Vintage Luggage Decor with an Old Suitcase

Vintage Luggage Decor with an Old Suitcase

During our Junkin’ Journey trip to Richmond, VA, I came across the most GORGEOUS vintage 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 my own version of vintage luggage decor with a little upcycling magic!

vintage luggage

Now, of course, I knew 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.

The first step in my experiment was obtaining the right vintage suitcase. I looked at a few thrift shops but ultimately came home with one from a favorite Etsy shop.

antique suitcase to be fixed up

NOW I could get started on creating my own version of vintage luggage decor!

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Suitcase Handle Repair for Vintage Luggage Decor

The vintage suitcase was, however, missing a handle. An interesting challenge, for sure.

But a challenge that I happily took on.

how to fix a broken handle on a vintage suitcase

Why? Because I knew exactly what to use for the suitcase handle repair. And it was both simple and inexpensive:

A plain ole’ door pull or door handle from the hardware store.

replacing the handle on an antique suitcase

All I needed to do was spray paint the galvanized metal of the door pull and swap out the screws for nuts and bolts.

repairing an old suitcase to use as vintage decor

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. But seriously, talk about luggage handle replacement that is the easiest and cheapest way to go!

Next, and to transform the vintage suitcase into the vintage home decor I was envisioning, I needed to do two things. First, I needed to add some luggage straps (said with air quotes!). And second, apply some vintage-y looking luggage stickers.

The former would be easy, and as it turns out, the luggage stickers weren’t difficult or expensive at all! I found another Etsy shop that sold digital downloads of luggage labels. 

vintage travel stickers printable

I couldn’t decide on a favorite, so I bought four of them.

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

Decorating an Antique Suitcase

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 suitcase.

decorating an antique suitcase

It was easy enough to do. First, I measured out where I wanted the luggage straps to be and marked the edges with painter’s tape.

I also made sure that they were about as equally placed apart as possible.

painting the straps on vintage luggage

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

And just like that, I had painted some luggage straps onto my vintage suitcase and they looked fabulous!

painting an old suitcase

Next, I concentrated on adding the travel stickers to my vintage luggage decor.

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.

putting the travel stickers on vintage luggage decor

This made it a LOT easier to separate from the paper backing before fully trimming them out.

antique luggage to use as decor

Vintage Luggage Decor with an Old Suitcase

After covering my vintage suitcase with the luggage stickers (further securing them with this easy-to-use brush on super glue), I attached the door handle to the suitcase.

Doesn’t it look great?

suitcase handle repair

And that was it, my vintage luggage decor idea came to life exactly as I had hoped. And for a HECK OF A LOT CHEAPER than my inspiration suitcase at the antiques store.

luggage decor with an antique suitcase

Now I can use it as vintage home decor and/or storage!

I’ve been known to bubble-wrap breakables- vases, bottles, platters- that I use infrequently and store them in old suitcases.

vintage luggage decor with an old suitcase

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.

Such a fun project to work on and I think the door pull trick as a luggage handle replacement will come in handy for some of you. And while it’s not a perfect replacement for the original antique suitcase that I fell in love with, it’s awfully cute nonetheless.

And a special thanks to this Etsy shop for providing the old suitcase for this project!

If you enjoyed this upcycling idea for vintage luggage decor, then you may also be interested this idea for framing maps!

framing maps in antique oval picture frames

Craft on!


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vintage suitcase decor

old suitcase for vintage luggage decor

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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  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!

  14. You did a fantastic job on the suitcase! It looks great! Love your brilliant idea for fixing the missing handle.

  15. Love it, I have a few I should. Do this.

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