Debra and Dan Barrett love to flip houses. They’re passionate about getting into a new place and giving it new life and new direction. Debra, a real estate agent and a home stager, calls it an occupational hazard. They’ve made eight moves in the last ten years, and are always excited to see where they will end up next. When the couple moved into their current home in Fort Worth, TX, they decided to recycle the moving boxes and stay awhile. “Our M.O. has been to buy, renovate, then sell. We decided that this time we were going to stay for a while (our friends are taking bets), so we were looking for a home with plenty of space for us, Effie Mae (the dog), and visits from our grandboys. This one had the square footage, plenty of outdoor play space, and needed a ton of work. Perfect,” Debra shares.
Flooring was the first of many repairs that the Barretts made to the home. With broken parquet, aging carpets, and some dark grey tile, the home needed those repairs done before they could move into the rest of the space. “I fell in love with oil-finished, engineered wood by Bausen, but installation meant that we had to really think about how we would use the spaces and move all the walls to where they would be in our final plan. The wall between the tiny kitchen and what was then the family room had to make way for a new island. So down it came. WOW! What a difference,” Debra explains. Plumbing for the island came next, but with the new floors, a lot of jackhammering into the concrete had to be done, along with a lot of added expense. “Because of those unexpected costs, our plan was to leave the cabinets on the back wall and finish as budget allowed,” Debra says. “One day, while checking on progress, I realized that the floors would be new, everything in the family room would be new, the front part of kitchen would be new, and the back wall in the kitchen would look very bad in comparison.” After going back and forth with her contractor, Debra decided that bare is better. “I told the contractor, ‘just remove the cabinets, paint the back wall, and put in a free-standing range with a hood.’ As a temporary measure, I put in a steel, restaurant-kitchen work table next to the stove. Once we got one table in, we really liked it. So, we added another.” She added pull-out wire baskets to a vintage pine cabinet to use as a pantry. They used metal shelving from IKEA to hold dishes and plug-in sconces sourced from Etsy.
“Our kitchen is flexible — I can move the shelves and tables, add more shelves, put in a different pantry … I like options! Someday we may go the more traditional route and build in some cabinets, but for now we are loving our (mostly) unfitted kitchen,” Debra shares.
Next time you are looking for a new house or looking to remodel your current space, I hope this Before & After helps you to see those dated, 1980s kitchens in a totally new way. I personally live in a home built in 1890, with a small kitchen that has no drawers. I love the Barrett family’s idea to use a pine cabinet as a pantry and hope I can incorporate that idea into my own home soon. Enjoy! —Erin
Photography by Amber Shumake
Image above: “Full kitchen view including the vintage cabinet that became our pantry,” Debra shares.