Updating a Vintage Trunk with Exterior Paint

As I shared on the Patriotic Summer Home Tour post, the wicker settee and the old trunk got a bit of a makeover but they almost didn’t happen at all.

I was working to ready the front porch when I heard a strange alarm going off. It wasn’t the fire alarm or our house alarm. It was an alarm I’d never even heard before. I searched all over the front of the property before finally deciding to check the back. A red light in the corner caught my eye and I ran over to investigate. Sure enough, I had found the cause of all the noise. This alarm is really close to the backup generators we sometimes need during hurricane season so I just figured something had tripped it up.

A few calls later, I found out it was the alarm for the septic system. I know. I had crazy visions of the toilets over flowing and me trying frantically to bleach the house down yellow gloves in hand almost immediately. They were 9not pleasant thoughts. Honestly, I didn’t even know septic systems even had alarms.

So, there I was porch completely torn apart…pillows, pots and dead plants lining the pathway just outside the front door when our amazing neighbors came to save the day. I can’t even tell you how many times I apologized for the porch mess. Like a million times. Oh my word, where were my priorities that day! No one cares about the dead plants, CoCo, you. need. this. fixed. RIGHT. NOW…

It reminds me of the time I took a curling iron on an overnight camping trip…what the what was I thinking. But that’s another story for another time…

I’ve had this old trunk for a while now. I picked it up at my favorite shopping spot The Warehouse which is now out of business. At the time, I didn’t really have a vision for it and I liked the way the wood warmed up the front porch so I just left it in this state for a few seasons.

Once I decided to change out this bench for the wicker settee that was in my booth at The Pickers Market, I knew I needed to give the porch a little refresh starting with the trunk.

On a side note, the porch is mostly covered but there are times that the coastal winds whip up, the rain is blowing sideways and the furniture on the porch gets wet. For that reason, I personally choose a weather resistant exterior paint for this project. You may choose an oil based paint or even an interior paint just be sure to apply a quality topcoat that protects against water, chipping and warping if you choose an interior paint.

Make sure the piece you’re working on has been completely cleaned and is free of dirt and grime. Next you’ll want to use painters tape on the sections of the trunk you don’t want to get paint on. Just make sure you line it up really well so you don’t get any bleed through.


This is after one coat using a 2-inch brush…


This is after three. Sometimes it takes multiple coats of paint to get good coverage especially with white and off white paint. If brush strokes drive you bananas, consider using a sponge roller made for painting cabinets.


I decided to leave all of the wood accents intact and give them a rub of Howards Feed N’ Wax.

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I can’t believe I waited so long to paint this trunk now.

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Here’s another quick look at the before…

and after…

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I hope you guys have the happiest day. I’ll see you on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram later today and Thursday and back here on Friday to share how I painted the wicker settee.

Many blessings,


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  1. Hey CoCo – You were so right to paint the trunk! Love the new look after your fab makeover! It really stands out now and looks so pretty on your beautiful porch!

    1. Thanks so much for your sweet comments, ladies! Hugs, CoCo

  2. Wow!!! It really brightens up the area. I love your porch. =D
    I’m reluctant to paint my humpback trunks because they are so ornate. But you inspired me to paint the others because your trunk is beautiful with the paint! I love how it brought out more character. Thank you for sharing inspiration!

    1. I appreciate your sweet words, Robin, thank you! I wasn’t really sure I wanted to paint this trunk either but leaving the detail pieces wood helped to bridge the gap 🙂 I don’t know that I would do this to a steamer trunk but I’m excited about the way it all came together. You’re a gifted lady, I know your trunks will be amazing! Hugs, CoCo

  3. Yep! I agree that the paint transformed the trunk and made it much more eye catching. Your porch is amazing.

    Thanks so much for joining Thoughts of Home on Thursday. We are thrilled to have you. Pinning. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Stacey! I’m so glad at painted it now even though at the time I was all…should I paint this thing? It seems to give the porch a fresh feel which is what it needed. You know how Southern girls are about their porches 🙂 Hugs, CoCo

  4. Painting the trunk made such a difference. I would have been scared to mess it up, but you did a stunning job. I really love how you kept some of the original wood and accents unpainted. The trunk just screams – “look at me, I’m gorgeous”.

    1. ha ha you’re sweet, Michelle, thank you! I wasn’t really sure how it was going to turn out but I was definitely ready for a change. Now I look at it and wonder what took me so long 🙂 Hope your weekend was fantastic, CoCo

  5. Oh Coco… that story brought a smile to my face! I would have done the exact same thing apologizing for the mess and ignoring the repeated alarm 😉 You make me smile 😉 I love the trunk before and after. It looks beautiful!! Hope the rest of your week is going well. Hugs, Lisa

    1. ha ha thank you Lisa! I swear there is never a dull moment around here. I’m just glad we were able to get it all fixed and in check. Thank you for your sweet comments about the trunk. I appreciate them all. Big hugs, CoCo

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