Architects, designers see boom in butler’s pantries

Serveware and other items are tucked away from the kitchen in a custom butler’s pantry with open shelving and drawers. CONTRIBUTED BY Summerour & Associates Architects
Serveware and other items are tucked away from the kitchen in a custom butler’s pantry with open shelving and drawers. CONTRIBUTED BY Summerour & Associates Architects

Whether it’s a prep space for families who are cooking together, a catering space to hold food or a spot to microwave quick meals, butler’s pantries are boosting the look of kitchens while taking on the functionality.

Fulfilling lifestyle needs

Butler’s pantries are an extension of the kitchen, said Stephanie Elder, a kitchen and bath designer with Dove Studio in Roswell. These spaces are turned into coffee stations and filled with appliances, such as high-powered blenders and food processors, second microwaves and dishwashers, sinks, and extra plates, silverware and garbage cans.

She said one client — a family that loves making smoothies — has a place in their butler’s pantry to cut and prepare fresh fruit and veggies.

Keith Summerour of Summerour and Associates Architects in Atlanta said he believes the demand for butler’s pantries has to do a lot with today’s takeout society. Whether it’s a family bringing in food for a meal or a caterer providing pre-made items, it’s a way to not “clutter up the kitchen, which is where everyone hangs out today,” he said.

Standing out

The look of butler’s pantries can have originality, even as extensions of the kitchen. These spaces may be functional but still feature beautiful additions, such as marble or stainless steel countertops, Summerour said.

“Now the cabinetry may be the same as the kitchen — maybe they’re stained woods or specially finished woods, but more often than not, they’re less expensive cabinetry that is more functional than the kitchen itself,” he said.

If the butler’s pantry is visible from the kitchen, similar colors and materials can be used. If the pantry is a separate space, Elder said the colors can be different — even introducing an accent hue.

Utilitarian butler’s pantries have given kitchens opportunity to showcase their fashionable side. Summerour said the kitchen may have fewer upper cabinets, but more windows and artwork.

Adding a butler’s pantry

Butler’s pantries are becoming standard in new construction, said Tyler Davis, owner of Athens Building Co. In addition to prep space and an area to set out food when entertaining, bells and whistles can include an ice maker and wine refrigerator.

In existing homes, some homeowners convert unused space — or rooms not often used — into a butler’s pantry as part of a kitchen remodel. Extra nooks, such as a tiny pantry and a coat closet, or even desk areas, can make way for a butler’s pantry, Elder said.

According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2018 Cost Vs. Value Report, a minor kitchen remodel (in the midrange category) costs an average of $21,000 nationally with a $17,000 value, while a major kitchen remodel (in the midrange category) costs $63,800 with a $37,637 value. In the upscale category, a major kitchen remodel costs a national average of $125,721 with a value of $67,212.

If there is a space that is used only once or twice a year, consider how it can be more functional every day, Summerour said. For example, you may not use your dining room often because most meals are eaten in the kitchen or a breakfast room.

“Turn that into a large butler’s pantry with island,” he said. “Because usually, you serve to the dining room. So an easy way is to abandon the dining room in favor of dining around the kitchen island or at a breakfast table or — more often than not now— on the terrace or porch alfresco.”

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