What Is a Butler’s Pantry? Here Is Why You Should Know

modern Butler's Pantry with marble counter and wall cabinets

A butler’s pantry, also known as a serving pantry or a scullery, is a transitional space between a kitchen and a dining area that is frequently used for storage, food prep, or staging. Although butler’s pantries were initially used to secure fine china and other heirlooms, today’s butler’s pantries serve various functions, ranging from food staging areas to coffee bars to small wine cellars.

Whether you have a butler’s pantry or not, a butler’s pantry can be a huge benefit in a modern home. Learn more about the history of butler’s pantries, their modern applications, and the must-have features and accessories for a modern butler’s pantry that is functional, efficient, and beautiful.

YouTube video
Modern Pantry Organizing Solutions and Designs

The History of Butler’s Pantries

Butler’s pantries were traditionally used by the home’s butler to store, count, and polish valuable heirlooms such as silver, china, crystal, and serving platters, among other dining and entertaining accessories. These areas were frequently locked up to prevent theft, and some butlers even slept in their pantries.

Modern Uses for a Butler’s Pantry

Butlers pantry with full high and low wall shelves and white counter
Modern butler’s pantry

Today’s butler’s pantries can be much more than a simple storage space, thanks to changing architectural trends and homeowners’ shifting perceptions and priorities—though they still make excellent storage spaces. Here are some applications for a modern butler’s pantry.

  • A location for food preparation. If you enjoy entertaining, a butler’s pantry can make prepping and staging large meals much easier while freeing up tons of counter space for you to continue cooking. Because the butler’s pantry is typically located between a home’s kitchen and dining area, it’s an ideal location for storing ready-to-eat dishes, plating food, or even storing dirty dishes until the party is over.
  • Extra storage space. Sure, it’s a no-brainer, but who doesn’t need more kitchen storage? A butler’s pantry can provide much-needed storage space in a crowded kitchen, whether you need to store extra cookware, glassware, large platters or serving dishes for entertaining, or your beloved collection of coffee mugs.
  • Snack storage space. Consider going beyond your standard pantry and imagining the snack storage space of your dreams! A butler’s pantry provides additional storage space for your favorite treats and makes them more accessible. If you have children, keep their favorite foods and snacks in lower cabinets or drawers for easy access. Keep your adult-only snacks in higher cabinets, such as that super-expensive dark chocolate you adore. The extra space in a butler’s pantry also allows for severe snack organization. Single-serve snacks can be placed in cute baskets or trays, while multi-serving items can be placed in airtight glass jars or containers.
  • A swanky coffee shop. Coffee beans, a coffee bean grinder, a coffee maker or French press, and mugs can all take up a lot of counter space. A coffee prep station can help clear your counters and keep your equipment organized.
  • A straightforward wine cellar. Few of us are fortunate enough to have a full-fledged wine cellar in our homes. Using a butler’s pantry to store your wine and glassware, on the other hand, can transport you from a mundane Tuesday night to a Napa vacation. To keep your wine at the perfect, cellar-like temperature, you’ll need to install a small wine refrigerator, but mini wine coolers are available at most kitchen and home retailers.

Butler’s Pantry Ideas: Which Type is Right for You?

Dark wooden butlers pantry next to a door and white wall shelves behind it
Many uses for butler’s pantry
Free design consultation

The butler’s pantry is a great place to store all of those extra items you need in order not to have any missed opportunities when it comes time for cooking. Many different styles can be used, depending on how much space there isn’t or if your home style calls out for privacy barriers like pocket doors and swinging panels; however, one way this storage solution might work best would involve construction from scratch by adding dimensions into an already existing food porch (which could also double as an office).

Knowing which butler’s pantry ideas to incorporate into your home can be daunting. Thinking about your storage, functionality, and design needs is essential. Make sure to consider how much storage you’ll need for your kitchen items, such as snacks, beverages, glassware, and tableware. It’s also important to take into account the amount of countertop space you may require – if there will be any messy food preparation or drinks mixing, then having enough workspace is essential. In terms of style, look to match the existing décor in your home – whether it be contemporary and modern or traditional farmhouse charm – so everything flows nicely throughout the living area.

