Our Butler’s Pantry desperately needed new design ideas, and I wasn’t sure where to look for inspiration.
I had several ideas but needed to narrow down some of my options.
Before we get to the makeover of our Butler’s pantry, let’s talk about some of the basic things you must consider before designing your space.
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What is a butler’s pantry?
Discover the fascinating history behind the butler’s pantry, a unique space once dedicated to storing and guarding the valuable possessions of the wealthy. From delicate china to precious silver, this narrow room was coveted for its ability to house the finest serving pieces of the household. Interestingly, it was not uncommon for butlers to sleep in the pantry to safeguard these cherished items. In addition to the butler’s pantry, many English and European homes from the Victorian era featured a traditional food storage pantry for washing up and food prep.
While we do not have a butler (I am the butler, or I should really say my husband is:)))), we live in an old home with a butler’s pantry.
Gone are the days when the butler’s pantry was a mere extension of the main kitchen or dining room. Today, these clever spaces are often placed strategically between these two entertaining hubs, offering a functional and stylish solution for hosting dinner parties.
This room typically has built-in cabinets and open shelves and is an extension of the kitchen space for additional storage. The butler’s pantry is also used for serving and staging food for entertaining.
Benefits of a butler’s pantry
A butler’s pantry has many benefits and ways to utilize this great space.
- Use it for extra storage space for your fine china
- Storage area for small appliances
- Use the additional countertop space for food prep
- Use it for a wet bar
- Create a coffee station in your pantry
What kind of appliances do you need in a butler’s pantry?
You will choose your appliances once you decide on your pantry’s main function.
Our pantry serves as a second kitchen where we do a lot of food and drink prep.
Here is a list of the appliances I have in my pantry.
- Wine cooler
- Ice maker
- Coffee maker
- A second sink
- Drink refrigerator
Some other options you may want to include:
- A second dishwasher
- A warming drawer
- A trash compactor
Butler’s pantry design ideas and tips
Let’s talk about some pantry design ideas and tips to help make your butler’s pantry work for you.
- Create a coffee station
- Leave a hot water pot out for tea
- Create an area to use as a home bar when entertaining
- Use your counter space to create a dessert bar
- Use your sink as an ice bucket
- Use the counters as a staging area to serve food
- Invest in a wine refrigerator
- Don’t over clutter your counter space
- Take advantage of verticle space adding cabinets to the ceiling
- Add open shelving
- Leave those small kitchen appliances that you use daily out on the counter
- Add a pocket door if you want to close off your space
- Add task lighting for food prep areas
Take a look at my butler’s pantry re-model
I started with a Pinterest board to develop ideas I liked, to create a more modern butler’s pantry. Our home is not new, so I needed to be careful with my choices to ensure I followed the original style and design of our 1898 home.
We had good bones to work with as we already have high ceilings and beautiful kitchen cabinets in the pantry. Several of the cabinets have glass doors for displaying many of my serving pieces and extra wine glasses. These cabinets had enough space so that I would able to organize my collections well. In addition, the placement of the dining area is close by, so there was no need to move any walls.
I had an existing wine rack that was the perfect place to add some open shelves.
Once I narrowed down my design choices, I created a mood board. This was my guide to start the update of the butler’s pantry.
A little history of our butler’s pantry
This room was very dark and dreary. It needed more natural light and a design makeover.
An interesting fact, our home is a historical landmark, and a lot of the history of our home happened in this room. The city Postmaster lived here, and they used the butler’s pantry as the postal room. This is where you would come to collect your mail and pay your taxes.
We have lived here for 25 years and did the first remodel of this room 15 years ago.
The Butler’s Pantry is between the family, kitchen, and dining room, so the location is perfect and works well for entertaining. This room is a great place for our friends and family to gather when they are visiting. Its easy accessibility makes it the perfect area to serve hors d’oeuvres and drinks.
Butler’s pantry ideas
Here is a list of the ideas we have implemented to update our butler’s pantry. I did not want to replace the backsplash or the countertops, so we had to develop creative ideas.
- Paint the cabinets
- Overlay a new backsplash using beadboard
- Pour epoxy to look like a white marble countertop
- Replace all of the hardware on the cabinets
- Replace the light fixture
- Add an area rug
- Update my decor on the countertops
Painting the cabinets
Painting cabinets is a big job, not one I wanted to tackle, so I brought in professionals.
I know white cabinets would have added a lot of light to this room. However, my kitchen and family room have white cabinets, and I wanted a contrasting color. I would incorporate the white in the backsplash and the countertops.
The hardest part of the painting process for me was choosing the color! Do you struggle with this too?
I bought twelve small cans of paint before I narrowed it down to Normandy Blue from @BenjaminMoore.
I know this sounds like a lot of paint samples to purchase. However, you must try the colors and see how they work in your space. This is a great way to get the correct color.
This was a perfect blue, not too light or dark, and just the right amount of grey.
New lighting ideas for the butler’s pantry
I had decided to use light gold hardware from Amerock on the cabinets and wanted my light fixtures to match.
We replaced the two pendant lights over the bar area that goes into the family room. They were a great update and added additional light to the area.
We also replaced the old light fixture with this 6-light chandelier hanging in the center of the butler’s pantry.
Know when to save and when to splurge
I should have listened to my own advice.
I had researched epoxying countertops and thought it was the perfect remedy for our small butler’s pantry. However, I have learned that epoxying the countertops was not ideal.
It was a big job! The initial outcome was fantastic. However….. over time, the epoxy has yellowed, and I will have to either replace the countertops or find an alternative to remedy this situation.
I was trying to save money and thought this was a great option for my counter space. This was a great lesson: You can’t always cut corners when doing a big project like this.
Especially in a functional space that we use for a prep area.
Adding a sink
We already had a fabulous long, narrow copper sink in this area, so I chose to keep this sink. It not only serves as a sink, but we love to fill it with ice and keep wine chilled in it for entertaining.
Installing the back splash
We placed beadboard panels over the tile on the existing backsplash. This was also a big undertaking.
We are thankful to our dear friends who came from Northern California to help with this project.
My husband and I had purchased the materials the week before and pre-painted everything.
Our friends arrived, and the work began. There were several challenges, but the finished results are gorgeous.
Final touches to our butler’s pantry
The icing on the cake was adding the new hardware to our cabinetry. I used this beautiful light gold hardware from Amerock. It adds a modern touch to the cabinets.
I was fortunate to have collaborated with @Amerockhardware for this project.
I chose the Winsome pulls in three different lengths and the Candler Wallplates. You won’t believe how easy they are to install. Check out my IG live, where I show you exactly how easy they are to install yourself.
Creative butler’s pantry design ideas
Adding special touches will make your butler’s pantry look beautiful and function well too.
If you have added open shelving, style your shelves with a few of your favorite dishes or glasses.
I chose to add an area rug to my butler’s pantry. I like the warmth it adds to the narrow room. In addition, it feels good under your feet.
Create small decorative vignettes on the countertop using fresh greens, old books, and decor of your choice.
Display a tray of vintage glasses and barware.
Put your coffee condiments in decorative jars on the counters.
Change out the decor for different seasons.
The finished butler’s pantry
We could not be happier with our finished room except for the darn countertop. I have a few ideas and will explore them soon, so stay tuned to hear what we decide to do.
Cheers to you all!
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