I absolutely love walking through thrift stores in search of hidden gems that can be converted into fantastic kitty creations. All it takes is a little creativity to turn anything into something your cat can use and that you’ll love having in your home. I’ve never tackled a DIY vintage suitcase bed, so when I found this old suitcase at the thrift store, I knew it was time. (If the DIY approach isn’t for you, there are a lot of great cat beds to choose from).
I was pretty excited to find this one. It had a little wear, and one of the latches was broken, so I didn’t feel bad about using it for a project. Plus, it was $6.99 – score! My next stop was the hardware store to find some small legs to attach to the bottom, creating a slightly raised bed. You can get really creative with this detail and there are a million different styles of feet you could use – metal, wood, plastic, modern, traditional, painted a bright color, etc. I went with simple wood and metal legs. I also grabbed some hardware to attach the legs to the bottom of the suitcase. With these important pieces in place I set about gathering the rest of the supplies needed to make this project:
DIY Thrifted Cat Bed Supplies
- Vintage suitcase
- Legs with hardware (for attaching to bottom of suitcase)
- Fabric (enough to make a pillow cover and to line the inside top of the suitcase)
- Pre-made pillow or polyfill to make your own
- Decorative trim
- Mod Podge and a brush for spreading it around
- Glue gun and glue sticks
- A thin strip of wood or plastic to hold lid open (and hardware to attach it to suitcase)
- Awl to punch holes for feet
- Pen or pencil
- Electric drill with drill bits
- Utility knife
DIY Thrifted Cat Bed Instructions
The lining on the inside top of the suitcase was not in great shape. If you find a suitcase with a nice lining, you may want to keep it as is (especially if it still has the pocket, which you could use to store toys). But in this case, the lining had to go, so I removed it and cleaned up the lid as best I could.
Next, cut a piece of fabric that is large enough to cover the entire inside of the suitcase top, leaving a little extra around the edges. Pour a generous amount of Mod Podge into the lid and spread into an even layer on all surfaces where the fabric will be attached.
Press the fabric into the inside of the lid, smoothing out any creases or air bubbles. As you smooth out the fabric, pour another layer of Mod Podge on top of the fabric and brush it into a thin even layer.
Allow the Mod Podge to dry and then use a utility knife to carefully trim off the extra fabric. Finally, hot glue the decorative trim all the way around the inside of the lid over the cut edge of the fabric. This will give it a nice clean look and keep the edges from fraying.
Next, attach the feet. First, mark the locations on the bottom of the suitcase where the feet will be attached and use the awl to poke a hole through the suitcase. I used legs that came with a threaded bolt, which I attached inside the suitcase using a large washer and a cap nut to cover the end of the bolt. You want to make sure there are no sharp pieces inside the bed.
You don’t want the lid to fall closed when your cat is using the bed, so it’s a good idea to attach a thin piece of plastic or wood to the suitcase to hold the lid open. I used a piece of plastic trim, drilled a hole through the trim and suitcase, and held it in place with a bolt and cap nut. Note: depending on the suitcase you use and the style of legs you choose, you may find that the bed is a bit top heavy and could tip over. If this is the case, put a weight underneath the pillow, like a heavy book or a small sandbag, or prop the back against a wall for stability. The last step is to make a pillow to fit inside the bottom of the suitcase. If you’re not the sewing type you could easily find a pillow that will fit and add a cute pillowcase.
This project allows for all kinds of creativity. You can choose different fabrics for the pillow and the lining, add more trim or you could paint the suitcase.
You can also try this project with any other similar thrift store find, like an old guitar case. Have fun with it!
Kate Benjamin is the founder of Hauspanther and the co-author with Jackson Galaxy of New York Times-bestsellers “Catification” and “Catify to Satisfy.” Kate specializes in helping people live stylishly with cats.