In this tutorial, Ethan and I (Heather) completely overhaul an old curio shelf. We’ll show you how we take it from rickety and run down to a gorgeous heirloom quality piece that will fit any vintage inspired décor.
When we got this particular piece, it was a complete WRECK. The glass was shattered, the veneer was peeling from the top, and the poor little dear was so rickety that I’m not even sure how she was still standing. In fact, in the year that this curio collected dust in our storage area, Ethan tried many a time to convince me to be rid of it. However, I would have none of that! I could only see potential in her shabby little broken down self.
Of course, as is usually the case, my vision is fulfilled through my sweet husband’s hard work and skill. Boy, did he put a lot of sweat into this curio. But in the end, he and I both agreed that it was well worth the effort!
We picked up the curio for under $30 at an estate auction last year. Granted, it was an online auction so all we had to go on was a photo… and to be quite honest… it was in much worse condition than the pictures fully conveyed. But, I was still smitten and completely convinced it was destined to be beautiful again!
Removing the Peeling Veneer
Ethan started by removing the peeling veneer. There are a lot of ways you can do this but the method we usually gravitate towards is loosening the veneer with a heat gun and gently (and sometimes not so gently) prying it up with a putty knife/scraper. This method is pretty effective and will almost always work if you just put in a little elbow grease and have some patience.
Once all of the veneer is off our piece, we go ahead and fill in any imperfections in the wood. We’ve found we get really great results using Bondo. It’s easy to work with and when you go to paint your piece, you’ll find it takes paint really well. Just keep in mind when you’re working with Bondo that it dries very quickly. So, make sure that you aren’t mixing together more than you can use before it starts hardening and also that you work relatively quickly.
Once the Bondo is completely dry, Ethan goes back and sands the top of the curio smooth. If you’re following along with your own piece of furniture, you may need to add another coat of Bondo after sanding. Sometimes, as there was with this piece, you’ll still have some low spots after just one application. That’s completely normal and not a problem. Just go back and repeat the process with the Bondo and then sand a second time.
Making It Sturdy
At this point, Ethan shored up the hutch using a nail gun, a level, and some wood glue. I can’t stress enough how important this step is. You definitely don’t want to put in the effort to paint and finish a piece only to have to go back and nail your hutch back together because it fell apart. So, make sure to put in the work on the front end and don’t rush this step. Ethan gives some great tips for this process in the tutorial video below. You want your finished curio hutch to be solid as well as beautiful.
Adding the Character
From the moment I saw this shelf I knew I wanted to go with a more rustic look and I envisioned that we would replace the broken glass with chicken wire. But I didn’t want it to look ‘90s country. I wanted more of a rustic-chic look. So, when we were able to score some salvaged tin roofing panels (complete with the most gorgeous rust and patina), I knew they would be just perfect for this piece. So, Ethan added the chicken wire to the front and used the roofing panels for the sides.
For the chicken wire, he went ahead and fit it to the door, then secured the wire using a nail gun. Same with the corrugated tin panels. Ethan measured the side openings, then cut the tin down to size, and sealed them up with some spray clear coat (we used Rustoleum Semi-gloss Clear). At this point he went ahead and set them off to the side for later. Since they aren’t in place anyway, it’s much, much easier to wait and attach them. That way we don’t need to worry about taping off or getting any paint on that gorgeous patina.
The chicken wire, however, we knew we were going to paint the same color as the hutch itself. So, for that, it was good to get it into the hutch right away. After years of painting and upcycling furniture, we’ve found painting the chicken wire to match gives the cleanest and most cohesive look. But if that’s not the look you’re going for, just paint before putting in the chicken wire or tape it off so you don’t get paint on it.
Picking a Paint/Color
For some make-overs we agonize over what color paint to pick. But for this one, I knew pretty much right away the look we were going for and that it needed to be a beautiful blue/green. We painted this hutch in an absolutely gorgeous pale turquoise color from Fusion Mineral Paint called Brook. The combination was perfection! It was everything that I had imagined and so very much more. The paint with the rusty corrugated tin was Texas chic, meets country glam, meets vintage boho.
Can’t you just picture this curio in a bathroom, sitting next to a clawfoot tub, and loaded up with rolled towels. Or… how ’bout in a kitchen? It would be so dreamy with rows and rows of homemade jams and jellies. Fill a shelf with vintage baking supplies. Then, set a cherry pie on a trivet up top to cool. YES, PLEASE! Okay… I could go on and on about the all the ways this pretty shelf could be used… but you get the idea. Just go ahead and watch the video and you’ll see why I’m so crazy about this finished make-over!
Curio Hutch Makeover DIY Video
If you’re interested in knowing more about the paint we used on this project, visit www.fusionmineralpaint.com