Handsome Hutch

Restored Hutch by Girl in the Garage

As luck would have it, I was driving to my parents’ house recently and one of their neighbors had a piece of furniture out by the curb with a sign that had one of my favorite four-letter words written on it: FREE.  (Another of my favorite four-letter words is SALE, but FREE is better than SALE pretty much any day.)  So I pulled over as quickly as I could and practically jumped out of my car.  The neighbor happened to be standing outside and he said he had just set this hutch by the curb literally 1 minute earlier and I was the first person to even drive by.  And it was screaming for a makeover.  (At this point I was doing a happy dance inside my head because I knew it must be fate!)  So that is how I became the proud new owner of this beautiful but neglected hutch sold by Walter E. Smithe (Chicago-area furniture store) which had sat unused in someone’s garage for several years.  I knew I had my work cut out for me, but I like a challenge.  🙂

After I got it home and into the garage, a good look revealed that the hinges on one of the doors were broken, a small chunk of one corner was missing, and that it would take a LOT of sanding to get beneath the sad, chipping layers.

The first task I started was the sanding… during every nap time and night time for about 2 weeks.  I used sand paper and sanding blocks until my arms were sooo sore!  Then I decided to try a paint stripper for the first time… I went to Ace and the employee told me which stripper to buy.. paint brush, gloves, mask… then he told me I could just pour the stripper in a cup and then dip the brush into it.  Well that ended in a disaster as the plastic cup I ended up using started to disintegrate while I was holding it!  Lesson learned – and the stripper didn’t do a very good job (maybe I wasn’t using it 100% correctly but it had freaked me out after I saw what it did to that cup), so I decided to go back to old fashioned sanding.  Then I stumbled upon an online article that mentioned an electric hand sander.. WHAT?!!  Immediately I was overjoyed at this discovery and also a bit upset that neither my husband or my father had suggested such a thing to me.  So I ran out and bought a Craftsman 5-inch random orbit sander and some protective eye glasses for only about $35.  It took a little while to get used to but boy was it so much faster and better than sanding by hand!  (A tip from personal experience:  When using an orbit sander, always have proper ventilation in the room.  Mine wasn’t quite good enough and I ended up with sawdust all over pretty much everything in the garage!  Not so much fun to clean up…)

After another couple weeks of sanding (hey I wanted it smooth and I had some other things going on!), I finally began the next step.  I used wood glue and wood putty to repair the missing/broken corner, which also took a few days since I had to wait for the glue and putty to dry between applications. I also filled in some little crevices with the putty.  Then I decided to use some leftover paint from my bathroom for the first layer on the hutch- Boston Tea Party by Dutch Boy Dura Clean from Menards.  It took a few coats because it kept absorbing into the wood.

I wanted the hutch to have an elegant, antiqued look to it.  So for the top coat I chose a creamy Sunset Nude matte by Valspar Signature from Lowe’s.  Using about a 1.5″ brush, I barely touched the lid of the paint can to get just a touch of paint on the brush and then blotted most of it away with a light tap on an old towel.  Then I made very light brushstrokes all over the hutch to give it an aged, antique look.  This was pretty time consuming also because I had to be careful not to get too much paint on the brush- I didn’t want it to look amateurish even though this was my first experience using the technique!  And then for an even more aged look, I got out my sandpaper again and distressed several random areas.  After this, when all the sanding was complete, I used tack cloths to wipe away any sawdust that was lingering.  This is very important before applying the final finish in the next step.

Finally I finished the hutch with three coats of Rustoleum’s matte polyurethane in Soft Touch, waiting several hours between coats.  (Even though when I bought the matte paint at Lowe’s, a “Valspar expert” there insisted that I didn’t need to use polyurethane since the paint itself should work well enough on its own.  But I remembered the previous hardware store employee at Ace who wasn’t completely knowledgeable and decided to stick with my gut and protect all my hard work – and I’m glad I did.)  This took a few more days to complete- and then according to directions I waited another 7 days for it to completely cure.  I also fixed the hinges on the broken door and then reattached the doors and inserted the drawer and shelf back into place.

In total it took me about 6 weeks to complete this project- much longer than it probably should have but it took a LOT of work and I did take some time off here and there to do family stuff.  I actually love how it came out and even though the original plan was to try to sell it due to lack of space, I may end up having to find room for it in my house.  I can’t help looking at it and feeling a little bit proud!


This post can be seen at:  Miss Mustard Seed, Fox Hollow Cottage, It’s OverflowingThirty Days

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32 Comments on Handsome Hutch

  1. Leslie
    November 18, 2012 at 8:05 pm (6 years ago)

    Love your find. And you did a great job fixing it up. I am still trying to refinish a chair. Not sure how long that will take. New follower of your blog. if you like scrapbooking you may be interested in my blog. http://thememorynest.blogspot.com/

    • Jen
      November 20, 2012 at 7:39 am (6 years ago)

      Thanks, Leslie! I’d love to see how your chair turns out. I have a couple in my garage waiting to be redone also but I keep finding myself working on other projects… lol. 🙂 I’ve done a bit of scrapbooking too so I’ll be sure to check out your blog!
      Thanks, Jen

    • Jen
      December 22, 2012 at 8:11 am (6 years ago)

      Thank you, Michele! Jen

  2. Julie@InspiredbyYou
    January 4, 2013 at 7:22 am (6 years ago)

    What luck. I would still be doing a happy dance if I wondered upon that piece for free. You did a fantastic job! I bet you just stare at it proudly. I would!

