Butler’s Pantry Ideas for Modern Living

While the term butler’s pantry might conjure images of a Downton Abbey era, these kitchen workspaces are experiencing a fresh resurgence. Once used as an overflow space for kitchen staff, today’s designers are shifting the concept to multipurpose rooms that make sense for modern living.

As plans began for The Austin Tudor kitchen design, I started brainstorming ways to incorporate a butler’s pantry within our layout. After a few revisions, we decided to combine the butler’s pantry with the laundry room for the best use of space. We’ll be repurposing the existing kitchen cabinetry, countertops, and double kitchen sink to ensure nothing goes to waste. The goal is to make the butler’s pantry feel like an extension of the custom design by Unique Kitchens and Baths, while repurposing our existing kitchen materials in the process. We’re still fine-tuning the details, but I wanted to show you what’s made it on my Pinterest boards as I source all the inspiration.

Butler’s Pantry Inspiration for the Austin Tudor

Butler's Pantry with mushroom and navy cabinetry by aaNovo Design + Build

Design: aaNovo Design + Build | Photography: Sarah Shields

Butler's Pantry with Modern Organic design features by Jessica Helgerson

Design: Jessica Helgerson, Photography: Aaron Leitz

Butler's pantry with a dark cabinetry color by Park & Oak

Design: Park & Oak

What is a Butler’s Pantry?

Historically, the butler’s pantry is set between the kitchen and the dining room, acting as a landing spot for dishes during meal service. It was also used by staff for general storage and overflow clean-up space. A similar room called a scullery would often include space for laundry and ironing. This hideaway “second kitchen” was an excellent way to keep dirty dishes tucked out of sight, while providing storage for all the special occasion dishware. 

Modern English scullery design by Hadley Wiggins

Design: Hadley Wiggins

Butler's pantry open shelving by Heidi Caillier

Design: Heidi Caillier Design | Photography: Haris Kenjar

Full Butler's Pantry with door by Humphrey Munson

Design: Humphrey Munson | Photography: Paul Craig


Elements of a Butler’s Pantry

Interior designers have helped shift the concept of a butler’s pantry by rethinking its features while honoring its function.  In most scenarios, the modern butler’s pantry has become a really a multipurpose space. Think a walk-in pantry with custom cabinetry, a second sink, countertop prep space, and storage for small kitchen appliances. For example, most homeowners will house their coffee maker or espresso machine in the butler’s pantry to free up countertop space in the main kitchen. 

Depending on the layout of the home, it’s also possible to combine a butler’s pantry with the mudroom or even the laundry room. I’ve had experience designing a walk-in pantry (even when I cut my storage in half), but I’m excited to take things a step further at The Austin Tudor. While the home was actually built in the 80s, my goal is to mirror the classic Tudor style of the early 1900s with a modern perspective.

More to Read: Wallpaper Selects for the Tudor House

Butler's Pantry with pink wall paint by Original BTC

Design + Image via Original BTC

Butler's Pantry with a bold, moody color by Jean Stoffer

Design: Jean Stoffer, Photography: Stoffer Photography Interiors

Butler's Pantry with vertical shiplap walls by Light & Dwell

Design: Light & Dwell, Photography: Amy Bartlam

Classic Butler's Pantry with checkerboard floors by reDesign Home

Design: reDesign Home | Photography: Ryan McDonald

Plans for the Austin Tudor 

As the heart of the home, the kitchen will be a modern take on a classic English kitchen. While open shelves have had their shining moment over the last ten years, I’m excited to create a spacious kitchen with floor-to-ceiling custom cabinetry that’s still flooded with natural light. And, of course, a proper butler’s pantry. 

The best part about designing our butler’s pantry is the opportunity to repurpose every single existing cabinet and counter and even the sink! We’ll be repainting the cabinetry in a Benjamin Moore paint color—likely something a bit lighter since there aren’t any windows. But, we’re also in the process of pricing out a sun tunnel, which would allow natural light in the space. 

As for the layout, our butler’s pantry and laundry room combination will be set just past the powder bath. It’s really right off the kitchen, so it still flows nicely. Initially, we considered converting the primary closet into a butler’s pantry, but this floor plan change works best for a completely private main floor primary suite.

To make it happen, we’re closing off the doorway from the laundry room to the primary closet and putting cabinets on that doorway wall. The size of the existing laundry room (soon-to-be butler’s pantry) will stay the same but will have L-shaped cabinetry instead of a single wall. I know kitchens typically get all the attention, but I’m convinced this bonus space will become the project highlight. I’ll be taking you inside the full renovation plans on our new Youtube channel, and I can’t wait for you to follow along.



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