Designs That Are Bringing Butler’s Pantries Back

Monica Gray - July 9, 2023

Butler’s pantries serve two main purposes: staging and storage. Homeowners are increasingly embracing this design trend, recognizing the potential of the extra space near their kitchen. The beauty of butler’s pantries lies in their versatility, as there are numerous design options available to incorporate them into any home. In the past, butler’s pantries were used to safeguard valuable heirlooms, with some even serving as sleeping quarters for butlers. According to designer Linda Hayslett, the luxurious ones feature precise storage spaces for every piece of exquisite kitchenware, ensuring each item has its designated spot. Upscale versions may also include a sink and wine fridge. Although less popular in modern times, butler’s pantries are making a comeback, and you could have an exciting project ahead if you choose to create one.


Get Tech-Savvy With A Prep Sink

Whether you’re using a prep sink to make coffee, wash vegetables and fruit, or drink a glass of water, prep sinks in your butler’s pantry are in. It’s a lot easier to have a small sink used for these tasks instead of using one sink for all the work. Designer Tom Howley said, “Adding a sink or hob into the mix will boost the functionality of your kitchen island ideas. This will make cooking and cleaning tasks a breeze whilst still allowing you to be part of the conversation.” They’re especially handy if your household has more than one cook, as it increases efficiency and saves time. All you need to do is organize plumbing and you’re all set (Homes and Gardens).

The Hush

Use A High-Gloss Finish For Minimalism

Maximize your butler’s pantry style with a high-gloss finish and moody paint. You can use dark blue cabinets and brass hardware to give it more of a chic personality. You can also incorporate subtle accents around your house to match. It’s critical to get that perfect finish, otherwise, the result will look crude. Fill in the open pores and smooth out the glossy finish so it’s shining (Fine Woodworking).


Green Is In

By using a bright, soothing shade of green, your butler’s pantry will feel inviting and welcoming. It’s gaining popularity amongst people creating butler pantries in their homes. Take a modern spin on your butler pantry to give it its personality, and prevent it from looking outdated. Make sure to include plenty of storage space on your countertops for your serve ware (House Beautiful).


Get Smart With Smart Appliances

By installing smart appliances like touch-screen refrigerators, automated pantry doors, and voice-controlled lighting, you can take your butler’s pantry to another level. You can get the most from your smart appliances. It’s also important to install tons of power points. Designer Graeme Metcalf said “Often people don’t think about including lots of power points. But … you might put double the amount in the butler’s pantry than you would have in a normal kitchen.” If your butler’s pantry is narrow, it’ll be easier for you to work and turn around and grab things (Houzz).

The Lily Pad Cottage

Use Wallpaper To Your Advantage To Go Bold

Wallpaper – whether it’s patterned, geometric, or floral – is a great way to pack a punch. You can incorporate a lot of style with wallpaper, and if you do it correctly, it can have a great effect on your room. Designer Alex Whitecroft said, “Be expressive with your color choices and look at shades you wouldn’t usually go for. Whether cobalt blue, citric yellow, or hot pink, bright colors shouldn’t just be reserved for the kid’s bedroom; bold shades can have a home in any room of the house – especially on the ceiling!” Use simple colored cabinets that match the accents in the wallpaper (Ideal Home).

In Design Liv

Use A Neutral Color Palette For Balance

There’s nothing wrong with a neutral-colored palette. If you pair white cabinets, countertops, and tiles with black hardware, the result is minimalistic but powerful. This will also help your home feel open and spacious. If you use light and neutral colors to your advantage, you can make the space flow and feel coherent (In Design Live).


Install A Rolling Ladder For A Farmhouse Look

By installing a rolling ladder, it ensures you can access those difficult places daily, without having to put yourself in danger by crawling on your cabinet. This is a great way to grab those kitchen items you only use once a year on special occasions. It can also fulfill your romantic period drama dreams. Romanticize your life a little by bringing these dreamy aspects into your home. (Houzz).


Go Green With A Mini Herb Garden

Growing your own herbs and vegetables is a wonderful way to be more involved with your food. It also tastes better! You can dedicate part of your butler’s pantry as an herb garden, with hanging plants and greenery. This will also make it easy to access the herbs while you’re cooking. It’s easy to create DIY herb hangers and incorporate them into your kitchen (Decoist).


