furniture redo

I’ve been meaning to show you this piece of furniture that I painted and changed a bit for a little while now.  The problem is that I am in a messy house phase (I’m calling it a phase, and pretending that it will be brief) and I wanted things to be sort of clean to take pictures!  When I was a little girl this hutch always sat next to our kitchen table, and then my mom gave it to me when I moved out.  For many years it sat next to our kitchen table in this house as well, but a couple of years ago we replaced it with a much larger cabinet, and moved it out to the shop.  (Inside those two doors, there were mirrors, but I took those out.)

I’ve really been needing some more storage space for books and homeschooling things.  Most everything, including homeschooling, happens in our kitchen so I wanted something to fit there.  My friend Lisa was painting all this amazing looking furniture, and I thought that maybe I could make our old hutch look amazing too and bring it back inside the house.

Jonny helped me remove all the hardware, and I sanded the whole thing down.  I decided to completely remove the doors from the top part, and have open shelves for books.

The girls got to help me paint a little, but I eventually (as in–after about three minutes of them “helping”) had to take over myself so the brush strokes wouldn’t look too crazy.  Per Lisa’s advice, I bought Sherwin Williams’ All Surface Enamel paint in satin finish.  This particular paint is important!  After a lot of obsessing over color, I chose a dark gray.  Lisa suggested that I go with a green based gray since my cabinets are green.  This was good advice.  I am really bad at picking paint colors.  (I am also planning to repaint our kitchen cabinets with the all surface enamel paint, because I used the wrong stuff and it isn’t holding up very well.)

I think I remember that this took three coats of paint.  I bought inexpensive wooden knobs at Lowe’s to replace the metal ones, and then just painted them along with everything else.

If you look at Lisa’s painted furniture, you can see that she paints it, and then distresses it.  That was my plan too.  She gave me detailed instructions that involved waiting for the paint to dry thoroughly and then sanding the whole thing down with a fine grit sanding block, and then taking the electric sander to the edges.  I wimped out though and didn’t do it.  I don’t know why I couldn’t.  However, this piece is sitting in a high traffic area and already getting lots of little fingerprints and smudges, so I may distress it in the future.  I can see brush strokes too, and they catch the light and bother me.  (obsessive maybe?) Right now, it’s holding books on the upper shelves, including our field guides (because obviously field guides should be stored in the kitchen-ha,) math manipulatives in the drawer, and homeschooling books in the cabinet underneath.  The girls’ table that used to sit here, is now across the room in front of the couch.  It gets far more use there.

So here’s the somewhat cluttered view of this wall in my kitchen.  To the right of the painted hutch is the pantry and then on the next wall are our kitchen cabinets and sink etc.  Yes, those are our Advent candles, still sitting on top of the fridge.

And one last little painting project:  We’ve had these old filing cabinets for many years, they are called “shoes.”  I used to slide little black pieces of paper into each of the label holders and write the contents of the drawers on them with a white gel pen.  However, my little ones rip them out and it was a lot of work constantly replacing the torn oens.  Over the course of a couple of days last week, I painted the inside of each label holder with chalkboard paint (it took four coats!) and then ordered a Chalk Ink Pen (couldn’t find one in a store) to write on the “labels.”  The chalk pen dries to a pretty smudge proof finish and is working out really well.  So, yay!  I’m getting a little bit organized in my kitchen for all the messy busy living that happens there.


  1. Oh I love your drawers and cabinet – I have just been catching up on your news and adventures… blogging and reading blogs of late has been overshadowed with preparing for our first foster child and me contemplating how I can blog about it with our stringent laws. My husband is visiting the US in August and as he asked if there was anything I would like him to do, I said with a smile – oh it would be lovely to meet Ginny! xx Hope everyone is well xx

  2. You mean it’s time to take the Christmas wreath from over the fireplace?? I’d also like to jump into spring, so maybe taking all the snowmen down would help, too. I do still have all the white and blue candles and stuff on the other fireplace. Well, if you think it’s time…
    I’m not a gray fan…it sucks all the color from me so I avoid it. But I really like your cupboard! I have a dining table refinished that was my great grandma’s, a cupboard with doors that I bought at an auction that used to be in an old area school house (inkwell rings on the top!) Stuff like this just aches to tell a story. I have a thing for wood. The real stuff…the old stuff… you did a good job. My daughter was permitted to paint the top half of one bedroom wall with chalkboard paint. She wrote on it a little, then put some great stuff up there her senior year of high school that is still there 3 years later. It is a special creative thing. She and another girlfriend splattered the other 3 walls with all colors of craft paint. I let the boys paint their bedroom Texas Longhorns Black & Orange. In not many years, they will have their own places and I will miss this time of life. Whatever works in this season.

  3. I still have Christmas garland on my mantle… My John says I should take it down when we hang up the summer awnings:) I have a shoe shine kit just like yours! Love the new cabinet and the old as well. I refurbished mine this past summer that is similar. The chalkboard paint is just exactly what it needs. I’ve been fighting with little slips of paper:) I really enjoy your blog.

  4. I love your blog & read it regularly.
    My husband, who is a doctor, was a bit concerned to see your lovely children being close to the open cans of paint, without wearing a mask to protect them from harmful solvents.
    Please forgive the intrusion.
    Your blog is an inspiration.

