Custom cabinets, countertops, and trim were beyond the couple's budget—until Nancy had a great idea. "'You've done all kinds of woodworking,'" Gregg recalls her saying. "'Why don't you build them yourself?'" Next thing he knew he was hearing about her desire for a coffee station and sink within arm's reach of the breakfast table. The couple found black walnut planks for $400 to make into countertops and sleuthed out marked-down appliances and finishes, then splurged on a pot filler over the range.
Shown: Hutch-inspired built-ins, topped with dentil and crown molding, and chandeliers with home-center shades give the eating area a finished look. The coffee station fends off spills with a tile backsplash and a black-walnut countertop with 10 coats of varnish.