How a Hidden Butler’s Pantry Will Redefine Your Kitchen Storage
The modern home certainly has its conveniences. However, there are some features of old-fashioned homes that you would probably enjoy if they were still around. Luckily, one of those elements is making a comeback, and that’s the hidden butler’s pantry.
Modern, walk-in pantries provide ample space for food storage. The butler’s pantry did too, but it was something completely different. If you’re considering renovating your home and a pantry is on your wishlist, it’s helpful to understand the difference between these types of pantries.
Keep reading to learn about the hidden butler’s pantry and why you might like to have one in your home.
What Is a Butler's Pantry?
Popular in the 1920s, the butler’s pantry was an additional room connected to the kitchen of a Victorian upper-class home. It served as a multi-functional space for meal preparation between the formal dining and service areas.
It was the primary workspace for the butler, where all of the tools necessary for him to complete his job were stored. A butler’s pantry also served as an additional space to store fine china, silver, and linens.
Traditional pantries initially stored bread and slowly evolved into the walk-in pantry seen in many homes today. They may provide a space for some preparation but are typically filled with shelving for storing food, larger seasonal items and seldom used small appliances.
Not to be confused with a scullery, which is another small space located off the kitchen for storage and clean up with an extra sink and dishwasher, a butler’s pantry contains more space for light food preparation and meal staging. Some are hidden away from the central kitchen by a pocket door that separates the two areas. Others may be hidden behind a cleverly designed door that opens to a secret room.
Advantages of Having a Hidden Butler's Pantry
The hidden butler’s pantry has gained momentum recently because homeowners are moving more towards open floor plans. Some hosts are uncomfortable being on display while preparing food. It’s also a great place to store heirloom china, crystal and silver that may only be used once a year, without sacrificing prime storage space in the kitchen.
A hidden butler’s pantry solves both of these problems. It creates a buffer between the kitchen and other rooms, making a private space where the host doesn’t have to feel like a fish in a fishbowl (or if you’re up with pop culture references, Kendall Jenner attempting to cut a cucumber). As a bonus, it creates additional storage space for those bulk purchases at Costco, and your annual ration of grandma’s famous pickles.
Adding a modern hidden butler’s pantry increases the resale value of your home. As you show off your high-end luxury space, potential buyers will appreciate why your home has a higher resale value.
Incorporating a Modern Hidden Butler's Pantry
You can incorporate your butler’s pantry in any space near the kitchen. However, between the kitchen and dining room is the most common location. Any unused closet or breakfast nook makes a great starter space for a new butler’s pantry. If it’s not already hidden, your contractor may suggest bi-fold, or pocket doors or find another clever way to close it off using custom cabinetry. In the example above we designed a custom cabinet to disguise the walk-in butler’s pantry.
Whether you are adding a butler’s pantry to your kitchen or the wishlist for your new home construction, consider the following elements:
- Cabinets and drawers for storing specialty items
- Adjustable shelving for greater food preparation versatility
- Some counter space with receptacles for small appliances
- A small fridge or beverage center for extra mixers, wine and beer
- A warming drawer for hot storage
- Ceiling lights and task lights to provide adequate lighting
If you have a larger space, consider upgrading to scullery status by adding a sink and another dishwasher for faster, hidden clean up after parties.
When You Can't Make a Hidden Butler's Pantry
Anyone can have a butler’s pantry, even if you’re tight on space. Use a built-in hutch, small nook, or closet adjacent to the kitchen. Incorporate cabinets and a counter, and — boom — you’ve got yourself a small, modern butler’s pantry.
Other options include creating a butler’s pantry in combination with a bar and building custom storage cabinets for the items you don’t want to store in your open kitchen.
In each of these examples, our client’s opted for a bar-butler’s pantry combination in the transition space between their kitchens and formal dining rooms. The space on the left features a wine chiller, beverage center, sink and considerable china storage (visible here). The space on the right includes a drop zone for the family calendar, a kegerator, beverage center and stemware storage.