Follow me:

From Wall Unit to Kitchen Hutch


I know, I know… some of you have already seen this because you went to the post featured on The Thinking Closet, but just in case you missed it, I wanted to share again, so here it is.  Though I edited some parts out, I wanted to keep my rap in true Thalita form – totally geeky.  Yes, I said rap.

Now, this is the story all about how
My life got flipped-turned upside down
And I’d like to take a minute
Just sit right there
I’ll tell you how I got a hutch using a little flair.

How terrible was that on a scale of 1-10, like a 27?  I’m sorry.  I’m so not a rapper.  But chances are you sang along with the tune in your head, and some of you even kept going with the original lyrics, didn’t you?  Come on, didn’t you?  Ok time to get serious!  (Just kidding, I never really do that).


Hutch Makeover (square button)If you hang around The Learner Observer for just 5 minutes you will learn one thing rather quickly: I love to frequent thrift shops for just about anything from frames, to decorative items, and furniture.  I am also an avid Kijiji shopper (I know Kijiji exists in the U.S. but not many people use it, so for the sake of clarification, it’s Canadian Craigslist).  This piece particularly, I searched for high and low.  I wanted a hutch/pantry in my kitchen so badly and I wanted it to cost under $100 before paint and other supplies.  When I saw this 80’s wall unit, I instantly knew what I could do with it.  Sure, it had a small TV and a painting of the ocean on it, but I had a vision!  A vision of white shelves and dishes neatly put away.  Dreamy.

Here’s what I did to make that happen.

Hutch Makeover (before)

Hutch Makeover (sanding)First, I removed all of the hardware.  There were about 258 tiny screws!  Then I got out my trusty random orbit sander (a Christmas gift from my husband – he knows what I like).  I didn’t do any major sanding, this was just to begin to get the sheen off of the surface and it only took me a couple of hours to do all of this.  My main concern was the shelving because they would get the most action with things being moved around.

I used the same primer here as I did on the tiled walls of the scary basement washroom and I have no complaints!  The paint was actually also the same.  Don’t you love double duty materials?


Hutch Makeover (painting doors)Hutch Makeover (painting)My mom and I moved the unit outside (thankfully it’s in 2 pieces) and got to work.  We used one coat of primer and two coats of paint, and you can see what a huge difference there is!

Hutch Makeover (painting doors 2)Because it was such a nice warm and dry day, we painted the whole thing and brought it inside.  I was ELATED!  Pure joy and it wasn’t even finished yet.  The bottom portion needed a little tweak – legs!  As much as I love the shape of the piece, the height wasn’t doing it for me and it needed a little lift.  I got 6 plain wood 6″ legs from Home Depot and the metal pieces to connect them and my dad attached them to the bottom for me nice and tightly, using some 2×4’s as extra security and height.  I would have gone for the 9″ legs, but they might have been too tall, and they were double the price!  I’m going for lowest possible cost, here (as usual).  Note: I will list all materials with links shortly, ok?  Here is the leg I chose and the hardware used to install it:

Hutch Makeover (legs)The final step of the weekend was snazzing up the back of the shelves.  I had already decided on going for black and white on the chairs in the kitchen (which you can see here), and my cupboards are white with black handles/knobs.  I contemplated painting the back.  That would have required more time, more paint, and more painting.  After completing the washroom and this, I was all painted out!  Wallpaper was the next option, but I didn’t find one I liked at a budget-friendly cost.  While at Target with my mom that weekend, I thought to look at wrapping paper.  Bingo.  Rolls were on sale for $2.99 each.  I got two and skipped on home to get my gluing on!  I just used Rubber Cement for this, so nothing fancy.  I even applied it with the hard little brush it comes with.

Sadly, we have no pictures of this.  Both of us had glue-y hands and it took all of about 10 minutes to get these on.  I used exactly one roll of the paper, which felt pretty darn great!  Now let’s see the final outcome!

Hutch Makeover (before and after) - The Learner Observer

And let the shelf-styling begin!!!  I even started a Pinterest board to help me think of ideas.  This is most definitely not my forte and I just know I will cringe as I look back at these years from now, but here we go…

Hutch Makeover (shelf styling) - The Learner ObserverHutch Makeover (shelf styling)  The Learner ObserverHutch Makeover (shelf styling) The Learner ObserverA lot of what’s sitting here now has been boxed in our front closet since we got married… 11 months ago!  Some pieces (like the small white and blue bowls carefully placed in an ombre pattern, which I love with) were a recent Anthro purchase.  The last thing on the to-do list for this piece is to potentially change the hardware.  I don’t mind the shape and colour (though perhaps they can use a little Rub ‘N Buff like these), but I did consider something a little smaller and a little less “in your face” so I went to Anthro and got some (ON SALE) hardware.

