We speak to a lot of new home builders and view their plans. One feature we are seeing more and more is "the Butler's Pantry". It is a great idea if you have the room to have one - but I must admit I enjoy asking new builders what a Butler's Pantry is as most have no idea.
What is a Butler's Pantry?
I like to think of the Butler's Pantry as the storage haven and where mess can be hidden, whilst the kitchen can be kept tidy and minimalist in design. As almost all new homes embrace open plan living and the kitchen is part of the main living space there are some real issues a Butler's Pantry can address:
Reduce clutter - Your new dream home is designed for entertaining guests. And that means you need to stock a lot of crockery, glasses and cutlery. Unfortunately these take up most of your kitchen storage and then you are forced to store other items on the bench. There is not enough drawer space to be organised! A Butler's Pantry lets you keep only what you use regularly in the kitchen, and you can store all the surplus gear for entertaining in the Butler's Pantry. You formal kitchen will be far more organised.
Easy access - Easy access often requires open shelving or your kitchen alliances on the bench ready to use. This is not great when you want your kitchen to present like the contemporary kitchens shown in magazines and on the internet. A Butler's Pantry allows you to keep your often used appliances and cooking ware on view and within reach, but out of view of the living space.
Noise - Kitchens are noisy. How do you watch a movie when the adjacent kitchen has a noisy blender, and there is the constant clink and clatter of packing and unpacking the dishwasher? If you put your noisy appliances in the Butler's Pantry, and keep the drinks fridge in there there is less noise and disruption in the living area.
What is the best layout?
The Butler's Pantry traditionally was a transition space between the kitchen and dining area, but is now more of a hidden working kitchen behind the main fancy kitchen. Sometimes it is a walk through area that goes onto the laundry. The entrance is best uninhibited so you can enter and exit carrying items without needing an extra hand to open a door. It is also great to consider an entrance that is concealed or out of view of the main living area.
Even a small Butler's Pantry can be set out with a surprising amount of storage. Shelves to the ceilings (as those dishes used only at Christmas can be stored way up top), pull-out organisers, wall storage, large and long benches with drawers, Even a sink and tap is important if you can accommodate it as the messy jobs can be done here so your living area or dinner party is not interrupted by the vigorous scrubbing of a burnt pan.
Make the floor easy to clean as this is where the toast crumbs will gather. Also, this is a work area - so think of appropriate lighting. New LED lights come in different light colours. Whilst "Warm White" is what you want for your normal living areas, you can opt for "Cool White" in a Butler's Pantry so you can more clearly see what you are doing. Task light such as under shelving lights can also help.
Great for entertaining
When you are entertaining, Butler's Pantries are fantastic. Our friends installed a second cheaper dish washer in their Butler's Pantry so they can be stacking that and washing round one of the dirty plates out back rather than having to do 2 or 3 rotations in one dishwasher. They also have an under-bech drinks fridge and keep all their larger cooking appliances on the Butler's bench ready to use. When they have people for dinner the formal kitchen, which is adjacent to the dining area, appears so well organised as all the messy preparation is done in the Butler's Pantry.
So why is it called a "Butler's Pantry"?
As the name suggests they are a reflection of more formal times when household's servants would use the Butler's Pantry for all the preparation and the care for all the cutlery and crockery. It is where the Butler performed most of his duties.
All you need after a Butler's Pantry is a - Butler!