Transform Your Hallway

It’s time to make that hallway work harder! If there’s a hallway outside of your kitchen, use that space to your advantage. It’s sitting there, waiting for your creativity and imagination. Design expert Carisha Swanson said, “Most homeowners are focused on the main kitchen area, but if you’re able to carve out space away from the kitchen for your nicer dinnerware, smaller appliances, and a small sink, anyone can have a butler’s pantry. It’s an area that helps keep the prepping of a meal out of sight.” You can install a second, single-walled kitchen using the hallway by lining it with shelves and filling it with glass jars, as well as counters to use for prep (Pinterest).


Use A Striking Chandelier For A Chic Look

No rules are saying you can’t install a dazzling chandelier in your butler’s pantry. This design might make your room seem more dramatic and spacious than ever before. Better yet, if you have a beautiful ceiling that goes along with the chandelier, it’ll have more of an effect on the overall room (Pinterest).

The Kitchn

Add Hooks And Racks For Pots And Pans For More Storage

By adding tons of hooks, evenly spaced out, you can create even more storage in your butler’s pantry. Hanging pots on the wall is also a great way to decorate since it adds a chic, minimalistic style to your room. It also makes them easy to access. Blogger Kristin Appenbrink from The Kitchn said, “We love hanging racks for pots and pans; they ensure your cookware doesn’t take up valuable cabinet or drawer space, and give purpose to spaces that would otherwise likely go unused.” There’s nothing wrong with saving tons of kitchen space (The Kitchn).

RTA Cabinet

Designate A Drink Space For Mixologists

As butler’s pantries are more for cook enthusiasts and mixologists, there’s no reason yours shouldn’t have a designated drink space. Whether it’s for a full-size wine cooler, a small counter that serves as a bar, or an area of glassware, this will bring your butler pantry to life. Designate a space to show off your bottles of vodka, gin, whiskey, or other liquor of choice. You might even pick up a new passion once you realize how much you love mixing drinks. There’s nothing wrong with a perfectly functional bar space, and if you want to turn it more chic, add a mirror backsplash to give your drink collection a pop (RTA Cabinet Store).


Install A Built-In Espresso Machine

You can make a portion of your butler’s pantry a coffee station by installing an espresso machine, open shelving for coffee mugs, storing coffee and sugar in glass jars, and keeping milk in a small fridge. This will save space in your main kitchen, which you can use to make breakfast. With the two rooms combined, you have an efficient, functional space (Press To Cook).


Go Moroccan With A Decorative Backsplash And Trim

Providing a pop of color in your backsplash does all the work in decoration. If you use an orange-colored mosaic backsplash, install gray shaker cabinets and a glass fridge. Use a neutral-colored trim around your wallpaper, complimenting your brightly colored backsplash. For full-on Moroccan, install orange lights, intricate patterns, and a seating area with patterned pillows (Pinterest).


Use Flooring To Your Advantage

Don’t shy away from bold flooring in your butler’s pantry! Compliment the gray-blue cabinets, bold wallpaper, or marble countertops with patterned floor tiles. Houston-based stylist Jen McDonald said, “The tiles make a huge impact, and they define the room.” Best of all, they’re easy to clean up, since “having a tiled surface is just smarter with a young family.” If you have kids, it’s just another reason to use tiled flooring (Seattle Times).


Use Floor-To-Ceiling Storage

Make use of all that vertical space by building shelves from the floor to the ceiling. The higher-up spaces are great for lesser-used items, or items you only use once per year. If you install a sliding ladder or stepping stool, it’ll make reaching those spaces easier and safer. Designer Dominique McAdam said, “A combination of open and closed storage means you can put all your beautiful items on display, and put messy-looking things behind cupboard doors.” If you can, install both open cupboards and closed cupboards on your floor-to-ceiling shelves (Decorpad).


Drawers, Canisters, And Jars Are Great For Food Storage

Glass jars and canisters are great for storing everyday food items and spices. We’re talking pasta, rice, cookies, coffee, sugar, flour, and every sort of spice. Mesh drawers are great for storing potatoes and onions. If you want to get creative, you can organize your storage by color so it looks especially chic (Good Housekeeping).


Go Chic With A Sound System

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of background music! Install a sound system in your butler’s pantry to allow soft music to play throughout your home whenever you have guests over, or feel like listening to overhead music while you’re cooking. You can give your butler’s pantry a chic look by purchasing beautiful speakers with curves and textures (Apartment Therapy).


