What is a Butler’s Pantry?
Historically, a butler’s pantry was a specified or dedicated space for a home’s butler to store, count, and polish more valuable dining items, like heirlooms, silver, China, serving platter, and other dining and entertaining accessories.
Today, a butler’s pantry is a space between the kitchen and dining room often used for storage, food prep, or even as a staging space. They differ in use today compared to “back in the day” as they are used as food staging spaces, final prep spaces, coffee bars, wine cellars or bars, and even additional storage and countertop space.
After walking around our office for a bit, I stopped to put a couple of our designers on the spot and asked them to simply describe a modern butler’s pantry in their own words; here are just a couple of the responses I got:
- “Somewhere that you can prepare/cleanup food, make coffee without having to completely dirty the kitchen, and a place for cleaning dishes, either a sink or even dishwasher if preferred. This is a place to store appliances you don’t want to be displayed on the kitchen countertops, and somewhere to heat up food. Today though, it really depends on your own opinion on what to include!” – Katie Kramer
- “It’s very similar to a pantry but focused more on prepping and storage, whereas a pantry is specifically for storage. It’s somewhere people can do small prep work for a meal and also somewhere they can set up meals before serving. Typically people will store serving dishes, plates, anything they’d need to able to serve/host guests.” – Kelsey Crisp
Waitstaff or not, a butler’s pantry can be quite a useful addition in today’s modern home. Let’s dive in and discuss modern uses and butler pantry must-haves!
Modern Uses for a Butler’s Pantry
Thanks to shifting trends and priorities, today’s butler’s pantries are being designed and used for a multitude of different reasons, not just extra storage space – though that is still a great perk, as always. Here are some modern-day uses of a butler’s pantry.
- Extra storage space/countertop space. Who doesn’t need extra kitchen storage space?! This is great for those large serving dishes/platters, dishware, and glassware you pull out for hosting and around the holidays. It’s also a place to store the 48 coffee mugs that were all must-haves. Another thing it is perfect for is decluttering your kitchen countertops. This is the perfect spot for the extra cookware, the microwave, toaster, or large KitchenAid that fills your countertops.
- Food prep space. Entertainers, a butler’s pantry is your dream come true! This space would be perfect to help make prepping and staging large meals easier – and free up tons of countertop space, so you can keep cooking, or start baking desserts! Since this space is usually between the kitchen and dining room, it makes serving much easier. If you have a sink or dishwasher it makes cleanup much easier too, as you can hide dirty dishes here instead of cluttering up the kitchen sink while guests are still over!
- Snack storage. Your everyday spices and meal ingredients already have their spots out in your kitchen cabinets and shelves. So, where do those random snacks go? Including shelving and drawers in your butler’s pantry Is a great idea. You can create the ultimate Pinterest board of butler’s pantry snack organization! This is where you put the kid’s snacks in the bottom drawers for their ease of access, and you can hide your candy and nice chocolate above. If you have shelves, store all single-serve snacks in cute baskets and multi-serving snacks in air-tight jars that will definitely elevate you to Organizational Royalty.
- Wine cellar/bar. It’s more than a bar/serving cart, but not quite an entire wine cellar! We can only dream though. A butler’s pantry is PERFECT for all that wine you’ve been collecting and for storing the ingredients for all those cocktails you’ve been perfecting. Think of that old apartment you lived in during college, that had bi-fold doors to the laundry in the kitchen – yeah, that space, but now, instead of an ugly, oddly placed laundry space, it is your beautiful wine cellar or bar. And don’t forget that mini wine fridge! Worthy of a *chef’s kiss*. Here’s a kitchen we did with added wine storage.
- Elevated Coffee Bar. If you can get through the day without coffee, you probably deserve an award. Back down on Earth though, coffee is a necessity, and we all have our own specific concoction. And, depending on the season, we have our specialty blends of coffee and tea too. But this is something to be proud of and deserves its own space (we know you have enough to fill it!) Between coffee beans, a grinder, coffee maker, frothier, French press, sugar, creamers, and your 39 of 48 mugs that don’t fit in the cup cabinet, you are out of countertop space in the kitchen! Give your daily cup(s) of coffee the space it deserves and give your kitchen back the countertop space it deserves by creating a butler’s pantry that is a tricked-out coffee bar! Check out this beautiful coffee bar we did for a client.
The detailed elements of your butler’s pantry will depend greatly on your plan for using this space. Our designers recommend
- Ample countertop space and cabinetry to store glassware, dishes, platters, and special-use kitchen accessories
- Decorative trays, baskets, or containers to store your favorite snacks, cocktail mixers, and accessories, coffee beans, or glassware
- Adequate lighting for food prep or access
- Decorative accents bring you joy, whether it’s bold wallpaper, bright paint color, or interesting knickknacks.
In addition to the above, I asked a few of our designers to list one more thing that they think is essential in a butler’s pantry. Here are their choices.
- Outlets for small appliances – Laurie
- Trash bin cabinet – Kelsey
- Coffee bar – Kaylon
- Specialty storage for small appliances – Katie
- And last but not least, our CFO, Mike, says every butler’s pantry needs a cheese board.
Again, the details and accessories within your butler’s pantry will depend on how your family plans on using the space. However, this is your chance to branch out and try bolder patterns, colors, and decorating styles. This space is meant to make life easier, so don’t be scared to try something new and fun, but no matter what, make sure to make it YOURS!
To learn more about how to take the first step in creating your dream kitchen and butler’s pantry space, contact us at Nicholas Design Build today and work with one of our design teams today!
Don’t be afraid to entertain!!