Reader Design Dilemma: Paint the Hutch?

May 21, 2012

I get a lot of emails asking for quick tips or advice on DIY projects or design dilemmas and when I get a chance, I like to answer some of them here instead of with an email reply.  This latest one is from CC, and she writes,

Dear Kate,

“I have a 1960’s Thomasville china hutch that originally belonged to my grandparents.  I will never part with it for sentimental reasons. It is solid pecan wood and in great shape.  With that said, I would love to paint it but I feel horrible guilt, crazy, I know!  I am a grown woman with children of my own and yet I still worry about my mother’s opinion.  Please share with me your thoughts on what to do with my hutch.

Thank you, CC”


ccs hutch


CC also shared a picture of the room where the hutch sits, and she’s converting her formal dining room into a sitting room for reading and visiting with friends.  The space is 10 ½’ wide (shown) x 13 ½’ long and she will be adding some additional seating. 

cc living room


Answer:  Hi CC!  First let me say what a nice solid piece that is, lucky for you!  My first piece of advice is to remove the spindles on the side doors which make the piece feel dated.  Consider replacing the spindles with a single glass pane or even removing the side doors entirely. 

The second thing to consider is rather than painting the entire piece, try painting the inside white like Tiffany’s hutch from Five Hundred Miles.  

paint inside dark hutch


Brightening the inside with paint adds a nice contrast and also plays off the geometric mirror on the opposite side of the room.  You might also consider a subtle graphic area rug like this one to create softness underneath and add even more contrast against the beautiful wood floors and hutch.  After you paint the inside, I’d live with it for a while to see if the look grows on you.

If after a few months, you still feel the same desire to paint the entire hutch, then my belief is you should do what makes you happy and what works for your taste and style and feel absolutely no guilt about it.  Holding on to the hutch is how you pay homage to your grandparents but there’s no need to keep it the same wood tone if it doesn’t work for you, so go ahead and paint it. 

If and when you do prime and paint the entire hutch, I vote for a timeless color and a pale cream or warm white is a no fail choice.  (I love Ben Moore’s ‘Linen White’ and used it to paint my family room cabinets.)

Take a cue from these three hutches below, all painted a shade of cream or white and enhanced with a wallpapered or stenciled back.  Notice how in this first image, the side doors were removed, and the piece now feels fresh and modern.

painted hutch bhg

Better Homes & Gardens

Adding wallpaper to the back adds another chic pattern to the room like this version from Lonny magazine and can be replaced if you want a change down the road.

wallpapered hutch lonny

Lonny Dec 2010

One last thing, I’d glam up the hardware like this hutch makeover by Honey Sweet Home.  A little Rub n’ Buff should do the trick! 

honey sweet home hutch love

Honey Sweet Home

What do you have to say lovely readers?  Any other ideas or input you might have for CC?  How have you incorporated inherited furniture into your home and made it work for you? 



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