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How To Decorate A Suitcase


by Chelsae Levy



Welcome to the exciting world of suitcase decoration! Gone are the days of bland and boring suitcases. With a little creativity and some helpful tips, you can turn your suitcase into a stylish and personalized travel essential.


Decorating a suitcase not only adds a unique touch to your luggage, but it also makes it easier to spot on the baggage carousel. You’ll never have to worry about someone mistakenly taking your suitcase when it stands out from the crowd!


In this article, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of transforming your suitcase into a work of art. From choosing a theme and gathering materials to adding decorative elements and personalizing it with accessories, we’ve got you covered.


Whether you’re a seasoned DIY enthusiast or just looking for a fun and creative project, decorating your suitcase is a fantastic way to express your personality and make your travels even more enjoyable. So, let’s dive in and discover how to decorate a suitcase that truly reflects your style!


Step 1: Choose a Theme

The first step in decorating your suitcase is to choose a theme. This will set the tone for the overall design and help you determine the color scheme, patterns, and decorative elements to incorporate.


When choosing a theme, consider your personal interests, travel destinations, or hobbies. Are you a beach lover? Opt for a tropical theme with vibrant colors and palm tree motifs. Are you an avid bookworm? Embrace a literary theme with book cover illustrations or quotes.


Remember to select a theme that resonates with you and reflects your unique style. This will make your suitcase stand out and make your travels even more exciting.


Here are a few popular theme ideas to get you started:

  1. Adventure Theme: Incorporate travel icons like maps, compasses, and airplanes to inspire wanderlust.
  2. Nature Theme: Choose floral patterns, wildlife motifs, or scenery designs to bring the beauty of nature to your suitcase.
  3. Vintage Theme: Give your suitcase a retro vibe with old-fashioned labels, postcards, or vintage-inspired patterns.
  4. Cultural Theme: Celebrate a specific culture or country with traditional patterns, symbols, or landmarks.
  5. Artistic Theme: Showcase your artistic side with abstract designs, splashes of color, or famous artworks.

Once you’ve chosen a theme, you can start brainstorming ideas and sketching out your design. Don’t be afraid to get creative and think outside the box. The sky’s the limit when it comes to decorating your suitcase!


Step 2: Gather Materials

Before you begin decorating your suitcase, it’s essential to gather all the necessary materials. Having everything prepared and organized will make the process smoother and more enjoyable.


Here is a list of materials you may need:

  1. Suitcase: Choose a sturdy suitcase that is in good condition. It can be a plain or old suitcase that needs a makeover.
  2. Paint: Select acrylic or fabric paint in the colors that match your chosen theme. Make sure to choose paint suitable for the material of your suitcase.
  3. Paintbrushes: Have a variety of paintbrushes in different sizes to help you achieve different effects and details.
  4. Primer: If your suitcase is made of a shiny or slippery material, consider using a primer before painting to improve adhesion.
  5. Decoupage Medium: If you plan to add paper cutouts or images to your suitcase, decoupage medium will help adhere them.
  6. Decorative Elements: This can include stickers, stencils, fabric patches, ribbons, buttons, or any other embellishments that complement your theme.
  7. Clear Coat: A clear coat or varnish will help seal and protect your design, ensuring it stays intact during your travels.
  8. Protective Cover: If you’re concerned about your design getting scratched or damaged, consider using a clear protective cover or luggage protector.
  9. Additional Accessories: This may include charms, keychains, luggage tags, or any other trinkets to personalize your suitcase further.

Make sure to check your local craft stores or online retailers for these materials. You may also find inspiration for additional decorative elements while browsing through the stores.


Once you have all the materials ready, you’ll be fully equipped to transform your suitcase into a one-of-a-kind masterpiece!


Step 3: Clean the Suitcase

Before you start the decorating process, it’s important to ensure that your suitcase is clean and free from any debris or dirt. Cleaning the suitcase will provide a smooth surface for painting and ensure that the design adheres properly.


