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5 tips for planning a butler’s pantry

Butler’s pantries can optimise kitchen organisation and add thousands to the value of a home. JAG Kitchens shares advice for those wanting the luxury of a butler’s pantry (not including the butler).

As an extension of the kitchen, butler’s pantries were traditionally a storage room for silver and other pricey kitchen items, kept under watch by the domestic butler.

Though suit-wearing stewards serving tea and biscuits aren’t seen often in the modern home, their pantries have made a comeback.

JAG Kitchen’s Head of Design Marija Novosel says a desire to declutter kitchens is the cause of the butler’s pantry boom.

“I think with a lot of people, because they’ve been living in open plan situations, adding the butler’s pantry can be a bit of a hideaway,” Novosel says.

“The main kitchen tends to be more of a gathering spot these days, people like them to look well-presented if guests come over and it keeps the space practical.

“It’s now something people value highly; they get a bit excited when they see a butler’s pantry.”

1. Know your pantry’s purpose

You can use a butler’s pantry for storing, prepping, and any other imaginable kitchen-related tasks.

Marija says before you install a butler’s pantry, it is best to determine what you’ll be using it for.

“It’s a nice spot to also have things like mixers, toasters kettles; you know, all those small appliances – so that you’re not constantly having to pull those out of cupboards,” Marija says.

“Some people also go for open shelving for storage of food items – so that if they’re baking a cake, all the food items are in the same spot.”

For something extra, you can add a wine rack, extra bench space, a sink or dishwasher to your pantry to keep your kitchen as clutter-free as possible.

2. Pantry placement is pivotal

When it comes to location, Marija says situating a butler’s pantry behind the kitchen is best for workflow.

“Say if you do have dishes or something like that and you’re having a dinner party you have to have easy access to a space,” Marija says.

“It’s usually behind the kitchen so if you wanted to just do a dump of dishes and just run back and keep entertaining you can – generally it’s easily accessible from the kitchen.”

With this in mind, ensure your pantry doesn’t have an outward-opening door as this can obstruct the kitchen. Consider an inward-facing or sliding door to ensure kitchen floor space is kept optimal.

3. Be practical with storage solutions

As one of the butler’s pantry primary functions, it’s best not to skimp on cabinetry.

Marija says the combination of shallow shelving and pull-out drawers tends to be the most popular storage solution.

“Shallow shelving is common normally because it’s a bit more practical for jar storage and calluses,” Marija says.

“In some pantries, inner drawers are pulled out in situations where you can pull things towards you, so you’re not having to sit at the bottom of a cupboard.

“Covers can be handy as well if you want to hide some things away, but it all depends [on] if they’re having a sink or dishwasher.”

4. Create cohesion with finishes 

Though the type of finishes varies from client to client, Marija says it’s best to ensure your butler’s pantry has an element of cohesion with the main kitchen.

“I tend to link something in the butler’s pantry to the kitchen,” Marija says.

“Whether it’s keeping the benchtops the same and then perhaps going to a laminate or melamine product – it really depends on the budget.”

If you want your butler’s pantry to catch the eyes of guests – consider matching the backsplashes of your kitchen and scullery.

5. Don’t outshine the main kitchen

Though they are away from view, butler’s pantries have become a means for dinner hosts to show off.

Marija says it’s key to ensure your butler’s pantry isn’t too large or elaborate as this will draw away from the main kitchen.

“People tend to put the focus on the kitchen in terms of being the feature and the optical ‘wow’ of the home, whereas the butler’s kitchen, generally is a bit of a downgrade for cost,” Marija says.

When considering space, Marija says the butler’s pantry shouldn’t be overly big.

The storeroom shouldn’t be more than a third of your total kitchen space, allowing ample room for functionality while keeping the main kitchen in the spotlight.