Create a Kitchen Hutch From an 80’s Wall Unit

A  kitchen hutch is the traditional way to display all those pretty kitchen odds and ends that you only use once a year… or never… but that you don’t want to part from. Or, in a small kitchen that lacks cabinet space, a hutch adds some necessary space for storing the things you actually use. Our guest today needed some kitchen storage, so she went thrifting (online!) and found a formerly loved 80’s wall unit that she turned into a fabulous new white kitchen hutch to hold all of the necessities — and look great while doing it!

Kitchen Hutch from an 80's Wall Unit, The Learner Observer featured on Remodelaholic #beforeandafter #thrifted #storage

It’s amazing what a good coat of paint (and primer) can do for an old piece of furniture. If you’re remember waaay back, we refinished and then updated a kitchen hutch:

Remodelaholic hutch makeover
Part 1:what we started with
Part 2: painting and updates
Part 3: replacing the doors
Part 4: a quick update to RED!

If you’re feeling ambitious this weekend, you could build a hutch using Shanty 2 Chic’s plans:
diy kitchen hutch sideboard, Shanty 2 Chic

And of course, a hutch isn’t just for the kitchen! Hutches are great storage pieces in any room, as comfortable in the kitchen as in the living room…
kitchen hutch in the living room, Georgica Pond via 6th Streed Design SchoolGeorgica Pond via 6th Street Design School

And the bathroom….

kitchen hutch for bathroom storage, Better Homes and GardensBetter Homes and Gardens

And here’s Thalita to show you how she worked her magic to change an old and, er, less than stylish wall unit into her beautiful kitchen hutch!

Kitchen Hutch From A Thrifted Wall Unit
by Thalita, The Learner Observer

Hello you beautiful Remodelaholic readers!  I can’t tell you how excited I am to be here with you today!  Seriously, I can’t even tell you… I’m THAT excited!  Before we get to the project I’m sharing with you today, here’s a little bit about me: thalita, The Learner Observer featured on Remodelaholic
My name is Thalita and I blog over at The Learner Observer, which is a little blog where I like to share how I’m making my tiny (under 1000 sq. ft.) house into a home for my husband, our puppy and I.  I’m a big fan of keeping it simple, unique and budget friendly.  You can always find me at one of three places: a thrift shop, IKEA or home plotting my next DIY quest.  

One of my favourite DIY projects includes making over an entire washroom for under $170, which included painting tile – yes, tile!  I also reupholstered our thrifted kitchen chairs last year using IKEA fabric, and most recently I paint-dipped some Dollar Store wooden utensils and gave them new life! If you want to keep up with any of my projects, I am kind of obsessed with Instagram (honestly, it’s sort of a problem!) and you can find me on Twitter, or like my Facebook Page!

Now lets get to the project I came here to share with you!  As the proud owner of a tiny kitchen, I lack storage in a BIG way.  Can anyone sympathize?  I thought so.  What to do?  Well, as a lover of all things thrifty, I took to Kijiji (which is what a lot of Canadians use instead of Craigslist) and searched for a hutch to display some of my prettier belongings, since I also have big love for open shelving!  I didn’t find a hutch, but I did find a 1980’s wall unit and the DIY wheel started to turn… Kitchen Hutch from an 80's Wall Unit, The Learner Observer featured on Remodelaholic #beforeandafter #thrifted #storage

turning a wall unit into a kitchen hutch, The Learner Observer featured on RemodelaholicThis is what the piece looked like when I first got it home.  I promptly took to removing all of the doors and hardware.  Friends… there were HUNDREDS of tiny screws!  Ok, maybe not quite hundreds, but there were a lot!

