Butlers’ Pantry or No Butlers’ Pantry?

The popularity of Butlers Pantries in contemporary kitchen renovations continues to grow. During kitchen week on the popular TV program, “The Block”, contestants received mixed reactions from design experts and buyers advocates on the merits of 5 different butlers’ style pantries. “A monumental waste of space” was how host Shelly Craft described one such pantry. Other reviewers raved about the space and quality of the ‘kitchen inside a kitchen”.

So who’s right?

Well no-one really, the merits of a walk in Butler’s pantry depends on numerous factors.

  1. Who will be primarily using the kitchen, and how many people need access at the same time?
  2. How will the kitchen be used?
  3. What is the size of the available space?
  4. What is the orientation of the space and how many windows and doors must be considered in the design?
  5. Are separated or multiple cooking or cleaning spaces required?

These are just some of the questions an experienced kitchen designer will use to determine whether a butlers’ pantry is a help or a hindrance to an individual client.

So, what is a butlers’ pantry anyway?

Well, in short, it is a ‘kitchen within a kitchen’.

A true butlers’ pantry allows the user to cook and clean in a separate zone to the main kitchen. It should have a sink, possibly a dishwasher and at the very least a second cooktop with an extraction system above. It must have a plethora of storage, primarily for food. A bin near the cleaning zone is also a must.

The design and layout of most Australian residential homes struggle to provide enough space for a fully functional butlers pantry. Often space will need to be reclaimed from an adjoining room to create a truly effective butlers’ pantry. This can be both costly and negatively affect the adjacent room. If the space is available, then they can be a handy addition to a great kitchen design.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of the butlers’ pantry.


  • You can hide the mess of meal preparation time
  • The cook has a dedicated space to work, free from unwanted intrusions.
  • Ingredients are close at hand.
  • It’s a WOW factor if preparing a house for sale (ala THE BLOCK)


  • Can add a substantial amount to the price of your renovation.
  • Takes the cook away from the social aspect of food preparation.
  • Takes up space and can limit the design options for the space

Overall, the true value of a butlers’ pantry can only be determined by the prospective user. If you do decide to integrate one into your kitchen design, then make sure you include the critical items for your own lifestyle. A list of considerations should include:

  • A rubbish bin, particularly if you are including a sink and preparation zone
  • Lighting, specifically undercabinet lighting to provide a well-lit preparation zone.
  • Overhead cabinets with adjustable shelves. While fixed floating shelves may be pleasing to the eye. Adjustable shelf positions will provide you with much-needed flexibility when it comes to filling your pantry
  • Drawers under the bench. As the main part of the kitchen, drawers will help you with everyday access to your kitchen items. And your knees and back will thank you later.
  • Lots of power points. You never know what you’ll want to use in here, so put in more and give yourself options.
  • Storage; make sure you don’t get hung up on the ascetic and forget what a pantry is for. You need to maximize the available space for food and kitchen items

So, what have we learned?

Should you include a butlers’ pantry in your dream kitchen design?

If the space and a budget allow, then YES! But don’t make unnecessary compromises just to get one in.

The experienced kitchen designers at Select Kitchens can help you create your perfect kitchen with or without popular TV items like Butlers Pantries and Island benches.

Oops, did I say Island benches? Well, let’s save that topic for another day.

Happy Designing.