How to Build a Butler’s Pantry

Butlers pantry with storage bins and food jars on shelves
Ideas for butler’s pantry

You’re lucky to have a small enclave or closet near your kitchen: You can transform this unused space into a fantastic butler’s pantry by adding some cabinets and counters. Whether you hire a builder or do the cabinets and counters yourself, it’s critical to consider not only the space but also your family’s needs. What are your plans for the butler’s pantry? Do you need a plumber or electrician to install a small refrigerator, sink, or dishwasher? For easy access, do you prefer cabinets or open shelving?

If you don’t have an unused enclave or closet and must create a space from scratch, building a butler’s pantry will be much more difficult. Check the permitting and building requirements in your area, and work with a fully licensed and insured contractor to complete the job.

You can design your butler’s pantry however you want, whether you’re starting from scratch or redoing an existing space. Some people choose to match their cabinetry and counters to their kitchen cabinets and counters, but Lauren Lowe of Lauren Elaine Interiors suggests getting creative: “When planning the layout, keep in mind that the butler’s pantry does not have to be an extension of your kitchen. It’s a fantastic opportunity to experiment with color and pattern!”

Butler Pantry Must-Haves

Small built in butlers pantry has shelves with brown food containers
Keys for building butler’s pantry
Financing banner 1 | what is a butler's pantry? Here is why you should know

The must-have elements and accessories will vary depending on how you intend to use your butler’s pantry, but Lauren Lowe suggests, “A lovely tray to hold favorite cocktail ingredients, plenty of storage for serveware and barware, plenty of countertop space for serving, and a charming lamp! Glass upper cabinets are ideal for displaying beautiful entertaining pieces.”

Other essentials for your butler’s pantry:

  • There is plenty of counter space and cabinets for storing glassware, dishes, platters, and special-purpose kitchen accessories.
  • Decorative trays, baskets, or containers for snacks, cocktail mixers, and accessories, coffee beans, or glassware
  • Appropriate lighting for food preparation or access
  • Decorative accents that make you happy, such as bold wallpaper, a bright paint color, or an interesting knickknack

As previously stated, how you accessorize your butler’s pantry will depend on how your family will use it, but don’t be afraid to be bold or experiment with different decorating styles. Because a butler’s pantry is intended to make your life easier, it’s critical that you personalize it. Benefits of Having a Butler’s Pantry

Benefits of Having a Butler’s Pantry

White old style built in pantry shelves and cabinets
Must-haves for butler’s pantry

Having a butler’s pantry in your home brings many benefits. The pantry can provide extra storage for items that are not needed on a daily basis, such as fine china or serving pieces. It can also be used as a place to store food, such as spices and canned goods, which can be conveniently accessed when needed. Additionally, having a butler’s pantry gives your home a touch of elegance and sophistication, which can impress guests and make your home more inviting.

What to Consider When Purchasing a Butler’s Pantry

Small corner of a pantry shelves has storage bins
Things to consider while getting butler’s pantry

When purchasing a butler’s pantry, there are several things to consider. Firstly, it is important to decide on the size and style of the pantry. This will depend on the size of your kitchen and the items that you intend to store in it. Additionally, you should consider the material of the pantry. The most popular materials are wood, metal, and glass. It is also important to consider the cost of the pantry, as well as the type and size of shelves, cupboards, and drawers you will need.

Other Uses for Butler’s Pantry

Butlers pantry with built in open shelved cabinets full of food jars and bins
Many uses for butler’s pantry

The primary function of a butler’s pantry is to serve as a space for entertaining and meal preparation, but it can also be used for other purposes. Consider using your butler’s pantry as a home office, where you can store supplies and work in peace and quiet. You can also use the space as a bar where you can store glasses, mixers, and other items to mix drinks. A butler’s pantry can also be used as a coffee or tea station, where coffee makers and pots can be stored and easily accessed. Finally, you can use the space as an extra storage space for linens and other items that are not used often.

Ways to Organize & Utilize a Butler’s Pantry

Wooden floor walk in butlers pantry with dark storage bins on shelves
Ways to Keep Your Pantry Organized

Utilizing a butler’s pantry is an excellent way to keep your kitchen organized without taking up extra space. Whether you have a smaller kitchen or are simply looking for additional storage solutions, you can use the butler’s pantry to store your fine china or pots and pans, as well as other amenities the kitchen may not otherwise contain as wine refrigerators and coffee makers.


Additionally, utilizing this area to store commonly used items gives you immediate access to them while also providing a level of organization that benefits every cook in the family. Finally, with dedicated storage areas within your pantry, you can quickly store foods in their proper category, so you know where everything is when it’s time to prepare a meal.

