Kitchen pass through with curved countertop.

7 Simple Ways to Update a Kitchen Pass Through

Update your kitchen pass through with these 7 simple ways. I’ve rounded up my best suggestions for making that awkward looking cutout look like it ought to be featured in a magazine.

Kitchen pass throughs can look dated, but more often than not it’s the styling – or lack thereof – that gives that impression.

I have compiled a list of 7 best ways to update your pass through. Some are simple style updates while others are real showstoppers.

Now, let’s get to the list.

Trim Out Your Kitchen Pass Through with Trim

The simplest way to update a kitchen pass through is with good ‘ole trim molding.

You can go the traditional route and treat your pass through as though it were a window. This means you have a variety of trim molding to choose from. And that doesn’t include the new possibilities when you combine moldings to make something large and more intricate.

If you want to go all out, make your kitchen pass through a design feature of an accent wall.

There are tons of options for you to consider, including:

  • Picture frame molding
  • Panel molding
  • Board and batten

You’ll have to plan out the layout to make sure everything looks cohesive, but that’s not as difficult as it sounds. I’ve got a blog post on that here.

Add Legs to Countertops

Most pass throughs that I’ve seen have countertops that float. They sit along the depth of the wall and usually, that’s enough support to keep the countertop upright.

But at times this is one of the reasons pass throughs can look odd on large walls. It’s akin to a window, but it’s impractical to style it like a window. That is, drapes would look odd and you can’t place furniture in front of it.

However, what if you added legs or wall space below countertops?

You can see in the image above, the countertop of the pass through rests atop what looks to be a couple of 4” x 4”s. This design element encloses the sitting space and makes the pass through look intentional.

In doing so, your pass through will look more like a piece of furniture against a wall and less like a floating cutout.

Granted, if you’re working with small spaces, this tactic will make the room appear smaller. Just something to keep in mind.

And my final tip here: Add some interest to the boxed foot area with trim or planking!

Add Interest with Unusual Cutouts

Kitchen pass throughs don’t have to be squared.

They can be arched. 

Or they can be a Mughal arch. They can be a draped arch.

Shouldered arch, ogee arch, reverse ogee arch…

So many types of arches.

The one above is an example of a draped arch. As you can see, a bit of trim work brought out the silhouette. And nobody in their right mind would call that pass through outdated.

Use Glass

Glass paneling around a large kitchen pass through can add interest to your space.

It can add traditional charm to your home if that’s your style, but there are other ways to modernize it too.

Also, if you happen to have a tall wall cutout as your kitchen pass through, you might want to consider installing a transom window.

A transom is a horizontal window usually found above doors, but you can also find them above larger windows and pass throughs too. A transom window on a pass through will create the illusion that the cutout is stouter, but it will allow the amount of light shared between rooms to remain the same.

For an extra modern touch, consider a black transom window frame.

Don’t Box Yourself in with Countertops

When we do something over and over again, we tend to subconsciously assume that it has to be done this way. And that’s just not true.

Truthfully, your kitchen pass through doesn’t need to have a squared countertop. Consider interesting curves, which can be particularly useful in spaces with limited walking room.

Also, you can look into simple or intricate edge profiles for both wood and stone countertops. This will add a touch of subtle style to your pass through.

Update a Kitchen Pass Through with a Luxurious Material

Marble Pass Through in Ellen Pompeo's Malibu Home

You don’t have to trim out your pass through the traditional sense. You can go with a different material or texture to make a big impact.

Take for instance a marble accent wall.

I love this example from inside Ellen Pompeo’s Malibu home. The marble is the star of the show here, which draws attention away from a potentially odd or boring pass through.

If you don’t have a million-dollar budget for your kitchen pass through update, you can alternatively trim out the cutout with marble trim that matches the countertop. For some major impact, consider going with a wide trim so that it can show off the marble.

Flank the Pass Through

This option is unconventional and won’t be for everyone. But, if you’re working with enough space then this might be something to consider.

I like the idea of flanking a pass through with bookcases or cabinets as it makes the pass through look more intentional. This option eliminates the “floating cutout” look that simple pass throughs have.

If you want something similar but prefer to use the shelves as storage, you can add doors to your bookcases. Then you can use the built-ins for functional purposes.

Final words

As you can see, kitchen pass throughs are NOT inherently DATED. If yours looks that way, it’s probably not the pass through itself but rather the styling. Hopefully, some of my suggestions above have given you some idea on how to make your look incredible.

If you’ve found any of this helpful, you can check out the blog to find more inspiring decorating advice.

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