Should it stay or go?

louislinusApril 15, 2014

Hi all - We just settled with the sellers of our new house and will be moving in 2 months! I am going to apologize in advance because you will be hearing a lot from me. The house is a 1942 colonial revival. My question today is with regards to the little built in in the dining room. We don't have the money right now, and won't have it for several years at least, to redo the much needed kitchen upgrade. However, the kitchen is very solid and has high quality albeit old cabinetry but I can live with it. We are planning a pass through from the kitchen to the dining room to open them up to each other. The pass through will also serve as a breakfast bar with stools on the kitchen side.

As you can see in the attached picture there is this little built in in the dining room. It is on the same wall as the pass through. I could try to move it to the other corner, leave it, or remove it entirely. If I leave it or move should I get rid of the scalloping? I am torn. It is kind of cute but then it's also kind of cute and not exactly what I have planned for the casual elegance dining room. Also this is the photo from the listing. The room will be painted, a new light fixture and drapes will be added. Don't let the peach paint get in the way.

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Front of the house. (Is there a way to upload more than one pic per post?)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 12:08PM
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Kitchen wall where pass through will be.

Eventually we will paint the cabinets and replace countertops.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 12:10PM
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I would leave it, or move it if it does not seem to work on the same wall as the pass through. Don't remove it all together and don't remove the scalloping, it's part of the style.

Also keep in mind that it may not be an actual full-fledged hutch, it may have been stick built into the corner and not have much structural integrity on it's own, so it may actually come apart if you move it.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 12:16PM
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Keep!! It's part of the original charm of the house and worth preserving. And I don't think it will look out of place with your design ideas. It's a pretty casual cabniet.

But, as someone who will also be closing on a house soon (and is designing everything ahead of time!), make sure that the pass-through wall is not load bearing.

Congratulations on your new home!!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 12:22PM
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If I were planning renovations, I would either open up the wall between the two rooms completely or would leave it as it is (removing or leaving the built-in depending on your taste). I guess it depends on the execution of the pass through, but the kind I'm picturing in my mind fell out of favor years ago.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 12:23PM
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O.K. -- the answer to the question of removing the corner cabinet really depends on if you would actually use it OR just go ahead and remove it when you are re-doing the walls and adding the pass-through and breakfast bar ....

You MAY need the wall space to add shelving for storage or display -- and the cute country-style corner cabinet may take up valuable real estate .... really depends on your style and on your storage issues ....for example (JUST an example) perhaps consider adding shelving around the window on that end wall ..... again ... just a thought ....

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 12:23PM
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I'm a sucker for corner cabinets in dining rooms.
You could also paint it or at least the back in an unexpected color.

Traditional Dining Room by Marblehead Interior Designers & Decorators Molly Frey Design

Eclectic Dining Room by Brooklyn Photographers Rikki Snyder

Beach Style Dining Room by Providence Interior Designers & Decorators Kate Jackson Design

Here is a link that might be useful: corner cabinets

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 12:27PM
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Eventually we will remove the wall but removing the wall then requires we change flooring and is a much larger project than we can afford. The pass through is sort of a stop gap measure that will help me live with the outdated kitchen longer.

Okay the built in can stay. :) And I think you're right that it was stick built in place.

This is an example of the passthrough I'm talking about.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 12:44PM
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I love the corner cabinet!!! ItâÂÂs a shame the wall has to come down as that little table in the kitchen brings overwhelming fond memories of years gone by when women would sit and have a coffee or spirit together or men a beer. Lots of sharing of secrets, gossip and future plans went on in such places. Growing up nearly everyone I knew had such a spot in the kitchen, except grandma, hers was a big table right in the middle that doubled as a bake table.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 1:56PM
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I love a kitchen table too but I think the kitchen is too small for a table to fit all 3 of my kids. We'll have dinner in the dining room most times but I'd rather do breakfast and lunch in the kitchen. Do you think a table for 5 would work in this kitchen? That would really be my ideal but I can't envision how it would fit without blocking up the whole space.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 2:15PM
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You know maybe I could do a long skinny table coming out from the wall. 2 chairs on each side and one on the end. That would actually be perfect. Any ideas on a skinny table? And low profile chairs? Oh! Maybe benches and a chair at the end?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 2:17PM
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Love the idea of a pass-through with backless saddle-seat stools that could push right up and hide under the breakfast bar .... plus that change would open up the high-traffic areas in the kitchen ... and you could add thin lower cabinets (using upper kitchen cabinets or a unit from Ikea) under the window on the kitchen side ....