Here’s a simple guide to help you clean your suitcase:

  1. Empty the suitcase: Remove all items from your suitcase and give it a thorough clean. This includes removing any clothing, toiletries, or other personal items.
  2. Remove dust and dirt: Use a soft cloth or a brush to gently wipe away any dust or loose dirt from the exterior and interior of the suitcase.
  3. Check for stains: Inspect the surface of the suitcase for any stains or marks. Use a mild soap or detergent mixed with warm water to clean stubborn stains. Be sure to test the cleaning solution on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t damage the material.
  4. Dry thoroughly: After cleaning, allow the suitcase to dry completely. This will prevent any moisture from interfering with the painting process.

By cleaning your suitcase before decorating, you’ll have a fresh canvas to work with and ensure that the design adheres properly. Plus, starting with a clean and organized surface will make the decorating process more enjoyable and satisfying.


Once your suitcase is clean and dry, you’re ready to move on to the next step: prepping the surface.


Step 4: Prep the Suitcase Surface

Prepping the surface of your suitcase is a crucial step to ensure that the paint and other decorative elements adhere properly and last for a long time. It involves preparing the surface by sanding, priming, or applying a base coat, depending on the material of your suitcase.


Here are a few guidelines to help you prep the surface:

  1. Sanding: If your suitcase has a glossy or slippery surface, lightly sand it with fine-grit sandpaper. This will create a slightly rough texture, allowing the paint to adhere better.
  2. Priming: For certain materials, such as plastic or metal, using a primer before painting is recommended. The primer will create a suitable base for the paint to adhere to and improve its durability.
  3. Base Coat: If you want to change the color of your suitcase entirely, applying a base coat of paint can help achieve a more even and vibrant result. Choose a paint color that complements your theme and allow it to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Remember to follow the instructions provided with the primer or base coat paint regarding drying time and application techniques. It’s also important to work in a well-ventilated area and protect your work surface with a drop cloth or newspaper.


By prepping the suitcase surface, you’ll create an ideal foundation for your design, ensuring that it adheres properly and lasts for a long time. It also helps the paint to go on smoothly and evenly, resulting in a professional-looking finish.


Once the surface is prepped, you’re now ready to unleash your creativity and start painting your suitcase!


Step 5: Prime the Suitcase

Priming your suitcase is an essential step to ensure that the paint adheres well and provides a durable finish. A primer creates a smooth and even surface, especially on materials such as plastic, faux leather, or metal.


Here’s how you can prime your suitcase:

  1. Clean the surface: Ensure that your suitcase is clean and dry before applying the primer. Remove any dust or debris using a soft cloth or brush.
  2. Choose the right primer: Select a primer that is suitable for the material of your suitcase. For example, if your suitcase is made of plastic, look for a plastic primer. This will ensure proper adhesion and longevity.
  3. Prime the suitcase: Apply the primer evenly to the entire surface of the suitcase using a brush or a foam roller. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on recommended drying times and number of coats.
  4. Allow the primer to dry: Let the primer dry completely before proceeding to the next step. This will ensure that the paint adheres properly and provides a smooth finish.

Priming your suitcase not only helps with paint adhesion but also improves the overall durability of your design. It creates a strong foundation for the paint layers and reduces the chances of chipping or peeling during travel.


Remember, patience is key when it comes to priming. Allow sufficient drying time between coats and follow the recommended instructions to achieve the best results.


Once the primer is dry, you’re ready to unleash your creativity and start painting your suitcase in the chosen design!


Step 6: Paint the Suitcase

Now comes the fun part – it’s time to paint your suitcase and bring your chosen design to life! Painting is where your creativity shines and transforms the suitcase into a unique and visually appealing travel accessory.


Here are some steps to guide you through the painting process:

  1. Prepare your workspace: Set up a clean and well-ventilated area where you can work comfortably. Lay down a drop cloth or old newspaper to protect your working surface.
  2. Select your paint: Choose high-quality acrylic or fabric paint that suits your theme and the material of your suitcase. Consider using a variety of paint colors to add depth and dimension to your design.
  3. Plan your design: Sketch or outline your design on the suitcase using a pencil or chalk. This will help guide your painting process and ensure a cohesive and visually appealing result.
  4. Start painting: Begin painting your design using a small brush for intricate details and a larger brush for larger areas. Take your time and apply thin, even layers of paint. Allow each layer to dry before adding additional coats.
  5. Add texture and dimension: To create texture and depth in your design, consider using techniques such as dry brushing, stippling, or sponging. These techniques can add visual interest and make your design more dynamic.
  6. Clean up any mistakes: If you make any mistakes or want to make changes, dampen a clean cloth or cotton swab and carefully wipe away the unwanted paint. Let the area dry completely before making corrections.
  7. Allow the paint to dry: Once you finish painting, let the paint dry completely according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This step is crucial to prevent smudging or smearing when handling the suitcase.

