Who doesn’t need more room to put stuff? A great hutch can not only add additional display and storage space, it can also function as the focal point in a room, creating a dramatic piece to which the eye is drawn. The only problem is that hutches can be pretty pricey, whether you buy them new or from an antique shop. While it’s not impossible you’ll run across a bargain at a flea market or yard sale, you could just as easily spend your whole life looking and come up empty-handed. You don’t, however, have to leave it luck in order to get your hands on a great hutch. You can build a rustic, country hutch from basic lumber for a minimal investment of both time and money. Place on top of an existing table, desk, or dresser, and you’ve got a totally unique piece that has loads of character. Here’s how to do it.
Before you begin, you’ll need to decide on the piece you’re going to use for a base, and then you can determine the appropriate length and height for the hutch you’re going to build. Measure the length of the piece, then subtract a few inches from either side for stability; this is the measurement you’ll want to use for the back and top pieces. Next, measure from the top of your base up the wall to determine how high you want the piece to be. You may want to leave a foot of space or more between the top of your hutch and the ceiling for additional storage or display. Finally, make a sketch of your piece, detailing whether you’d like to use one or two long shelves or intersperse some cubbies. Customize it according to your personal storage needs, then write in the appropriate measurements. For example, if you want a few long shelves, you’ll use the length measurement from earlier and subtract an inch from either end for the sidepieces.
Now that you’ve got your measurements down, it’s time to make your materials list. You’ll be using 1x8 pine, and you can either have the hardware store cut your pieces to length or do it yourself. Before you select lumber, examine carefully to make sure it’s straight. You’ll also need a pocket square, measuring tape, pocket hole jig to assemble the lumber, pocket hole screws, a drill, 2” finishing nails, a hammer, and some wood filler.
Lay out your lumber according to your plan, then use your pocket square and measuring tape to mark each piece according to where it’s going to go. Use the pocket hole jig to pre-drill two holes each at the tops of sidepieces and on both sides of one back piece, long shelves or cubby pieces. Fasten pieces to each other by drilling pocket square screws into the pilot holes so that the holes sit on the bottom or inside of the piece. Start with the box itself, then add shelves and/or cubbies, and finish with the back piece at the bottom. Nail in the rest of the back pieces. If you prefer to leave the back open, you should still attach the pre-drilled piece at the back bottom for stability.
Now you’re free to paint, stain, or otherwise finish your piece! Add some trim to give it a little detail, or swap out lumber for reclaimed barn wood and leave it in a weathered, rustic state. It’s all about your taste and your imagination!