Living in a small home comes with positives and negatives. One of the positives is that it’s easy to clean and manage. A negative is that sometimes, it can be difficult to find furniture that fits! And that is the exact dilemma I faced when I began searching for a hutch that would fit on our dining room wall!
The tale goes something like this.
I Wanted a Dining Room Hutch
I love the little home my man and I built in the mountains. Of all the physical endeavors I’ve undertaken, this one has been the most intense and the most rewarding. And now that our home is technically finished, we’ve been slowly adding the finishing touches as time and finances allow.
One of the things I wanted was a hutch in my kitchen/dining room. But we had a slight dilemma: there really isn’t much space in our dining area. In fact, there’s just one wall where a hutch could go, and about 1/3 of the space is taken up by the cold room door when it swings open.
My homemaker’s heart wanted a simple wooden hutch on this wall, one with upper glass doors (for displaying my china) and some lower cupboards where I could store tablecloths, extra cookbooks and such. Something like the one in Aunt Bee’s kitchen (ever watch the Andy Griffith show?)! Aunt Bee’s hutch was simple, box-like and all the shelves were covered by doors.
I liked the fact that her hutch didn’t have open shelving. Because open spaces always attract clutter and this homemaker doesn’t like clutter!
Yes, I wanted a hutch, very much like the one Aunt Bee had! So I took measurements and began to search for a hutch that would fit the wall and my simple tastes.
The Search for a Dining Room Hutch
I live in an area where good furniture is difficult to find. And when you do find something, it usually sells for the most outrageous price. But occasionally, if you’re on top of things, you can score a good deal. So I kept my eyes open.
Month after month passed by, but without results. The few hutches I did find were far too big for the small space on my wall, and they weren’t the design I wanted anyway.
I had all but given up when my man and I decided to visit a used furniture store that had just opened on main street.
An Old Ugly Cabinet Unit
At the back of the shop, we found a very ugly, beat up, ancient bookcase/cabinet unit made from darkly stained plywood. Dimensions were about 30 in’ wide X 5 ft tall X 16 in’ deep. It looked like someone had used it to hold a very small TV. Several holes were punched through the thin backing and there were brown plastic strips nailed to the shelves. Some sort of runner, I guess?
Only the bottom compartment had doors and the appearance of the whole thing was quite pitiful.
But it was the right size. And when the saleslady noticed our interest, she said we could have it for $20. When my man told me that was cheaper than any plywood frame he could make, we bought and hauled the ugly beast outside the door.
Clean Up and Plans
After bringing it home, we pulled an excessive amount of nails and staples out of the wood, wiped it down and set it in place.
It looked like it was built for the small space on my wall.
I was happy with our find because my man promised to make new doors for the entire thing. And the thought that we were saving money by DIYing made me even happier! Finally, we had what we needed!
Now…I’d like to be able to say we worked at it that very week and transformed it to a thing of beauty! But most of the time, that just isn’t the way it goes.
The plywood shelf/unit sat there all spring and held my seed packets, pruning shears, my camera plus lots of other odds and ends.
It sat there all summer and my man started using it for a dumping ground. I constantly fought the mail, flyers, pens, pencils, phone chargers and cords that accumulated on these shelves.
Fall descended and I was about to haul the shelf away when my man finally found time to tackle the doors!
Crafting Doors for the Dining Room Hutch
To make the doors, my man purchased 1×4 pine board and also 1/2 inch plywood. He placed an order with our local glass shop and they cut him two thick, beautiful pieces of glass.
With his careful man hands and his table saw, he created six new doors for the ugly old hutch. Into two of them he painstakingly inlaid the thick pieces of glass.
And then we did our best to match the door stain to the color of the old hutch.
I think we got pretty close! A coat of stain, a coat of varathane and just like that, the doors were ready to be attached to the ugly old shelf!
The Finished Hutch
Happiness bubbled up inside of me as I watched my man attach hinges he had bought! The Mountain Cottage was one step closer to becoming the beautiful space I’d imagined, and I almost had to pinch myself to make sure it was finally happening.
Not long after, I was reveling in the task of unpacking my vintage Chelsea Rose tea set, carefully arranging the plates, cups, saucers and other dishes on the upper shelves.
Below that, I finally had a place to store tablecloths, cookbooks, our ‘catch all’ basket and more!
After months of staring at and fighting the clutter that consistently collected on these shelves, I finally had doors to hide my things and also inhibit us from using the shelf as a dumping ground!
But the shelf wasn’t finished yet. I pounded some nails into the side of my new hutch so that I would have a place to hang my aprons. The wood was so beat up already, I didn’t feel bad about it!
Some day, I will replace these nails with my favorite, cast iron hooks. But until then, nails will have to do!
Ahh, yes. This place continues to become more homelike with every change. Oh, the hutch still doesn’t have knobs. And I’ve discovered I need to learn how to arrange china in a cupboard, without nearly breaking it!
The vision I had for this place is finally becoming a reality. Simple, country charm is beginning to show through and the beauty I craved for so long is slowly appearing within the four walls of this Mountain Cottage.
Someone pinch me. Because after living with so little for so long, it doesn’t always feel real. But it is. And this place is feeling more and more like home.