Butler's Pantries Are Trending—Here's How to Add One to Your Home If You Have the Space (2024)

If you hear the words "butler's pantry" and immediately think it's something that only the upper crust of society would have, think again. Once common in large, luxurious homes, butler's pantries are gaining steam as modern amenities for any home as they provide much-needed storage and prep space, especially for those who like to entertain. But what exactly is a butler's pantry in the modern sense? And what were they historically used for? We spoke with experts to explain what this curious little room is, how it's different from rooms like sculleries or kitchen pantries, and what you can use a butler's pantry for today.

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What Is a Butler's Pantry?

A butler's pantry is a small room or passageway that usually connects the kitchen to the dining room and often serves as extra storage space, a prep area, and a staging area for entertaining. Modern-day butler's pantries can store anything from hosting essentials like platters and silverware to small kitchen appliances that would take up valuable space in the main kitchen. They can also house wine fridges, co*cktail accouterments, prep sinks, and more.

Historically, a butler's pantry was exactly what it sounds like. "Butler's pantries were named justly," says Chad Graci, owner of Graci Interiors. "It was a service room for the butler to manage anything he was directly in control of, such as silver and other lock-and-key items. I'd say that today, they are used similarly for overflow items associated with food and drink."

The Difference Between a Butler's Pantry and a Scullery or Kitchen Pantry

Many people often use the terms "butler's pantry" and "scullery" interchangeably, but there are notable differences between the two. Sculleries are most often used as an extra prep kitchen, while butler's pantries provide storage for entertaining essentials. Butler's pantries are usually between the dining room and the kitchen, while a scullery is generally more of a "back kitchen."

As for the difference between a butler's pantry and a kitchen pantry, a butler's pantry very often has a small sink and possibly a small refrigerator and includes storage space for platters, glassware, silverware, and china. And a butler's pantry generally doesn't have doors since it's a pass-through space. A kitchen pantry typically only stores food and doesn't have space for food and beverage prep or staging.

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Modern-Day Uses for a Butler's Pantry

If you're in the process of renovating your kitchen area or are thinking about purchasing a home that has a butler's pantry, you might be wondering how to best use this space. Think of it as a bonus area that can keep your main kitchen free of clutter—especially for entertaining items. "Nowadays, if clients have the space to allow for it, we find that they won't want their prep area for drinks and appetizers in the same space where they're entertaining," says Barbra Scarpulla, designer and project manager for Brattesani Designs. Following are a few beautiful ways you can put a butler's pantry to good use.

Add a Coffee Bar

Butler's Pantries Are Trending—Here's How to Add One to Your Home If You Have the Space (2)

Butler's pantries are great for stowing away small appliances that you don't want in your main kitchen. "It can be a good place for appliances that could generally clutter up the kitchen," says Graci. "For example, espresso machines, toaster ovens, and the like." Use part of your butler's pantry as a coffee bar if you are using it to house your coffee and espresso machine. Keep mugs and cups within easy reach and store sugar, creamer, and extra coffee and tea in cabinets.

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Install a Wet Bar

Butler's Pantries Are Trending—Here's How to Add One to Your Home If You Have the Space (3)

A butler's pantry is the perfect spot for a wet bar, which is a storage and prep area for making co*cktails. All you need is a small sink, storage for your favorite spirits and co*cktail glasses, and space for your co*cktail garnishes.

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House Your Dishware

Butler's Pantries Are Trending—Here's How to Add One to Your Home If You Have the Space (4)

Free up valuable cabinet space in your kitchen by using the butler's pantry to store your dishware, silverware, servingware, and more. In this butler's pantry, designer Sara Hillery wanted to complement the modern updates to the Federal Revival home while also giving it a classic relevance via the dramatic paint. "Since this space is used mainly for serving and the storage of dishware, the moodiness of the space helps to create a calming environment that packs a punch, giving its user a different experience in contrast to the home’s lighter dining room," says Hillery.

Add an Extra Wall Oven

Butler's Pantries Are Trending—Here's How to Add One to Your Home If You Have the Space (5)

Perfect if you typically host large family gatherings during the holidays and need the extra oven space, adding a wall oven or two in a butler's pantry will help get all of those dishes seamlessly to the table. "In this butler's pantry, we recommended moving a wall oven, steam oven, ice maker, and beverage cooler into this space for a few reasons," says Scarpulla. "The clients had a 48-inch oven and stove in their main kitchen and didn't necessarily require a wall oven outside of needing it for major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Moving extra appliances into this space allows the clients to prep appetizers as well as large holiday meals in a space just outside of the kitchen."

Store Wine

Butler's Pantries Are Trending—Here's How to Add One to Your Home If You Have the Space (6)

If you're an avid wine collector, or simply love good wine, use your butler's pantry as wine storage, like in this space designed by Hillery. "This space was inspired by this client’s love for the Eastern seaside and this deep blue-green paint is reminiscent of the ocean," says Hillery. "This tone helps to create a sense of depth and highlights the unique architectural features of the space—including the pantry’s impressive wine storage—while not contrasting so much with all of the bottles to keep the space feeling harmonious."

