Why Your New Kitchen Needs a Butler’s Pantry
But First…What is a Butler’s Pantry?
A butler’s pantry is an ancillary space adjoining the kitchen and sometimes dining room.
The name hints at who used these rooms the most. Back when household staff ran the home maintenance show, the butler’s pantry was a storage and activity space for the head of house.
The butler might store valuables such as silver or flatware, table linens, or even alcohol away from company. But the central location would still keep everything accessible to the hosting and dining rooms. Scullery closet is another term for a space of this size and location.
Though our clients today may not have butlers, they request these spaces in their custom home builds for all the same reasons. They appreciate these spaces when hosting company and in keeping some of the chaos of running a household out of the kitchen.
Winning the Grocery Storage Wars
The best defense against counter clutter is a good butler’s pantry. Butler pantries are spaces naturally suited to housing not-in-use appliances. Appliances can be stored in cabinets or used in the space itself.
Instead of keeping a toaster on the counter in the main kitchen area, store it in the butler’s pantry to free up preparation space. Incorporating extra outlets in a butler’s pantry means fewer on the main backsplash.
Kitchens need butler pantries the more open concept they are in design. If the kitchen is going to be an extension of the living space, then storage, staging, and preparation areas have to be close, but just out of sight.
The need for efficient cooking spaces is greater than ever. Since quarantine, people are cooking more and needing to store more groceries. A kitchen with a butler’s pantry is also perfect for storing the hobby appliances you bought during quarantine that aren’t necessary for day-to-day kitchen life.
You don’t need to use prime kitchen real estate to store weekend-use only items like dough kneaders, air fryers, pressure cookers, or juicers.
Minimal Kitchen Approach
The butler’s pantry can host a couple of appliances or it can house all of them. When our clients mention appreciating zen or hygge design styles, we bring up kitchens with a butler’s pantry. These spaces are a perfect way to corral the high-tech gadgets into a special occasion space.
Our clients appreciate choosing which appliances they feel are essential to their daily routines. Dishwashers can be built into the butler’s pantry to keep the kitchen a less frantic space. Maybe the stove lives in the kitchen, but the microwave lives in the butler’s pantry.
Keeping appliances out of the main kitchen area can clean up visual as well as mental clutter. Out of sight and mind.
Butler’s Pantry as Display Area
A kitchen with a butler’s pantry also lends itself naturally as a display area. To really amp up curb appeal, use taller wainscoting or crown molding to frame the space. Glass-front cabinets and recessed lighting can elevate the look.
Coffee enthusiasts can put their espresso machine in a butler’s pantry and suddenly have a custom, dedicated coffee nook. A hobbyist baker might appreciate having a space for displaying awards and storing their commercial mixers. Or these spaces can be used like they were by the scullery maid, as storage for fine china or silverware.
We let the client decide if their valuables will also require a butler sleeping nearby for security or if the family dog will suffice.
Bar Cart 2.0
A butler’s pantry is a perfect alcohol preparation area if you aren’t looking to go full Tiki bar just yet. Cabinets can be fitted with a wine fridge, beer cooler, or humidor while extra-large cabinets can house pressurized tanks and countertops. Countertops can have wells for drink preparation, sinks, and access points.
Where bar carts take up potential gathering space, the butler’s pantry comes with its own privacy nook.
Butler’s Serving Area
Even if they’re not serving alcohol, butler pantries are the perfect additional serving space when our clients are hosting. Caterers love these spaces in a client’s home. It’s no wonder since that’s exactly what they were designed for.
A butler’s pantry gives caterers space away from the hosting and dining space to prepare, stage, and/or clean dishes. Even without a sink, the counter space is worth its weight in gold.
Extra serving items like tablecloths, candles, centerpieces are especially nice to keep close to the dining room in a butler’s pantry. Platters and serving dishes are a close second. These items might seem inconsequential, but if they end up in the basement for storage, they’re not likely to be used very often.
Supporting Adjoining Spaces
During the planning stage, we keep an eye out for hallway space that can host a butler’s pantry. Our clients love incorporating these spaces into their plans once they understand how they fit. When we choose the location, we consider how the new space could support the nearby rooms.
A butler’s pantry abutting the garage can be fitted with a grocery door. Especially prized by our clients of limited mobility, these doors provide easy transfer of groceries from the car to the pantry.
One that is dining room adjacent might be better suited as a dishware display space. If the space features an egress, consider making it part mudroom with a deeper sink and a coat closet.
Sink Into It
Sinks are almost always featured in a kitchen-adjacent butler’s pantry. At the base level, they don’t need to be double-welled or large enough for dishes. Generally speaking, an area to wash hands and rinse glasses is enough.
Faucets with sensors or single-touch water flow are especially popular. However, heavier duty sinks with dishwashing areas are more accommodating for hosts and caterers who want to keep the dirty dishes out of the hosting areas.
To keep the butler’s pantry feeling updated and on-trend, don’t make it too matchy-matchy with the kitchen. The butler’s pantry should feel like a permutation of the kitchen.
Mix finishes on the appliances and hardware. If the countertops will be the same as the kitchen, try a different backsplash. If the cabinet colors will match, try different wainscotting and hardware. If the kitchen is mostly closed cabinetry, try some open concept cabinets.
If a client is really getting stuck on making decisions in the kitchen, the butler’s pantry can be an opportunity to have the best of both worlds.
Put the first choice for cabinetry in the kitchen and the second choice in the butler’s pantry. Or if a first choice is too expensive to install in the whole kitchen, let it shine in the butler’s pantry.
Keep it Light
The butler’s pantry is a perfect space for some statement lighting. Pantries behind closed doors should have under-cabinet lighting and can benefit from a statement, hanging light fixture.
More open-concept pantries will take their lighting cues from ambient overhead light or can incorporate skylights.
Our clients thinking ahead to the resale value of their home can be especially interested in these custom spaces. You’ve heard it said that bathrooms and kitchens sell homes.
Consider your butler’s pantry to be your kitchen’s secret weapon. Plus, these kinds of spaces help our clients really picture themselves in the home. They picture their wine collection in the wine display or their wedding china behind the glass.
Custom spaces off the kitchen, like the butler’s pantry, help our clients or potential buyers really see themselves in the space.
For all these reasons and more, we’re predicting plenty more butler pantries in our custom home builds! Questions? Give us a call.
“ I can’t say enough good things about what a great experience this has been…”