Then consider an extending table -- allows for length and seating options -- with a long benches on each side and a Windsor-style chair at each end .... a true gathering place ...

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 2:24PM
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I don't think the pass through fits the house, and so to me it is a waste of funds. I'd leave all of it as is until you can do what you want.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 2:58PM
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I say live in the house for 3-6 months at least before you do anything to see how your family "lives" in it. But if it were me, I agree with Mtn....I would wait until I could afford a full-on kitchen remodel when a KD can advise you on how to make the most of the space and you could end up with a very different configuration for everything.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 3:07PM
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I'm glad you're keeping the corner cabinet, but I agree with Mtn., the pass-through really doesn't work with the house.

Now, I want to see the room in the back of the house with all the windows! Sun room?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 3:11PM
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Why doesn't it work?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 3:23PM
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Your new home is rather stately in style and the corner cabinet is rather cottagey in style.

I would remove it, and either sell it or relocate it to a child's bedroom where it might be more appropriate in scale.

Besides those cabinets never have much space to hold anything.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 3:28PM
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A very lovely house. If the scallops really won't fit your design aesthetic, I see nothing wrong with removing them and replacing with another trim edge. I would probably do that myself. But keep them in the garage or someplace so the next owner can restore them!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 3:29PM
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I would leave it. And I would leave the trim work alone. I would feel free to paint it any color, including a color that blends with the wall. But I love old houses and I try to keep the original fixtures if possible.

If you really hate it though or it is a serious functional problem, well, then take it out. It is your house and you are the one that has to live there. I have taken original stuff out when it was unsafe or a big functional problem.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 3:34PM
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Oh I should be more specific - why doesn't the pass through fit the style of the house?

And thank you for all of your great suggestions and opinions! Really appreciate it. :)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 3:53PM
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Here's a pin board with lots of inspiration photos ....

Here is a link that might be useful: Pinterest -- pin board of dining room passthrough

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 4:16PM
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I would take the cabinet out. I agree that the cabinet's scalloped trim looks more cottage than colonial.

I feel that a pass-through is kind of hokey, but if you're just thinking about function for the time being, go ahead and knock a hole in the wall.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 4:20PM
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What if you did a half wall with bar? Take the wall out all the way up to the ceiling but leave the bottom part. That way, you get the feel of an open kitchen with a bar separation.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 4:35PM
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Oh the half wall is a great idea! And probably not much more work than a pass through. dang you guys are good.

One day, in 5 years, we will totally remodel the kitchen/dining area but not feasible for a long time and I need it to work now for our family with 3 little kids. I think to wait and not do anything for a long time would super annoy me. lol

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 4:39PM
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Keep the corner cabinet and strip the paint off. A nice wood is hiding behind the paint and wood will fit with casual elegance.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 8:57PM
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I'd be kind of surprised if the built in was stained originally. I'm no expert, but with a 1940s colonial revival I would guess all the trim and other original woodwork was painted from the beginning. (A 1910 bungalow would be a whole different story). So it might not be wood that looks good stained rather than painted.

I would suggest at least considering leaving the wall up for a while. We always thought we preferred open layouts. Then we moved into this 1926 ?French revival with a dining room and living room that are open to each other, but a closed off kitchen. And very unexpectedly I like it. Really like it. Flat out refuse to consider changing it. I have two kids (4 and 10 year olds). And I still really prefer the closed off kitchen. I also feel like it is true to the house to keep that footprint.

But again, it's your house and you have to live there, not me, so definitely do what works for you.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 12:55AM
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Congratulations on your new home! I hope there are some pretty spring bulbs making their way through the snow by now. :-)

I could take or leave the corner cabinet. If there was another one at the other corner, I would appreciate the symmetry. If you decide to keep, there are many ways to update them by painting/papering interiors to complement your style.

Regarding pass-thru, I'm not a fan. I don't understand the appeal of sitting up on a bar stool with 2-3 ft of counter depth when you have a dining room table and comfortable chairs a few feet away on which you can spread out your morning newspaper and coffee, or relax with your family in the evening. Pass-thru counters always seem so elbow-to-elbow, or abbreviated in depth.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 1:27AM
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Crl - What do you like about your closed off kitchen?

