Introduction: Vintage Suitcase Cat Bed

About: A mechanical engineer by training, but often seek out fun projects at home to satisfy my need to create stuff. I love halloween, cardboard projects, and attempting to teach my kids that making stuff is much mo…

Our cat Izzy loves nothing more than a good nap. Whether it's after a night of prowling the neighborhood, or just lounging in the afternoon sun - she can log some serious zzzz's. This is, of course, unless she is interrupted by one of the many distractions in our house. We'd come to realize that we have our beds, and the dog has her crate, but Izzy doesn't have a place of her own.

We considered buying a cat bed. These looked comfy, but lacked character. After a few Pinterest searches, we found the perfect solution - a bed made from a vintage suitcase. With a funky exterior, we could customize the inside to give her the plush bedding that this feline deserves!

The only problem was finding a vintage suitcase that didn't cost more than a few bucks. Three garage sales later, we found what we were looking for in the form of a brown faux alligator-leather suitcase. It was the perfect size, had the vintage look, and cost only $3. Score. Suitcase in hand, we were ready to begin.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials


* Vintage Suitcase (garage sale, thrift store, antique store)

* Furniture legs (Home Depot, Lowes, Amazon)

* Angle brackets (Home Depot, Lowes)

* Screws & Nuts (Home Depot, Lowes)

* Fabric for interior of suitcase

* Fabric for bed cover

* Stuffing for bed cover

* Fabric adhesive and/or hot glue gun


* Scissors

* Drill and drill bits

* Right angle grinder (optional)

Step 2: Remove Upholstery & Mount Legs

The outside of these vintage suitcases may have that classic mid-century look, but the insides can get pretty nasty after 40 or 50 years. It's important to remove whatever loose fabric you can from the insides. We'll be adding our own custom interior, and we'll want something solid to glue it to.

Next, we'll add some feet to the bottom. These feet come in all shapes and sizes. You can order them Amazon, or just swing by Lowes or Home Depot to pick up a set. The legs that we bought each mount with four wood screws. I pre-drilled some holes and inserted the screws. About half and inch of the screw head stuck up into the suitcase - we were worried that this had the potential to make the bed a bit uncomfortable. I solved the problem by grinding them off. This problem can also be solved by concealing the screw tips in a few layers of cardboard.

Step 3: Reupholster

Lay the suitcase out flat and rough-cut a piece of fabric to fit over one side. Tuck the fabric down into the suitcase and make sure you have a few inches extra hanging out of the top to work with. Next paint the inside walls with fabric glue. This glue dries fast, so paint only sections of 8-10" at a time. Fold the excess fabric behind to leave a nice clean edge and press against the glue. You can hold each section in place with binder clips or clothes pins while it dries. The corners are a little trickier given the extra material. We made multiple folds to take up the material and glued it flat. Repeat the process for the other side of the suitcase.

We found that hot glue also worked well for this process, and it was much quicker.

Step 4: Mount the Hinge Brackets

You don't want the suitcase to close on top of your beloved feline! To lock the suitcase lid open at 90 degrees, we used two angle brackets. You can pick these up at HD or Lowes. Ours were 3" x 3" with two screw holes on each side. We located the brackets adjacent to the hinges on the back side.

We marked the screw holes and drilled them out. The brackets were attached with #10 x .75 long screws - but your screw size and length will be dependent on the thickness of your suitcase and the size of the holes in your brackets. Investigate those factors before buying your screws.

Step 5: Make the Cat Mattress

Cut the batting to fit the size of your suitcase. Fold the fleece around the batting and pin it on the bottom side. We could have sewn it up, but this is much quicker (we're lazy), and also allows for the fabric to be easily removed for washing.

Step 6: Embellish and Let Your Cat Enjoy!

We picked up some cheap frames at Michael's and painted them up to complement the base fabric. These were filled with loving family photos and hot glued to the back.

We weren't sure how quick Izzy would take to the new bed, given her penchant for newspapers and human beds. But with a little cat nip and a few days to warm up to it, she was sold. Much to our surprise, it ended up being her favorite place in the house!

Cat Challenge 2016

Grand Prize in the
Cat Challenge 2016