Back in the day, the butler’s pantry was a fixture in all but the most modest American homes–a utility room, a place to store food and to safeguard the family silver. (It was called a butler’s pantry because in Merry Olde England, the butler slept in the pantry to keep an eye on the family’s treasures.)
The pantry fell out of style here in the ’50s and ’60s when the square footage was redistributed in favor of in-demand family rooms. But it’s back, and big time, in upscale homes where parties are part of the lifestyle.
Today, the butler’s pantry is a staging area for caterers and lavish party hosts–the perfect place to prep or plate the food, arrange the flowers, and rest the dishes between courses.
Upper and lower cabinets hold china, silver, serving pieces, and table decor, like candles, linens and centerpieces, and a countertop between them is the perfect place to ready the food to be served.
A sink and dishwasher make it an out-of-sight clean-up space as well, “so that your kitchen,” as one accomplished party hostess said, “doesn’t look like a bomb site in front of guests.”
In the most elaborate butler’s pantry, there is no limit on amenities. A second refrigerator holds chilled party fare, while high-end countertops, flooring and lighting add luxury as well as convenience–and the type of entertaining you do will determine the extras you want.
If elegant brunches are your favorite party, consider a coffee/cappuccino station. If you favor full-blown dinner parties, a warming drawer is nice for holding the entrees while your guests enjoy a pre-dinner drink.
Typically situated between the kitchen and dining room, the butler’s pantry may already exist in an older or remodeled home. If you have one, a facelift by a skilled cabinet-maker may be all you need to make it functional. If you don’t have one, a clever contractor may be able to repurpose an adjoining hallway, closet, or mud room, or develop new space against a kitchen wall or powder room so that pipes can be easily shared.
As for the butler, you’re on your own! But the pantry? It’s becoming a required amenity for celebrities and the affluent upper tier.