Give me a new ingredient to play with and stand back! In this case - watch what happened when I got my hands on an Iron Orchid Designs new release Decor Transfer: Exploration.
It all started when I found a dusty, plain, and very old trunk in a thrift store. I knew it could be transformed into something wonderful, but what?
Then I saw the Exploration Transfer... heard a train whistle blowing and the vision of a Railway Trunk Coffee Table was born.
No time to read this now? Pin it for later, here.
I made this video specifically to show you how I upcycled this old trunk. You didn’t miss a special live on the Serendipity House Facebook page - but you can watch the video below, or keep scrolling down to check out the supplies I used in my project. And you can read my step-by-step directions, too.
HERE’S EVERYTHING I USED TO “RIDE THE RAILS” (AKA CREATE) THE RAILWAY TRUNK COFFEE TABLE.
- IOD Decor Transfer: Exploration
- DIY Paint in Skeleton Key
- DIY Paint Dark + Decrepit Liquid Patina/Wax
- Wise Owl Paint Matte Varnish
- Wise Owl Paint Heavy Metals Metallic in Bronze
- F-30 Cling on Paintbrush
- Watergirl Spray Bottle
- Old Toothbrush
- Paper plates as paint trays
- Clean, dry cloth (to wipe back wax)
- Sandpaper for distressing
- Painters tape (to cover trunks’ leather handle)
- Vacuum (clean up sanded debris)
- Castors for table legs (hardware store purchase)
STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS FOR UPCYCLING OLD TRUNK INTO COFFEE TABLE WITH IOD EXPLORATION TRANSFER AND CHALK PAINT
STEP 1: BASE COAT OF PAINT AND SEAL
I covered the entire trunk with two (2) thick coats of DIY Paint in Skeleton Key. I painted right over all the hardware, rivets, and the lock. But I used painters tape to cover the trunk's original leather handle. (min 1:36)
When the paint dried, I sanded the entire trunk to get back some of the distressed, antique trunk feel. Then I vacuumed all the debris from the sanding to make sure the trunk surface was completely clean.
Next up - I applied Wise Owl Paint Varnish in Matte as my topcoat. (2:29) Let the topcoat dry thoroughly. Then get ready to rub on the transfer.
STEP 2: DESIGN LAY OUT AND TRANSFER APPLICATION
The IOD Transfer Exploration comes with 8 12”x16” pages of images. I went through the transfer and cut out individual images, leaving the backing in place until I had a rough idea for my layout.
If you cut out the images - Pro Tip - use painters’ tape, staples, or paper clips to secure the backing until you’re ready to use them.
Once I knew where I wanted my larger pieces (the trains), I used the application tool (included with the transfer), removed the backing paper, and applied a gentle, rubbing pressure. (3:06)
Then I cut a square of the grid lined acetate backing sheet, after the transfer was applied, and used that to burnish the transfer. It’s important to do this to make sure all the edges are down completely and there are no air bubbles in the transfer. Otherwise your transfer piece can start lifting off the surface.
Continue this process of using gentle pressure to rub-on the transfer images in the layout you’ve designed. (3:46) I made sure to put transfer images on the front, back, and sides of the trunk - along with covering the top. I burnished each transfer image after it was on the trunk.
Finish this step by applying another layer of Wise Owl Paint Matte Varnish over the surfaces with the transfer images. Make sure it’s dry before tackling the next step.
STEP 3: ADDING DIMENSION AND A CRAZY PAINTING TECHNIQUE
To create an antiqued look to the trunk, I applied DIY Paints Dark + Decrepit across the entire surface. I worked in sections (5:04), painting on the liquid patina, then switching to a clean cloth to wipe it back from the surface. (5:22)
Once this coat dried, I flipped the trunk upside down and screwed in the castor wheels as coffee table legs. (5:55)
At this point, I can turn the trunk coffee table right side up and give it a last creative assessment. That’s when I realized I needed FLECKS. Here’s what I did:
You’ll need to relax into this step because it’s a bit, shall I say, unstructured. That means, hold onto your anxiety attack - you’re going to unleash your creativity to add some dimension to the coffee table!
Here’s what you’ll need: grab the toothbrush, the Wise Owl Heavy Metals in Bronze Metallic. Dip the brush bristles into the bronze and hold the brush upright over the top of the trunk - and go wild! (6:21)
Use your thumb or a finger to rub across the brush bristles and let flecks of bronze fling everywhere. Repeat the same process using DIY Paint’s Dark + Decrepit - adding brown flecks to the bronze ones. Continue with both the bronze and the brown around all the sides of the trunk until you’re happy with this added dimension.
STEP 4: ADD MOVEMENT TO THE PIECE
For my final step, I use the Watergirl spray bottle to spritz water over the surface of the coffee table. This gives the project added movement on the surface. Then just let it dry overnight!
It’s just a very cool piece - even if you don’t have train whistle music playing in the background every single time someone comes into the room!