Over the summer my brother turned the island in his kitchen into a karaoke stage for my niece’s birthday party. Unfortunately I missed the bash, but I saw the photos and it looked EPIC – complete with strobe-lights and nine-year-old rock stars. What a fantastic use for the kitchen counter. Ms. Hannah will remember that evening forever. That’s what kitchens were made for. They’re the heart of the home and the place where we connect with our family and friends.
Some of the most lasting memories from my own life were made congregated around a kitchen counter. When we started our house-hunt last winter, I was searching for a kitchen that would be the perfect place to make our home. Unfortunately, a great kitchen was one of many must-haves on our first-time-home-buyer’s list. It quickly became clear that the houses that were in our budget didn’t have great kitchens. Thankfully, realtor Tracey Henkels was masterful at helping us see the potential in the spaces we could afford.
When we first looked at the house that would become our home, I loved (L-O-V-E-D) the layout. The place just felt like us. The kitchen, on the other hand, was dated, tiny and closed off from the rest of the house. Tracey immediately suggested that we could remove the wall that blocked the kitchen from the rest of the upstairs living area to achieve the open concept that I wanted. I could see the vision, but resigned myself to living with a cramped, isolated kitchen for a few years while we saved money for a complete remodel.
But then, once again, HGTV inspired me. A couple of weeks ago I saw The Property Brothers do a pass-through from a kitchen into a dining room in a remodel they were doing. That started me thinking that we could do something similar for virtually no money (just the cost of the trim/molding). I started pitching the idea to Brent and he convinced me that we could still get some additional counter space if we did the pass through and added a cheap IKEA wooden counter top for the base. The virtually nothing budget was suffering scope creep and we hadn’t even started. I proposed that we check out one of Portland’s many re-use stores and see if we could find a less-expensive and better quality alternative.
At the Habitat for Humanity re-use store we scored. We stumbled upon a hard-wood coffee table (someone had already removed the legs) in great shape finished in a stain that already matched our cabinets. For $25 we had our counter top and within hours there was a hole in our wall. We did the entire project for about $150 and we would have come in under $100 if we hadn’t needed some tools we didn’t have already (jig-saw, big drill bit, etc). Most of our non-tool expense was electrical wire/supplies because we had to move two light switches and an outlet.
My husband is a super-star. He hung tough through several frustrating do-it-yourself-debacles and we ended up with an awesome pass-through that has revolutionized our living area. Our new open-concept space is exactly what I wanted and is going to be the perfect stage for a fall and holiday season full of indoor dinner parties.
Hannah Jensen you have a standing invitation to karaoke on my new counter any time you want!
So, I hope this post leaves you inspired…
- You’d be surprised what you can accomplish with some elbow grease and some gumption.
- A tight budget opens doors to creativity. Don’t be scared of limited funds.
- Look at your kitchen and think about how you can use your space to build memories with your loved ones.
I’d love to hear your great kitchen memory and/or remodel stories. Leave your comments here, or stop by for a glass of wine and check out the pass-through for yourself.