Remember to have patience and take your time while painting. Don’t be afraid to experiment or make adjustments along the way. The goal is to create a design that reflects your personal style and adds a touch of uniqueness to your suitcase.


Once the paint is dry, you’re ready to move on to the next step – adding decorative elements!


Step 7: Add Decorative Elements

Adding decorative elements is where you can truly make your suitcase design stand out and reflect your personality. These elements can include stickers, stencils, fabric patches, ribbons, buttons, or any other embellishments that complement your chosen theme.


Here are some tips for adding decorative elements:

  1. Plan the placement: Before attaching any decorative elements, consider their positioning on the suitcase. Experiment with different arrangements and take a step back to see if the overall design looks balanced and visually appealing.
  2. Use decoupage technique: If you have chosen paper cutouts or images, you can use decoupage medium to adhere them to the suitcase. Apply a thin layer of the decoupage medium to the back of the cutouts, place them on the desired spot, and then apply another layer of decoupage medium on top. This will seal and protect the paper elements.
  3. Experiment with textures: Incorporate texture by sewing on fabric patches or attaching textured elements like faux fur or sequins. This will add depth and visual interest to your design.
  4. Combine different materials: Mix and match materials like fabric, buttons, beads, or charms to create a multidimensional effect. This can be particularly effective for themes like bohemian, vintage, or eclectic designs.
  5. Consider personalization: Add a personal touch to your suitcase by attaching initials, monograms, or custom-made stickers or labels. This will make your suitcase more recognizable and unique.

Remember to ensure that the decorative elements are securely attached to the suitcase. Use suitable adhesive, stitching, or other means depending on the material of the element and the surface of the suitcase.


Adding decorative elements is a fantastic way to elevate your design and make it truly one-of-a-kind. Get creative, experiment with different materials, and have fun customizing your suitcase to reflect your personal style!


Step 8: Seal and Protect the Design

Once you have finished painting and adding decorative elements to your suitcase, it’s essential to seal and protect your design to ensure its longevity and durability. Sealing the design will safeguard it from scratches, fading, and general wear and tear during your travels.


Here’s how you can seal and protect the design on your suitcase:

  1. Select a clear coat: Choose a clear coat or varnish that is compatible with the type of paint and materials used on your suitcase. Make sure it is designed for durability, flexibility, and provides protection against UV rays.
  2. Apply the clear coat: Using a soft brush or a foam brush, apply a thin and even layer of the clear coat over the entire painted and decorated area of the suitcase. Take care not to apply too much, as it can cause uneven texture or streaks.
  3. Allow the clear coat to dry: Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer regarding drying time. It’s usually recommended to wait at least 24 hours or longer for the clear coat to dry completely.
  4. Optional: Additional coats: If desired, you can apply additional coats of the clear coat for added protection. Make sure to allow sufficient drying time between each coat.

The clear coat acts as a protective barrier, shielding your design from moisture, sunlight, and general wear. It helps prevent the paint from rubbing off, chipping, or fading, ensuring that your suitcase remains vibrant and intact throughout your travels.


Remember to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer regarding the specific clear coat product you are using. Different products may have varying instructions and drying times.


By sealing and protecting your design, you can enjoy your beautifully decorated suitcase for years to come, making it a true travel essential and a reflection of your personal style.


