Kitchen Tour

This Designer Thrifted a 1960s Bar for Her Tiny Kitchen’s Island, and It’s an Ingenious Storage Solution

published Jun 26, 2023
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woman posing in her kitchen with wood cabinets, vase of sunflowers

When Julie Finn set out to design her 320-square-foot Bed-Stuy rental apartment, she had to think outside the box when it came to maximizing space — especially when it came to her kitchen. 

For the graphic designer and illustrator, living in a studio apartment means everything typically has to be a little bit smaller. Fortunately Finn has a reasonable surface area for cooking, but we all know there’s no such thing as too much counter space. When looking for how to max out her prep area, she didn’t turn to traditional islands like portable prep stations, or rolling kitchen carts. Instead, she went vintage shopping

A thrifting adventure led to finding a kitchen island gem. 

It turned out that an unconventional retro find — a 1960s modern bar — turned out to best fit Finn’s space, which she describes as bohemian, cottage-like, and vintage. “My mom and I stumbled upon the bar while antiquing in New Jersey,” Finn said. “It was buried under several layers of dust and stacks of magazines, with the seam between the frame and bottom foot ledge beginning to separate.”

Luckily, Finn could see the beauty in that grimy piece of furniture — and now, it perfectly complements her space. Plus, it’s as functional as it is stunning: It serves as an added cooking space, has interior shelves for storage, and is a cozy spot for friends and family to gather and eat (Finn even placed two yellow-colored bar stools against the new island). 

Shopping secondhand not only leads to incredible finds like Finn’s beloved ‘60s bar-turned-island — check out these must-buy items the next time you go thrifting — but it’s also a great way to reduce waste and give older pieces new life. Plus, it’s hard to beat the character a little well-loved furniture can add to your space. 

When it comes to building a room that’s eclectic, cozy, and functional, Finn’s a pro. She’s lived in New York City for around 10 years and has found endless ways to make her one-bedroom apartment feel so much larger. To see more of her home, visit the full house tour on Apartment Therapy