Before and After: A $75 Make-Under Brings Out the Best in This Mid-Century Hutch

published Aug 20, 2020
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Before: hutch painted dark cranberry color
Credit: Karin McLean

Not every redo is about piling on more. Sometimes, it’s all about making a piece look better with less—less stuff, less pattern, or even less color. Take this hutch makeover from Karin McLean. Karin scored this vintage cranberry-colored two-piece hutch from her local Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore. “I’m always on the lookout for interesting pieces of furniture and love supporting the Habitat for Humanity Restores. Great deals and a great cause!” Karin says. “I found this very well-made, heavy and heavily painted hutch and credenza and could see past the fuchsia. It had good potential to hold some of my large collection of mid century vases.”

While the color wasn’t her vibe, the shape and style were—and so was the price, at just $125. So Karin hauled the pieces home separately. “I had to make two trips with my little Toyota Hatchback,” she says.

Credit: Karin McLean

From there, Karin started with the base, doing lots of sanding to uncover the natural wood underneath all the paint on the more detailed panels. She bleached the wooden sections to play up the vintage look. For the rest of the hutch, she used white chalky finish paint (Rustoleum’s Linen White). Then, everything got a coat of wax and a clear matte top coat.

Credit: Karin McLean

Karin added a little bling with chrome feet purchased from Lee Valley; they suit the mid-century style and match her existing dining chairs, too. Total cost for the redo? Just $75 in materials. The new two-tone look brings out the best in the hutch’s wood details and blends seamlessly into Karin’s dining room. “The dining room needed a focal point,” Karin says. “The great thing about this piece is that it’s versatile. Since the pieces are separate, I can always use just the bottom if I want a change.”

For anyone put off by wacky paint jobs at the store, Karin says to reserve judgment. “Look beyond ugly paint or hardware. If a piece of furniture is solid and well-built, it could transform into something really unique,” she says.

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