Designing the Perfectly Functional Butler’s Pantry: Tips and Tricks

Sorry to burst your bubble: the modern-day butler’s pantry does not include a tuxedo-clad steward who’s ready to meet your every beck-and-call with a glass of sherry on a silver platter. 

Rather, today’s butler’s pantries – which are witnessing a reemerging popularity as a must-have kitchen amenity – are used as an additional space for storage, entertaining, and meal preparation. 

The best part about butler’s pantries for homeowners, DIYers, and designers is that they fall into the category of a transitional space, granting complete freedom in how they’re laid out, decorated, organized, and used. 

What is a butler’s pantry?

A butler’s pantry, or serving pantry, is a small room or area that’s typically located between the kitchen and the formal dining area or living room. These quaint, transitional spaces provide a convenient location for preparing food and drinks, and can also be used as a buffet-style serving area for entertaining guests.

Dating back to the Victorian era, butler pantries were the norm in lavish, formal households and were used as the storage space for a family’s valuable silver, crystal, or fine China. The term itself is derived from the fact that some butlers actually slept beside the dinnerware they polished, in order to keep a watchful eye over these expensive pieces!

In modern homes, the butler’s pantry has evolved to make entertaining easier by providing extra space for prep space and storage. Typically, you’ll find features such as additional cabinetry, countertops, and a wine cooler or coffee bar in a butler’s pantry. More luxurious pantries may even include a spare dishwasher, extra sink, or small refrigerator. 

3 ways to style your butler’s pantry

Of course, the way you design your butler’s pantry is entirely up to you. The key is to make sure this space is not just beautifully organized, but is primarily functional. Since there’s competition in every kitchen for storage, the butler’s pantry can act as the perfect solution for housing things that aren’t used often (like holiday decor or formal dishes) or that clutter up your kitchen (like large mixers or countertop appliances). 

Depending on how you’ll use your butler’s pantry, there are a variety of design ideas to bring your vision to life. Here are 3 of our favorite ways to style a butler’s pantry with beauty and function at the helm.

Bulter's pantry with blue cabinets and marble countertop.

1. The Cocktail Corner

If you love entertaining but don’t have a dedicated area for all your mixologist accessories, turn your butler’s pantry into your dream cocktail corner. Utilize open shelving to display your favorite bottles of gin, vodka, and whiskey. Add a mirrored backsplash for a chic and contemporary look. If you have the space and plumbing, invest in a wine cooler, wet bar, or mini fridge for keeping spirits cold. (A dry bar can be plenty useful, too!)

Butler's pantry with dark blue cabinets and patterned tile backsplash.

2. The Built-in Beauty

Oftentimes, the space available for your butler’s pantry might be narrow or even in a closet or hallway. Adding built-ins will guarantee your cabinetry aligns with the space’s specific measurements and preferences. To make sure it matches the style of your home and looks cohesive, built-in or custom cabinetry is the way to go. Built-ins are also space-saving and designed to maximize storage while minimizing the amount of square footage they occupy.

Large pantry with jars and baskets on shelves.

3. The Kids’ Snack Haven

If your kitchen doesn’t have a dedicated pantry or closet for dry goods, turning your butler’s pantry into a storage space for snacks is a great idea. This way, you can give this spot over to the kids and designate lower drawers or a small fridge specifically for their snacks and drinks. This will ultimately cut down on foot traffic in the main kitchen, which can be a true lifesaver during dinner prep. You can also devote this space to your pets, storing their toys, treats, and food here. No matter how you fill your butler’s pantry, the main goal is to create better organization and give all those spare items and after-school snacks their own home.

Check out more multi-tasking kitchen spaces here.

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