DIY Union Jack Trunk

Last Updated on February 19, 2016

Union jack Trunk

My Union Jack trunk has to be one of my most prized possessions, as a lot of work went into its creation, and from start to finish was a huge transformation. 
I came across this old, beat up trunk at a place called waste-wise, where people can just drop off their old junk they do not want anymore. What drew me to it was how old it was (dated back at least 50 years) and how it was still in very good structural condition. It looked like it had taken a beating, but I am always drawn to a challenge. 
So for $30, it was all mine. I took it home and immediately noticed how dirty it was. It had that mildew smell to it, so I put on the rubber gloves and gave it a good cleaning. I noticed when I was cleaning it (just with soap and water) that the paint was coming off. This was fine, as I had already planned to re-paint it. 
Once it was all washed, I gave it two coats of white primer to get a good base going. I had to be really careful painting because of all the antique clasps and metal corners on the trunk, which I wanted to preserve. Rather than using tape, I opted to use a really small, fine art paintbrush to cover the delicate areas. 
DIY Union Jack Trunk
I went to my local paint store, and picked out the colors I wanted to use (for the Union Jack I chose navy blue, red and antique white). I knew I wouldnโ€™t use a ton of paint, so I purchased some sample sizes, which were relatively cheap.  I decided to use latex acrylic eggshell finish paint (like you would for your walls) because of how durable it is compared to craft paints. 


DIY Union Jack Trunk

 I painted every side except for the front of the trunk with two coats of the navy blue paint. Even with tape, getting the flag to turn out was extremely difficult and took a lot of time! I used some painterโ€™s tape first, to tape off the area of the flag where the antique white paint would go. After giving it two coats of paint, I filled in the background with the navy blue paint. 


DIY Union Jack Trunk

 I gave it a day or two to properly dry, because I then had to tape over the white part to get the red part of the union jack done. After two coats of red, I waited another day to take the tape off. When I did take the tape off some of my lines were a tiny bit uneven (the paint bled through a little), so I just went over it with a really fine paintbrush by hand to even it all out.



DIY Union Jack Trunk


I was so pleased with the results, especially given that this was one of my very first DIY projects. If I can do this, so can you. All it takes is time, creativity and a lot of patience! 


Sarah is currently studying Anthropology at McMaster University.  She enjoys up-cycling, creating customized furniture, decorative furniture painting and any do-it-yourself projects, big or small. She is passionate about creative sustainability, by breathing new life into items destined for the land-fill.

36 thoughts on “DIY Union Jack Trunk

  1. I love this! This isn’t your first — I remember I loved your new-and-improved IKEA dresser. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. It turned out beautifully! My family is British so I am loving the Union Jack on the front of the trunk!!

  3. The trunk you did turned out great. My brother used to buy old junk trunks to and fix them up really nice. This is a good idea . It can be used for storage, a coffee table , lots of ways . I always say one mans junk is another mans treasure. I like DIY projects .

  4. I absolutely adore this! You did an amazing job! I have an old trunk that could use a makeover, YOU have inspired me! Thank you!

  5. I love this trunk, it looks just like one I used to have when I moved to Denmark (but without the Union Jack). You have made a great job of it, it looks fabulous.

  6. You did a great job, I would have been nervous about making the lines straight, you can do sports teams also, great idea, thanks

  7. I know a few Brits who would love to have this! And I’d like it do. It might make me seem like a world-traveler ;).

  8. Its a great idea to take something and make it unique. I will have to look for something like this to turn into a toy chest.

  9. Amazing work! I have an old trunk lying around in my house that I was going to throw out very soon. However, after seeing this post there’s no way that’s happening! Can’t wait to try this out, I hope it turns out as nice as yours did! Thanks for the inspiration!

  10. I love your Union Jack Trunk! I have a thing for the Union Jack and I’ve never seen it used this way before! Thanks for sharing and thanks for the creative inspiration!

  11. My daughter would LOVE this!! Makes me wish I had a trunk or a table in her room to do it on! Though.. I am kinda thinking of doing it to the top of her desk now – with a lot of sealant on the top of it


  12. Ok I love love love the Union Jack Trunk. I hope one day I can do it myself or perhaps put in an offer for yours?? ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. This is great I love the union jack already and I have a cedar trunk that could use some updating ,its not vintage I bought it at auction for almost nothing because it was home made. The inside is great but the outside is dinged up. great idea !

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