Suitcase Cabinet




Introduction: Suitcase Cabinet

I found this old suitcase at a local antique shop and decided it must be the newest addition to my walls. I have a "dump space" next to the door where I put all the items I carry with me everyday. Sadly it is also full of stuff I use from time to time, but not often enough to clutter up the space. This suitcase now holds items like my umbrella (ready for a rainy day), extra sunglasses (for when the regulars go missing), and coupons for more building supplies. I can even check my makeup before leaving the house for the day.

Step 1: Materials

Hard shell suitcase


Silicone calk/glue

Various papers (I used a ruined copy of Tale of Two Cities, maps, and a couple old children's books)

Hard cover book about a 1/4" thick

1/2" board


Mod Podge

2 1/4" - 2 1/2" screws

1/2" screws

3/4" screws



Rivets and riveting tools

Saw with adjustable angle

Flat blade screwdriver


Box cutter or X-acto knife

Wooden boxes for drawers (I got mine at a local craft shop.)

Leather Punch

Nuts and bolts (long enough to go through the front of the drawers)


Magnetic metal plate

Step 2: Destroy

Tear the fabric from the inside. This was quite easy on mine. Simply grab a pocket and pull hard.

Step 3: Mod Podge Inside

Coat the inside with Mod Podge to smooth out any leftover fibers and apply a layer of paper.

Coat all the paper with Mod Podge.

The top bowed a bit from the moisture, but tightened back up as it dried.

Give it a few hours to dry.

Step 4: Shelves

Cut a board to fit from top to bottom.

I used scrap boards and already had some cut to lengths I liked. I just trimmed them a bit. If you're using a full length board, measure and cut horizontal shelves to lengths you like.

Place them on top of the center board and space them to allow for your wood boxes to fit between them.

Mark one horizontal board where it crosses the center board.

Mark a notch that is slightly beyond the center of the board.

Cut into the board with your saw and use a flat blade screwdriver to hammer out the section.

Use this first board to mark all the other horizontal shelves in the same place.

Cut these in the same way as the first.

Lay the horizontal shelves over the center board and mark their placement.

Mark the center board and cut in the same way as the horizontal shelves.

All the shelves should fit together and fit in the case with the boxes in between.

Step 5: Mod Podge Boards

Mod Podge the boards everywhere except inside the cuts.

Give it a few hours to dry.

Step 6: Attaching Shelves

Place your shelves inside and mark the sides of each board on the bottom of the case.

Pull the shelves out and drill two or three holes along the length of each board's marks.

Place the center board into the case, ensuring it is lined up with your previous marks, and screw (with 3/4" screws) into the boards from the back of the case.

Repeat for each shelf.

Step 7: Drawers

Cut a piece of leather for the handle of each drawer.

Use a leather punch to put a hole in each end.

Mark the holes on each drawer.

Drill a hole just inside of each mark.

Mod Podge the front of each drawer. You could cover the whole drawer if you want, but I liked the wood.

Wait a few hours for drying.

Use nuts and bolts to attach the handles.

Step 8: Front and Mirror

Mod Podge the front of the case.

Trace your mirror onto plywood.

Measure a couple inches from your mirror marks.

Cut out the resulting shape.

Mod Podge the plywood.

Use silicone calk/glue to attach the mirror to the plywood. I felt it was quite secure, but if you're worried, you could use some mirror hardware around the edges.

Use silicone calk/glue to attach the plywood/mirro to the front of the case. This will be secured further in a later step, but you need it to be held in place while you screw it on.

Step 9: Envelope Sides

Cut the pages out of your book if you haven't already to use for Mod Podging.

Create a template on a piece of paper by spreading the book open at the desired angle. Trace the edges of the book and add about a 1/2" to the sides.

Use the template to cut two pieces of leather.

Step 10: Envelope Sides Continued

Wet the leather sides and fold them as shown.

Press them firmly between a towel while folded.

Create a template for rivet holes. Folding a piece of paper a couple times and making cuts on the folds works well.

Mark the holes on each side flap of the leather.

Put holes on your marks with a leather punch.

Step 11: Rivets

Lay each side of the leather onto the book and mark the holes.

Drill holes in the book on your marks.

Apply rivets.

Cut and rivet a loop and strap.

Step 12: Securing the Mirror

Lay the plate and book over the mirror so that the bottom two corners of the plate and top two corners of the book overlap the plywood.

Measure the distance from the top of the case to the bottom of the plate. Record this measurement.

Measure the distance from the bottom of the case to the top of the book. Record this measurement.

Measure and mark these measurements on the inside of the case.

Use 3/4" screws to screw the plate into the plywood on the front of the case.

Repeat with the book.

Step 13: Mounting

I used a french cleat to mount the case to the wall.

Simply put, cut a board in half at a 30 or 45 degree angle. Screw one half to the wall and the other half to the case.

Here you can find simple instructions for making a french cleat.

Because the cleat juts out from the back, you need another small piece of wood in the back at the base of the case. I used a scrap piece of the wood from the shelves. Screw it to the wall (with 2 1/4" - 2 1/2" screws) through the inside of the case. This will keep your case parallel to the wall.

Remember to screw into a stud or use anchors.

Step 14: Enjoy and Get Organized

Guerilla Design Contest

Third Prize in the
Guerilla Design Contest

Small Spaces Contest

Participated in the
Small Spaces Contest

Be the First to Share


    • Pi Day Speed Challenge

      Pi Day Speed Challenge
    • Trash to Treasure Contest

      Trash to Treasure Contest
    • Sculpt & Carve Challenge

      Sculpt & Carve Challenge


    Even though you lost me at steps, 7 ( where do You get the drawers ) 10 and 11 the book covering... i still love this idea and will use it for ... Basic first aid kits for kids activities, Emergency Survival and even my upstairs guest room ... You got my vote...


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    The materials list includes the wooden boxes seen in step 7. I've added a note there to hopefully make it more clear what they are for and where to look for them. I got them at Hobby Lobby, but any craft store is likely to have something similar.

    I'm not sure how to improve steps 10 and 11. If you can be more specific, I'd be happy to make modifications.

    I'm so glad you've thought of so many uses for the idea. Thanks for the vote!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Oh I love your project! Very creative, and the final product looks so amazing.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Those vintage suitcases are the best. I love all the work you put into this. It's a true one-of-a-kind.


    5 years ago on Step 14

    Probably the best upcycling of a suitcase that I ever seen.


    Reply 5 years ago on Step 14

    Thanks! I hope you've seen a lot of upcycled suitcases.


    6 years ago

    brilliant!!!! definatlly doing this, looks ace.


    6 years ago

    very cool! and clear directions, maybe I will attempt this one day! :)

    I saw the picture of this and smiled because I have a set of suitcases that are identical to this one.

    And then I read the intro about how you found this "old suitcase" at an "antique shop". And now my arthritis seems to be acting up and I feel like I need a nap.

    (It is a great idea though)


    6 years ago

    Love this!!!

    I have a great collection of old/vintage suitcases just waiting to be re-invented and re-purposed. Wonderful idea! We have at least a dozen wooden cigar boxes, thinking these could be interior shelves and storage. The use of text, the collage-idea, really trips my trigger. Can't wait to make a suitcase storage unit for every room ... immmmmm, Hot Wheels/Lego storage for grandsons? So many suitcases, so many uses. Thank you.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Cigar boxes as drawers/shelves sounds fantastic! Be sure to post pics here with an "I made it" comment when you're done. I'd love to see what you come up with.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I LOVE this idea... and my friend has LOTS of cigar boxes.