    • Jen
      January 4, 2013 at 7:35 am (6 years ago)

      Julie, thank you so much! Jen

    • Jen
      January 4, 2013 at 9:21 pm (6 years ago)

      Thanks Shelly! By the way, I am madly in love with that antique buffet you did- gorgeous!

  3. Shannon Fox
    January 11, 2013 at 12:27 pm (6 years ago)

    Oh YES. S-A-L-E is music to your eyeballs right?

    What a great transformation!! It found the right girl 🙂

    • Jen
      January 11, 2013 at 1:54 pm (6 years ago)

      Thanks Shannon! I appreciate you stopping by!

    • Jen
      January 26, 2013 at 2:44 pm (6 years ago)

      Thanks Brooke! I know… I’ve learned to always be on the lookout for those curbside diamonds in the rough! (Although my family doesn’t get quite as excited when I’m trying to stuff it in my SUV!)

  4. tammy hebert
    January 28, 2013 at 9:38 am (6 years ago)

    It looks awesome and wow you did some long hard work on it. As a fellow garage furniture repair and transformation artist..here is a tip we had shared with us..for broken corners or such – you can use bondo from the car repair section at Walmart. It creates an awesome hard repair and can be painted over., We’ve used it to fill holes on doors when you move the door knob or deadbolt. It fills in great can be sanded and is hard as – well a car.
    tammy hebert recently posted…Know your limitationsMy Profile

    • Jen
      January 28, 2013 at 1:29 pm (6 years ago)

      Wow, I’ve never heard of using that- thanks for the tip Tammy!

  5. Lori @ coloritsimple
    February 3, 2013 at 4:55 pm (6 years ago)

    Oh my! I love me some FREE and girl did you ever score. I know that was a lot of work but OH! the reward. You should be so proud of that beautiful piece. I would make room somehow to keep it……. It is truly stunning. Across the miles hand bump for a fantastic job. Lori from Color It Simple
    Lori @ coloritsimple recently posted…Meet Aggie, The Step Back Hutch TransformationMy Profile

    • Jen
      February 3, 2013 at 11:48 pm (6 years ago)

      Lori, thank you so much! Your comment was perfect timing for the crummy day I was having. I’m so glad you stopped by. 🙂

  6. Laura @ Life We Live 4
    April 7, 2013 at 9:16 pm (6 years ago)

    Curbside Fiesta! I love it—people are so weird that throw away amazing things like that!!! 🙂
    so glad you found me so now I found your site 🙂

    • Jen
      April 7, 2013 at 10:32 pm (6 years ago)

      I know, right?! So many treasures are left curbside. We are the lucky ones who find them. 🙂

  7. amy @ one artsy mama
    May 2, 2013 at 7:42 am (6 years ago)

    oh, wow, that’s gorgeous!! You did an amazing job restoring and transforming it! LOVE! Thanks for entering One Crafty Contest, girl!
    amy @ one artsy mama recently posted…One Dress, Styled 5 WaysMy Profile

    • Jen
      May 2, 2013 at 8:31 am (6 years ago)

      Thanks Amy! So happy to have you visiting my lil blog, and excited for the chance to enter the contest! 🙂

  8. Angie
    June 3, 2013 at 4:04 pm (6 years ago)

    This looks great, Jen! Nothing like finding something curbside and transforming it into something beautiful! Nice job. ~ Angie
    Angie recently posted…7 Great Father’s Day Gift IdeasMy Profile

    • Jen
      June 3, 2013 at 10:05 pm (6 years ago)

      Thanks Angie, I agree!

    • Jen
      June 4, 2013 at 7:00 pm (6 years ago)

      Thank you so much Clydia!

    • Jen
      June 19, 2013 at 9:32 am (6 years ago)

      Thank you Donna! It’s sitting proudly in my living room now.

    • Jen
      June 22, 2013 at 10:47 pm (6 years ago)

      Thanks Jocie – I’m excited to be part of the link-up!

  9. Kathleen
    July 7, 2013 at 8:19 am (6 years ago)


    Seriously, this is amazing. I’m so jealous. I keep looking for “that piece” that you just have to have and re-do. You did a fantastic job on this. I can totally understand why you want to keep it.
    p.s. Leslie at the memory nest is so sweet and has a great site.
    Kathleen recently posted…Before & After – Old School Mailbox into Scrapbook Paper TowerMy Profile

  10. Jolinda lampo
    February 17, 2015 at 1:45 pm (4 years ago)

    This is amazing and beautiful when you were done.. I have to ask, do you drive around in a big truck with a lift gate? This was truly a lucky find.

    • Jen
      February 18, 2015 at 11:27 am (4 years ago)

      Thank you Jolinda! Haha.. I do have a big SUV, but this hutch just happened to be around the corner from my parents’ house so we borrowed their pickup truck. 🙂


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