Hosting Events & Parties with a Butler’s Pantry

Hosting events and parties can be great fun, but the preparation can sometimes be very stressful. One way to ensure that these occasions are streamlined and run more smoothly is to incorporate a butler’s pantry. A butler’s pantry allows you to have everything in one place instead of running everywhere throughout your home, gathering all the necessary items.

It allows for quick access to dishes and glassware, should you find yourself needing extra during the event. Storage space for snacks, utensils, decor items, and even tablecloths can all come in handy for entertaining. Think of all the time you’ll save if you don’t have to do errands around town on event day; just one central, organized area will make hosting your party easy and enjoyable!

Large butlers pantry white and green wood multi-section pantry cabinet and shelf
Open area butler’s pantry

What is the point of a butler’s pantry?

The Butler’s Pantry is the perfect solution for any family who has a small kitchen but wants to cook and clean in one space. With its convenient storage shelves that can be pulled out when needed or left tucked away neatly into your cabinet spaces, it will not take up much room at all!

Is a butler’s pantry a good idea?

The butler’s pantry is a great place to stage your food when entertaining, and it also creates holiday meals. You can keep the cooking mayhem separate from guests at dinner parties with this storage area for dishes!

What should be included in a butler’s pantry?

What better way to keep your kitchen looking clean and professional than with the help of a butler’s pantry? You’ll be able to hide away any items that would otherwise clutter up or distract from this area, such as silverware, fine china plates & dishes for entertaining guests in style! It also makes life easier if you need access quickly because all these hiding spots are right at hand.

What is a butler’s pantry for?

A butler’s pantry is an invaluable addition to any home, providing a convenient transition space between the kitchen and dining room. With its multifunctional capabilities of serving as both storage and service area for food preparation, it has truly become one of the most useful features in modern homes!

What is the difference between a pantry and a butler’s pantry?

A pantry typically consists of storage space specifically used for dry goods. A butler’s pantry, however, can incorporate a variety of kitchen features including coffee machines and microwaves as well as dedicated sinks or countertops for food preparation – making it far more versatile than a traditional pantry.

Why is it called a butler’s pantry?

Download catalog

The term ‘butler’s pantry’ is derived from the fact that in Europe, a butler often resided within this space to protect valuable items. During the Victorian era, usual English and European households featured both a butler’s pantry and an additional larder for storing food.

Is a butlers pantry a good idea?

A butler’s pantry is an excellent solution for your kitchen. Not only will you get ample storage space, but it will also bring a luxury touch to the area that everyone in your household and visitors alike can appreciate!

Do you put a fridge in a butler’s pantry?

Ideally, it is recommended that a butler’s pantry should be at least 1.6 m wide and 2.2 m deep, which should give you plenty of space to fit a fridge, oven, microwave, sink, and storage space for food and other kitchen items.

Do you need a sink in a butler’s pantry?

Adding a second sink to the kitchen enhances meal preparation and cleanup while still staying in line with the space’s overall aesthetic.

How big is a butlers pantry?

The standard size for a butler’s pantry is typically no less than 5 feet by 6.5 feet, offering enough space to store kitchen necessities neatly and conveniently.

Are butlers pantries still a thing?

Butler’s pantries have not lost their relevance today since they continue to serve much of the same function as before. With an accessible walk-in pantry, you can expand your storage space, benefit from additional counter surfaces, alleviate foot traffic that congests your kitchen area, and keep it neat at all times!

What makes a pantry a butler’s pantry?

A pantry becomes a butler’s pantry when it is specifically designed for storing and preparing serving items such as dishes, glassware, and silverware. It is typically located between the kitchen and dining room, serving as a transitional space for food plating and staging during formal dining events.

Do you really need a butler’s pantry?

While a butler’s pantry is not an essential feature in every home, it can be a valuable addition if you frequently entertain guests, host formal dinners, or require additional storage and workspace for serving items. A butler’s pantry can help keep the main kitchen clutter-free and create a more efficient and organized dining experience.

Why are they called butlers?

The term “butler” originates from the Old French word “bouteillier,” meaning “cupbearer” or “officer in charge of wine.” Historically, butlers were responsible for managing household staff, maintaining the wine cellar, and overseeing the serving of food and drinks during formal events. The name “butler’s pantry” comes from this traditional role, as it was the area where butlers would store and prepare serving items for dining events.

Are butler’s pantries still a thing?