Store Frequently Used Food and Supplies

Butler's Pantries Are Trending—Here's How to Add One to Your Home If You Have the Space (7)

Because a butler's pantry is the perfect extra space for food prep, it can help to store frequently used items there. Here, the butler's pantry has open shelving installed to house both pantry staples and glassware up top, while the counter space is used for holding bowls, baking dishes, coffee mugs, and more.

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Butler's Pantries Are Trending—Here's How to Add One to Your Home If You Have the Space (2024)


Does a butler pantry add value to a home? ›

According to Shaffer, a butler's pantry done right can boost the resale value of your home, because it's seen as a luxury feature. “Also, the space is very versatile, with some of them having a second dishwasher, sink, or even wine fridge, adding functionality to the home,” he adds.

How much space do you need for a butlers pantry? ›

Ideally, it is recommended that a butler's pantry should be at least 1600mm wide and 2200m deep, which should give you plenty of space to fit a fridge, oven, microwave, sink and storage space for food and other kitchen items.

How much does it cost to add a butler pantry? ›

A butler's pantry is likely to cost at least $1,400 on the low end, with prices exceeding $15,000 on the high end.

Should I add a butlers pantry? ›

Butler's Pantries Are Efficient: Typically, a pantry is strategically located to make it easier to serve meals without disrupting the flow of conversation. It also can help make better use of your party planning since you can set up dishes, drinks, and utensils in the pantry well in advance of an event.

How much does it cost to add a pantry to a house? ›

The price to construct a pantry is $2,000 on average, with a typical range between $1,100 and $2,900 . A small reach-in pantry may cost as little as $250 to build, while a high-end pantry may cost upwards of $5,000 or more.

How much value does a walk-in pantry add to a home? ›

Walk-in pantries add value and marketability

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) estimate that homeowners can expect to recoup anywhere from 52% to 67% of their investment.

Should I have a sink in butlers pantry? ›

A regular pantry is primarily a storage area for food items and groceries. On the other hand, a butler's pantry is a utility area designed for storing dinnerware, serving dishes, and even preparing or staging meals. It often includes a countertop and sink, and sometimes, small appliances.

What is the difference between a pantry and a butler's pantry? ›

A butler's pantry is essentially a mini kitchen with ample bench space and quite often a sink. Whereas a walk-in pantry is more so designed to act as a storage area. Of course these large types of pantries may not work for every home space or budget.

Do I need a sink in my butlers pantry? ›

Butler's pantries are also a great area to dedicate to daily chores like doing dishes. As a result, many homeowners opt for installing a dishwasher and sink in their butler's pantry.

What is the new term for a butler's pantry? ›

A scullery serves much the same purpose as the classic butler's pantry, providing extra storage and preparation space.

Does a butlers pantry need a window? ›

lighting. Light and ventilation are essential, especially if you'll be using your butler's pantry for food prep. A window is ideal, but if that's not possible, strip lighting or task lighting focused on the countertop are a good option.

What is a modern butlers pantry? ›

Pantries are closets or cabinets with open shelves that provide a consolidated place to store food items and dishes. Whereas a butler's pantry is an actual room and is differentiated from a regular pantry by the inclusion of cabinets, counters and generally a sink and at least one appliance.

Are butlers pantries still a thing? ›

It depends on the space you have available and your lifestyle. A butler's pantry is a great way to add extra storage space. You'll most likely want to add cabinetry and shelving for storing larger items such as platters, appliances, and dry goods.

Should microwave go in butlers pantry? ›

The job of a butler's pantry is to provide extra storage and hide any typical messes made in the kitchen by using an extra sink and appliances. In addition to these conveniences, it also provides a great place to hide your microwave.

What is the best use of a butler's pantry? ›

The butler's pantry is incredibly versatile: fill it with glassware and liquor to double as a home bar or organize pots, pans and spices to limit clutter in the kitchen. No matter how you use your butler's pantry, we've found it's the perfect space to experiment with design.

What are the benefits of a butler's pantry? ›

The benefits of a Butler's pantry may not be readily apparent, but the truth is that these rooms are an investment for any home. A Butler's pantry can provide you with more storage space and allow you to utilize your kitchen to its full capacity. It also allows for separation between cooking and eating areas.

What's the point of a butler's pantry? ›

Butler's pantries historically served as secure storage spaces for fine china, crystal, silverware, and other valuable heirlooms. Today, butler's pantries are used for food staging spaces, a coffee or wet bar, or extra storage.

What is the reason for a butler pantry? ›

Butler's pantries often have usable counter space inside making it an ideal area for prepping meals. It's also a place to put already finished entrees while waiting for the rest of your meal to finish cooking. This not only saves on precious counter space but reduces foot traffic through the kitchen.

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