Drab to Shabby Fab

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Mike and Dinah Reeder's refabbed hutch was featured on the July Woodcraft catalog cover

Doing something you love for a worthy cause is good for the soul. Just ask Dinah and Mike Reeder of Vienna, West Virginia. This creative couple already supports the Mid-Ohio Valley Habitat for Humanity by donating household goods and shopping at the local ReStore. But when they saw flyers calling for entries into the “ReStore Re-Design Contest,” they jumped in with all four feet.

The contest objective was to transform a piece of furniture from the ReStore and donate it to raise money for the local chapter. Entries were voted on with cash and coins by the public while on display at the store, and ranged from an umbrella light to a robot on wheels. 

Dinah and Mike’s china cabinet entry, which is featured on the July Woodcraft catalog cover, was given a “shabby fab” new life with some elbow grease and a few coats of paint. While looking for an item in the ReStore to redo for the contest, the couple wrote in their contest narrative, “We walked in and saw red. Literally. It was a big RED china cabinet.”

They took it home and went to work. First, they gave the hutch a good cleaning. Then it was sanded down in an attempt to remove most of the bright red paint. After painting the piece in General Finishes Milk Paint in Driftwood, they “shabbied it up” and glazed it with General Finishes Glaze Effects in Winter White for a rustic, farmhouse look. 

Drab to Shabby Fab

Big Red Hutch
Sanding down the old red paint

Getting ready to "shabby it up"

The glass in the center door was secured with additional wood pieces, which were painted and glazed to match the rest of the china cabinet. The wire mesh on the side panels was heavily dry-brushed in Behr Marquee Cameo White paint and a new light bulb was installed in the upper cabinet. The dated, gold hardware was replaced with white rose-shaped knobs. The back panel was made reversible with one side painted Cameo White and the other side covered with a rose floral background, which Dinah achieved by using heavy cardstock copies of one of her favorite vintage wallpapers layered in a decoupage technique. 

This hutch is now a real showpiece ready for a new home. “Much like Beauty and the Beast, it went through a transformation inside and out,” Dinah said. It is a really versatile piece that can be used for many things. She suggests:

  • Display family photographs and heirlooms
  •  Showcase vintage quilts
  • Display a doll collection
  • Use as storage with pretty baskets for toiletries and store towels in the base cabinet
  • Use as a wine/liquor cabinet
  • Turn it into a pretty library to hold books
  • Use in a retail boutique to showcase small accessories like purses, jewelry or scarves
  • Store shoes in it ala Carrie Bradshaw/“Sex in the City” style 

Woodcraft Blogger Lori Harper interviewing Mike & Dinah

“Junkin’ is in my blood,” Dinah told me during a recent interview. “I get it from my mom Marty and her mom Mary. They taught me from an early age how to refinish, recreate and revamp.” Married for 41 years, she and her husband both enjoy the process of finding old relics and giving them new purpose. Mike, a retired Army veteran, repairs and stabilizes their projects, while Dinah is the painter and decorator. She calls her style “shabby farmhouse” though she lets each piece dictate the finished look.

Currently living in their third home since they were married, the Reeders’ last move took them from a four-level home with a basement and double garage to a much smaller home with a single stall garage. “We had yard sales and donated the rest to the ReStore to try to downsize,” Dinah said, “but we still keep accumulating projects,” which is evidenced by a garage full of dusty dressers, ornate table legs and wooden chairs awaiting repair. 

The Reeders’ granddaughters, Caroline (3) and Lily (2), call Dinah “Lolli” and Mike “Pops,” so this old “lolli pop” crate is perfect for their outdoor space.

Mike often finds castoffs on curbs, estate sales and yard sales, which he prefers to auctions. “Auctions take all day, and you may only want one thing,” he said. “It’s amazing some of the stuff people throw away that still has life in it. Sometimes I can’t stop,” he chuckled. When they purchased a RAV4 SUV, a good bit roomier than their previous car, Mike mused, “It helped us and it hurt us.” Having booth space in a local shop, The Rustic House, for the last three years has given them some room to display and sell their latest refabs. They also maintain a Facebook page, The Tin Man’s Wife-No Place Like Home, to showcase their latest projects. 

The “ReStore ReDesign Contest,” sponsored in part by Woodcraft, and the Destination Design auction—Habitat’s primary fundraiser each year—raised more than $30,000 for the local chapter, whose primary mission is to provide people with a “simple, decent, affordable place to live.”

“It’s always exciting to use our creativity to transform a piece of furniture,” the couple wrote in their entry narrative. “But even more so, when we know this time it will help to build a home for a family in our community.” The Habitat for Humanity of the Mid-Ohio Valley is currently building its 100th house.

To read more about the “ReStore Re-Design Contest” and to see all of the entries, check out the blog “Repurposing For A Purpose.”

We hope you'll be inspired!

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