The pass-through, an opening in the wall for handing dishes in and out of the kitchen, was once a popular feature in homes. But it is rarely coveted now.
“If it’s one of those hole-in-the-wall pass-throughs, it automatically looks dated,” says Barbara Kaufmann, an architect and real estate sales representative at Coldwell Banker Bellmarc in Manhattan. “And the smaller the pass-through, the more dated it looks.”
The best solution, she says, is to expand the hole as much as possible by cutting away the wall.
“The taller you can make the opening, the better,” Kaufman says. “If you can take it all the way up to the ceiling, that’s best, because then the two spaces will feel like one big room.”
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She recommends bringing the bottom of the opening down to the height of the kitchen counters. Compared with the potential return on investment, she says, “it’s not actually that expensive to do, so it’s definitely worth it.”
Rebekah Zaveloff, director of design at the Chicago firm KitchenLab, offers the same advice. Make the opening as big as you can, “so it won’t feel as much like a drive-through window,” she says. “It’s pretty involved, obviously, and requires a contractor. But open it up as much as possible, top to bottom and side to side.”
If it’s structurally feasible, Zaveloff recommends removing the top part of the wall entirely.
If you’re not willing to take on the inconvenience or the expense of such a big project, there are smaller things you can do to improve the look, she says.
First, add a stone countertop with a deep overhang. “I would try to get at least 12 inches,” Zaveloff says, “which is enough to pull a stool up to.” Then consider using a decorative treatment like wallpaper, tile or antique mirrors around the opening.
“Most times, pass-throughs are open to dining spaces, so these kinds of finishes are appropriate,” she says. “You can create a feature wall out of a liability.”