furniture rehab: how to transform a hutch with paint

The finished product: How I used chalk paint and stain-blocking primer to transform a hutch made from knotty pine into a piece that exudes cottage charm and farmhouse style

Well friends, the hutch project is finally done! After navigating the difficulties of knotty pine (ze worst) and painting some portions of this hutch about 5x total (sob), and using two (TWO!) cans of $$$ Annie Sloan paint, it’s all finished. Today, I’m sharing finished photos, a quick overview of how I transformed this piece, and a few tips if you’re working on painting a large piece of furniture or knotty pine.

The finished product: How I used chalk paint and stain-blocking primer to transform a hutch made from knotty pine into a piece that exudes cottage charm and farmhouse style

The goal of this project was actually to have a place to store the china dishes that my grandma gave me for our wedding, but since all the china is still at my parents house, I ended up just styling it with some pieces I had handy, so bear with me!

close up - how to style a hutch


Here is the before shot of the hutch. It was a nice looking pine, but very dark with too much of a rustic cabin vibe for my home. So naturally, I pulled out the white paint and got to work!

the hutch - before photo

Paint: Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (old white)
Primer: Zinsser B-I-N primer
Final coat: Rustoleum Matte Clear (acts similar to wax on a finished piece and is a lot faster since it can be brushed on; also a lot harder to mess up!)

I’m not going to lie, this piece was a LOT of work. With all the coats of chalk paint, primer, more chalk paint, and wax, it was quite the project. After this, I feel like painting kitchen cabinets will be a breeze. Convincing the hubby will be the hard part, ha!

The biggest frustration with this project was that I didn’t know knotty pine relentlessly bleeds through paint. It requires a few coats (or more!) of a shellac-based primer to alleviate the issue and sometimes that isn’t even enough. I still have bleeding around the spots where there are drilled holes (for hinges and hardware).

An example of the bleed-through before the primer coats were added:

what bleed through looks like on knotty pine


My recommendation if you want to work with a knotty pine piece, would be to avoid it like the plague! The B-I-N primer is quite toxic (my piece still has a pretty strong odor from it), expensive, and isn’t necessarily 100% effective. Now, I don’t want to give the idea that the primer doesn’t work (it does), but you may need more than a few coats on a stubborn piece and bleed-through can still occur years later (that last part is according to Dr. Google, who is definitely a pessimist).

Now, if it’s too late and you’re already working on a knotty pine piece, I would suggest using the B-I-N primer and trying 2-4 coats (depending on how aggressive the bleed-through is). I would also recommend taking the piece outside to prime it and leaving it outdoors for as long as you can so it can air out.

Another tip: when chalk painting a larger piece, don’t be afraid to water down the Annie Sloan paint. It goes on a lot faster and easier if you water it down and plan to apply two coats. Otherwise the struggle of trying to spread the paint on such a large piece is a perfect recipe for painting fatigue!

how to style a hutch - classic white dishes and greenery

Other thoughts on this transformation:

The one regret I have with this project is not switching out the hardware. I really think this piece would have been beautiful with some glass knobs and a coordinating hinge, but in the end I think it turned out alright. Plus, with the extra money I had to spend on primer and a second can of paint, I was quite happy to stop spending money on this thing!


One thing I love about this finished piece is the neutral paint color. Old White is a gorgeous color from Annie Sloan and I know the color will work well throughout our house if I ever decide to move the hutch around (and maybe paint another one to hang out in this spot?!)!

Thanks for stopping by! If you have transformed a piece of furniture recently, I would love to see it!




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