Hutch Makeover (shelf styling 4)What do you think?  Stick with the originals or go for the new?  I would have to fill the holes with wood filler, sand and paint the doors, so it’s not a whole lot of work, but just enough to keep me from wanting to do it right this second.  I just need to actually make a decision.  Help me!

Now let’s talk numbers.

Wall Unit to Hutch Cost Breakdown:

Wall unit: $40 (WHAT THE WHAT?  Did I just say $40??  YES!  And I knooooowwwwww…. what a great deal!)

Paint: $35 (Not including primer costs since it was also used in the washroom)

Brush and roller: $7

Wrapping paper: $2.99

Glue: $1.99

Legs: 6 at $4.69 each. Total:  $28.14

Metal hardware: 6 at $2.43 each.  Total: $14.58

Anthropologie hardware: 4 at $2.95 each (originally $14 each).  Total: $11.80

GRAND TOTAL: $141.50

So how did I do?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on how I should style my shelves and what hardware I should stick to.

Hutch Makeover (before and after) by The Learner ObserverHutch Makeover (the reveal) by The Learner Observer

There you have it.  This is easily the best piece of furniture in my house right now.  LOVING IT.

Have you painted furniture before?  Any tips you can think of, because I kind of want to paint everything right now.  Considering milk paint, too… anyone been there, done that?  I’m asking a lot of questions, but that’s because I REALLY want to know your thoughts :)


linking up here an at My Repurposed Life.

Previous Post Next Post

You may also like


  • Reply joann

    What an amazing transformation! Well done.

    September 3, 2013 at 7:45 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      Thank you Joann! Totally addicting – I now want to paint everything!

      September 4, 2013 at 10:41 am
  • Reply Steph

    I already saw it but I still love it!

    September 4, 2013 at 9:30 am
  • Reply Ann

    you did a great job! I was thinking about doing something similar!

    September 4, 2013 at 3:31 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      Thanks Ann!! It’s a really rewarding project, I can tell you that much! It’s pretty awesome when I reach for something in there and I remember what a sad piece of furniture it once was!

      September 5, 2013 at 9:35 am
  • Reply Trish Butler

    You did a great job. I like the legs. I say start with the old hardware and when you want a change, go for the new. Again, great job.

    September 4, 2013 at 9:51 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      Thanks so much, Trish! I do love those legs too :) Oh and great idea on the hardware change! Might be a good thing to do in those cold winter months, anyway, when it’s impossible to get large projects done outside!

      September 5, 2013 at 9:39 am
  • Reply Margo

    Awesome redo, and it gives you so many nooks for storage!

    September 6, 2013 at 12:36 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      Thank you Margo!!! (Love that name, by the way!) The storage is the BEST! We were seriously lacking it in our tiny kitchen. This has made all of the difference!!

      September 7, 2013 at 2:49 pm
  • Reply Winners of the Hardware Store Challenge | The CSI Project

    […] Walkabout 2 Very creative artwork that is one of a kind. #5 from wall unit to kitchen hutch from The Learner Observer A little paint and tlc turned an ugly wall unit into a beautiful kitchen hutch and on a budget! I […]

    September 7, 2013 at 1:00 am
  • Reply Carla

    I like the old, but paint them black! :D

    September 7, 2013 at 2:35 am
    • Reply Thalita

      Ooooooooh Carla!!! That’s such a great idea!!!! I do have black hardware on my cupboards, so it’s definitely got me thinking…. Thank you!!

      September 7, 2013 at 2:51 pm
  • Reply Jessi @ Practically Functional

    I absolutely love this makeover, and the decoration in the back of the cabinet is really gorgeous! I’m pinning this, and thanks so much for sharing it at my link party!

    September 7, 2013 at 2:58 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      Jessi that is so sweet! Thank you!!!! I LOVE your link party so thank you for hosting!!

      September 7, 2013 at 3:23 pm
  • Reply Jocelyn at Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows

    So cool! I love the legs – they really make a difference when looking at the piece.

    September 7, 2013 at 6:39 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      I know, right? So glad I added those legs!! Thanks for stopping by, Jocelyn!!

      September 9, 2013 at 8:49 am
  • Reply Meegan

    Thanks so much for linking up to Tickled Pink Times Two this week! I really like your makeover. You are really talented.
    I can’t wait to see what else you will share :)
    Make it a pink day!

    September 7, 2013 at 8:47 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      Hi Meegan! Thank you so much!!!! I love your link party, so thank YOU for hosting!!

