Do you need a butler's pantry?

Posted On Mar 28, 2018 in Living

Do you need a butler's pantry?

For many families across New Zealand, food is an expression of love, generosity and caring. From a quiet Sunday dinner with the family, to summer bbq’s and beautiful dinner parties; food prepared and shared with others is how we bring people together. Domestic architecture in New Zealand has been evolving for many years to reflect the role of food in today's culture. Rarely now do you see a modern home designed where the kitchen is shut away out of sight. The kitchen has become the hub of the home, flowing on from traditional entertaining spaces such as the family room and dining room.

With so much time being spent in and around the kitchen, whether you’re cooking or not, having a little bit of extra space can be a lifesaver. You don’t have to live at Downton Abbey to have use for a butler’s pantry, and anyone who regularly entertains will enjoy the convenience of the versatile space. Originally created to secure the family silver (the butler kept the key), these days they play a far different role. Many modern homes across New Zealand have a walk-in pantry of some description, they come in many different sizes and are tailored to suit your space and needs. A butler’s pantry becomes a natural extension of the kitchen, with most people using them to provide a little extra bench and storage space, allowing them to keep the kitchen clean and free where people tend to congregate. These spaces give you the ability to shut food away for later, to hide mess and used dishes, as well as an extra space for food preparation.

One big advantage of a butler’s pantry is the extra storage that it provides allows you to keep the design of your kitchen clean and minimal. You don’t have to squeeze extra cabinets and storage space into every available nook and cranny, and your kitchen can be designed to house just a few things that you use the most.

When designing your new home there are several things to consider when you get to the butler’s pantry:

Bench Space

It is important to try to incorporate as much bench space as possible into your butler pantry. The extra space will provide room for small appliances, a landing space for your grocery shopping before you unpack everything and room to store food for later. The ability to store food, shut away for later is particularly useful when you have kids around, they always manage to get “just a taste” of dessert early. If space is tight, consider making the bench narrower than your standard kitchen bench width which is usually 600-700mm. A narrower width of 400-500mm will provide sufficient room in the pantry as well as give you more floor space to move around easily.

Power points for small appliances

A butler’s pantry provides the perfect space to keep small appliances such as microwaves, rice cookers, slow cookers, juicers, coffee machines and toasters. These appliances take up valuable space on the kitchen bench, but storing them away and bringing them out every day to use can be a real pain. Housing and storing them in a butler’s pantry is the perfect solution, allowing you to leave them plugged in and ready to go. When working out how many power points you will need, add up the small appliances you intend to use in your pantry… then add more! You can never have too many.

Open shelves

The key to a successful and efficient butler’s pantry is being able to walk in, take a look around and quickly find what you need. Most butler’s pantries will have a door, so this space is not visible from the kitchen, meaning you don’t need cabinet doors in your butler’s pantry. Consider using an adjustable shelving solution (your designer will be able to help you find something suitable as part of the build process) which will allow you to move your shelving up and down depending on what you are storing. Consider running shelving all the way to the ceiling. Top shelves can be used for storing items that are only used occasionally, such as specialty bakeware or things that you only use at Christmas.

Ample drawer space

To maximise the storage space under the bench in your pantry, it is a good idea to use drawers, they are much easier to access than shelving or cupboards, however, will add to the price a little due to the cost of the drawer hardware. Different height drawers can give you a huge range of storage options from food items to crockery, pots, and pans. Consider opting for open-fronted drawers so that you can more easily see what is contained in each drawer which means less time opening and closing them to find what you need.

Good lighting

Chances are, your butler’s pantry won’t have a window in it. This is a good thing when it comes to temperature regulation, especially if you are storing food in your pantry as sunlight and fluctuating temperatures are not good for most types of food. Without a window, good artificial lighting becomes very important. Use plenty of downlights and consider extra lighting under any overhead shelving to illuminate the bench area.

A great feature to consider is connecting your lighting to a motion sensor, this will turn the lights on automatically when you enter and off when you leave. This is super handy when you walk into the pantry with your arms laden with grocery bags.

Functional materials

Building a butler’s pantry into your home can add some additional costs to your build, but it doesn’t need to cost the earth. Instead of using the same stone or wood benchtop that you have in your kitchen, choose a laminated benchtop for a fraction of the price. There are plenty of good looking, hard-wearing options out there, that don’t need to cost as much as the statement material you are using for your kitchen benchtops. Choose something with a smooth surface that doesn’t mark easily and is easy to wipe down. For the cabinets themselves, white melamine board is inexpensive and gives a nice clean look, while being particularly hard-wearing.

Ranging from an oversized cupboard with a little extra bench space, to a full extra kitchen, a butler’s pantry can be a great addition to your kitchen space. Regardless of budget and space constraints, there will be a solution that can work for you. A lot of our pre-designed plans now feature a butler’s pantry, and we are finding more and more people are requesting them for their design and build homes. Talk to us today about how we can make your kitchen design work better for you, our Build Process allows you to work with our team of architects and interior designers to develop a solution to suit your needs. You can rest assured that the final result will be exactly what you wanted as all of our homes are backed by the Best Building Guarantees in New Zealand.

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