Saving a Suitcase: Vintage Luggage Décor

Saving a Suitcase: Vintage Luggage Décor

During one of my Junkin’ Journey trips (specifically to Richmond, Virginia), I came across the most GORGEOUS old suitcase at an antiques shop. But as much as I loved it, I couldn’t justify the cost on something I simply didn’t need- truly an exercise in restraint for me. So, I snapped a photo and thought of it often…until I wondered if I could recreate the look of vintage luggage décor on my own.

Vintage luggage with retro travel stickers at antiques store in Richmond, Virginia by Sadie Seasongoods /

Isn’t he GORGEOUS?

Now, of course, I already know that whatever I created wouldn’t look EXACTLY the same or be a perfect replacement for the Real McCoy. BUT…it might scratch the vintage luggage itch that I had…and would cost just a fraction of my inspiration. This post contains affiliate links for your crafting convenience.

The first step in my experiment was obtaining the right vintage suitcase. I found one at a thrift but an even better one came from Maliasmark, one of my favorite Etsy shops.

Vintage suitcases to be upcycled into DIY vintage luggage decor with travel labels by Sadie Seasongoods /

Looks like I’m going on a trip!

The beat-up old tweed suitcase was, however, missing a handle. An interesting challenge that didn’t scare me off one iota.

How to replace a broken handle on a vintage suitcase by Sadie Seasongoods /

No handle? No problem!

Why? Because I knew exactly how to replace it inexpensively with a similar look: A plain ole’ door handle from the hardware store.

Replacing a broken handle on vintage luggage with a door pull from the hardware store by Sadie Seasongoods /

Just needs a little paint, but otherwise perfect.

All I needed to do was spray paint the galvanized metal and swap out the screws for nuts and bolts. So, I did exactly that (using this spray paint on all parts) and set it aside to dry. I also carefully pried off the old handle hardware using pliers.

Now- to transform the old suitcase into the vintage luggage décor I was envisioning, I needed to do two things. First, I needed to add some “straps” and second, apply some vintage-y looking travel stickers.

The former would be easy, and as it turns out, the travel sticker part wasn’t difficult or expensive at all! I found another Etsy shop that sold digital downloads of luggage labels– I couldn’t decide on a favorite, so I bought four of them.

Printing up vintage luggage labels for DIY vintage suitcase decor by Sadie Seasongoods /

How great are these?

If you notice, the labels are kind of faded/pale- that’s because I printed them using my printer’s “Ink Saver” mode, which I thought made them look more worn and vintage-y! How funny is that?

Now for the luggage “straps”! I suppose I could have fashioned straps out of old belts or other material, but I decided it was just as easy to paint them directly onto my vintage luggage.

Time to decorate!

It was easy enough to do- first I measured out where I wanted the “straps” to be and marked the edges with painter’s tape– making sure that they were about as equally placed apart as possible.

Painting on vintage luggage straps with painter's tape and craft paint by Sadie Seasongoods /

Strips, stripes, straps!

Then, I brushed on some dark craft paint inside my painter’s tape stripes, removing the tape after two coats had dried.

Painting on vintage luggage straps with painter's tape and craft paint by Sadie Seasongoods /

Working like a charm…

Onto the vintage luggage labels! I had printed them on full-size label sheets, and cut them out leaving a “tag” of label edge on each one, if that makes sense. This made it a LOT easier to separate from the paper backing before fully trimming them out.

Decorating an old suitcase with paint and vintage luggage labels by Sadie Seasongoods /

Now for the travel labels…

I seriously love these full-size label sheets because you can turn anything you print into a sticker!!

After covering my vintage suitcase with the travel labels (further securing them with this easy-to-use brush on super glue), I attached my now-painted door pull as the new handle. Doesn’t it look great?

Upcycled antique suitcase with replaced handle, paint, and travel stickers to become vintage luggage decor by Sadie Seasongoods /


And that was it- my vintage luggage décor idea came to life exactly as I had hoped.

Upcycled antique suitcase with replaced handle, paint, and travel stickers to become vintage luggage decor by Sadie Seasongoods /


Upcycled antique suitcase with replaced handle, paint, and travel stickers to become vintage luggage decor by Sadie Seasongoods /

That door pull was simply perfect for the handle, eh?

Now I can use it as a display piece and/or storage. I’ve been known to bubble-wrap breakables- vases, bottles, platters- that I use infrequently and store them in old suitcases. It keeps them safe and dust-free, and if the suitcase has a musty odor, it’s not a big deal for non-porous items like glass or glazed ceramics.

Upcycling a vintage suitcase into DIY vintage luggage decor with painted straps and retro luggage labels or travel stickers by Sadie Seasongoods /

All done…

Such a fun project to work on and I think the handle-replacement trick will come in handy…and while it’s not a perfect replacement for the original suitcase that I fell in love with, it’s awfully cute nonetheless.

Craft on!


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  1. Wow it looks awesome! And a door handle to replace the broken handle genius! I have had people try and give me vintage suitcases that are a bit worn and have no handle and of course, I would never take them. Well that want happen again 🙂

  2. girlfromwva says:

    love it!

  3. I’m not a suitcase w/ travel stickers fan… but I AM a vintage suitcase fan – so love everything else! 🙂 Great handle Idea. Can assure you (as I’ve been there too) I have not thought of that. My brain needs to get with it!

  4. Rita Corblies says:

    Your imagination is incredible…Straps painted….Door handle for suitcase handle…etc. You definitely think before you craft an idea you saw/liked.

  5. Nicole Lebamoff says:

    Got loads of them in my attic. Pristine condition. [email protected]

  6. Janet johnson says:

    Great job! I know I have a couple of these old cases in my garage. I am going to dig them out and see if they could use this idea to spruce them up. Thanks for for the info.
    Did you do anything to the samsonite case in the picture?

  7. I had the itch as well an actually tried to use a vintage piece. It smelled and didn’t last one trip.
    Then I decided to try and recreate a modern vintage style piece using lightweight materials and scrapping the cardboard and stain interior. Please check out our new vintage style tweed and leather suitcases at It is made in Ohio and the materials are sourced in the U.S. Please let me know what you think.

  8. mary scott says:

    You did an outstanding job!! It looks fantastic. thanks

  9. Cute idea!! I may have to try it!

  10. Great job. You are a clever one!!

  11. l loved your transformation. I’ve had good luck using baking soda and/or cedar wood chips to remove musty odors from furniture. Love the idea of using non-porous items! Loving my yarn in a large flat picnic basket-idea from you!

  12. This e-mail was perfect timing. I have a suitcase just like that and it’s missing the handle. Couldn’t figure out what to do and now I know!! Great ideas. I can’t wait to make mine look like that. Thanks!

  13. I have passed by many a suitcase for lack of a handle. What a great solution!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says:

      It seems to be a chronic problem with vintage suitcases!! And I’ve seen several where the old fix was looped wire- OUCH!


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