Historically, this type of pantry or scullery is a dedicated space in a large home used to store family silver, numerous sets of china, and large serving dishes like platters, tureens, and coffee urns. Butlers would even sleep in this room to protect the family heirlooms, keeping the cabinets under lock and key.
Open-plan living has created a challenge in the modern home, all the mess and dishes associated with cooking and entertaining is front and centre in the living area. Today’s butler’s pantries are located just off the kitchen or dining room and are used as staging areas for serving meals, and as a storage space. It is a transitional space between the kitchen and the dining area.
Although the butler’s pantries originally served as a secure storage space, today’s butler’s pantries have unlimited uses. You’ll commonly find countertops and cabinets for storing serving pieces, tableware, wine glasses, table linens, candles, and other items for the dining room. Luxurious upgrades here can include a dishwasher, small refrigerator, or sink.
Apart from additional storage space, homeowners’ shifting perceptions and priorities have created additional uses for a modern-day butler’s pantry. Here is a list of some exciting uses:
- A food prep space. If you love to entertain, a butler’s pantry can make prepping and staging large meals much easier and free up tons of counter space, so that you can keep cooking. Because the butler’s pantry is typically located between a home’s kitchen and its dining area, it’s the perfect place to store ready-to-eat dishes, plate food, or even store dirty dishes until the party is over.
- A tricked-out coffee bar. Between coffee beans, a coffee bean grinder, coffee maker or French press, and mugs, your daily cup of joe can take up a ton of counter space. Putting your coffee prep station in the butler’s pantry can clear your counters and keep all your gear organized.
- Extension of your kitchen: If you find yourself scrambling over kitchen space and fighting with family members for microwave or counter space, a butler’s pantry can create a small kitchenette, creating additional work and storage space for the extended family gatherings.
- A simple wine cellar. Few of us are lucky enough to have an entire wine cellar in our homes. Use a butler’s pantry to store your vino and glassware. By installing a small wine refrigerator to keep your wine at the perfect, cellar-like temperature, a butler’s pantry can easily double as a wet bar, allowing you to mix the perfect cocktail for your guests.
There are no rules for a butler’s pantry, only that it should work for your needs and your kitchen.
- Ample counter space and cabinets for storing glassware, dishes, platters, and special-use kitchen accessories
- Decorative trays, baskets, or containers to store your favourite snacks, cocktail mixers and accessories, coffee beans, or glassware
- Adequate lighting for food prep or access
- Decorative accents that bring you joy, whether it’s a bold wallpaper, bright paint colour, or interesting knickknack.
Building a Butler’s Pantry
Whether you’re starting from scratch or redoing an existing space, you can design your butler’s pantry however you wish. If you have a small enclave or closet near your kitchen, you’re in luck: By adding some cabinets and counters, you can turn this unused space into an awesome butler’s pantry.
If you don’t have an unused enclave or closet and need to build a space from scratch, unfortunately, building a butler’s pantry will require a lot more work. Be sure to check your area’s permitting and building requirements, and work with a registered and competent contractor to complete the job.
You can convert an extra closet near the dining room into a butler’s pantry. An architect and designer can help you design the space, which should include storage with adjustable shelves and open cabinets, counters, display cubbies, and hooks for cleaning supplies.
You can hide your butler’s pantry by constructing a false back wall in your kitchen or dining area. Or create a walk-in version by enlarging an existing food pantry. A small hallway between the kitchen and the dining room is also an ideal place to set up a butler’s pantry.
The main thing with a scullery or butler’s pantry is that it is meant to be hidden! That is the whole idea so that you can shut the door on the mess and dishes and hide it all away from plain sight. A butler’s pantry is meant to make your life easier and it is important to make it yours.
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