Modern Ideas for a Kitchen Cut Out

It seems like every other house has a big hole in the kitchen wall. Intended to keep the cook from feeling isolated from the rest of the house, the opening--called a cutout or pass through--usually opens into a dining or family room. Unfortunately, kitchen cutouts often look dated, ruin the look of the adjoining room, and don’t complement today’s sleek kitchen remodels. Before you drywall over yours, consider some modern ideas for updating the look.

Shoji Screens
Use a pair of Japanese shoji screens. Install them on a sliding track so you can open either side at will, or close them completely when you want to hide the kitchen. Traditionally used as doors or room dividers, shoji screens have wooden frames covered with rice paper panels. Light passes through the rice paper, but it’s opaque enough for privacy.

Fretwork Panels
Install wooden fretwork panels. Fretwork--intricate, repeating, openwork patterns cut into wood or metal--isn’t limited to lacy Victorian styles. Choose a modern stock pattern, or use a scroll saw to cut your own design. For an exotic touch, create a pattern based on Asian or Moorish architecture. Or, take your inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright’s geometric designs. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation sells stencils of his most intriguing patterns.

Iron Gates or Fence Sections
Mount an iron gate in your kitchen pass-through. Gates work great because they open, should you actually want to pass food through to the dining room, but you might have trouble finding an old gate that fits. Adjust your kitchen cutout size if you find a stunning antique gate. Otherwise, commission a metal worker or art college student to build a custom gate for the space.

For a less costly alternative, hang an old cast iron fence section. Suspend it from chains if it’s not an exact fit.

Stained Glass
Hang a stained glass window in the opening. Suspend it from chains or hooks. Shop antique stores for a salvaged Art Deco or Art Nouveau piece, or have a local stained glass shop make one of your design.

Display Grid
Build a display grid inside your kitchen cut out. Use horizontal and vertical boards for cube-shaped openings, similar to those in modern open-back bookcases sometimes used as room dividers. Install LED puck lights in a few of the cubes, and you’ll have dramatic, double-sided display space for pottery or art glass.

For a more upscale version of this look, hire a woodworker to build a grid with custom openings sized for your art objects. Brooklyn-based Brave Space Design can customize their bamboo stagger shelf for your dimensions.


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