 « Tell'er All About It

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