Remember the Humpty Dumpty dresser? All the kings horses and all the kings men may not have been able to put it back together again, but Ken was!
Well, I thought I would add another fairy tale piece to my line up, so I’m calling this one the Pinocchio hutch. You all know the story of Pinocchio right? The puppet that wanted to be a real boy.
Well first of all, this was one of those Craigslist transactions that wasn’t quite a smooth as it could have been. The gal selling it was only available during strange small windows of time. Between 11 and 1 on Thursday, for example. In the end, I had to send Mr. Q on his own. When he got there, the seller said she wouldn’t be able to help load it, and it was on the 2nd floor of an apartment building without an elevator. Egads. That might have been something she should have mentioned in advance, do you think? Fortunately, she also had another buyer coming at the same time for a sofa, and he was a nice guy. Mr. Q helped with the sofa, and then he helped with this hutch.
The piece was advertised on Craigslist as an ‘antique hutch’. It looked pretty fab in the photos, but I’ll admit I was a little suspicious of the ‘antique’ part. Of course, some people think that items from the 1970’s are antiques now. For the record, if we’re talking furniture, they are not! If this was a car, you could get away with calling it an antique, but furniture needs to be at least 100 years old to be ‘antique’ and this one definitely isn’t.
I had also asked the seller if this piece was real wood before sending Mr. Q, and she assured me that it was.
Had I been with Mr. Q when he picked this up, I would have nixed the purchase. Why? Because it was made out of that … well … I’m not really knowledgeable enough to know what this stuff is called. It’s definitely a thin veneer of something on top of what is likely a cheap wood or possibly even particle board. I’m not sure what that veneer is made out of, but it doesn’t feel like real wood, it doesn’t look like real wood, and it doesn’t hold paint like real wood. It’s not quite the same as a plastic laminate though. So what is it? Does anyone know? I think some of the veneer might be real wood, but a lot of the parts definitely are not real wood.
So anyway, yes, this hutch is akin to the puppet that wanted to be a real boy! It wanted to be real wood, but most of it just isn’t.
The biggest problem with this sort of material is that it doesn’t hold on to paint like real wood does. So, had I been there, I would have said ‘no’ to it because it is a lot more work to paint than is practical for me (which is not to say that it can’t be done!) But since I wasn’t there, and Mr. Q thought it looked pretty good, it came home with him. Fortunately, it does have some good lines. I love the simple triangular pediment at the top, and the details on the sides of the bottom. It has a very classic appeal.
Flash forward several months. With winter just around the corner, I knew I had to get this one done while I could still work on it in the unheated Carriage House. I also decided this was an ideal opportunity to try Fusion’s Ultra Grip primer. Please follow this link to Fusions’ own blog post about this product if you want to read the details about how it works.
I decided I should probably follow all of the rules on this one, just to be sure I was getting the best end result possible. To begin, I sanded everything … which seemed to take forever. There are nine shelves! Sanded top and bottom. Three drawers. Hutch top inside and out, plus a base. Once sanded, I wiped everything down with TSP substitute. Next I painted a coat of the Ultra Grip on everything. Then I had to wait 12 hours. Which in my world really meant the next day.
Meanwhile, I removed the chicken wire from the doors. It was coming loose in spots anyway, so I knew we (and by we, I mean Ken) would have to remove the stops to fix that anyway. It was easy to coat the chicken wire with some off-white spray paint once it was removed.
OK, so once the Ultra Grip had met its official drying time, I next painted two coats of Fusion’s Limestone on the outside. Yep, two coats did the trick. I had to wait for the Limestone to be completely dry before moving on to the Inglenook for the inside of the cabinet. Why? Because I was using tape to get a clean line where the Limestone met the Inglenook in some spots. I then painted two coats of the Inglenook on the inside of the hutch, and on all of the shelves.
Are you tired yet? This was definitely one of those projects that takes a lot of time, but most of it is spent waiting for things to dry. Painting one side of each shelf took about 5 minutes, but then I had to wait several hours before adding a second coat. Then, another several hours before flipping them over to repeat the process on the other side. Have I sufficiently driven home the point that this was a much more lengthy process than usual for me?
So, after all of that, here is the finished product.
A massive improvement over the original. At least I think so.
I changed out the hardware to try and add some more charm. I used glass knobs on all of the drawers, but I couldn’t use them on the cupboard doors because they lie flush against the dividers that are behind them and the glass knobs have a screw with a nut that extends out the back side of a drawer or door. So for those I used some cool vintage brass knobs that I had in my stash.
While writing this post, I kept waffling about what I should call this piece. I settled on hutch, but technically this is a desk! Yep. It has a pull out desk top.
As I was staging it for these photos, I realized this would make an awesome scrapbooking station. You could keep all of your supplies in it, and then just pull out the desktop when you are ready to create!
The shelves are adjustable, which can be handy.
If not being used as a scrapbook station, this could be used in the kitchen filled with your ironstone collection and cookbooks. Or put it in your study where you can put your computer on the pull out top and write your memoirs. So many possibilities for this piece!
As for the Ultra Grip, so far it is looking really good. I have inserted and removed the shelves several times and that hasn’t resulted in a single scratch. I slid books onto and off of the shelves, and ditto, no scratching. The desk top slides in and out of place, and no scratches have resulted from that either. Of course, only the true test of time and regular use can really tell, but so far I am impressed with the how the paint is adhering.
This hutch/bookshelf/desk is for sale. If any of you local readers are interested, leave me a comment and I can get back to you with the details. And FYI, it does come apart into two separate pieces for easy transport.