Antique trunks and chests embody a certain mystery. Where did they come from? How were they used? What contents have been stored within? These useful pieces once provided necessary storage, a place to lock things safely away and a means of transporting belongings. While we are more apt to use a suitcase rather than a steamer trunk for travel these days, we can certainly appreciate their beauty and usefulness, even if their intended purpose has changed a bit.
Trunks and chests are often used synonymously however there are differences. According to Wikipedia, trunks have a more rugged construction due to their use in travel and as such are also known as traveling chests. Chests, noted as one of the earliest forms of furniture were intended simply for storage. So in most cases, the beautiful wooden pieces found in homes are chests. The ones toted off to college full of belongings are trunks.
Trunks and chests are often associated with the foot of a bed. They are wonderful places to store blankets and quilts, often imbibing their contents with a scent of old cedar and days gone by. However, they can be used in many rooms of your home and in various ways. Reclaim one and add a little history and character to your space.
An antique mahogany chest, passed down through generations, has retained residence in this room for over 60 years. A stunning piece that has only gotten better with age.
TIP: If you obtain a wonderful chest but it's missing the key, look for old vintage keys at local antique shops. You are certain to find one that fits the opening for decorative purposes. Hang a small picture from it or a tassel (shown above) to further personalize your find.
A pine chest stores extra blankets and pillows in this bedroom. Note its use as a display surface for some pewter pieces rather than being anchored to a bed.
A smaller, vintage trunk is a unique accent piece. Note its scale in relation to the wine bottle. This piece may very well be a cabin trunk which would have been the equivalent of carry-on luggage in the early 1900s. They would actually fit within the "cabin" of a steamer trunk.
A classic steamer trunk, also known as a flat-top, is an excellent choice to repurpose as a coffeetable.
A vintage, cedar chest is used for storage of collectable glassware and as a display top "side table" in a dining room. Its low profile height makes it a smart choice in retaining an open feel in this space.
Vintage Wooden Storage Cases
Storage cases often accompanied important items such as tools and guns. They helped protect items, keeping them safe, secure and organized. Antique cases may be found with or without their original contents. They make excellent accent pieces and depending on their size, may be repurposed as small trunks or chests.
Old wooden storage cases compliment each other when grouped together. This set makes a nice statement at the foot of a chaise.
If you are looking for functional furniture with charm and character, consider an antique trunk or chest. As shown above, they are excellent pieces for storage or as display tops in most any room. They can be repurposed to suit your needs (as a coffeetable for instance) and can also provide additional seating. Estate sales and auctions may provide the best results.