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Storage Trunks

Updated on January 29, 2014

Storage trunks have a long history originating as travelling luggage for use over long voyages or journeys. In the early days it was necessary to make these trunks out of solid materials such as iron-bound wood due to the knocks, bumps and scrapes that they would be prone to during loading and unloading. They contained valuable and delicate objects and had to protect them against breakage.

Storage trunks can be differentiated from storage chests due to their more rugged appearance. Chests were more on the decorative side while trunks were meant to do the heavy work as luggage. Chests on the other hand were primarily used as storage solutions and were kept in the one place.

Nowadays the old style trunks are being adapted for use as storage trunks with restoration work carried out to make these pieces look particularly special. When polished and buffed the storage trunk becomes a key piece of furniture that acts as a display centerpiece.

Popular Storage Trunk Types

  • Decorative
  • Wicker
  • Rattan
  • Wooden
  • Metal
  • Waterproof
  • Steel
  • Leather
  • Plastic
  • Trunks on wheels

A decorative dome top trunk
A decorative dome top trunk

Decorative Storage Trunks

The strong selling point with storage trunks as possible attractive storage options that double as decorative pieces is that their box-like shape gives them plenty of possible surface area that can be decorated. This decoration can take the form of a stencil, filigree work, carved or etched sides the options are almost endless. Add to that the decorative hardware that can be applied to a storage trunk. The handles, locks, buckles, bands, belts and other added features turn a plain looking trunk into a beautiful and highly desirable decorative storage trunk.

Decorative storage trunks will serve their purpose in providing valuable storage space but can also give you an added bonus in being strong secondary market sellers. As art objects they can possibly appreciate in value.

If you find an older trunk that has seen better days but feel as though you are ready for the challenge of restoring it, there are many stores that still stock trunk accessories that can be used to give your trunk an authentic look. Decorative trunk locks made by the leading lock makers of their day can be picked up very cheaply and, when they are used to replace an old or damaged lock can retain or even improve the decorative quality of the trunk.

The process can be continued by repairing any nicks or dents in the wooden sides of the trunk, sanding them back and sealing them with a preserving oil. Using the correct products on the old wood will not only ensure your trunk will continue to last for a long time but that it will look good doing so.

Wicker Storage Trunks

A distinctive type of storage trunk is the wicker storage trunk which adds another style to the classic storage box solution. Wicker provides a softer feel to a piece of furniture with more depth of substance to the outer surface and wicker storage trunks are just as functional as the classic storage trunk. These types of trunks can be made in a subtle variety of wood colors or can be stained or painted to suit the décor of the room.

A room that is being decorated in a beach or coastal theme will benefit from the inclusion of a white wicker storage trunk placed somewhere prominent.

Wicker is also very suited to providing outdoor storage options. the wicker is hard wearing and can withstand the elements to a large degree.

Wooden Storage Trunks

The more common and more popular with trunk collectors are the wooden storage trunks. Wood is the original material that was used to make trunk luggage and it is a material that can be decorated in numerous ways to give the trunk an appealing appearance. As well as being polished or lacquered a wooden storage trunk can be given a complete restoration that includes various pieces of hardware while still retaining its original size and purpose.

Wood storage trunks come in a range of styles from a Mission style to a French country design and on to older and more distinctive trunks such as pieces that would be considered antique storage trunks. An antique storage trunk represents an opportunity to take a classic old piece of furniture and either make use of it as is or put it through a restorative process that can add beauty and value to it.

Waterproof Storage Trunks

Storage trunks are not all meant for decorative purposes, nor are they made from wood or metal. Sometimes it is necessary to find a reliable storage method that will be able to handle all types of weather. In this case we are talking about a waterproof storage trunk and they are easy to find and work particularly well.

Large plastic storage trunks are relatively inexpensive and provide a lot of storage space. When the airtight lid is placed on top and locked into place you can be confident that no matter what weather conditions you leave it out in, the contents will remain dry. This is particularly handy when going on camping or fishing trips where there is a real possibility that your belongings are going to get wet.

Waterproof storage trunks are available in a range of sizes so that no matter what it is you have to store securely there will be an option available to you. The translucent polyproylene trunks are quite popular but there are other types available that will work just as well.

