A butler's pantry is essentially a small walk-in kitchen within the main kitchen area primarily used to keep the functional clutter out of view. Historically, just a humble storage room for the family silver and china, today the contemporary and chic butler's pantry is putting a new twist on an old classic. Though there are certain rudimentary elements to keep in mind when designing a butler's pantry that fits all your needs, the planning process doesn't need to be daunting. However, there are some essentials that need to be incorporated in the planning and designing of the space to make it as effective and efficient as possible.
So here are ten fundamental questions to ask when designing the ultimate butler's pantry with ideas to turn a functional room into something truly exceptional!
Question 1: Do I need a butler's pantry?
If you love to entertain and don't want your guests to see the mess, you need a butler's pantry. If you have a regular pantry cupboard, that's fantastic, however a walk-in butler's pantry is so much more! It's extra workspace for preparing meals, setting up a cocoa or coffee stand or bar, storing extra groceries, crockery, barware, glassware, serve ware, maybe even a wine rack and keeping the rest of your kitchen looking clean and pristine at all times. Not to mention a well designed butler's pantry, like the veritable shoe closet, is every home cook's dream!
Question 2: What size should my butler's pantry be?
Although size doesn't matter, it is important to have a usable work and storage space. First and foremost, check the existing floor plans to judge if there is adequate space to incorporate a butler's pantry. A butler's pantry should ideally have enough space to include all the appliances like the fridge, microwave, toaster, coffee machine, blender, the dishwasher, a proper sink and ample bench space. However, having said that, a small butler's pantry with less appliances can also do the job equally well. Consider space for plenty of shelving and/or cabinetry to store all the essentials. It's great to have a window in your butler's pantry, but most do not. In that case, consider good but aesthetic lighting to make sure that the workspace is well-illuminated.
Question 3: How much bench space do I need?
Figure out what you will be using your butler's pantry for, along with the floor space that you can designate and then plan for bench space accordingly.
For example, if you have a large well planned kitchen with ample storage and you would like a separate butler's pantry to set up as a bar, perhaps to store alcohol and drinks along with barware, glassware and maybe a coffee machine, then a small butler's pantry with less bench space is adequate. If you will be using the butler's pantry as a natural extension of your kitchen for meal preparation and storage of appliances, groceries then obviously, you need plenty of bench space.
Question 4: What should I do about storage space: open shelving vs cabinets
Open shelving obviously makes sense in a butler's pantry so that everything is in quick view. But cabinets can hide the mess away especially if you can see inside the butler's pantry from the kitchen or the main areas. A combination of open shelves and cabinets might work best. Think about installing shelves all the way to the ceiling along with a handy ladder to reach them and make the most of the available space and install good quality cabinets with bifold doors and plenty of pull-out drawers under the bench tops to have the best of both worlds.
Question 5: To Sink or Not To Sink?
If you have the space, then install a large sink. If space is tight, a small sink will do the job. But have a sink! Whether mixing drinks or preparing meals, a sink is always handy in a butler's pantry.
You could turn it into a style statement by installing a gorgeous farmhouse sink, a trendy copper sink or a bespoke concrete sink along with simple but stylish tapware like matte black taps and mixers or swanky ones in brass.
Question 6: What kind of finish should I choose?
Timber obviously is the first choice, but it is very expensive. The alternate options are veneers and laminates, both of which can look spectacular.
Question 7: What kind of pantry door should I install?
Yes, the door question!
There are so many options to choose from- sliding, decorative, transparent glass, frosted glass, bifolds, old fashioned salon doors or no door! It depends entirely on your personal taste, design of the kitchen and butler's pantry, space availability and most importantly on your budget. If you don't have space to swing a cat then sliding doors are a good solution. They are space saving and practical. Sliding barn doors made from reclaimed wood have become a huge trend. Or if you are a neat freak, then you could install transparent doors with aluminium frames to add an industrial touch or fashionable bifolds to create a chic space. Just remember which ever door you choose unless it's a concealed galley or vestibule with no doors, it will be seen from the main areas and the kitchen.
Question 8: What decor - tiles, paint or wallpaper would suit my butler's pantry?
Again this depends on your personal taste and the allocated budget. Tiles are the more popular choice in a wet area and there are some exquisite hand cut ceramic subway tiles or graphic moroccan style tiles available to create a functional yet beautiful space. You could also choose a stunning marble or a vintage mirrored splashback for a truly bespoke look! However, the right paint colour or wallpaper choice would also look aesthetically impressive. When choosing between, tiles, paint or wallpaper, think about your existing kitchen design and style. Since the butler's pantry is a natural extension of your kitchen, a coordinated style would work best.
Question 9: What lights should I consider in my butler's pantry?
A well illuminated butler's pantry is a must. Natural light is undoubtedly the best option, however, not many butler's pantries have the luxury of a window or a skylight. Think about installing adequate recessed lights with motion sensors or a couple of stunning pendant lights along with LED light strips under the shelves over the bench tops.
Question 10: How many power points will I need?
Think about available floor space and bench space and make a list of all the appliances that you would like to house in the pantry. Since you are building the butler's pantry of your dreams, (unless space is extremely tight) the last thing you want to do is constantly take the small appliances out of cabinets, plug them in and then put them back. Ideally, you would like to keep them plugged in on the bench top so they are easy to access and use. Based on this, calculate how many power points you will need and add a few more to be on the safe side in case you buy a few more appliances. Also, think about concealing a few power points inside the cabinets.
So there you have it, ten fundamental questions to ask when designing your ultimate butler's pantry! I hope this helps in making the planning process easier and less intimidating.
Is a butler's pantry on your wishlist or is it a must have? Do you already have one? If so, I would love to hear how you use it. Share with us in the comments below.
Till next time...
Till next time...
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