Step 9: Personalize with Accessories

Adding accessories to your decorated suitcase is a wonderful way to infuse even more personality and uniqueness into your design. These accessories not only enhance the overall look but also serve as functional additions to your travel experience. Here are some ideas to help you personalize your suitcase with accessories:

  1. Luggage Tags: Choose a stylish luggage tag that matches your theme or opt for a personalized one with your name or initials. This not only adds a personal touch but also makes it easier to identify your suitcase.
  2. Travel Stickers or Pins: Decorate your suitcase with travel-themed stickers or pins that represent the places you’ve been or dream of visiting. It’s a fantastic way to showcase your travel adventures and inspire future trips.
  3. Charms or Keychains: Attach charms or keychains that reflect your hobbies or interests. Whether it’s a small camera charm for photography enthusiasts or a keychain with your favorite sports team logo, these accessories further showcase your personality.
  4. Ribbon or Elastic Straps: Use colorful ribbons or elastic straps to secure your suitcase and add a decorative touch. These accessories not only provide additional security but also make your suitcase look stylish and personalized.
  5. Handle Wraps: Wrap the handles of your suitcase with fabric or leather wraps that match your theme. This not only adds a personalized touch but also makes it more comfortable to carry.
  6. TSA-Approved Locks: Enhance the security of your suitcase with TSA-approved locks. Opt for locks that come in various colors or designs to match your overall suitcase theme.

These accessories are not only visually appealing but also practical. They can help you identify your suitcase more easily, make it more secure, and add functionality to your travel experience.


Remember to choose accessories that complement your suitcase design and align with your personal style. The goal is to create a cohesive and personalized look that stands out in the sea of luggage.


With the addition of these accessories, your suitcase will become a true reflection of your individuality, making it a joy to travel with.


Step 10: Final Touches

Now that you’ve decorated and personalized your suitcase, it’s time to add those final touches that will truly make it unique and special. These small details can make a big difference in the overall presentation of your travel essential. Here are some ideas for adding those final touches:

  1. Check for any touch-ups: Carefully inspect your suitcase for any areas that may need touch-ups. Take a step back and look at the design as a whole to ensure consistency and balance.
  2. Secure loose elements: Double-check that any decorative elements or accessories are securely attached to the suitcase. Reinforce or reattach anything that may have come loose during the decorating process.
  3. Clean and polish: Give your completed suitcase a final cleaning to remove any dust or fingerprints. Polish any metal hardware to make it shine and look as good as new.
  4. Take a photo: Capture a photo of your masterpiece to commemorate your hard work and creativity. You can share it on social media or keep it as a memento of your DIY project.
  5. Label your luggage: Attach a label on the inside of your suitcase with your contact information. This will ensure that it can be easily returned to you in case it gets lost during your travels.
  6. Test it out: Pack your suitcase with your travel essentials to see how everything fits inside and ensure that the design does not get obstructed or damaged in any way. Make any necessary adjustments if needed.
  7. Prepare for your next adventure: Your newly decorated and personalized suitcase is now ready to accompany you on your travels. As you embark on your next adventure, enjoy the attention and compliments your unique suitcase will undoubtedly attract.

By paying attention to these final touches, you can ensure that your decorated suitcase is in optimal condition and ready to impress during your travels.


So go ahead, take a step back, admire your creation, and get ready to embark on new journeys with a suitcase that showcases your creativity, style, and individuality.



Congratulations on transforming your ordinary suitcase into a personalized work of art! Decorating and customizing your suitcase not only adds a touch of style and uniqueness but also makes it easier to identify and enhances your overall travel experience.


Throughout this guide, we’ve walked you through the step-by-step process of decorating your suitcase. From choosing a theme and gathering materials to prepping the surface, painting, and adding decorative elements, each step has allowed you to express your creativity and showcase your personality.


By following these steps and infusing your own personal touch, you’ve created a suitcase that is truly one-of-a-kind. The carefully chosen theme, the vibrant colors, and the personalized accessories all contribute to making your suitcase stand out in the crowd and reflect your individuality.


As you embark on your next adventure, you can confidently travel with a suitcase that is not only practical but also a visual representation of your unique style. Whether it’s a tropical paradise, a vintage-inspired design, or a cultural celebration, your decorated suitcase will turn heads and make a statement wherever you go.


Remember, the key to a successful and visually appealing design is to let your creativity guide you. Feel free to experiment with colors, textures, and decorative elements that speak to you. After all, your suitcase is a canvas, and you are the artist.


So, pack your stylish suitcase, embrace your creativity, and embark on your travels with a touch of flair and individuality. Bon voyage!