Hard-sided vintage luggage is ubiquitous at most large thrift stores. It’s generally charmingly worn-out, but with a little creativity and effort, cast-off suitcases can become functional again.
Small pet bed
The most difficult part of converting a hard-sided suitcase into a pet bed is separating the halves of the case. If you have two pets, leave the case intact and make a double bed. If not, perhaps leave the case open at a 90-degree angle and secure the hinges with industrial-strength glue and perhaps a custom wooden reinforcement to make a daybed. If that doesn’t work for you, attack the hinges with a hammer and prybar and put the back of the bed against a wall where no one can see the mangled metal.
For a mattress, fill a pillowcase with old clothes. Be sure not to wash them, so your pet’s bed can smell like his or her favorite person. You can also just use a pillow, but beware the probable stains — one upset stomach and the mattress will have to be thrown out.
You can simply set the suitcase-cum-bed on the floor, or make it a more formidable throne by adding short legs. Search eBay for “furniture legs” — they come cheap and in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Queen Anne legs would be particularly adorable. Install the legs securely and introduce your furry friend to his or her new sanctuary.
Menageries are generally associated with blue-haired ladies and silly figurines, but they are quickly regaining their reputation as acceptable decor. Making a menagerie works best if the lining of your suitcase needs no repair. Separate the halves of the case. Next, pick which of your prize trinkets you’d like to display. This would be easiest with paper items. Corkboard is easy to buy online or in hardware stores, and many places will make custom sizes for a reasonable price. Hot-glue the corkboard to the back of the inside of the case and pin on your favorite pictures or notes. Installing shelves will be a challenge, but will greatly widen your display options. Try featuring toys from your childhood, tacky shot glasses, kitschy woodland figurines or small potted plants. Decide how you’d like your trinkets arranged, and install small shelves. Stand your menagerie upright on a table or mount it on a wall.
Sometimes you have no choice but to settle for giving a lame present. The trick to taking the insult out of a thoughtless gift is to make the giftwrapping creative and phenomenal. Enter vintage luggage. Write the typical “to” and “from” on the side of the case with paint or a marker, attach a bow, fill the case with your gift and some dollar-store candy, and bask in the warm glow of gratitude.
If your abode is roomy enough to allow for it, put your suitcase to work at simply making you look cooler. Maybe spray paint it metallic. Maybe give your friends a Sharpie and let them write what they’d like on the case. Maybe paint a surreal landscape or presidential portrait on the side. Then just set it someplace nonchalantly visible and let it do your work for you.
If nothing else, fill it with cash and bury it in the backyard.