Play Around With Lighting

Installing wall lighting will make prepping and chopping your food that much easier. The older we get, the more we need to take care of our eyes, which means we need to have prep stations with a lot of light! Recessed, or dimming, lighting is always a good idea, as is under cabinetry lighting. Interior cabinet lighting with glass fronts will create a dramatic backdrop and make your room seem more spacious and open (Fiori Interior Design).

Cliq Studios

Get Tech-Savvy With A Built-In Microwave

Building your microwave in your prep kitchen will not only save space in your main kitchen, but it’ll keep it out of sight. There’s a certain type of elegance that comes with hiding away some of your appliances and popping them out when they’re needed. You can use all that extra countertop space to chop your food and dish out your plates. Installing a built-in microwave will also keep messes to a minimum (Cliq Studios).

Homes to Love

Use A Monochromatic Palette For A Calming Look

Using a strong, yet calming aesthetic in your butler’s pantry, you can achieve a lot. One example is using a monochromatic palette. Homeowner Nerida does just that, and said, “I love how the grey tones of the bench top contrast with the organic brass tap-ware and the indigo joinery.” With an added pop of wooden features, this will blend into the palette. The more coherent your colors, the more aesthetically pleasing your home will look to the eye (Homes to Love).


Create An Archway

Create a beautiful archway leading into your butler’s pantry to make the space more elegant and sophisticated. With a prep sink and open shelving, you’ll take any ordinary pantry and turn it into an outstanding one. This accentuates the transition between the main kitchen and the pantry. If you don’t have an existing archway, it’s simple to remove the existing trim and cut an arch into your doorway (Curvemakers).

Thrift Decor Chic

Get Cozy With A Mini Library

If you love books and reading, then install a mini library in your butler’s pantry. This doesn’t have to take up a lot of space and has a great decorative effect. Add soft lighting, a small bookshelf, and a small seating area to make it pop. This is a great place to relax while you’re cooking and waiting for something in the oven (Thrifty Decor Chic).

The House of Silver Lining

Install Floating Wooden Shelves

Open shelves serve a purpose of both style and function. If you decorate the floating shelves correctly, they can store items while also creating texture and aesthetics in your home. For example, if you like the style of one vase, you can buy two other vases in different styles and place them next to each other. You can also create texture from woven baskets, greenery, and other small vintage items (The House of Silver Lining).


Go Minimalist With Small Appliances

Whether it’s a small dishwasher, drink fridge, or prep sinks, small appliances make it easier to prep and clean on the go, especially if you’re hosting a big party. Design specialist Bronwyn Aldridge, “The best butler’s pantries are now zoned with a food prep area, a cooking area, and a dishwashing area. Having hard-working appliances like dishwashers, microwaves and coffee machines built into your secondary space leaves ample bench space for meal prep while keeping your main kitchen minimalist, with room for entertaining.” There’s nothing wrong with a tiny dishwasher to keep those dishes clean and sparkling (The Good Guys).


Install A Chalkboard Wall

Paint one wall with chalkboard paint to serve as an interactive space. This is a fun way to involve your family in the butler’s pantry. They can grab a piece of chalk and write messages, and you can also use it to write down grocery lists and recipes that are easy to see and access (Rustoleum).

Good Housekeeping

Create A Freestanding Kitchen Island

Adding in a small freestanding kitchen island will give you ample space for chopping, mixing, and slicing vegetables. Creating this counter separation gives you ample freedom to work and chop separately from the counter, which is especially handy in a home with more than one cook. Bonus points if it’s looking out into the main kitchen area (Kitchinsider).

House Beautiful

Use A Metallic Finish For A Minimalist Look

To create a striking design, use metal tiles and a metallic finish for your cabinets. This helps if your butler’s pantry doubles as a home bar, which gives you more leeway to go daring. Metallic wallpaper creates a moody backdrop. Pair it with a stained wood cabinet to give it a more wholesome look (House Beautiful).


Incorporate Different Design Styles

If you already have a minimal, modern, bohemian, or chic-styled home, try experimenting with different styles. You can use an under-sink curtain, historic decor, textured wallpaper, stained wooden cabinets, vintage cupboards, and vibrant throw pillows for a beautiful aesthetic. It’s always good to keep your home fresh and feeling new. Designer Sydney Markus said, “The easiest way to visually transform a room from one style to another is to transition one period style away from the existing style—like from traditional to transitional or transitional to contemporary.” Once you have the visual, you can start decorating your butler’s pantry with the necessary designs (House Beautiful).

