Butler’s Pantry: Is It The New Kitchen Necessity?

Who needs a butler’s pantry? What is the use of another (very tiny) kitchen right next to a perfectly functional larger one?

It seems that everyone desires a butler’s pantry these days. What is the appeal? Do they really perform a function that is impossible in the main kitchen?

Clients with a variety of budgets request them. They are as sought after in new homes now as frameless shower screens became ten years ago and alfresco dining areas in years before that. These days both are expected as a matter of course, not just as luxury inclusions. In years to come, will home buyers believe butler’s pantries are similarly indispensable?

Definition – Butler’s pantry: a service room between kitchen and dining room with preparation space, sink and storage for fine china and silver.

While this definition was an accurate description for the large homes of yesteryear, today they go further.

The (not so) surprising utility of a butler’s pantry

With the rise in popularity of open plan kitchen/living areas, many have realised that while it is wonderful to feel a part of the action, the mess in the kitchen is not a feature they need to be on constant display. Others have lamented the loss of the big reveal during a dinner party – with open plan kitchen/dining rooms, the magic is extinguished when guests can see your prep. For some families with teenagers and a Costco membership, the additional storage is indispensable.

So, how do you make the best use of a butler’s pantry?

It is not as mystifying when you ponder the pale substitutes that have been made over the years. Consider the chest freezer in the garage, the few shelves set aside in the laundry for non-perishables and the large serving platters under the bed in the spare room. The butler’s pantry brings all of these items together in one more effective, efficient and accessible purpose-built location.

Butler's Pantry - window splash and wine fridge

A wine cooler, filtered cold/boiling water tap, oodles of storage, power points and window as the splashback.

Butler's pantry - feature door

This tactile recycled crate door leads into a well-designed butler’s pantry.

Butler's Pantry - sink

Small sinks can fit in the shallow benches often gracing pantries. Adjustable shelves allow tailoring as storage needs change.


Top reasons people love their butler’s pantry:

  • Keeps the mess out of sight
  • Enables a better design for a kitchen with fewer corner cabinets, which are tricky to access.
  • Allows storage in bulk (thanks Costco) without impeding access to everyday items.
  • Tucks small appliances away but ready for use – plugged in ready to go on a bench out of sight.

Your kitchen footprint does not have to be huge to accommodate a functional and effective butler’s pantry, you just need to be smart about how you incorporate it.


Silvan farmhouse butler's pantry by Smith & Smith, Photos - Tim Turner

Powerpoints for small appliances, ample shelving and drawers maximise storage space.

Butler's Pantry Caulfield North Modern Kitchen

While not strictly a butler’s pantry, this arrangement allows for swift concealment of dishes and mess behind bi-fold doors.

Butler's Pantry and Laundry Combo - SuzieAppel_SmithandSmith-7980

No room for a butler’s pantry? Combine it with your laundry!


Food for thought in pantries of all sizes:

  • Open shelving
  • Adjustable shelving
  • Shelving to ceiling
  • Bench space
  • Open fronted drawers
  • More cost-effective materials that still tie into the main kitchen
  • Power points for small appliances
  • Instant boiling/chilled water tap

Food for thought in a small butler’s pantry:

  • Bi-fold doors instead of a walk-in space
  • Narrower bench-tops to save on space

Food for thought in a mid-sized butler’s pantry:

  • Sink
  • Microwave niche
  • Wine fridge/cooler
  • Fridge/freezer
Cleverly hidden butler's pantry.

Hiding behind this beautiful feature wall…

Butler's Pantry

..is this stylish storage and prep area.




Food for thought in a large butler’s pantry:

  • Full-width benches
  • Plate racks for fine china
  • Cooktop
  • Warming oven or second oven
  • Sink
  • Microwave niche
  • Wine fridge/cooler
  • Fridge/freezer