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Photo Courtesy of Timothy Oulton

Your Complete Guide to Trunk Coffee Tables

What you need to know to capture this evergreen trend.
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As vintage designs populated homes, something that began to gain popularity in the 1970s, dusty trunks were brought out of storage and used as coffee tables.  Their use as furniture didn’t stop there. They came to decorate several pockets in the house, as decorative items in front of a window or a surface to display decorative objet d’art. They make a great place to hold a television, and are practical when placed at the foot of the bed to store extra linens or sweaters—especially, old-fashioned ones like canopies and four-posters.

To fully ascertain its condition, be sure you do a thorough cleaning. For leather, a saddle soap suffices as a gentle cleanser. Generally, these detergents contain the correct amount of pH to clean the surface safely. The trunk interior, often lined in paper, needs to be cleaned out before storing new items as the paper can trap odors and oils. This task is a careful project since you should not get it too wet or you’ll risk warping the wood. A gentle soap like Murphy’s Oil Soap and a scraper can do the trick. If you are handy, you can use an electric circular nylon brush to remove oxidation on brass hardware and polish it to make it like new again.

Today, the Puce de Saint Ouen is home to several vintage trunk dealers and boasts a large variety and selection.  Can’t make it to Paris? Consulting a knowledgeable antique dealer or estate sale manager can help you locate solid options. As can referencing websites such as 1stDibs, which has earned a stellar reputation for authentic vintage furniture or Chairish. Conversely, reproduction and new models are found at the same storied houses that made them originally, notably Louis Vuitton, Goyard, Hermes, Moynat, and Au Depart.

Today, Maccarrone sees trunks as more pieces of furniture than travel pieces. “This concept of differently sized trunks perfectly integrate into apartments,” he recommends. He adds that for smaller spaces where design is emphasized, trunks are practical and stylish storage spaces. “Our contemporary trunks hold whisky, cognac, tea sets, wine, champagne, and a fully multi-functional bar, for instance,” he says.  The brand also offers a chic DJ console, too. “When closed, the turntable, vinyl storage, and TV trunks can be used as beautiful coffee tables, especially with low to the ground lounge-style couches or cushion seating.”

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