The butler’s pantry was a mainstay in stately mansions. Now it’s a sought-after feature in modern kitchens.
Few homes are managed by butlers these days, but the butler’s pantry is enjoying a surge in popularity as modern homeowners discover the functionality of this centuries-old space.
As open floor plans become more popular, the butler pantry deserves a revival for its ability to keep kitchen tools and messes out of sight. When entertaining, a butler pantry is the perfect place to slip away and replenish platters and pitchers without cluttering up your kitchen counters.
A butler pantry provides extra storage space for blenders, food processors, and other small kitchen appliances between uses. It’s also an ideal drop zone for friends coming by with food or mail. Check out our best butler pantry ideas and find out why your home needs this functional little room.
A butler’s pantry with built in cabinetry and shelving adds an elegant intentionality to your kitchen design. Copy your countertop, backsplash, and kitchen cabinets or use a slightly different but complementary style in your butler’s pantry. For example, a butcher block or marble countertop may be more functional than a granite countertop in this dedicated work zone.
When it comes to butler’s pantry ideas, the more built-in elements you can include, the better. Add an extra oven, warming drawer, or small dishwasher into your lower cabinet design. A pocket door is a great built-in butler’s pantry idea in a small kitchen. That way, you don’t have to waste valuable space for door clearance.
Cabinet ideas for the butler’s pantry—as in the kitchen itself—are virtually limitless. Showcase beautiful wine glasses behind a glass door or lined up on open shelving. Add a closed cabinet near the sink to stash dirty dishes during a party. Appliances that are used daily can remain on the countertop, while lesser-used pieces are hidden inside an attractive appliance garage.
A popular butler’s pantry design utilizes white cabinets for lower storage and a natural wood open shelf configuration instead of upper cabinets. Since the butler’s pantry is commonly used for food storage, add rolling bins to your lower butler’s pantry cabinetry. Store potatoes and onions in these open, airy bins to prevent early spoilage.
3. Dining Room
Traditionally, the butler pantry was located off the kitchen or the dining room. Today, they’re often configured between the two spaces. Having the butler pantry near the dining room is a logical idea if it is used to store dinnerware and serving dishes. Its countertops are a great place to keep open containers, water pitchers, and extra rolls during a dinner party.
A dining room butler’s pantry is a great location for a hidden pantry wet bar. Some people like having liquor bottles on display, but the modern butler’s pantry is great if you prefer hidden bottle storage. It’s also easier to refresh your guests’ cocktails in a dining room walk-in pantry than carrying glasses to and from the main kitchen.
A butler’s pantry can combine other useful elements into its space, particularly if the pantry is large. Historically, this area was called the scullery—a small room near the kitchen used for all kinds of dirty household work. Today, we call that space the laundry room, and store our cleaning supplies where we wash our clothes.
Creating a combination butler’s pantry and laundry room is a good use of a generous space near the kitchen. If you are undergoing a kitchen remodel, perhaps reclaim some space from your garage to expand your butler’s pantry into a laundry and scullery zone.
If you have enough cabinetry and shelving, this can also be a convenient place for storing canned foods and other dry goods. Simply unload your groceries from the garage into your all-purpose butler’s pantry.
If you need to expand your kitchen space, a butler’s pantry is the perfect way to do it. Your backsplash, flooring, cabinetry, and countertop design choices will flow naturally into this useful space. Doing so will make your butler’s pantry look like it has been there forever, even if it was part of a recent kitchen remodel.
The best butler’s pantry ideas will help you keep your main kitchen uncluttered and clean. Use its shelves to house your cookbook collection and designate a pantry cabinet to hold your holiday tableware. Place your Keurig next to the sink and store all your coffee-making supplies and mugs on a shelf above.
Because the modern design aesthetic requires minimalism, a butler’s pantry is particularly useful for keeping a modern kitchen visually free from clutter. Nothing speaks clean minimalism louder than an all-white butler’s pantry, pairing a white marble countertop with white cabinets, walls, and floors. Equally impressive is the same space with a dark modern color scheme, combining black or walnut cabinetry with black or slate countertops.
A modern butler pantry configuration is useful in so many situations. Perhaps you and your partner like having individual spaces for kitchen prep work, or you live with an older relative who wants his or her own kitchen zone. If you need seating in your butler’s pantry, include a bench space under a window. You can use the space under the seat for additional storage.
Some butler’s pantries have open shelving for storage instead of closed cabinets. This type of pantry is fine if you like to see at a glance what you have on hand. Even if your only option for butler pantry storage is open shelving, you can create a more uniform appearance by hanging curtains over selected shelves.
While most butler’s pantries are closed off, some are in open view. If you cannot use a separate room for a butler’s pantry, you can designate one side of your kitchen or dining room for a similarly useful zone. Choose a shelf unit that has a fold-down worktop for when you need extra prep space. Store dry goods in baskets and solid-colored containers to keep the shelves looking neat and tidy.
You don’t need a huge space to create a functional butler’s pantry. In fact, you may be able to reconfigure your current laundry room into a combination pantry/laundry room.
Replace a basic laundry sink with a small farmhouse sink and add cabinetry that matches your kitchen cabinets. Floating wood shelves are a beautiful farmhouse touch in a small butler’s pantry.
Keep any butler’s pantry appliances scaled to the room’s size. A small wine cooler, dorm-size fridge, and small convection oven can double your kitchen’s functionality without taking up a lot of room. Be sure to use white and an overall light color palette to make a small pantry look spacious.
9. Wet Bar
In the 1960s and 1970s, it was all the rage to have a wet bar in the living room. These small, inset structures traditionally included a small sink. This easy access to water is what the term “wet” indicates. Because a butler’s pantry usually includes a sink, it’s a logical place to relocate the handy concept of the wet bar.
A mirrored backsplash can be an elegant addition to a wet bar, particularly when it’s reflecting beautiful decanters or glassware. Store less-attractive bottles and boxes behind solid cabinet doors.
An ice maker is a convenient addition to the butler’s pantry wet bar. Install a wine cooler and a small glass-front fridge for storing canned beverages, mixers, and juices.
10. Wine Storage
Wine benefits from horizontal, controlled temperature storage. If you’re a wine connoisseur, but lack the room for a wine cellar, use your butler’s pantry to store your favorite vintages. Either build in wine storage shelves or invest in wall-mounted wine racks for safe bottle storage.
Wine shelving can take on a variety of configurations. Build in a series of square shelves, each cubby just big enough to hold a wine bottle resting on its side.
Get creative with angled or lattice-style openings on your wine cubby. Store wines that need to be chilled inside a wine cooler, which is designed differently from a regular refrigerator.