There are a few options for dealing with the inside of your trunk.  Each has advantages, and each has disadvantages.  Plan ahead and finish off the inside in a manner that will be compatible with your planned use of the trunk.   Some things to consider:

Lining the trunk with wallpaper - This is not very hard to do, you get a wide variety of colors and patterns to choose from, and it usually looks pretty nice if you take your time and make sure to run the paper around the corners, so that you don't have gaps.  Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?  Well, Just wait til you're standing on your head in there trying to get that sticky glue to stay on the back of the paper - not on the front, while your hair is glued to the trunk lid, your pants are stuck to the floor, and your dog is rolled up in the paper somewhere, judging from the muffled barking noises you can almost hear (your ears are glued shut).  This method takes patience.  What state do you live in?  Have cockroaches, earwigs, or silverfish there?  Those little buggers just love to eat wallpaper paste.  You'll hear little scratching noises in your trunk at night.  Then, when you throw your sweaters and boots in the trunk for the winter the heel of your boot tears a big gash in the paper.  Still sound good to you?  Then keep in mind that all of that paper will peel off in about 2 or 3 years, and your trunk will look awful.  Don't do it!

Lining with Fabric - Takes about three yards of calico to line your average trunk.  You need to measure first to make sure you don't run out half way across.  Again, you get quite a wide array of choices, and you can spend lots or little, depending on what type of fabric you choose.  We've had great luck with upholstery fabrics, they're stiffer than most cotton calicos and offer some resistance to sagging and wrinkling.  Some thinner, less expensive calicos will look like Aunt Flossie's knees no matter how much you stretch it.  Fabric is usually held in place with brass tacks and staples.  A good choice, but you're once again creating a nice little house (between the fabric and the wood) for varmints to live in.  By the way, if you choose fabric, we strongly recommend that you cut sheets of poster board to attach the fabric to, in order to give yourself nice, crisp edges around the top of the trunk.  Makes a huge difference in how they turn out.  Still, this method is subject to wear and tear.  Plus you'll yank out all of your hair before you're done.

Stripping, Sanding, and Staining - This is our favorite option.  There.  Get the old, smelly paper out of your trunk and then sand the wood, stain it, and finish it.  Looks great, no messy glue to deal with or tacks to whack, and never wears out.  This is a great choice, and offers the most versatility.

Antiqure trunk refinishing example
Get the old paper damp and scrape it the heck out of there.  Let it all dry and then sand the wood.

Some Pointers on How to Tackle Your Trunk's Innards

For Lining with Paper or Fabric:  Start with the sides (ends of the trunk - left and right), lining both the sides of the bottom and the sides of the top.  Begin attaching the material at the top edge of the trunk bottom, and start it out backwards, so it will fold over and hide your staples.  Does that make sense to you?  Probably not, I barely understand it myself.  Fabric backwards, sticking up from edge of trunk, staple, fold down, and there you are.  Now, be sure to run your material around the corners about an inch onto the front and back of the trunk.  If you're stapling fabric in place, this is where you staple it.  The staples will be hidden later.  Also run your material out onto the bottom (or top) by an inch.  So now you have the sides all done.  You should have, anyway.  Let us run this by you once more - measure the left inside end of the trunk, then cut a piece of fabric that's about an inch bigger on each side.  Turn it backwards, staple to the top edge of the left inside of the trunk, then let it fold down to the bottom, and staple it in place putting your staples into the trunk's bottom, back, and front (all on the inside, of course)  - none of these staples will show because - well, you'll see when you get to this point.

Now measure from the top edge of the front, down the inside of the front, across the bottom, and up to the top edge of the back.  Also measure the width.  Cut your fabric to give you an extra inch on each side and an extra 2 inches on the front and back, then staple to the inside of the front, fold it down so that it lays about where you want it.  Fold the side edges under by about an inch, and use decorative tacks to hold in place.  See the Parts page if you need to buy tacks.  Do the same for the lid.  You're done.  You're also two years older than when you started.

For Stripping and Staining:  Use a damp cloth to get the old paper damp, and let it stay that way for a couple of hours.  Then use a paint scraper to remove the wall paper.  Get what you can, sandpaper will get the rest.  Choose your favorite stain, then finish the wood.  You have time left for a stroll in the woods before supper.  If the dog survived the wall paper incident, take her along.

Consider leaving the wood inside your trunk (that you just stained) unfinished - no polyurethane or varnish.  The wood needs to breathe!  You'll be glad you did this down the road.  Fends off warping, and keeps the wood looking alive.

Shop our Trunk Parts

Back to the How To Page