Yes, butler’s pantries continue to be popular in modern home designs, particularly in larger homes or those with open floor plans. They provide additional storage and workspace for serving items, helping to keep the main kitchen organized and clutter-free while enhancing the overall functionality and aesthetic appeal of the home.

Do you cook in a butler’s pantry?

Typically, cooking is not done in a butler’s pantry, as its primary purpose is to store and prepare serving items rather than actual meal preparation. However, some modern butler’s pantries may include a microwave, small oven, or warming drawer for heating or keeping food warm before serving.

Do you put a fridge in a butler’s pantry?

While a refrigerator is not a standard feature in a traditional butler’s pantry, many modern designs incorporate under-counter refrigerators, wine coolers, or beverage centers for added convenience and functionality. This can be particularly useful for storing drinks or pre-prepared dishes during large gatherings or formal events.

Why have a sink in the butler’s pantry?

Including a sink in the butler’s pantry serves several purposes, such as facilitating the rinsing of glassware, filling beverage pitchers, or washing serving dishes and utensils. A sink in the butler’s pantry also helps keep the main kitchen free of clutter and ensures that clean-up tasks related to serving can be done separately from meal preparation.

Why do you sink in Butlers pantry?

(See the answer above for “Why have a sink in the butler’s pantry?”)

Do butler’s pantries have a door?

Some butler’s pantries may have a door, while others are designed as open spaces or with open shelving. A door can provide privacy and separation from the main kitchen and dining areas, helping to conceal clutter or maintain a more formal atmosphere during dining events.

What is the modern use of butler’s pantry?

The modern use of a butler’s pantry includes providing additional storage and workspace for serving items, creating a separate area for food plating and staging, and offering a transitional space between the kitchen and dining room. Contemporary butler’s pantries may also include features such as wine racks, display cabinets, integrated lighting, and small appliances like microwaves or warming drawers.

What is a synonym for butler’s pantry?

A synonym for a butler’s pantry is a “serving pantry” or “service pantry,” emphasizing its primary function in storing serving items and facilitating food service during dining events.

What is a scullery vs. butler’s pantry?

A scullery is a separate room or area adjacent to the kitchen, primarily used for cleaning and washing dishes, pots, and pans, as well as some food preparation tasks. A butler’s pantry, on the other hand, is a smaller space typically located between the kitchen and dining room, designed for storing and preparing serving items such as dishes, glassware, and silverware.

Does butler’s pantry need ventilation?

A butler’s pantry does not typically require specific ventilation, as it is primarily used for storing and preparing serving items rather than cooking or producing heat and moisture. However, proper air circulation and general ventilation throughout the home are still essential for maintaining a comfortable environment and preventing mold or mildew growth.

Does a butler’s pantry have an oven?

A traditional butler’s pantry does not usually include an oven, as its primary purpose is to store and prepare serving items rather than cook food. However, some modern butler’s pantries may feature small appliances like a microwave, warming drawer, or even a small oven for added convenience and functionality, especially when hosting large gatherings or formal events.

What should be included in a butler’s pantry?

A well-equipped butler’s pantry generally includes a mix of open shelving, base cabinets with uppers, and full cabinets that extend from floor to ceiling. These storage solutions are perfect for housing tableware, glassware, and other essentials. A countertop provides space for meal preparation or serving. Some butler’s pantries may also feature a small sink for food and drink prep, as well as appliances like a coffee machine or an extra microwave. If space allows, additional refrigeration and oven capacity could also be incorporated. Pull-out shelves can be an excellent option for easy access to stored items.

Do you really need a butler’s pantry?

Whether you need a butler’s pantry depends on your lifestyle and home layout. If you frequently entertain guests or host large family gatherings, a butler’s pantry can be invaluable. It provides extra space for food preparation and storage, keeping the kitchen less cluttered and more focused on cooking. Moreover, it serves as a handy spot to store oversized platters, cookware, vases, and ‘good’ glasses that don’t fit comfortably in regular kitchen cabinets. However, if your home is smaller or you don’t entertain often, the space used for a butler’s pantry might be better utilized for other purposes.

Jessica holden

Experienced Executive Assistant with a demonstrated history of working within the furniture industry. Skilled in furniture styling, visual communication, project management, and proficiency with Adobe Creative Suite. Strong arts and design professional with a (BA) Creative Direction for furniture design focused on Industrial Design from School of the Art Institute of Chicago.