I can see the benefit of living in it for a while. Right now we live in an 1860's Greek Revival and the kitchen is open to the famy room (early 1990's addition) but closed to the dining room. When we have people over they always hang out in the kitchen and it makes me crazy that there is nowhere to sit in the kitchen. Our new living room is quite large - maybe I can put a bar in there that would entice guests to to the living room. :)

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 5:25AM
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"When we have people over they always hang out in the kitchen and it makes me crazy that there is nowhere to sit in the kitchen."

people all over the world stand in kitchens when visiting. Having seating in there would only make it more crowded. And they'll still come into a kitchen separated by a half wall.

I totally agree with crl - do nothing for awhile. However, I've been in plenty of 1940's era houses with stained corner cabinets. Might be a regional thing.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 5:50AM
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Bottom line what is YOUR vision for your home, formal or casual? The architecture from the outside gives a formal impression but from the pictures the inside was finished in a very casual feel. The corner cabinet as is, matches the kitchen. We bought a home where a pass through/stool seating existed. There were four stools--two on each side but only one side had a hangover so the seating was only comfortable on that side. We extended the counter top so all four stools now have leg room. I think in many ways the entire thing is STUPID. I have little cupboard/counter space. I want to think when first built circa 1970's there was a bank of cupboards here. With floor to ceiling storage I would be set, but alas that will never be. The INFORMAL dining room is attached by this pass through/seating area. As stated above WHY two eating areas right on top of each other!?!? Due to "resale" and the desire of many to have "eat in kitchens" we have enhanced it vs removing it, add to that the fact that one wants all the cabinetry to match and money for all new cabinets will never be in the budget.
I do not see the point of doing this twice or half way. Wait until you have the money, make it one large space kitchen/dining open concept, it appears both rooms could use the extra elbow room one large space would provide, if you are willing to have a space that doesn't exactly "match" the style of your home.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 6:07AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I'm with the "live with it and do it right once" crowd. If it were me, that corner cab would go. It's not my style at all, especially the scallops. Most likely it is stick built so there's no real cabinet there, but shelves and cleats with front facade. And as was said earlier, they provide little actual storage...

But if you like it and think you may find it useful, then don't. It's truly a matter of taste.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 7:15AM
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i think the 1/2 wall idea is much better than the pass thru idea! the kitchen doesn't look large enough to fit a much larger table in it to me... if it were me, i would love to be able to have the kids sit and eat in the kitchen...and, my kids loved sitting on barstools at the counter! ~5 yrs is a very long time, esp with young kids, to live uncomfortably!!

if it was my house, i would remove the corner cabinet from the dining room-- it is small, so will provide very little storage and i agree that it looks too cutesy/cottagey--- not the look i prefer... but, i am so not a discarder, that i would try to find a place for it if it could stand on it's own... a bedroom or upstairs hallway, etc... even the basement (finished?).
if i could not remove it because of flooring issues (like no or damaged hardwood under it) until i remodeled, i would not leave it white (maybe same color as walls?) and would get rid of the scallops if i could.
i definitely wouldn't feel compelled to keep something just because it was original to the house--- doesn't mean it was tasteful/appropriate/a good style for the house at that time either! decorating mistakes aren't anything new!! :)

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 9:06AM
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I do not like people in the kitchen with me when. I am working. Our kitchen is small and has no seating. So people don't hang out in there with me! Yay. Really they don't. They wander in, look around, realize there's no place to sit or even lean, and take themselves back out into the dining room. And I can bring the tea or whatever out and sit with them.

Even better I can close the kitchen door (yes, there is an actual solid wood swinging door) and sit down to eat my dinner and not see my dirty dishes and not hear the vent fan running. It makes my meal so much more pleasant.

As far as eating, we all eat all meals at our dining room table. The makes me happy because the dining room table gets used and not wasted. It's one of my favorite pieces of furniture and I like the dining room. It's a pretty room and it opens to the living room so the whole space is so much bigger and nicer than any eat in kitchen would be. So again, I'm so much happier sitting down to eat there.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 9:51AM
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I'm with crl on this. I like a separate kitchen. The mess from cooking can be dealt with after the meal rather than having it there for all to see during the meal. The noise of running water and clanging dishes is retrained, and yes, the ability to cook in peace and w/o others underfoot is great.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 9:58AM
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