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)

A Perfectly Pretty Turquoise, Yellow and Pink Bird-themed Nursery, Part 1: Chalk Painted Dresser

You know what I miss about being single? My old bedroom that was 100% reflective of my style: burnt orange walls, rich original pine flooring, dark woods, deep blue accents, and sunflowers, happy sunflowers. My retreat. And it was unabashedly bright and feminine.  Being married, however, I try to downplay my naturally feminine decorating tendencies without necessarily going masculine, and the result is neutral. Not bad, but not fully representative of either of us.

So, I decorate vicariously through my daughters, at least while they are still young enough not to offer much input.

When I walk into this room, I feel so peaceful (until my wildling starts banging on the walls next door, of course).

There’s a bevy of DIYs going on in this nursery, which I will walk you through in a three part series, but you know which is my favorite? This dresser.

It was a thrift store find, purchased and DIYed with love by Lottie’s Heehaw, Glamma (yes, Glam-ma) and I over a fantastic weekend we spent together after she was born — a memory piece.

To create this look, my father started  some heavy duty sanding to buff out the deep scratches.

Next, Glamma and I applied two coats of chalk paint (Note: chalk paint doesn’t necessarily need a sanded surface!). We used swift, rough brush strokes that inadvertently created a textured surface with a softening effect.

Finally, we applied one coat of wax, let it dry, and then reattached the hardware. Can you believe it’s the original hardware? So sweet.

I loved this item so much I knew I had to make it the focal point of her room. And even though I’m sure it will see its fair share of markers, dried boogers and carved initials, I hope she’ll one day appreciate the love that went into it.

Time, Materials, Costs, Alternatives

As I journal DIY projects from here on out, I’ll make note of time, materials and costs to help you decide whether or not this is a project you’re willing and able to tackle.

  • Dresser, thrift store find, $70 (donated by G-parents)
  • Chalk paint, CeCe Caldwell in Destin Gulf Green, $35 (donated by G-parents)
  • Wax, CeCe Caldwell, $10 (also donated)
  • Hardware, original! $0
  • Time, between three people and a power sander, about 1-2 hours of labor and about 2-3 hours of drying time.

Some cost saving alternatives would be using a donated or existing dresser or chest is drawers, as well as making your own chalk paint (I’ll cover my experience with this in a future post).