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While open floor plans and casual living are still on trend, the Victorian era butler kitchen has been making a comeback! In this post you’ll learn what a butler kitchen is, ways to use it in your home, as well as tips for starting your butler kitchen design.

If a full kitchen remodel isn’t in your current budget, learn the reasons why a butler kitchen would be an affordable and practical alternative!

Butler pantry with white open shelving, wood pull out drawers, baskets, and various food storage containers.

Sure I’ve made some remodeling mistakes, but adding a butler pantry wasn’t one of them! While we still haven’t changed our slightly dated kitchen, we did gain extra storage and workspace with the addition of our small butler kitchen.

I love tackling a remodel on a budget, and our pantry was no exception. While a complete kitchen renovation wasn’t in the budget, converting our utility closet was.

Although our small kitchen already had a pantry, it needed more storage. Turning our utility closet into a butler kitchen was an easy way to gain space while keeping our current floor plan.

Demolished utility closet with hole in the floor and exposed pipes.

Although I’ve tackled small projects like our painted banister and gilded frames myself, I figured I’d leave this renovation to the professionals.

Still, once the remodel was finished and the dust settled, I got in there and began organizing!

Now that it’s been over two years living with our own pantry, I’m excited to share with you the benefits a butler kitchen can add to your home!

I love talking home decor with you! Discover White Quartz Countertops, Sherwin Williams Shiitake, and our DIY Painted Banister.

Use the drop down Table of Contents to navigate this post, and don’t forget to pin and save for later!

What is a Butler’s Kitchen?

Also known as a butler’s pantry, a butler kitchen combines the practicality of kitchen storage with the functionality of a workspace or countertop. It’s the ultimate pantry!

Popular in the 19th century, these rooms, overseen by the house butler, were used to store fine china. Conveniently located between the kitchen and formal dining room, this area also served as a prep space for domestic staff. Silverware was polished, wine decanted, and food was kept warm or chilled in preparation for the family.

While most of us no longer have a butler, many people are discovering old benefits and innovative uses to the traditional butler’s pantry. These spaces blend beauty and function and come in all shapes, sizes, and styles.

Butler pantry with pull out shelves, baskets, butcher block countertop, and open shelving

Ways To Use a Butler Kitchen

  • Coffee bar
  • Set up a buffet for easy entertaining
  • Keep dirty dishes out of sight
  • Wine bar
  • Home bar
  • Baking station
  • House additional dishwasher
  • Store cleaning supplies
  • Pantry
  • Stage beautiful kitchenware
  • Meal prep
  • Additional sink for after entertaining cleanup
  • Keep a mini fridge

Walk in Pantry vs. Butler’s Kitchen: What’s the Difference?

Used to store dry foods and beverages, a walk in pantry is a closet-like room built for extra kitchen storage. Homeowners opt for these spaces since their abundance of storage can be neatly hidden behind a closed door.

A butler pantry is seen more as an extension of the kitchen with room for storage and a countertop. In addition to the extra workspace, a butler kitchen can have a sink and space to house extra appliances. Talk about versatile!

Size is another difference when it comes to a walk in pantry vs. butler’s kitchen. While a walk in pantry is large enough to “walk in”, this isn’t the case with butler pantries. Sizes can vary ranging anywhere from as small as a closet or large enough to have a second mezzanine level.

Why Should You Have a Butler’s Kitchen?

  • Extra storage – It’s a great way to expand your kitchen space.
  • Extra workspace – With extra counter space you can nearly double your kitchen workspace.
  • Budget friendly – Because of its smaller size, a butler’s kitchen is more affordable than a full kitchen remodel.
  • Versatile – Whether you’re a coffee connoisseur, an at home baker, amateur bartender, or just love to host big gatherings, a butler pantry is a great space to house your domestic hobbies!
  • Easy to DIY – Whether you’re new to DIY or a seasoned pro, a butler pantry is easier to tackle than an entire kitchen remodel. Baby steps!
  • Combine function with beauty
  • Endless style possibilities – Unlike the Victorian pantries of yesteryear, today’s butler kitchens come in any style to suit your personal taste. From modern, transitional, French country, and more, the skies the limit to design!
Butcher block countertop with peaches, blue tea towel, and a green toaster.

How To Design a Butler’s Kitchen

  1. Determine how you’ll use it – Knowing how you’ll use your butler’s pantry makes the selection process so much easier! Consider what is and isn’t working with your current kitchen storage. Do you wish to use it for food storage, food prep, cleanup, baking, a bar, displaying kitchenware, or all of the above?
  2. Create a wishlist – Once you know how your space will be used, make a wishlist of all gadgets, appliances, and design details you wish to have.
  3. Set a budget – A budget helps you determine where you’re going to splurge and save.
  4. Measure and consider layout – Effective planning will help you get the best use from your pantry. Consider what’s going to be used most often to ensure it gets prime real estate and ease of accessibility.
  5. Select cabinetry – Now for the fun part! Cabinetry can be as simple or as intricate as you like. It doesn’t have to exactly match your kitchen, but keeping with the overall style will bring a more cohesive look. A mixture of open shelving, glass cabinets, and solid cabinetry is traditional, but you can get a modern look depending on your style selection.
  6. Measure depth of countertop and under cabinets – The standard depth of a kitchen countertop is 25 1/2 inches. The standard depth of an at home bar countertop is 24 inches. Either one looks great, but ensure the depth of your under cabinets do not exceed the countertop.
  7. Measure depth of upper cabinets – The standard depth of upper kitchen cabinets is anywhere between 12 inches to 24 inches. If you choose to go with open shelving, 10 inches to 16 inches looks best, but make sure they are secure!
  8. Select lighting (ceiling and cabinet) – Options for the ceiling include recessed and pendant lighting. Under cabinet lighting is not only practical, but showcases your beautiful items.
  9. Select a backsplash (or not) – The options are endless, but it’s best to match the style of your kitchen. With open shelving a counter to ceiling backsplash makes a statement, but is more pricey.
  10. Select flooring – Matching your kitchen flooring is ideal, but not always possible. If not, select a contrasting floor in a color that compliments what you already have.
  11. Select a door – Traditional butler doors swing in and out for ease of use. However, modern butler pantries vary in style and function. From pocket doors, sliding barn doors, glass, and solid pantry doors, there’s many great options!

How Big Should Your Butler Kitchen be?

This entirely depends on the space you’re working with. If you have the room for a walk in butler’s pantry, then great! If you have a smaller space like a wall or closet, you can still create a beautiful, functional pantry.


Green berry basket filled with green grapes.

Ceramic Berry Basket

These berry baskets from Crate & Barrel are adorable and useful, acting as a colander and storage container in one.

Water hyacinth storage crate.

Water Hyacinth Crate

These storage crates from The Container Store come in sizes X-Small to X-Large.

Green toaster on butcher block countertop next to terra cotta plant.

Retro Green Toaster

This green toaster from Wayfair adds a fun pop of color at an unbeatable price!

Clear glass jar with lid.

Glass Storage Jar

These glass heritage jars from Walmart are super affordable and can hold up to a gallon of storage!

Have you considered a butler kitchen before? I’d love to hear from you!

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