As can be seen above, a good waterproof storage container doesn't even have to be solid to be extremely useful. A waterproof truck bed cargo carrier is essentially a toughened bag that will sit in the bed of the truck and provide great storage possibilities with the flexibility of being able to fit with many different loads.

Storage Trunks With Wheels

A functional storage trunk option is the flat plastic storage trunk that is available on wheels. Storage trunks on wheels give you the manoeuvrability that may be required when trying to store the fully laden trunk away under other furniture items such as the bed. It is possible to fit two or three of these types of trunks under a bed where you can store clothes, bed linen, toys or spare shoes.

By placing these trunks on wheels it should be possible to simply reach under the bed and dragging the trunk out with one hand to get to the contents. A fully loaded trunk that cannot be rolled in and out would be virtually impossible to access.

It’s not only the plastic storage trunks that are fitted with wheels these days though. Because many storage trunks are now used to transport heavy equipment from one place to another you might find that they are fitted with two heavy duty castor wheels at one end and a handle at the other. These trunks can then be picked up by the handle and easily dragged from place to place without having to exert too much energy. These trunks are often made from metal and are quite heavy duty trunks that are capable of being loaded with all kinds of equipment.

Storage Trunk Styles

Storage trunks are not all the same, they have been given names that identify their original purpose or that describe their shape. Storage trunks such as steamer trunks were the original travelling trunks that were designed to allow them to be stacked on top of one another to accommodate them in the holds of ships.

Storage trunks that were very similar in looks to steamer trunks are wall trunks. These trunks differ by the design of the top which has been made with special hinges so the trunk can be opened while sitting flat against the wall.

Dome top trunks describe exactly how they look and have domed or curved lids giving them a hump-backed look. These trunks are usually particularly hardy and, when restored by a skilled craftsman result in some of the most beautifully decorative storage trunks available.

Speaking of beautifully decorative storage trunks, oak slat trunks are simply breathtaking to behold in their detail work. The nature of the slat formations that give the trunks their name are usually highlighted to best show off the work that has gone in to make them distinctive. But they are more than mere decorative pieces because they are also very strong storage trunks. However, the oak slat storage trunk is a prized piece that is sought after by many trunk collectors.

These few styles of storage trunks give you the idea that there is more to a storage trunk than a simple box in which you can lock away your belongings. It’s a storage option but it is much more valuable as a decorative piece that will retain its value after purchase and in some cases, will even appreciate in value.

Steel Storage Trunks

If you are looking for a strong storage container that can be used outdoors for some heavy duty work, you should look for a steel storage trunk. These trunks can sit in the back of a utility vehicle through all weather conditions without becoming damaged and will give your tools and equipment the protection they need. A steel storage trunk will also provide you with a lockable tool chest so that you equipment will be safe from the casual passerby.

Popular types of steel storage trunks for indoor use are probably better known as footlockers. These trunks are also popularly used for transporting valuable equipment when looking for a storage container that will not be damaged or crushed when in transit.

The advantages of a metal storage trunk are made clear when you realise that your trunk has been with you for many years yet it still looks as solid as the day that you bought it.

Leather Trunks

The earliest types of luggage trunks were made from leather. These days it is not quite as common but there are still examples of leather suitcases and leather trunks available for sale. Nowadays, if you can find an antique leather trunk that is in reasonably good condition you should snap it up. This is particularly true if you are keen on picking up valuable antique furniture items.

An antique leather trunk is a special find and even if they are a little shabby looking there are some places you can go that will perform an expert refurbishment on the trunk to bring it back to life. It is possibly even a better idea to go on the lookout for a leather trunk that has noticeable signs of wear and tear because you are likely going to be able to buy it much more cheaply than one that looks fresher. If the interior is still looking good then the chances are you can turn the trunk into a beautiful piece again.

It is interesting to see that there has been a recent resurgence in the popularity of leather trunks with the manufacture of new trunks made from the material. Although the traditional black or brown gives the trunk a timeless elegance there has also been a tendency for the trunks to be made in all kinds of interesting colors to mix and match with other furniture items.

A cheaper alternative to the genuine leather trunks that are going to be quite expensive is to buy a faux leather trunk. These trunks give the appearance of leather both in look and feel, but they are made with a cheaper material that also brings down the overall cost of the trunk.


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