DIY Handpainted "Adventure Awaits" Suitcase Makeover

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all"

-Helen Keller


Our little Lily girl is a huge fan of the Pixar movie, UP. For her birthday we wanted to get her an awesome suitcase that could follow her around on her adventures, but once we started looking at prices we knew our chances were slim.

We didn't want anything new, because we wanted a suitcase that told a story. A story that our little girl could keep telling with her own life.

We hoped to find something that was good quality, had a good interior, and cost as little as possible. We scoured Etsy, Craig's List, and antique shops for weeks, but couldn't find anything. . . until one night Jared and I went on a date to one of our favorite shops and found this awesome beauty for $12.00 at Merchant Square Antiques.  It was love at first sight. 


The suitcase was a little rough on the outside when we found it, but the interior was in great condition. As as soon as I saw it, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. I hoped to bring out a little more of the vintage vibe, yet give it a fun, whimsical touch. 


Being on such a tight budget, I decided to use items I already had around the house to make this work:

  • Brown craft paint {Apple Barrel 20431 Nutmeg Brown}
  • Paste Wax {Old Masters Crystal Clear}
  • Small paintbrush
  • Black permanent fine-point, Sharpie marker
  • An old rag

I started out by thinning down the paint so it was equal parts paint + water. Once it was mixed well in a bowl, I brushed it onto the suitcase in small areas. Then I took a damp rag and "washed" the paint into the surface until it was spread nice and thin on the entire surface of the suitcase. This worked great, and definitely highlighted the vintage look that I was going for.

Once all 4 sides were finished and the paint was dry, I scoured the internet until I found some inspiration for a phrase to write on the front of the suitcase.

Originally, I planned to write "Adventure Is Out There," until I came across this print on Etsy by WhimseyandWanderlust, and fell in love with it. {btw, you should totally check out her shop-it's amazing!}

Inspired by Baylee's concept, I took a pencil and sketched the words onto the front of the suitcase. It isn't perfect, but that's truly the appeal I love so much about hand lettering.  Once I had the pencil sketch completed, I traced over it with a black Sharpie to make it permanent. It took a few hours to complete this on both sides of the suitcase, but I'm so happy with how it turned out.

For the last and final step, I covered the whole suitcase with a few coats of Paste Wax to protect it.


One of my favorite things about the whole suitcase is the name: "D. Rabey" that was already written on the top, just below the handle. Sometimes I sit and imagine where this piece has been and where it's traveled in its lifetime. But then I get even more excited when I think about what possibilities and adventures lie in store for it in the future.

Happy Adventuring!