When I turned six years old, my parents gave me my own personal trunk with pictures of teddy bears and other stuffed animals on four sides and on the top. The trunk was made of particle board covered with illustrated papers and trimmed with brass. Starting when I was about eight, my father would put a glass of water by my bed at night, and neither one of us put a coaster under it. This started the warping of the chip-board and over the years the paper became more and more torn on both the top and sides.
Since I have an emotional attachment to the item in addition to finding it handy for storing fabric, my husband and I endeavored to restore it as much as possible without altering it’s character. Here is what we did.
Wallpaper (adhesive or traditional)
1) We took a scraper and slid it under the paper left on the top of the trunk. Since this had been bowing for years, the edge went right under the paper and we were able to remove large sections of it without tearing. If you are doing a project like we were, where slight touch-ups need to be made to the side of your trunk (if it was illustrated), save these scraps for later use.
2) Next came sliding the scraper (or a flathead screwdriver) under the brass corner pieces to scrape the excess paper out and prepare for placement of the new wallpaper.
3) Measure the top and/or side of your trunk in order to replace the paper. We were replacing the entire top panel, so we measured from side to side and top to bottom.
5) Put the paper in place and adhere it. We put a little bit of glue along the edges of the trunk where the brass trim would be able to cover any ridges. However, largely, we put on the wallpaper in the traditional manner with a bit of water. This may seem odd considering we had to replace the paper because of water damage, but the minimal amount of water used to make the wallpaper adhere dried quickly with the help of a fan. If you have self-adhesive wallpaper, you can just stick and run! You could also use glue or a glue stick to add extra staying power before brushing a traditional paper with water.
7) If you need to patch up portions of your trunk’s print, use your salvaged print from the top as a patch. Several of the teddy bears on my trunk had rough spots that I was able to patch by using a non-glossy Scotch tape to stick the trimmed portion of the same print from the top. For example, I could use the eye from a bear on the top to replace the eye of a bear on the side.
You can use these directions to repair an old trunk or to add pizzazz to a steamer style trunk that you own in a solid color. Consider using a contrasting pattern on the top or on every other side to turn your trunk into a statement piece of furniture instead of an average storage container. If my trunk had not been a gift, I would have loved to do this and still will if I find a steamer trunk at Goodwill or a thrift store in the future. You can also repair the interior paper of a trunk the same way.
I’m just glad to have my trunk look decent in its home under one of our sewing machines, and the added protection of a fresh top cover should keep it in service for years to come.