[Click any photo for a closer look]

Sometimes I’ll be at a thrift store and spot something that I just have to have…with no good reason, no intended use, no plan for it…I just know I want to take it home. That was the case with this battered Skyway suitcase. It had definitely seen better days and probably traveled countless miles. It smelled musty and dusty inside. But I had to have it. For 5 bucks, it was mine.

I got it home and really didn’t know what to do with it. I sprayed the hell out of the inside with Febreze but even several applications wouldn’t absorb the smell. So I figured I had to remove all the fabric lining and pockets before the suitcase could ever be of any use. It all pulled out pretty easily, but there was a tons of dust and old padding and fabric the flew about as I cleared it all away. Fortunately the majority of the musty smell went away with the lining. But I still didn’t know what to do with the suitcase.

In digging through a closet, I came across some contact paper with sky blue and brown circles on a white background. (You can get the same contact paper here. It’s a little cutesy for my taste, but I liked the colors on it and thought maybe it could be part of the plan for the suitcase. I ended up covering the 2 largest panels with the contact paper, just to see how it looked and if it was something I could work with. To my surprise, I actually kind of liked it. It had sort of a happy, clowny look. I decided to mix up some sky blue paint to match the blue in the dot pattern, to do the trim and the handle of the suitcase. The outer edge had too many latches, hinges, bends and other metal pieces on it for me to try covering with paper…it was just too challenging to cut around all those little odd-shaped parts. I later decided to hand-paint a sort of fake wood-grain type of pattern using browns that matched the browns of the circles on the contact paper. I did the painting freehand, so it has kind of warped zig-zaggy look.

Inside the suitcase was actually easier than I expected. I loved the old pockets of the original interior but I wanted the inside to just look clean and smooth. So I cut panels out of foam core, coated them with spray adhesive, and covered them in a beige fabric I had. The fabric added just enough width to the foam core panels that they fit snugly right into the top and bottom of the suitcase. For around the sides of the interior, I just covered posterboard with the same contact paper, and it gave it a nice finished look.

The finished suitcase is really pretty cute, and I considered adding legs to it to make it into a table with storage. I haven’t yet found the right legs so for now it’s simply a storage case for some fabric. Maybe someday it will find a new home with the right person. I’m not sure. But I’m glad I spent the 5 bucks on it…it turned out to be a pretty satisfying makeover.