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How to design a butler’s pantry

The butler’s pantry is a handy kitchen extension which can make organizing your kitchen a dream.

How to design a butler’s pantry

Juliet Taylor


November 4th, 2022

A butler’s pantry is a popular kitchen addition. A butler’s pantry is essentially just a walk-in pantry with enough space for extra appliances and food storage. Common things you might find in a butler’s pantry include a coffee machine, extra sink, benchtop and a microwave.

Often butler’s pantries will have double-ups of appliances already on display in the main part of the kitchen, such as a second microwave, sink or an extra benchtop. This is to help the kitchen use flow when more than one person is preparing food. The primary purpose of a butler’s pantry is to improve kitchen organisation. It does that by reducing the visible mess in the kitchen, ensuring that overcrowding isn’t an issue, and providing space for organised storage.

There are a few possible butlers pantry layouts and floor plans. Most commonly, the butler’s pantry will be situated behind the kitchen, with a small door off to the side leading into the space. They are typically long and fairly narrow, though naturally this varies depending on the layout of the house. Interestingly, the interior decorating aspect of a butler’s pantry may not always carry on from the kitchen. Many designers treat the butler’s pantry as a separate space, with its own colour and design motifs.

Note that a butler’s pantry is somewhat different from a walk in pantry. A butler’s pantry is usually much larger than a walk-in, because it needs to fit appliances such as a sink, benchtop and microwave. Butler’s pantries are also sometimes combined with the laundry space to create a more efficient home workstation. This is a great way to cut down on clutter and frees up the would-be laundry space for other purposes. To help inspire your renovations, here are some of the best ideas and strategies on the market.

Butlers pantry ideas, dimensions and floor plans: the top 10 layouts for butlers pantry designs Australia

10. Light and airy

light and bright butler's pantry with laminate wood look timber cabinets

The butler’s pantry is often a small space. This means a light and open design like the one above can be extremely effective in making the room feel bigger. Mixing textures and keeping a neutral colour palette will go a long way in making your home feel open. This design flows on from the kitchen, creating a design coherency that is pleasant to follow.

09. Rustic

rustic butlers pantry with timber real wood

A rustic butler’s pantry has a simple charm that compliments the design beautifully. Butler’s pantries are very common in farmhouses. Bringing a touch of natural wood into your home is a great way to recognise the roots of the design practice and will create a peaceful oasis from the bustle of modern life.

08. Extra storage

butlers pantry with storage cabinets white floor to ceiling

A good butler’s pantry will have more storage than you can possibly fill. The best way to achieve this is to line the walls with floor-to-ceiling cabinets and cupboards. Open shelves are also very popular for butler’s pantries as they allow you to quickly find what you’re looking for and make it simple to reach/replace.

07. Butlers pantry with fridge

butlers pantry with fridge modern design ideas

While a fridge is not necessarily a common item in a butler’s pantry, it can be very useful. Whether you use this as a second fridge or your primary fridge, placing it in the butler’s pantry will free up a lot of space in the kitchen. It will also improve the cooking flow, as you can use the butler’s pantry for food prep and the kitchen for actual cooking – much like a wet and dry kitchen layout.

06. Wet Bar

wet bar kitchen design butlers pantry white with sink and refrigerator and ice maker

A wet bar is a small countertop which is primarily used for mixing and serving alcoholic drinks. The main qualifier for a wet bar is that it will have a sink. The sink allows for you to clean glasses straight away, add water to drinks when required, and wash the mixing tools as needed. You can include a wet bar in a butlers pantry with ease. Other common features of a wet bar include open cabinets for liquor storage, a refrigerator and an ice maker.

05. Small butler’s pantry

tiny butlers pantry small walk in pantry kitchen

The minimum dimensions for a butlers pantry are 7-8 ft (length) x 5-6 ft (width). This is the minimum size you will need for a functional butler’s pantry. With these dimensions, you will likely only be able to fit some shelving and a countertop. However, installing a butler’s pantry like this will be inexpensive (usually around $2,000) and give you a world of benefits.

04. Colourful Shelving

butlers pantry with blue cabinets kitchen design white and dark royal blue hamptons

For an aesthetically pleasing butler’s pantry, you should be using your kitchen cabinets for more than just storage. Kitchen cabinets such as the ones above can provide a burst of colour that creates visual intrigue in the space. There are many different colours, textures and styles you can play with. See here for more.

03. Pantry with laundry

white butlers pantry with laundry combined

Combining the pantry with a laundry room will free up a lot of space in the rest of your home. Washing machines and dryers are infamously bulky items which can easily crowd a laundry room. You can make them look at home in a butlers pantry by sliding them in underneath the shelving or countertops. This will work especially well if you have a large butler’s pantry.

02. Modern

modern butlers pantry with LED cove lights

These days, many butler’s pantries are kitted out with the latest appliances and innovations. One idea for bringing your butler’s pantry into the modern age is to install cove lighting or LED lighting like the picture above. This provides a more natural wash and ensures that you will be able to see what you’re doing from anywhere in the pantry (whereas overhead lighting may be blocked by the shelving or your own shadow).

01. Entryway ideas

butlers pantry with rustic sliding barn door

A beautiful entrance can make or break a kitchen pantry.

arched entryway doorway butlers pantry old fashioned stylish

Whether you opt for a glass door, an arched entryway or even no door at all, the design should feel deliberate and true to the essence of your décor. Read more about entryway ideas and the spiritual significance of doors.

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