    • Thanks for your concern! If it’s any consolation, their “turn” only lasted a few minutes (as in less than five,) they were painting next to a door that was wide open (I actually took the photo of the two girls painting from outside on my back porch) and the paint is water based–not perfect, but not full of harmful solvents like an oil based paint.

  5. i love all the stories behind the furniture in your home. it truly makes it a home – rather then getting new things from a big box store – our house is full of craig’s list finds, ikea, target and hand me downs. its neat how things arrive and get moved around for different purposes through the life of a family. its a beautiful thing. love the gray btw!!

  6. Nancy Mosley says:

    I love what you’ve done with both pieces of furniture. Thanks for sharing it!

  7. It looks great. And, your house looks pretty tidy for all that you say:)

    Just in case you ever decide to change your labels out – that chalk pen can be pretty tough to get off, the only thing I have found to remove it is magic erasors from the cleaning section of the supermarket.

  8. I was wondering why I had so much traffic today. It looks great! You picked a great color.

  9. The shoe cabinet- swoon. I would love to have something like that for my art supplies.
    Beautiful color choice for your cabinet.

  10. okfriend says:

    I think you did a wonderful job. Distressing is hard to do when something looks good.

  11. violicous says:

    love it! we keep our field guides nearish the table too. i try but someone is usually reading or looking at a book at the table. bad form i know but……also love the tiny drawers. i found a small set in the garbage a few years ago and it has been appropriated by my 7 year old who is our collector. i had plans for it but he wants to keep it ’til he dies’. so…..nice job and i think it will be child distressed in no time! i love doors to hide things. great job!

  12. I am jealous of the “shoes” cabinet. it looks so perfect for organizing art supplies and schooling supplies without little fingers being able to reach up and knock everything over. And at the same time, perfect for filling the bottom drawers with stuff to keep little fingers busy once they figure out how to open them! A perfect combination. I can’t wait until we finish building our new house and I get to work on buying some old pieces and refinishing them. Poland has some beautiful old furniture that just needs a little love!

  13. Love the cabinet with the chalk paint labels! Love the books on the re-purposed hutch; it all looks lovely and organized! with lots of smallish kids, I would think it is hard to keep house clean… blessed Monday to you!

  14. That is gorgeous! You did such a great job with it!

    Good thinking with the chalkboard paint! I can’t believe it took four coats! I have been wanting to paint something with chalkboard paint, but my husband doesn’t want chalk in the house because he hates the texture-maybe I can change his mind with the pens! 🙂

  15. I think your kitchen looks like a normal kitchen for most homeschooling family. Field Guides are lunchtime reading at our house. I really like the grey on the hutch and love the advent candles on the fridge. Keeps things real!

  16. I’ve never understood the distressed or chippy look. Everything in my house gets plenty of distressing. My husband and I joke about how “in” our home must be in the decorating world. I paint furniture when it gets distressed, so it doesn’t look so stressed!

  17. The hutch turned out beautiful and I love the color you chose. What do you keep in the file drawers? That is a really great piece of furniture. I think your go e is beautiful!

  18. I have to say, I just love your house pictures. You really did an awesome job on the cabinet! 🙂

  19. good for you! it looks perfect to me, and i’m kind of envious of your large kitchen!

  20. It all looks very good – good going!

  21. Those are both such great pieces and look really well together in your kitchen!

  22. Love the hutch! Aren’t family pieces special? I have started passing some on to my daughters as well. That cabinet with all the drawers is priceless! Ohhhh I can think of so many uses….knitting needles…..

  23. I love that gray! It looks great!

  24. I think field guides in the kitchen sounds perfectly normal. I have two pair of binoculars sitting in with my cookbooks. And I LOVE that the advent candles are still out. Until yesterday I still had a red and green paper Christmas garland hanging above the world map in our kitchen. (Now it’s on the floor under the map…they replaced it with paper clovers!)

  25. This looks great! I love furniture that has memories attached to it. I think that’s much better than picking up an old piece at a store. You did a fantastic job painting too. D you hire out? Lol

  26. I just love those “shoes”!! What a great way for organizing art and school supplies! And the hutch looks great!

  27. The hutch looks great in that gray!

  28. I’ve missed you Ginny! Love your projects; they look great! Inspires me to tackle some myself. 🙂

  29. Those drawers are great! I’ve been searching for old card catalogs for a while now. That paint color is lovely, too. Spring makes me want to declutter, paint and renew! Here’s to organization!

  30. It looks so good! I need to contact you because the friends in Maryland are going to host a Liberian get together in June when another family comes through. I’ll give you the details if you are up to the trip 🙂

  31. Oh my, I LOVE those small file drawers! I see them in a local antique shop now and then and try to dream up a place for them in our home. Very clever to use chalkboard paint. I’m going to use some chalkboard paint on the back of our kitchen island, as it’s actually living room furniture with ugly particle board on the back that now has all kinds of interesting stains on it! It has three drawers – 1 small and 2 large that hold all of our baking supplies from measuring spoons and cups, to the actual ingredients. Not sure now what I’d do without it!

  32. Ginny…my advent candles are sitting atop my fridge as well! Cabinet looks great…I have a few pieces that I am trying to get brave enough to paint…

  33. I love the filing cabinets. I keep thinking something like that would be perfect to hold all of our crafting supplies that keep knocking around the house. I can sympathize with the painting and seeing imperfections – I’ve been slowly painting all of the trim in the house over the past two weeks and finishing new solid wood doors this weekend. Not fun, but it will be nice when it is done!

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