      September 9, 2013 at 8:50 am
  • Reply Sheri

    New hardware. That is closer to the kind that real hutches have. Love this idea. I wish I had room for one in my house.

    September 7, 2013 at 10:45 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      One more point for the new knobs! YESSSS!!! Thanks for leaving your vote Sheri!! :)

      September 9, 2013 at 8:54 am
  • Reply PJ @ Planned in Pencil

    You did an amazing job! I see things like this all the time and just assume them to be a lost cause. I guess I’ll have to look twice from now on! Thank you for sharing it at the Pinworthy Projecty Party on Planned in Pencil

    September 8, 2013 at 5:41 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      Thanks so much PJ!!! I have overlooked so much furniture, but after this, I don’t think I can. The dowside: I want to buy all old pieces and paint them all! That could take a lifetime…. Thanks for hosting such a great link party!!!

      September 9, 2013 at 8:55 am
  • Reply Reupholstering Second Hand Kitchen Chairs

    […] shape of the chairs is so mod that I felt they needed a bit of updating.  Not to mention, now that the hutch is finished the chairs deserve a little love too!  Here’s how their story […]

    September 9, 2013 at 9:24 am
  • Reply Korrie@RedHenHome

    What a fabulous re-imagined piece! Way to go!

    September 9, 2013 at 9:57 am
    • Reply Thalita

      Thanks so much Korrie! I love that you called it re-imagined! :)

      September 9, 2013 at 10:17 am
  • Reply Kayla @ Home Coming blog

    Looks great!

    September 9, 2013 at 1:02 pm
  • Reply Kristin Elizabeth

    I have always wondered what can be done with those wall units! Great idea and beautiful work!

    September 9, 2013 at 1:41 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      I kept wondering the same thing, Kristin… and then I realized I needed something in my kitchen and could find nothing within my budget…. and this happened! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a lovely comment!

      September 10, 2013 at 9:35 am
  • Reply Vanessa Lund

    Hi, Thalita

    I love your make over. The wallpaper is beautiful. I found your lovely blog from TwelveOeight link party and enjoyed looking around. I am new follower. Have a great week. Love for you to stop by

    September 9, 2013 at 8:41 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      Hi Vanessa!!! Thank you so much for the kind words, and I am SO HAPPY you are a new follower!!! I’ve just been to your blog and I LOVE it! That blue rocking chair… wow!!!

      September 10, 2013 at 9:39 am
  • Reply Kim~madeinaday

    How awesome! What a great idea! Thanks for linking up on Made in a Day!

    September 10, 2013 at 12:17 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      Thanks Kim!! :)

      September 11, 2013 at 9:23 am
  • Reply Ange

    Great transformation, you did a terrific job.

    September 12, 2013 at 11:04 am
    • Reply Thalita

      Thanks so much, Ange!! Totally addicted to painting furniture now!

      September 12, 2013 at 3:19 pm
  • Reply Aimee - ItsOverflowing

    It’s TOTALLY Perfect! XO, Aimee

    September 12, 2013 at 1:11 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      Oh my goodness, thank you Aimee!!!

      September 12, 2013 at 3:19 pm
  • Reply

    ok you did that!!~!!!

    September 12, 2013 at 4:43 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      Haha it’s true! I did!!! Trust me, I was surprised too ;)

      September 12, 2013 at 6:50 pm
  • Reply Diana Rambles

    This is absolutely fabulous!!!! Amazing job!

    September 12, 2013 at 5:55 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      Thanks so much Diana!!!! Always lovely to have you stop by :)

      September 12, 2013 at 6:50 pm
  • Reply Cathy

    I’m your newest reader and an ex-Torontonian. I still miss it even though I’ve been just down the road in London for the past 8 years.
    I spent a great deal of time in Whitby when I lived in Toronto. I have good friends who live in the south end down by the lake. Where in Toronto is the Anthropology store? Or maybe it’s best I don’t know! :-)
    Love this project who knew that under all that yucky 80s stuff was a beautiful piece of furniture. And for $40 you really lucked out.
    I’m still wandering through your blog and am enjoying it lots.
    Take care,

    September 12, 2013 at 6:48 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      Hi Cathy!! Thank you so much for following along! So glad to have you here! The closest Anthro to me is at Yorkdale which thankfully isn’t too close! Haha. That could be bad news. There’s also one downtown, I believe. Sounds like we were almost neighbours at one point! Looking forward to having you along for my crazy blogging ride :)

      September 12, 2013 at 6:55 pm
  • Reply Fabulous Feature Friday

    […] revamp shared by The Learner Observer-just […]

    September 13, 2013 at 8:00 am
  • Reply Diana Rambles

    Congratulations! This post is featured over at Diana Rambles today and has been pinned in the Featured at Diana Rambles board at Pinterest, Tweeted, and Recommended on G+. Please grab a featured button off my sidebar or via the link under the features. Thanks for sharing this awesome idea!

