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What exactly is a butler’s pantry?

From the perfect prep space to a casual coffee bar, butler’s pantries can take your home to the next level

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Whether used as a prep space for hosting dinner parties or set up as a casual coffee bar, butler’s pantries can take your home to the next level. The butler’s pantry is a sophisticated space often found in older homes. However, there are plenty of modern uses for a butler’s pantry, and many homeowners enjoy the extra space.

But what exactly is a butler’s pantry? How does it differ from a normal pantry? Here’s everything you need to know.

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What is a butler’s pantry?

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A butler’s pantry is a small room or hallway between the kitchen and dining room. Often, a butler’s pantry will be a slim space with cabinets on either side and a door at either end of the room to adjoin the kitchen and dining spaces. Butler’s pantries are often found in older homes when this space would be primarily occupied by an in-home butler. However, some modern homes are including this elegant addition.

Butler’s pantry vs. walk-in pantry

Some homeowners confuse a butler’s pantry with a walk-in pantry. The difference is that a butler’s pantry is more similar to a hallway or a small room linking the kitchen and dining spaces, while a walk-in pantry is more similar to a large closet with only one entry point. While both spaces can be used for storage, a butler’s pantry has other uses and is intended as a transitional space between the kitchen and dining areas.

The history behind butler’s pantries

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Historically, butler’s pantries were used to store fine china, wares, silver utensils, family heirlooms, and other decorations or necessities that families might use during dinner parties. A butler would spend time in the butler’s pantry polishing wares or preparing decorations and food for hosting family and friends. Some butlers even slept in this pantry to protect the family’s most valuable materials!

Today, butler’s pantries are found in older homes. While some people may still employ a butler or other in-house service as needed, many homeowners use the butler’s pantry in a more casual way today.

How do homeowners use butler’s pantries today?

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Today, butler’s pantries are a beloved transitional space between the dining room and kitchen. They can offer homeowners many benefits outside of hosting dinner parties or gatherings with friends and family. Here are a few examples of how butler’s pantries are used today.

Food prep station

A common use of the butler’s pantry today is to create a food prep station. Some butler’s pantries have space for a separate fridge, a wine cooler, or a small prep sink, perfect for finalizing dishes before dinner. Homeowners who use their pantry as a prep station may prefer to throw frequent parties or gatherings and will find the extra space ideal for serving meals to larger groups without overcrowding the kitchen.

Storage space

Typically, modern homeowners use the butler’s pantry as additional storage space. Whether storing their fine china or creating designated snack cabinets, the butler’s pantry is a great place to store your finer wares and dishes or any dry goods to make more room in your regular pantry. Some homeowners with butler’s pantries may not have a large walk-in pantry in the kitchen. Using the butler’s pantry for additional storage can help relieve any cluttered mess in a small pantry.

Coffee bar

An ultra-modern and casual idea for using a butler’s pantry is to transform it into a coffee bar. Since butler’s pantries often have plenty of counter space, this makes it a wonderful station to add an espresso machine, coffeemaker, and any coffee tools or cups to create the perfect coffee bar.

Bar or wine station

If you are a wine connoisseur or need a cellar or designated at-home bar but lack the space, the butler’s pantry can be a great place to bring your beverages. Adding a wine cooler, racks, or a unique at-home bar setup can turn your butler’s pantry into the perfect storage space.

Can you add a butler’s pantry to your home?

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If you love the idea of a butler’s pantry and want one for your home, there are a few things to consider.

Space requirements

First, ensure that you have enough space for a butler’s pantry. Think of the butler’s pantry as a small hallway or room between your kitchen and dining areas. You’ll have to consider how much space you have and what can be designated for it.


Depending on your home’s existing floor plan, a traditional hallway or room butler’s pantry isn’t always feasible. If your home is small, you might have to use a wall in your kitchen or dining area to add cabinets and counters to create a pseudo-butler’s pantry that isn’t in its own room. This can be a great option for homeowners who want a designated bar space or additional storage.


Before you plan a remodel, decide how you plan to use your butler’s pantry. What are your needs? Should you add a sink? Do you want to prioritize storage space? What about food prep? Create a vision of how you plan to use your butler’s pantry before embarking on a redesign.

Butler’s pantries are a beautiful and historically rich addition to the home. They can boost resale value and add amazing space for food prep, at-home bars, or additional storage. Many homeowners adore their butler’s pantries, and others are interested in adding one to their home. Just be mindful of how you plan to use the space and what limitations you might face when adding one to your existing layout.

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Amelia Wilson
Amelia Wilson (author pen name Amelia J. Wilson) is a content writer in Greenwood, IN. She often enjoys topics on…
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