Upcycled Hutch Becomes Beautiful Storage Bench

You may not know it by looking at my house right now, but I despise clutter. Even though my floors are currently strewn with toys, crayons, shoes and kids clothes (the toddler is awake afterall), there is a special place in my heart for minimalist living. It’s head-clearing. It’s peaceful. It’s beautiful.

That said, it’s easy to pollute the beauty of minimalism with wastefulness. This is especially true for DIYers because we see the ordinary and unused, and we reimagine it as extraordinary and purposeful! Not to be confused with sentimentality, the idea of holding onto things to repurpose them can be a huge money saver. It’s green. It’s good…to an extent. So, I’m constantly finding a balance between upcycling what I can, donating what I can’t (or don’t have time to), and trashing only what I must.

I thought this hutch was the latter.

It came from a desk I purchased years ago when I began working remotely. It was a bad purchase: cheaply made laminated press board. My husband and I ended up removing the hutch, and I kept it because it had a nice shape, and I envisioned it being repurposed as a wall shelf for my outdoor herbs and succulents. But, when it became clear there was no way to make pressboard sustainable outdoors (duh!),  I got it ready to go to the dump.

And then it hit me. It wasn’t destined to be a wall shelf. It was a bench — a storage bench!

To transform this hutch into a storage bench it needed:

  • a new back (the original was a thin, torn piece of cardboard)
  • a base
  • legs, and
  • a couple coats of paint

Since I was working with laminate pressboard, there was a real possibility that this would end up in the failed pile. So I didn’t want to spend a lot of dough. With two kids under two in tow (say that three times fast), I headed to my neighborhood Lowes and bought:

  • 1/4″ plywood for the back, cut to size
  • 1″ pine for the base, cut to size
  • tapered pine legs with accompanying hardware kits
  • 2 yards of fabric (technically, I actually made a late night, kid-free trip to Walmart for this)

Supplies gathered, my work began, but I ran into a couple of  snags. Even though I predrilled holes to screw on the pine base, I still managed to do this:

Just one of the perils of working with pressboard. To repair the damage, I used a combination of wood filler and wood glue. Then I sanded it back down, though it was nowhere close to perfect. It wasn’t too obvious, though, and it would hold a coat of paint.

Speaking of paint, that was the other hiccup. In case you haven’t heard, one of the best properties of chalk paint is that it works on nearly any surface without sanding. Well, folks, I’m here to tell you that wood laminate is one of the only surfaces chalk paint will not adhere to properly. Rookie mistake. It took me hours longer than it should have to paint this piece because I had to add layer upon layer attempting to cover up the gaps and streaks. Thankfully, it adds an aged effect.

Yikes. But now we both know.

I’m really pleased with the end result despite its imperfections. The fabric back really makes it pop, and it’s the perfect size for my toddler’s room. So glad I didn’t give up on this cute little hutch remixed.

Time, Materials, Cost

  • plywood – $8
  • Pine, legs and hardware – $30
  • 2 yards of fabric – $8

In addition to the materials above, I also used:

  • leftover CeCe Caldwell chalk paint (from this project) in Destin Gulf Green,
  • leftover CeCe Caldwell wax,
  • an assortment of wood screws from my existing stockpile,
  • power drill, various drill bits and screw heads,
  • hammer,
  • sand paper (fine),
  • Wood filler and wood glue
  • mod podge, and
  • tacks that held the original cardboard backing

Difficulty: moderate

Time: 7 hours (I estimate about 2 hours longer than necessary due to complications)

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