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Suitcase Bookshelves

Updated on November 2, 2013

Upcycling vintage luggage--new ideas in vintage home decor!

I recently read that "suitcase bookshelves" were a hot repin on Pinterest so I went a hunting for a great tutorial and found several ways to upcycle an old piece of luggage. If you have an attic with some of these old beauties, then now you have at least one idea for how to reuse, upcycle, recycle or repurpose them in a useful and artistic way--as vintage decor in your home. Yes, what was old can now be new--again.

Korrie Bastian, author of the blog, Red Hen Home graciously gave me permission to use the image shown here. I have also included a link to her tutorial for making these vintage "suitcase bookshelves" further down the page.

Do you just love vintage suitcases?

Vintage everything is so popular in home decor. Maybe you do not want to cut up these old looking gems for bookcases. I know of some who stack up suitcases for end tables. No, I am not talking about college students who are limited on storage space in dorm rooms---hey, that is not a bad idea for making the most of a small space. Use your real suitcases as furniture! Oh, yes.

cargo Vintage Travelers Mini Suitcases, Set of 3,Red
cargo Vintage Travelers Mini Suitcases, Set of 3,Red

Red just might be one of my favorite colors to use as an accent in a room.

Vintiquewise(TM) Old Vintage Suitcase/Decorative Trunk, Set of 3
Vintiquewise(TM) Old Vintage Suitcase/Decorative Trunk, Set of 3

I love the square design of these decorative trunks. The details make all the difference.

Making an Entrance with vintage suitcases Red Hen Home Blog
Making an Entrance with vintage suitcases Red Hen Home Blog

Vintage Decorating with Suitcases: Making an Entrance

A tutorial from Red Hen Home Blog

This tutorial is one of the best that I have found for making attractive suitcase shelves. To go and find out how to make them, click Red Hen Home: "Making an Entrance". The image show is from that blog post. The author kindly gave me permission to us the images.

You will enjoy the story behind the making of these shelves and chuckle when you learn "The hardest part-emotionally, that is-is that in order to get this look, you DO have to cut innocent luggage in half." In fact, the project gave her an inspiration for a Halloween Costume: A Suitcase Slasher!

Image credit: used with permission of Red Hen Home Blog.

A few more tutorials for making shelves from old suitcases: - Things to recycle: a piece of old luggage!

Just in case you need more help and ideas for reusing old luggage as shelving, here are a few more links for you to read.

Yes, a suitcase or a piece of battered luggage is a good thing to recycle or upcycle. Reuse instead of tossing.

  1. Instructables: Suitcase Shelves

    This article has a good list of supplies and pictures of how to make this shelving project.

  2. Double Suitcase Shelves

    By the same author as "Suitcase Shelves"--just a different idea.

Suitcases take you home!

Suitcases take you home!
Suitcases take you home!

photo credit for the above image: bluebirdsandteapots via photo pin cc

How to recycle or upcycle Old Luggage -- - you can make more than bookshelves!

Shelving is not the only thing you can make with old suitcases. I found chairs, medicine cabinets, picnic tables and more. Visti the following pages to get inspired. Finding uses for old stuff in your attic was never easier!

  1. Momentarily Yours: Luggage Inspiration has several ideas and links for using old luggage.
  2. 14 Ways to Upcycle a Suitcase is a cool place for all you Home Ec nerds.
  3. See how to make a Suitcase Table from

What is upcycling? According to

You take waste material and make it into something new and useful. The goal is to not decrease the the quality of the item that you had in the beginning.

No tool to cut up luggage?

Want to cut up a suitcase for shelves? Now you have a reason to buy that jigsaw you have always wanted. The one below is highly rated on Amazon. Read reviews and decide if this is the tool you need. I definitely would NOT recommend a hand saw. Make sure you have blades that can cut metal.

If you want a bigger saw, like a scroll saw, you might want to visit Scrollsaw Magazine, to read this article about Choosing a Scroll Saw.

Find Vintage Luggage on EBay - A suitcase to make into a bookshelf

EBay is probably the best on-line place for you to find vintage suitcases to recycle. Of course, you can always go to the local thrift stores to find these travel pieces that won't break your bank.

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Thanks for visiting and I hope you found a Home Decor project that you would love to complete. Be sure to wear Safety Glasses when you cut up those suitcases and old pieces of luggage!

Do you have the heart to slaughter suitcases?

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    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 4 years ago

      @TerriCarr: In this article, I call the shelves "bookshelves" generically. Kind of like calling a tissue "Kleenex" or a soda a "Coke".

    • TerriCarr profile image

      TerriCarr 4 years ago

      I love your writing style. Cute decorating ideas. However, I don't get where there is much of an actual bookshelf. Is it just me?

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 4 years ago

      This is really a clever way to keep books organized too. An added bonus is toddlers wouldn't be able to tear pages out of your beloved books.

    • dawnsnewbeginning profile image

      dawnsnewbeginning 5 years ago

      Nice idea!

    • profile image

      poutine 5 years ago

      Very unique idea.

    • profile image

      Ruthi 5 years ago

      What a unique display these suitcase bookshelves make!