A butler’s pantry? Isn’t a butler’s pantry a bit out of date? Is it really still useful? Here is the story of my butler’s pantry and how I use it.
How the Story Begins
A few years ago my husband and I needed a new refrigerator. We decided on a French door model because we entertain a lot and the double doors allow easier access for trays and platters. The only problem was the pesky wall to the side of the refrigerator. It would not allow the left door to open fully.
To solve the problem we embarked on a major remodel of the house. All because of that pesky wall. Or, to be more accurate, all because of six inches of that pesky wall. The floor in the picture below shows how much of the wall was cut back. Shortening the wall meant we had to replace the floor . . . and the ceiling . . . and . . . and . . . (You know how remodels expand in scope.)
The undertaking ended up being massive, but the part I want to tell you about today involves me ending up with a butler’s pantry. I am still waiting for the butler, but the butler’s pantry is ready!
A Butler’s Pantry?
Why a butler’s pantry? I have always admired older homes with a butler’s pantry, usually situated between the kitchen and dining room and originally used as a staging area for serving meals. As time has passed and butlers and other servants have disappeared from daily life, these usually small but useful rooms have become spaces for hosts and hostesses to set up beverage stations and to store entertaining pieces like large trays, extra glassware, buffet plates, and whatever was not routinely used in the kitchen.
I could see how useful such a room could be. Our kitchen is large, but it is in the center of the circulation pattern of our home. Usually this is good, but during a party there was always a roadblock of people in the kitchen gathered around the island having a great time. It was almost impossible to get to the drinks and ice. There was also no place to stage extra trays of food. The idea of a butler’s pantry began to percolate in my brain.
The original laundry room of the house was in a separate room on the other side of the wall from the kitchen sink. ( A kitchen sink with a view only of a blank wall.)
The original powder room could be reached only by going through the laundry room. My laundry room was not usually the neatest place nor was it the cleanest because it was inevitably covered in dryer dust. I used the powder room as part of the laundry space. I piled sorted clothes on the vanity and in the floor. The sink was usually full of dirty socks waiting for their turn in the washer. The toilet was only used in the very rare emergency situation when all other bathrooms were in use.
Adjacent to the laundry room was so-called pantry which was in reality a square closet with a narrow door and fixed shelves. Lots of things went into that closet never to be seen again. Some are still missing to this day. (You can see the skinny door on the right in the picture below. This is the same wall which was cut back six inches.)
In short, the whole space was inefficient both in use and in design. When I had the chance to change it all, I did.
What Happened Next
Out came the pesky six inches of wall next to the refrigerator.
Down came part of the wall behind the kitchen sink.
Out came the pantry closet. Down came the powder room. Out came the dusty dryer vent – well, it was actually just capped off. The important thing is that it went away.
In place of all the inconvenience and inefficiency? My beautiful, efficient, spacious butler’s pantry! (Picture my happy dance! . . . Never mind, don’t do that to yourself.)
The powder room vanity niche now houses a laundry closet which is perfect for my washer and dryer stacked in a few space-efficient square feet. The dryer now vents less than a foot out through the exterior wall, instead of winding through the concrete slab of the house to vent only heaven knows where. Result: no more dusty laundry room!
We have room for a beverage fridge and drawers custom built to hold the heavy weight of our many casserole dishes and some serving pieces. We have a wine chiller for all those wine bottles which no longer need to roll around in my refrigerator. And best of all, we have a second large, deep kitchen sink.
We set up our coffee station in a corner so I can get coffee without being in my husband’s way when he takes over the whole kitchen to cook breakfast.
We have the counter space for a tray to hold mugs, a vintage spooner, a cinnamon shaker, and cocktail napkins to catch our coffee drips. What more can a coffee drinker want?
Our mismatched, but well loved coffee mugs are stored out of sight in a convenient drawer. We have room for canisters for coffee beans, sugar, and ground coffee. These coffee necessities were previously stored all over the kitchen which made coffee time very active as we moved around gathering our coffee supplies.
We use the counter space for food prep and to stage serving pieces. We set up our beverage stations for parties there. When not in party mode, I fold laundry on the counter and use the sink to pretreat spots on clothes. In case you didn’t notice, the counter is also covered in the gorgeous Black Galaxy granite also used in the kitchen.
And the blank wall behind the kitchen sink? No more! Now I stand at the new kitchen sink and look through a large opening past the coffee tray and into the butler’s pantry. The opening gives both spaces the illusion of being so much larger.
This room serves more purposes than any other room in our home. I don’t know how we managed before we had this space.
What happened to everything hiding in the pantry closet? That is a story for another day.
So, Is It Useful?
A butler’s pantry? Is it still useful? The answer is a resounding YES!
(Now, if I can just find a butler . . . )
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