Elements of a Hardworking Butler’s Pantry

You’re probably not among those who have an actual butler… but a well-designed butler’s pantry can (almost) make you feel like you have one! Butler’s pantries are essential for those who entertain frequently, like to keep the kitchen clean, and are able to carve out some extra space – even a corner of the kitchen! – for a compact but hardworking area.

Typically situated between the kitchen and dining areas, a butler’s pantry is designed to serve (excuse the pun) as a space to contain the mess of dinner parties and informal get-togethers while keeping the essentials close at hand.

Stock your butler’s pantry with these items and elements to make entertaining easier, neater, and more enjoyable than you’d imagine possible:


Assuming you’re keeping your “fit for company” dishes here, you can display them on open shelves or in glass-fronted cabinets. Keep all serving pieces and dishes together so you don’t have to go hunting for that gravy boat every Thanksgiving.

Hall by Archer & Buchanan Architecture, Ltd.
Kitchen by Murphy & Co. Design
Create a serving station with ample counter space for preparing and plating food prior to serving it.
Kitchen by Jewett Farms + Co.
Kitchen by Cabinets & Designs

Many modern butler’s pantries serve as a wet bar as well. Equip yours with a wine rack, refrigerator or cooler, and bar sink and/or ice bucket. Be sure to keep the glasses handy!

Kitchen by Mahoney Architects & Interiors
Kitchen by Andre Rothblatt Architecture
Arteriors Pierre Ice Bucket
Kitchen by Marilyn Ashley Design Associates, Inc.

Because the pantry is largely a preparatory space, it doesn’t need a full suite of appliances (though some prefer to keep all of the mess contained in it, creating a fully equipped “work kitchen” in addition to a more attractive “show kitchen”). Most butler’s pantries benefit from smaller appliances: a wine cooler, warming drawer, coffee maker, or even a dishwasher.

Kitchen by Venegas and Company
Cleanup station

Most pantries are designed to hold dirty dishes until they can be ferried back into the kitchen, but a sink and bar faucet are crucial, especially if your pantry does double-duty as a bar or pass-through for guests (with a hand-washing station). If yours will be a trafficked area, keep it decorative more than just functional.

Elkay Mystic Single-Bowl Undermount Sink
The Allstone Group Bar/Prep Sink
Kitchen by Munger Interiors
Elkay Mystic Sink and Martini Faucet


Dingy and dark is not attractive. Under-cabinet lighting, lighted cabinets, and a great fixture keep your pantry bright and welcoming (and perfect for catching those specks of dirt).

Kitchen by Rebekah Zaveloff | KitchenLab

Because it’s a transitional space, the pantry should coordinate with adjacent kitchen or dining areas (depending on proximity), or, at the very least, complement the decor of surrounding rooms. Since it’s a small area, like a powder room, you can choose to go bold in the pantry.

Kitchen by Pennville Custom Cabinetry
Kitchen by Rob Kane – Kitchen Interiors Inc.
Kitchen by live-work-play

When your butler’s pantry serves as a pass-through space, it’s extra-important to keep it clean and sparkling. If it’s cluttered with cloudy glasses and food remnants, that’s the end of your guests’ appetites.

Kitchen by Interior Intuitions, Inc.

Kitchen by Lakeshore Development Partners
Do you have (or want) a butler’s pantry? Tell us all about yours (or your dream one)!