My Garage of Good Intentions: The Hutch

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The house I grew up in had a multi-purpose room. Officially it was the laundry room; unofficially it was the dog’s room and my mom’s craft room. There were cabinets lining one wall that were full of fabric. Some of it was leftovers from a project and others were intended for future use. My mom was really good at coming up with things to do, purchasing the needed materials, and then storing said materials indefinitely.

We (my family) would make fun of mom relentlessly for this. I was in grade school when my mom made my baby pillow. There’s a quilt she was making for my sister’s wedding gift (9 years later and it hasn’t been started). I can’t even remember what else has been started and not finished or not started at all.

I thought I had escaped that gene from my mom. I’ve never considered myself all that crafty, so I figured this wouldn’t be an issue for me. But two things happened to me: I had a baby and got a house. Only it’s not fabric I’m collecting, it’s furniture.

If you were to come to my house, you would notice we have a two-car garage, but Nick parks in the driveway. At first it was because we had boxes from the move stored on his side of the garage. Those boxes are long since gone, but it’s been taken over by furniture.

Since moving in, I have collected a dresser, patio chairs, a child-sized armchair, two medicine cabinets, a chandelier, and a hutch. All of which need to be painted, stained, or installed. The only problem is I have spent more time on Pinterest coming up with ideas for it all than actually working on anything.

This week I decided it was time to get my rear-in-gear. We were having an open house on Sunday for the members of both churches and I wanted to show some progress on making the house our own. Ok, and I also felt the need to prove that I do stuff other than sit around at home playing with my child. Yes, I still have some stay-at-home-mom guilt. Anyways…

The hutch had been give to us by a couple in the Bartonville church. It had been his grandpa’s, but when they got married he sold them a table and chair set, the hutch, and the dishes in the hutch for a mere $100. Now this was the 60s, but even then $100 was a steal.

They had kept the hutch all these years and finally decided it was time to get rid of it. They offered it to us, and otherwise it was going to be donated to a thrift store. At first sight, I knew I needed this hutch. Not for what I could do with it, but for what I could do to it.

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I had contemplated painting it, but every color I envisioned (usually black) just looked horrible in my mind. I also had this fear I would disrespect the couple by altering it too much. I mean, they had given it to me so it was mine to do whatever I wanted. But it has a history and I felt the need to preserve that as much as possible.

So thanks to Pinterest, I found a tutorial on how to stain furniture. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel by giving my version of how I did it. Someone else already did that for me and I just followed her instructions. But there are a few observations I’ll make on the process.

For one thing, I am waaaaaaaay too literal. As I was getting started, I read the tutorial over and over again and checked the can of stain numerous times to see if I needed to stir or shake the stain before I started. Neither one told me to, so I didn’t. I’ve never worked with stain before, so if I wasn’t told to do something I wasn’t going to do it. Stupid. I dipped my brush in the stain and started on one of the drawers. Now my can says espresso, but what I painted on was clear. What kind of sorcery was this that would go on clear and then dry a rich espresso color?!

But none of the instructions said to stir, that contents might settle, so I kept going. I painted every drawer and started on the base. But the feeling that something wasn’t right kept haunting me. BUT IT DIDN’T SAY TO STIR! When my conscience could take no more, I tried stirring the stain. Imagine my surprise when the contents turned a beautiful brown. So I had to go over all of my work again, just in order to actually stain it. Stupid.

Also when embarking on a journey like this, always keep the destination in your mind. I kept working on each piece as an individual piece and forgot that they were part of a bigger picture. Had I paid more attention to it as a whole, I would have noticed how there are stripes of wood along the drawers that should have been stained as well. Or that just because the doors will normally be shut doesn’t been they’ll never be opened, so you might care more about the other side of the door. You know, little stuff like that.

But all in all, I overcame my fear of staining and my “mom” genes and completed a project. The best part was being at the open house and having the couple tell me how beautiful the hutch looked. The husband told me his grandpa would have been proud; I could have cried.

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So on to the next project! I’ll keep you all updated as I knock off my list (and add more projects to it)! And of course, if there’s a project you’ve been working on, dreaming of, or always wanted to do but have been afraid—I’d love to hear about it! Maybe we can get ideas from each other 🙂

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