Homes to Love

Use Gentle Curves For A Coherent Look

Throughout this home, gentle curves undulate through the halls and lead into the butler’s pantry. This curved doorway sections off the butler’s pantry, giving it an inviting look. There’s even an extra hidden sink tucked away in the butler’s pantry. These gentle curves give your home a more coherent, flowing look (Homes to Love).


Use An Open Floor Plan

If you don’t have a small room or closet for your butler’s pantry, a blank wall in the dining room adjacent to the kitchen also works. This single-wall butler’s pantry is great for food prep and holding a small bar. Not only does it add style to your home, but it adds efficiency (Pinterest).


Bring In Natural Light With Huge Windows

Install large windows to bring in ample light. If you don’t have space to install windows, you can install a skylight above your butler’s pantry to let natural light flood in during the day. Let nature work its magic! Installing windows will also lower your electricity bill in the long run, since you’re using less power to light your home. You might even get a beautiful effect when the moon is at its fullest. With bright paint and trims, your butler’s pantry will look extremely inviting (Wonderful Kitchens).


Use Open Shelving For An Eclectic Mix

You can use open shelving to your advantage with glasses, bowls, and bottles to maximize your space. If you keep your shelves a neutral color, you can have an effect with colored, vibrant glassware. Let the glassware speak for itself. You could also go completely neutral and have a few bright, colorful pieces that make your room pop. It’s also a good idea to add one closed cupboard, where you can store dirty dishes during a party. Architect Dominic Bagnato said, “The most important consideration when designing a butler’s pantry is storage and… easy access to stored items. Opt for open-plan shelves and have an abundance of them.” This will keep them out of sight until the party is over and you’re cleaning up your home (Laurel Bern Interiors).

A House In The Hills

Use Glass Panels Instead Of Wooden Cabinets

By trading in wooden cabinets for glass panels, you’ll display your dinnerware and drinkware as decor. As we’ve mentioned earlier, you can have a few pieces of glassware that do the decorating. It’s a minimal effort in your butler’s pantry that goes a long way. This also works well if your home is decorated with wooden doors. The contrast will make your home seem more open (Washington Post).

Mindy Gayer Design Co

Use Barn Doors For A Farmhouse Look

A set of unfinished barn doors gives your home a farmhouse style. If your home is already chic, then adding barn doors will give it an added aesthetic. It’s also efficient since they can conceal the pantry. When you’re ready to use the pantry for extra prep or have access to your bar, you can open the doors and surprise your guests with the added room. Barn doors are also great for a narrow pantry space and minimalist design (My Domaine).


Play Around With Pastels

By adding pale pinks, blues, greens, and yellows, you’ll give your butler’s pantry a pop of color that’s calm on the eyes. With this minimalist design, you’ll create a cozy atmosphere in your home. Color expert Tash Bradley said, “Pastel colors have no black pigment in them, so they are light, playful, and friendly colors. It depends on the amount of white pigment added they can fall into being very soothing.” Pair it with golden hardware for a concise look (Homes and Gardens).


Conceal A Door With A Bookshelf

You can hide the entrance to your butler’s pantry by using a sliding bookshelf as a door. When it’s not in use, you can keep the bookshelf closed. People will think it’s an ordinary bookshelf. Best of all, it serves as storage. Then, when you need to get into your butler’s pantry, simply open or slide the bookshelf away, revealing what’s hidden behind that door (Pinterest).


Incorporate A Wine Cellar

Just as you would incorporate a wet or dry bar, adding a wine cellar changes things up and give it an added layer of sophistication. There’s nothing wrong with a fridge with tons of wine bottles ready at your disposal! Do this by adding temperature-controlled wine racks, a tasting area, serving platters, and glass display cabinets showcasing your wine glasses (Houzz).

This Old House

Install A DIY Breakfast Bar

Choose the height of your breakfast bar, the finishings, and the shelf. This is the best place to enjoy your morning cup of joe or eat freshly sliced fruit or toast. If you don’t have the space for a breakfast bar, you can install a ready-made breakfast island on wheels. This is a great alternative since you can use it when guests are over and put it away when it’s not in use. But the material you choose for your breakfast bar or island is important, too. Designer Graeme Metcalf said, “Butler’s pantries tend to be high work zones. Select low-maintenance materials for benchtops that are going to take knocks and will resist staining and scratching. This goes for cupboard fronts too.” The more resistant your material is, the longer your butler’s pantry will last (This Old House).