    September 13, 2013 at 2:04 pm
  • Reply Annet M

    Found you via Too Much Time on My Hands and I love how the legs make all the difference in this! We’ve got a small kitchen too and now I have some ideas for how to get the cupboard I want for cheap. Will start following a fellow Canuck!

    September 13, 2013 at 9:33 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      Hello Annet! Thank you so much for coming to check me out! I have to say, I’m a total leg girl – on furniture, of course! ;) The decision to add legs to this piece is definitely not one I’ll be regretting! Our kitchen is teeny tiny and we don’t have a dining room, so this is it! The hutch makes all the difference and really helps to make the space actually feel larger and more separate from just a regular eat-in kitchen, you know?! So happy to have you following along, and I love your story about living in Australia for so long and coming back to Canada – what a drastic change!!

      September 16, 2013 at 9:30 am
  • Reply Katharine of Kat's Almost Purrfect World

    I have those chairs and my parents bought them in the late 50’s when my sister was a baby. I have the whole dining set but the table was just a laminate and it had to be redone. My chairs are sadly falling apart but I have one that I use in front of the computer. So comfy! The dish unit is great looking.

    September 14, 2013 at 6:13 am
    • Reply Thalita

      Amazing that the chairs have lasted you for so long! They really are so comfortable – there’s something to be said for good design, am I right? Thanks for stopping by Katharine!!

      September 16, 2013 at 9:35 am
  • Reply Shelly

    This looks FANTASTIC!!!!! LOVE IT!!!!

    September 17, 2013 at 9:15 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! :)

      September 18, 2013 at 11:08 am
  • Reply Pat

    This turned out great!
    I love it.
    came here via Catch as Catch Can(month long link up)

    September 22, 2013 at 10:13 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      Hi Pat! Thanks for coming to check it out!!

      September 23, 2013 at 10:12 am
  • Reply Most Embarrassing Thing Ever. Oh, and Don’t You Love Paint?

    […] you a lot LESS than purchasing big, pricey items – take painting my kitchen cupboards and the hutch, for example.  Brand new, those things would have cost us THOUSANDS […]

    October 14, 2013 at 10:09 pm
  • Reply Bess

    Hi. I love what you did with this piece. I would paint the old hardware…any color would do, metal finish or color.

    December 23, 2013 at 10:07 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      Thanks so much Bess!!! I love your idea of potentially painting it in a colour! Hmmmm… sounds like I have some more things to consider! ;)

      December 28, 2013 at 8:34 am
  • Reply "Inspire Me Please" Blog Party {No. 28} - Blissfully Ever After

    […] Old Wall Unit to Beautiful Kitchen Hutch by The Learner Observer […]

    April 14, 2014 at 3:17 am
  • Reply Kimberly Kenyon-Goodman

    Ingenious way of re-purposing items to fit your needs & price was right. Craigs List of Free Items can be very thrifty also & possibly find your next painting project you’re wanting to try. ;)

    May 6, 2014 at 7:40 am
    • Reply Thalita

      Hi Kimberly! Thanks so much!!! I LOVE Craigslist for the free goodies. I am always looking for new pieces to refinish, now I just need to look for some time to do so!

      May 27, 2014 at 10:42 pm
  • Reply Jan Elizabeth

    Fabulous job! I’ve just come via Home on 129 Acres. I’m so impressed with the change you’ve made. As far as the hardware goes, if it were me I’d fill in both holes and put the knobs in the middle between them. I think the knobs go more with the era you’re harking back to with this piece (rather than the 80’s, an era I’m not sure anyone wants to heark back to!), though the idea of bright fuschia hardware is oddly appealing. :)

    May 18, 2014 at 1:59 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      Thanks so much, Jan!! Love that you came over from Julia’s blog of amazing awesomeness! Would you believe I still have not changed the hardware? I’m on the lookout for the perfect ones, but I kNOW that the originals need to go. Cuz’ you’re right about the 80’s… they’re gone for a reason! Also… fuschia hardware? Yes please!! Now can you convince my husband? ;)

      May 27, 2014 at 10:51 pm
  • Reply The Learner Observer - Moving on

    […] painted cupboards to reupholstering thrifted chairs to the ever changing eating area with an entertainment center turned hutch, which we eventually said goodbye […]

    August 25, 2016 at 7:02 am
  • Leave a Reply