A trunk, also known as a traveling chest, is a type of luggage that was historically used for extended periods of time and long stays away from home. The trunks travelled with individuals to such places as boarding schools and trips abroad. Whereas chests have been traditionally used as storage containers, trunks were created in more rugged materials, with more divots, hardware, and nails, to withstand rougher wear. Even though trunks have been around for thousands of years (in China, but also elsewhere), the most common styles recognized hail from the late 18th century to the early 20th. Since trunks were so heavy, they were often not carried by the owner or traveler, but usually by servants via its handles. Trunks have been replaced by lighter and cheaper suitcases. These newer forms of luggage also have heels allowing the item to become more easily mobile.
The Louis Vuitton “Library Trunk”. In 1923, Louis Vuitton created a trunk for books, the use of which was not exclusive for travel but also for at home. Many well-known writers joined the bibliophiles and collectors acquiring these trunks, including Ernest Hemingway and Françoise Sagan.
Trunks can be wood based (usually pine) or metal based. The trunks can also come in a bevy of styles including steamers (or flat-tops), hat-trunks, barrel-staves, bevel-tops, wardrobes, and dome-tops. Victorian trunks are especially prized because of the intricate customization and compartments held within each piece. Trunks from the Victorian era had complex tray systems, hat boxes, coin purses, and hidden compartments. Those trunks were sometimes also decorated for lady owners with chromolithographs of flowers, village scenes, initials, and other personalizations.
The home of Jon and Paige Ashcroft via DesignSponge, HERE.
Trunk via Restoration Hardware as part of the travel inspired “Richards Metal Trunk Series”.
Whereas a CHEST was actually created to be a piece of furniture, TRUNKS were not. It is only recently that they have been used as coffee tables, side tables, and decorative storage. I have not one, but FIVE vintage trunks in my apartment – three are stacked as a decorative accent. One is in my living room as an end table that stores books and blankets. The other is my board game cupboard! I found my trunks at vintage stores for around $50-200 each. If you don’t feel like lugging (literally) your luggage back from a store – try Etsy! Your vitange trunk is filled with history; think about all the places your trunk as gone and secrets it has hidden. One particularly amazing Etsy shop called SalvageShack creates pet beds, tables, and shelving from old luggage.
This trunk stack becomes a high table for the entryway. Designed by Ron Marvin in San Francisco.
This French inspired room, complete with pewter accents, and nailed hardware on the trunk is extremely romantic. Image from Traditional Home found HERE.
Modern, masculine, and somehow with a minimal desert vibe. Image by Birdhouse Interior Design Consulting in Omaha, NE.
Ornate, busy, western, and yet awesome -like visiting your quirky Great Aunt Madge. Image by by Period Homes, Inc. from Fort Worth, TX.
Like living inside a rustic boarding school. Image by Alicia via Houzz.
When in doubt, spray paint your trunk white! This gives the object a sculptural look. Image via a Beach Cottage.
Via The Foundary.
The perfect accent. It allows a new home to have a “lived-in-old-home vibe”. Image via Desire to Inspire.
A French, provincial, country cottage! Not one, but TWO trunks in the photo. Image found HERE.
Vintage Luxe meets Liberace meets Versailles. Image via Gypsy House Designs.
This is the Vuitton trunk in the library of US fashion designer, Tommy Hilfiger’s house in Greenwich, Connecticutt. If it’s good enough for Tommy, it’s good enough for me. Image found via Fashionphile, HERE.
Trunks don’t have to be rustic. By softening the color palette, the one above is pastel, feminine, modern, breezy, and warm. Photograph by Jon Day via House to Home, HERE.
In the end, I love the idea of reinventing an object’s use. A trunk would obsolete had it not been for creative designers and homeowners. Now it is functional again in the 21st century! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!