Lug-A-Ture — 1950s bedroom dresser that converts to four suitcases

Remember the table that Laura made from a vintage suitcase?

All across DIY-land, you see crafty 2012 folk making things out of vintage suitcases: end tables (remember Laura’s?), dog beds and recently I saw wall shelves. But our grandparents were already well ahead when it came to innovating with suitcase conversions. LoOk: Here is a true, vintage tall dresser made from suitcases — which converts to usable suitcases. In fact, the piece is branded “Lug-A-Ture“, according to reader Cindy, who spotted it in an antique shop and good girl, had her camera handy to report back. “Lug-A-Ture” — get it? — “Furni-Ture” that you can you can break apart and use as luggage when you need to get a move on. Cindy writes:

One of the most curious things I’ve ever seen, from Midway Antiques Mall in Sacramento CA. They specialize in the mid-mod stuff. A 1950’s luggage dresser by Lug-A-Ture. Take one or all pieces of luggage as needed. They have a lot more cool stuff, including a stash of pink plastic bathroom tiles.

Indeed, Cindy, not just “curious,” but one of the most odd and wonderful consumer products from midcentury America — woddities — that I have ever seen. Well, maybe just a teensy bit under push-button plumbing and of course, the Electro-Sink (bow down to the almighty E-S!)

Interestingly, I found a modern day reconception of this idea — “suitcase dressers” from the British designers JamesPlumb.  There are also “suitcase stacks”. The website explains:

A selection of old suitcases are housed individually in antiqued steel and wood cases that have been tailor made in Somerset. Every case is carefully and painstakingly repaired and repurposed – relined in Swedish linen ready to recieve their new contents.

I love upcycling and yes, this seems to be a fantastic way to repurpose vintage suitcases. Even so, I am now on the eagle-eye lookout for the one-and-only, original Lug-A-Ture.


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  1. chris says

    Very neat! Love the tug-a-ture piece best!

    But I’m baffled. How did the drawers work? Were they able to slide out, somehow? Did Cindy try it?

  2. Heather Staas says

    I love the look of it! It’s neat, tidy, the color is so pretty, the rounded corners… it’s just lovely!

    • pam kueber says

      woopsy, after I made this post, Cindy sent additional info (price tag writeup) that clarified the name is indeed “Lug-a-Ture”. That makes even more sense! Thanks for the catch, Katherine: Fixed!

  3. Ann-Marie Meyers says

    I would love this. The way I am always traveling back and forth between Texas and Wisconsin, I could just take my drawers along with me, and not be always packing and unpacking.
    It feels like I am living out of a suitcase anyway. I might as well do it for real, and be proud.
    I will keep my eyes peeled for something like this at a reasonable price in my auctioning and estate sale hunting.
    Thanks, Pam and Cindy!

  4. Guy H. says

    Is the last sentence supposed to say you are NOT on the lookout or NOW on the lookout? I can’t decide if it’s a typo or if you just wouldnt have a need for these…

    • pam kueber says

      “now” of course. this is what happens when i make a post late at night and have no editor. but i have you all so all is good! many thanks!!!

      • Guy H. says

        I figured that, but I wasn’t entirely sure!

        I love the idea of the suitcase dressers made by the British designer. I am trying to think of a way to steal that idea for my house (somewhere other than a dresser.)

  5. Just another Pam says

    There are very few things I’d say this about but I’d pay retail for that and I have no where to put it….the latter I have to confess to a lot…

    The JamesPlumb ones I could make and actually have everything needed to do it in the house or garden shed but the original….be still my heart. What a find!

  6. TappanTrailerTami says

    OMG! Hubby and I were planning to ride our motorcycles somewhere today, and I was half-toying with going to Midway in Sacramento. I think this just “sealed the deal” LOL~ I LOVE that place, it is one of the best antique malls anywhere, but tends towards the pricey side for cool MCM stuff.

    I may have to HAVE this!


  7. Beth Putnam says

    To cool for school. In my dreams those would be mine. I do use vintage leather luggage of my moms as a side table.

  8. says

    I’ve never seen anything like that, and what a fabulous idea! Usable all the time, no need to store it some place ‘out of the way’, and removable for usage on trips.

  9. Amy F. says

    Long time reader, first time commenter, because I am just so excited to see Midway Antique Mall on Retro Renovation! We live just down the street and have spent many happy hours there. It is a beautiful store. Some of the prices are high but I think the owner does it on purpose because he has a hard time letting some of the items go, especially the really unique ones. I have touched this very piece of “lug-a-ture” many times and unsuccessfully batted my eyelashes at my husband to get him to buy it. Maybe one day… 🙂

    We did purchase a mid-60’s GE Combination fridge/freezer from Midway a few months ago, though. It is the coolest (no pun intended) fridge, and works like a dream. It has the most amazing pull-out shelves, and a butter softener!

    • TappanTrailerTami says

      Amy, I did end up going there today, wow! Always a treat. If I could have just ONE thing out of there right now, it would be the super awesome Elgin Watch Dealer display in the front…have you seen it? If not, hop over there, it will be right inside the front door in the first display on the left. It is AMAZING! I didn’t see a price tag on it….so I’m thinking it might be a NFS item.

      Congrats on your fridge too! They always have some great appliances there.

      I ended up buying a purple luster Norcrest swan. I have about 50 luster Norcrest swans in ivory, pink, green, but this is my first purple one! For $9 at the Midway (shocking price, I know).

      • Amy F. says

        @Tami – I have not seen the watches yet, but I will definitely have to check them out. I never seem to get a chance to really look at all the jewelry because I am so enthralled by the furniture. There is a bedroom set with a *king* size bed that I currently visit in hopes that it will be ours one day. 🙂

      • Amy F. says

        Oh wait, @Tami, now I remember what you’re talking about! Right there in the front, in the red dining room? Yes! That display is amazing!

    • Annie B. says

      Amy, I think you might have my fridge. Does the butter softener compartment have “Butter Conditioner” written on it? Mine is a 1964 GE with the swing-out doors. Great fridge. Really built to last.

      • Amy F. says

        Oooh! That’s exciting to hear of someone else with the same (or nearly the same) fridge. I have not been able to date it exactly, as they weren’t sure at Midway, either. Ours does not say “butter conditioner,” though. It has a little yellow door with “butter” written in gold above it, and “butter control” to the left of it, with a switch for “hard, med, soft.” And then to the left of that is a turquoise door with “eggs” written above it.

        • Annie B. says

          Mine has the three-way butter switch (what a hoot that is, when you stop to think about it).

          I’ve dated mine to 1964 (maybe ’63) from an ad in a 1964 BH&G magazine. This is one massive refrigerator.

  10. Chelsea says

    I’m pretty sure I need this. I window-shop for luggage constantly, so this would be perfect for me. Even at that price.

  11. Dan Fiorillo says

    I loved this dresser when I saw it and had to have it, so I bought it! It goes great with all the other things I bought from Midway and my Heywood Wakefield bedroom set, too. I’ve never seen another one like it.

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