Scullery vs. Butler's Pantry - What Are They & Why Do I Need One?

During the design process, we’re often asked the same question by both homeowners and designers – What do you see trending? Sometimes it’s the type of wood that’s used or perhaps paint and finish colors, but lately we’ve seen an increasing trend of an addition to the actual kitchen design - a scullery or butler’s pantry.


Both a scullery and a butler’s pantry typically come to mind when thinking of old English manors during the Victorian era or the aristocratic age. But you might be surprised to hear, they’re making a comeback and here’s why.


WHAT IS A SCULLERY?


A scullery is an area usually off the main kitchen sometimes called a “back kitchen” that is used for cleaning and storage. It’s typically a tucked away or concealed space and for a good reason – it’s purpose is to hide the kitchen mess! It can be as simple as a sink and cabinetry for storage, but in many cases you’ll find what looks like a mini-kitchen complete with an extra dishwasher and other appliances.


Scullery or "Back-Kitchen"


WHAT IS A BUTLER'S PANTRY? AND HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM A SCULLERY?


A butler’s pantry’s purpose is for serving, prepping and storing essentials. Historically, a butler’s pantry was where a butler or cook would prepare meals before serving in the dining area. This area is typically a nook by the kitchen and dining area that can be as simple as counter space for prepping and cabinetry for storage or can be fully stocked with a prep sink, wine fridge and other small appliances.


A butler’s pantry makes sense when you’re working with a smaller area and is typically a more affordable option to a scullery.


Examples of Butler's Pantries



WHY ARE WE SEEING THIS TREND?


For most homes, the kitchen is the place we gather. Throughout the years, kitchen layout and design have gone through several trends, but the open concept design is now the norm. However, the downside of open concept design is that everything, including your mess, is out in the open. It’s a bit ironic that the open concept design is what moved us away from a secluded kitchen, but now seems to be drawing us back with a scullery / butler’s pantry addition.


FOR BOTH FAMILIES & ENTERTAINERS


For families, a scullery allows you to have family time without sharing the space with the prep and cleanup of a big meal. And for those that like to entertain guests, it’s simply becoming a must-have feature. A scullery keeps the messiest aspects of entertaining - the prep and cleanup - in the back and out of the way leaving your guests free to gather in your gorgeous kitchen.



PROS & CONS OF THE SCULLERY / BUTLER'S PANTRY


Pros:

  • The obvious: It hides the mess.

  • A place for those rarely used appliances, especially the ones on the countertop – mixers, toasters, etc.

  • Extra storage for china, dry goods and other kitchen essentials.

  • Great space for a beverage fridge, ice maker, and more – think teenagers and grandkids that raid your kitchen!

  • If you hire caterers, this is an ideal place for their prep and crew.

  • Bonus: In the middle of a large gathering, it serves as a place to prepare and clean in peace and quiet!

Cons:

  • Cost – an extra “mini-kitchen” includes more appliances, cabinetry, countertops, etc.

  • Space – Does the layout and the size of your home accommodate such a space?


A recent Sullivan's project with an open concept kitchen (left) and a scullery (right) tucked away behind the actual kitchen.



FINAL THOUGHTS


Homeowners put a ton of emphasis on their kitchen design and for good reason. It’s not only the heart of the home, but also a centerpiece. However, sometimes a pristine kitchen is unrealistic. That’s why a scullery or butler’s pantry is a good compromise.


As we all know, layout and design are extremely important in getting this addition to your kitchen right. At Sullivan’s, we work with builders, interior designers and architects to help ensure all the "pieces" of your vision fit together perfectly.


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