the handmade hutch.

Mr. Q and I picked up this petite secretary hutch a few weeks ago.  The gal we purchased it from said she got it from a friend who said that his grandfather made it.

It had a couple of flaws, but nothing major.  However, as you can see in the ‘before’ photo, one of the drawers fell apart as we were unloading it.  That was an easy fix that just needed some glue.

In addition, there were no stops in place to keep the drop down desk surface from falling back inside the piece when it was up.  The only way to keep that piece in place was to use the lock mechanism, which was rather tricky.  Ken solved that problem by just adding a small peg on either side.

When I first brought this piece home I had envisioned a fabulously chippy milk paint finish on it.  That didn’t quite work out.  I did start out painting it with a couple of coats of Homestead House milk paint in one of my favorite pale greys, Bedford.

However, when I came back out to the workshop the next day I saw that most of the paint had chipped off the fronts of the drawers and the front of the drop down desk.  The paint on the sides of the piece didn’t chip, but it looked really blotchy.  I had a feeling before I painted this one that I might end up with this problem.  You see there were spots on the sides where the previous finish was entirely worn away.  Those spots absorbed the milk paint quite differently than the spots that still had some finish on them.

I thought that maybe I could still work with the milk paint and just go really chippy and distressed, but in the end I knew I wouldn’t be happy with it.  So I wrote off the milk paint and switched to Fusion acrylic paint in the same color, Bedford.

First I vigorously sanded down the super chippy drawer fronts and drop down desk front.  If I hadn’t, the chippy texture of the milk paint would have shown.  Once I had those mostly smooth, I wiped them down and then added a coat of Fusion’s Bedford.  I didn’t sand the sides of the piece that hadn’t chipped, I just painted right over the milk paint.

It only took one coat of paint to get good coverage and to solve the blotchy problem on the sides.

I added another Iron Orchid Designs transfer to this piece.  I thought this design suited it perfectly.

I painted the inside of the hutch in Fusion’s Midnight Blue.  I thought this would be a great color if one has some ironstone that they want to display and they want to make it pop.


I also painted the inside of the desk in the same dark blue.

I had a heck of a time trying to get photos of this piece on a brilliantly sunny fall day.  The glass in the doors reflected everything.

I even resorted to moving the hutch inside, but I didn’t think those photos were any better.

Maybe outside was better after all.

Either way, I think the hutch itself definitely looks better painted.

Would you agree?

29 thoughts on “the handmade hutch.

  1. Great job, I love the colors you chose, the rub on looks great and the photos look great inside or out. I sometimes have that ‘too chippy’ issue, too, so it’s good that Homestead makes matching colors in milkpaint and the Fusion paint. I have only used the Fusion paint once and it was in the hot hot Texas summer but I thought it left a lot of brushstrokes that didn’t sand out. But I’m going to try it again this fall to see if the heat made it difficult to work with. Love the ironstone you used as a display, it really adds character.


    1. Thanks Laura! Here’s a couple of tips for you regarding your brush stroke problem. First, the type of brush you use can make a difference with the Fusion paint. Be sure to use a synthetic bristle if you don’t want brush strokes (a natural bristle will give you more texture with this paint). Also, I’ve found that the amount of pressure you apply also makes a big difference with Fusion. I have a bit of a heavy hand with paint which works fine with chalk paint or milk paint, but causes brush strokes with Fusion. Use a lighter hand and sort of glide the paint on. Take a few minutes to watch {this great YouTube video} from Fusion about this very subject, I think it’s super helpful.


  2. Love how this was transformed! The graphic adds a lot. I bet the guy who made this would just love to see how it was shored up and redone to be used and loved for many more years to come. Another fabulous “save”!


  3. Linda, that turned out beautifully! I love the stencils on it. I have one similar to it that my parents once owned. This has certainly inspired me to paint and stencil it. My plan is to display my Mother’s hobnail collection in it! Thanks!


    1. I love the idea of displaying hobnail in such a cupboard, that will be perfect. And FYI, that’s not a stencil, it’s a rub-on transfer. If you want to do something similar on your own cupboard, just google Iron Orchid Designs for more info about their furniture transfers!


  4. Dang girl! At first look, I thought this piece was not all that great. The after , well, just gorgeous! Love 💘 those transfers on this piece! It makes it! Another wonderful job Q!


  5. Hi Quandie, I’m sure this hutch is a great quality piece and so many people think it is just sinful to paint a piece made with quality wood, but your transformation with the paint and transfer turned the ho hum piece into va voom. It’s still a quality piece but now is also lovely. Great Job!


  6. This is a great piece. I love the IOD transfer. Looks beautiful on the desk. I am glad that you explained the process. Helps the rest of us when deciding what to do with our pieces. Also I am glad that you had a great experience with MMS. Sorry that you had such an awful drive!


  7. Love it! I really love the Fusion paint I’ve been using. Probably the best tip I’ve ever gotten from you. I used to read a blog by the person who sells the Fusion paint I buy. I wish she had done some good furniture posts using Fusion like you do. Just had to say I love how this piece turned out!


    1. I’m surprised she doesn’t if she also sells the paint. But, not everyone love painting furniture as much as I do 😉 LOL, I say that with a smirk, because I’m fairly sure I’m in a serious minority on that!


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