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Stylish Ideas for Modern Butler’s Pantries

Originally popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries, these supplemental storage rooms are gaining new popularity as entertainers’ go-to prep spaces — and we’ll show you how to outfit your own.

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Photo: Emily Followill. From: James Farmer.

The Origin Story

Butler’s pantries became popular in the Victorian era as narrow spaces between kitchens and formal dining rooms where valuable family silver and crystal were stored. (They gained their name from the fact that some luckless butlers actually slept beside the pieces they polished, in order to keep an eye on them.)

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Photo: Parks Realty, a member of Luxury Portfolio International. From: Parks Realty and Luxury Portfolio International®.

The Next Generation

Since most people only see butlers (and massive silver and crystal collections, for that matter) on prestige television dramas, butler’s pantries have evolved into spaces that serve as both wet bars and storage areas that aid in entertaining, offer serious supplemental counter space and help keep kitchens themselves clean and uncluttered. In the 21st century, they’re becoming popular all over again — and here’s how contemporary hosts are putting them to work.

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Photo: Robert Peterson

Frame of Reference

Like butler’s pantries of yore, this galley-style space connects a kitchen and formal dining room; it also boasts key updates like bonus appliances and ornate floating shelves. Because rooms configured like this one frame views of other spaces, they’re excellent places to deploy contrasting wall treatments (like the handsome variegated blue grass cloth seen here).

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Photo: Emily Minton Redfield. From: Duet Design Group.

Showing Your Work

The modern butler’s pantry is no hidden luxury: It’s meant to be seen, and it often boasts refined details like this prism-embellished chandelier and custom cabinetry. Once again, blue grass cloth wallpaper accents another view — and in this case, that deep tone gains another level of texture from the slightly lighter color chosen for the molding surrounding the door.

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