How To Turn An 80’s Wall Unit Into a Hutch

1. Remove all hardware.  Remember to keep everything together (I used a small Ziploc bag) for when the time comes to put it all back together. hutch makeover, remove hardware, The Learner Observer featured on Remodelaholic
2. Start sanding!  You may not need to sand the entire thing. I used my trusty Ryobi Random Orbit Sander and it took no time.  Since my unit was partially solid wood and partially laminated particle wood, I sanded the laminated parts down, especially the shelving since they would be high traffic spots.  The doors got little to no sanding. paint and prime kitchen hutch makeover, The Learner Observer featured on Remodelaholic
3. Prime it.  I took the entire thing outside to be painted (since this was back in the warmer Summer months), which helped extensively with drying time.  You’ll notice the backs of the shelves are not primed… That was on purpose and you’ll see why, shortly. use Zinsser primer to make over a wood and laminate hutch, The Learner Observer featured on Remodelaholic
4. Apply paint.  The primer was wonderful for two reasons: 1. I used a Zinsser primer that will stick to basically anything, so I isn’t have to worry about the un-sanded parts of the unit (like the doors) and 2. It meant I only needed two light coats of paint to cover up the dark wood. attach legs to a kitchen hutch, The Learner Observer featured on Remodelaholic
5. Paint and attach the legs.  This unit was a little bit too low for my liking, so I purchased six 6-inch wooden legs from Home Depot, painted and attached them with the appropriate hardware.  

6. Apply wrapping paper.  What?  Did I just say wrapping paper?  Yes.  I looked for wallpaper for this project, but a $2.99 roll of wrapping paper from Target won, in the end.  I applied it with some Elmer’s glue and only used one roll.  It was a proud moment, folks!  80's Wall Unit to Kitchen Hutch, The Learner Observer featured on #beforeandafter #makeover #storage
In case you’re wondering, yes, the black and white kitchen chairs are the ones I reupholstered.  I LOVE them, and the black and white in the hutch and on the chairs was certainly intentional. kitchen hutch with wallpaper backing, The Learner Observer featured on Remodelaholic
I love how the black and white acts as neutral background to the mostly white dishes on the shelves. white kitchen hutch with black and white wrapping paper backing, The Learner Observer featured on Remodelaholic
Now, I thought you might like a breakdown of cost and materials, so here it is:

Cost Breakdown

  • Wall unit: $40 – Source: purchased second-hand from Kijiji
  • Paint: $35 (Not including primer costs since it was originally purchased for the washroom makeover)
  • Brush (already owned) and roller: $7
  • Wrapping paper: $2.99, purchased at Target
  • Glue: $1.99
  • Legs: 6 at $4.69 each. Total:  $28.14
  • Metal hardware: 6 at $2.43 each.  Total: $14.58
  • GRAND TOTAL: $129.70

white kitchen hutch storage, The Learner Observer featured on RemodelaholicAnd there you have it!  I hope you’ve enjoyed this little makeover and I’d love to hear from you on some styling tips for the shelves – they are certainly a work in progress! Before and After: 80's Wall Unit to White Kitchen Hutch, The Learner Observer featured on #beforeandafter #kitchenhutch #storage

Thanks so much to Remodelaholic for having me today! 


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Thank you so much for sharing with us, Thalita! What a great new life for an old piece of furniture. 

Visit Thalita at The Learner Observer for more of her beautiful style and wisdom, like her 31 Days series: your house doesn’t need more stuff to feel like home

See more kitchen hutches and buffets here.

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Lorene has been behind the scenes here at Remodelaholic for more than a decade! She believes that planning projects and actually completing them are two different hobbies, but that doesn't stop her from planning at least a dozen projects at any given time. She spends her free time creating memories with her husband and 5 kids, traveling as far as she can afford, and partaking of books in any form available.

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  1. AmAzing!!!!! So creative…looks fantastic w/your chairs, too. I just love me a great From-Trash-to-Treasure story!!!

  2. I love this idea! My clients are always wanting ‘built ins’ and other expensive pieces to actually custom build… I think I’ll start suggesting that we repurpose a piece like this to help the budget! Thanks for the great post!

    1. Isn’t it the best when you can suggest a solution that is literally a fraction of what someone expects a piece to cost? These units would be GREAT as built-ins because they are sturdy, have adjustable shelving and usually some pretty doors, too! I hope you get to make lots of clients happy by suggesting this!

  3. Really like the transformation, but would like to ask one question. Did you do anything more to the wrapping paper than just gluing it in place? Any sealer or anything? Are you concerned that it could be damaged when the shelves are being dusted, or anything like that?

    Thank you.

  4. I LOVE this piece. I found one myself, not as nice as this one, redid it too. Mine is in my kitchen as a tv. hutch
    h, country red with white and red liner for the back drop..

  5. Looks fantastic!! I’ve been on the lookout for an old entertainment center to just exactly that in my kitchen! So far no luck but I’ll keep looking. I know that I’ll find one eventually….