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Before and After: I Turned My Great-Grandmother’s Hutch into a Modern Heirloom

published Aug 15, 2020
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Before: Yellow hutch with chipped paint

Thanks to hand-me-downs from great grandparents and grandparents, I have more beautiful sets of dishes, glasses, and tea sets than I could ever imagine using—and more than can fit in my kitchen! With a lack of places to display my beloved collection, I began to look for something to add storage to my cook space that would do my dishes justice.

Sitting in the garage was the perfect solution: my great-grandma’s old hutch. But it was a little worse for wear, from the dozens of holes that held hooks for mugs under the shelves to the multiple chipped layers of yellow paint on the doors. It needed some serious TLC to get it into shape for its second act.

First up, I used paint stripper to remove the multiple coats of paint. If you’ve never used this product, a word of warning: it’s smelly! But it made quicker work of removing the layers of paint that covered the piece (yellow, and below that, red) than sanding would have. I recommend wearing masks, gloves, and doing this work in a well-ventilated area, since the chemicals are so strong.

After I got as much paint removed as I could, I gave the piece a good cleaning with soap and water. Then, I removed the four doors and used a hand sander to create a smooth surface. I wanted to give my old hutch a more modern feel while still maintaining its vintage charm, so I chose a deep gray-blue (Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy) for the body, doors, and drawers. For clean lines on the glass doors, I taped the edges and used a razor to cut clean lines once I was done. 

The old hinges were totally covered in yellow paint, but I wanted to be able to re-use them on my “new” hutch. I was able to remove most of the paint by boiling them in a pot of water with a small bit of dish soap; after some soaking, most of the paint could be scraped right off. Once I dried the hinges, I spray painted them gold.

I wanted to give the inside of the hutch some personality, too, so I used a gold dot peel and stick wallpaper on the back of the hutch and inside all the doors and drawers. I like the bit of whimsy it adds to this classic piece.

Finally, I put the whole hutch back together again, and filled it up with all my favorite pieces, including a tea set, a pitcher, books, and more. It’s made me more organized, and I love being able to show off the pieces that mean so much to me. My favorite set displayed in the case is the white demitasse tea set, which belonged to the same great-grandmother who owned this hutch. The teacups, saucers, sugar bowl and the tiny pitcher all live in the same place where my grandma kept them—but now I’ve updated it to put my spin on it.