New Life to an Old Hutch

In this article, I’m going to show you my process of finding my new hutch, and how I brought it back to life!

Like many of you, I absolutely love a good pre-loved furniture find. I browse Facebook Marketplace like it’s a sport, and I love every minute of it. I find this hunt to be a challenging and fun activity, and the result is oh so satisfying when I find the perfect piece.

My latest marketplace purchase was this mid-century hutch above, but of course it DID NOT look like this when I purchased it. My journey to this hutch started when I was looking to buy built in cabinetry to store my pantry items. After a visit to a kitchen showroom, I selected my favorite cabinet and door styles and got my quote…just under $6,000. Now the cabinets were beautiful, but after pondering over this, I decided I didn’t want to spend $6,000 to store soup and pasta! That’s when I started my search for the perfect piece to refinish. To begin, I gathered up inspiration images (see a couple below). I always suggest doing this BEFORE you start your hunt!

1) The search for my new (old) hutch

After I collected my inspiration images, I created a list of criteria for my hutch. Always create guidelines for yourself when searching for a piece of furniture. My criteria included the following:

  • Clean & modern lines. No ornate moulding.
  • Drawers and Doors need to operate smoothly
  • Can be easily sanded
  • Removable insets on the doors so I could replace them with an interesting material
  • Under $500
  • Must be under 72″ wide and under 87″ tall

After searching for about a week, I found this piece that satisfied all of the above. If found it in my hometown, and I got it for $200. You can see the before on the left and the after on the right. What a difference!

2) Sanding off the dark stain

My first step was to sand off the old stain. It had somewhat of a sheen and yes, I had to use a lot of elbow grease, but it was so worth it in the end. When I sanded, I started with a rough sand with an orbital sander and a 60 grit paper. I also used a corner sander to get into any corners. Note that with sandpaper, the lower the number, the rougher and more aggressive the sand. You can see the before and after below. After sanding with the 60 grit paper, I moved onto a 120 grit for a nice smooth finish. What a difference!

3) Stain the cabinet

This part of the project is where I had to do some research. It was important to me that the wood, after it was stained, kept that ‘raw wood’ look. I tested out a few stains on the top of the base of the cabinet (the part that the top of the hutch sat on) where it would not be seen. I tried Minwax Matte Polycrylic , as well as Minwax Tung Oil. Both had a nice matte look, but they did bring out the yellow in the wood which was not what I wanted. I really wanted to keep that natural look with the white look in the grain. I kept searching and finally found Minwax White Wash Pickling Stain. It worked perfectly! I stained the entire bottom piece of the hutch, and then just the exterior frame of the top. I did not sand and stain the door frames. I’ll talk about the doors in step 5.

4) Paint & Wallpaper the interior of the top cabinet

I wanted the interior of the cabinet to look nice, so I took the time to paint the inside of the top part of the cabinet. The backing was really just a piece of pressboard, so I decided to wallpaper that. I wanted to do my best to reuse as many pieces of the original cabinet as possible. Thanks to my interior designer friend Melissa Hammond for giving me remnants from a previous project of hers. The paper for the inside had a wonderful silver sheen to it and looks amazing against the black.

5) Paint the door frames black

My next step was the doors. The original cabinet had glass insets on all the doors AND the side panels. I took the glass out and decided to paint the door frames. I knew I wanted black accents on the cabinet, so I painted the door frames in Sherwin Williams Caviar, and I chose the Emerald Interior Acrylic Latex paint in the flat finish. This paint is amazing and I highly recommend it. All it took was two coats.

6) Replace the glass insets with a solid panel

Because I’m planning to use this cabinet for pantry items, I didn’t want to see anything inside, so I had to replace the glass with something solid. In my inspiration images, there is caning material in the doors and I initially planned to use that. After looking at caning online, a lot of it was out of stock or had a long lead-times, so I decided to buy thin plywood and wallpaper it with a grasscloth wallpaper. Again, thanks to Melissa Hammond, she had a Phillip Jeffries paper that perfect.

For the plywood, I ordered it online from Home Depot, and the best part is that they will cut it for you! When the pre-cut plywood arrived, I wallpapered the pieces that went into the door frames, and kept the two pieces for the side panels of the hutch in their natural state. I used my upholstery staple gun to secure them in place.

7) Put the doors back on and fill the cabinet

After the doors were done, I was on to my last step. Yay! At this point I was a month into the project and couldn’t wait to be done. I reused the knobs and hinges as they had a great patina, plus it was easier that way. See below for the finished cabinet! Now I’ll be searching for my next piece to bring back to life. I’ll be looking for some small dressers to use a side tables in my bedroom.

If you have any questions at all about this project, simply email me at You can also schedule a phone call with me to discuss any design and styling needs you may have.

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