How To Make A Cool, Quirky Shelving Unit Out Of An Old Trunk

This is not your standard set of shelves.

When it comes to decorating any part of your home, it always pays off to focus on ideas and projects that allow your personality shine through. Displaying photos and knick-knacks are a great way to infuse some personal style into a space, but some of the most well-decorated homes take styling a step further, like thinking about the shelving/display case itself rather than just the items that go on it.

The designers on "Home Made Simple" recently took this idea to heart, creating a quirky, customizable shelving unit out of an old wooden trunk.

Difficulty: Hard


Repurposed steamer trunk

(3) 2x3-in. foam board (1/2-in. thick)

4-in. fabric of your choice

(6) 1x1x6-in. lumber (ledgers)

(3) 1x6x20*-in. lumber (shelves)

(3) 1x2x20*-in. lumber (shelving trim)

Wood stain to match existing trunk

Drill with pre-drill bit and Phillips head screwdriver bit



Glue gun with extra-strength glue sticks

Craft knife


Dry rag

Safety glasses

*Length will vary depending on your trunk size


Preparing the interior foam board:

  1. Cut your foam board into two rectangles that are the exact same measurements as the inside of the trunk.
  2. Lay your fabric print-side down and place one of the foam cut-outs on top of it. Leaving 1-in. excess on all sides, cut the fabric around the foam.
  3. Once the fabric is cut, keep it in place by putting a small dab of hot glue in each corner on the side that's facing down. Then, fold the fabric over the edge of the foam board and secure it with lines of hot glue. (At the corners, fold fabric like a wrapped present by tucking one piece under the other.)
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the other foam board and fabric.
  5. Once the boards are covered, apply hot glue quickly and carefully to one back at a time, and press board into the inside of the trunk.
  6. Smaller foam panels will be added to all four sides of the inside of the trunk. Repeat the previous steps to create these smaller foam panels.

Adding the shelves:

  1. Use a dry rag and wood stain on all the lumber, matching them to the existing color of the trunk. Allow to dry before moving on.
  2. Measure the inside long edge of the trunk and mark the center with chalk. Repeat on the opposite side. (These will be the positions of the first two ledgers that will support the center shelf.) Center 1x1x6-in. lumber over one of the chalk marks and secure in place with a nail gun. Repeat for the opposite side.
  3. Measure the distance between the center ledger and the top of the trunk, and mark with chalk. Repeat on the opposite side. Secure the ledgers as with the previous step.
  4. Measure the distance between the center ledger and the bottom of the trunk, and mark with chalk. Repeat on the opposite side. Secure the ledgers.
  5. Position the 1x6x20-in. lumber over the top two ledgers to make the first shelf. (It will be a snug fit; nails not needed.) Repeat for the two additional shelves.
  6. Position a 1x2x20-in. lumber over the front edge of the top shelf to hide the ledgers. Secure in place using a nail gun (space nails 4-6-in. along the length of the shelf). Repeat for the two additional shelves.

OPTIONAL: Adding legs

(5) 1x2x4-in. lumber

(5) 2x3-in. handrail, cut to 8-in. length

(10) 2-in. wood screws

(20) 1 1/2-in. wood screws

(5) 1/2-in. nailed furniture pads

  1. On one side of 1x2x4-in. lumber, find the center point of the wood. Use the pre-drill bit and drill one hole on either side of the center point. Repeat for all five pieces of lumber.
  2. Flip the lumber over and drill four more pre-drill holes, one in each corner. Repeat for all five pieces of lumber.
  3. Attach an 8-in. leg to each lumber piece using two 2-in. wood screws through the pre-drill holes from the first step. (The four pre-drill holes should be on the same side as the leg.) Hammer nailed furniture pads to the bottom center of each leg.
  4. Attach four legs to the side of the trunk, one in each corner, using 1 1/2-in. wood screws through the four pre-drill holes in the lumber.
  5. Attach the fifth leg to the lid of the trunk to help support the lid when the trunk is open.

"Home Made Simple" airs Saturdays at 9 a.m. ET on OWN.

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