The open-concept kitchen has been a popular trend for several years, but many homeowners find maximizing storage and functionality while minimizing counter clutter a real challenge. Homeowners want kitchens clutter-free, yet their lifestyles include more tools and tech than ever before. Designers are stepping up to the challenge by making something old new again: butler pantries are back and are one of the hottest trends in kitchen design today.
Traditionally, the butler pantry was a utility space adjacent to the kitchen where dishes and glassware were stored and prep work for events was done by hired staff. Think Downtown Abbey or The Great Gatsby —cooks prepare the hors d’oeuvres in the kitchen while staff assembles the canapés on trays to be served to well-heeled guests attending lavish functions. In many cases, these were narrow, dark spaces with counter space and cabinets. Today’s butler pantries are an extension of the kitchen space where smart storage solutions, good lighting, and easy access create real value for homeowners.
Designers incorporating butler pantries into their kitchens typically have good insight into the homeowner’s lifestyle and priorities. Homeowners who entertain are quick to see the value of adding a butler pantry to their kitchen design. Having a well-lit space with task lighting, counter space, an extra sink, dishwasher, and refrigerator can be a lifesaver when entertaining. Best of all, having the ability to ‘hide’ dirty dishes and serving trays behind a butler pantry door allows the host to enjoy time with guests without thinking about cleaning up.
Integrating smart organization solutions for cutlery, dishes, and cookware adds real value to a butler pantry. One trend that is emerging in butler pantry design is the use of hidden appliances. From refrigerator drawers to hidden coffee stations with drawers featuring organizing inserts for coffee pods, warming drawers and multi-function speed ovens, there are a variety of appliances that can be incorporated into a butler pantry to keep them out of sight when not in use. Is the homeowner a baker that regularly uses their stand mixer or is it pulled out once a year to make holiday cookies? Either way, storing a mixer in a butler pantry cabinet with an appliance lift makes it easy to access while eliminating clutter. Are they wine connoisseurs? Built-in wine racks are a great solution. Does the homeowner love tech but doesn’t want to have devices charging in the kitchen? Creating a charging station with under-cabinet power strips in the butler pantry is a smart way to keep devices charged but out of sight.
Butler pantries give designers an opportunity to incorporate organization innovations that enhance the homeowner’s quality of life. From simple solutions like rollout cabinet drawers and decorative hardware pulls that are easy to grasp with one hand to appliance lifts and extra power outlets, the value of the butler pantry will be appreciated by clients for years to come.