The Butler Did It


By Candace Karu

Photography François Gagné

Pantries to serve every household need

fg_2550_w.jpgToday’s pantries serve a host of functions from storage to staging, preparation to cleanup. Whether it is a butler’s or walk-in, formal or funky, pantries have become a must-have design detail in new construction.

Joe Waltman, who is an architectural designer for Anastos & Nadeau in Yarmouth, reports that his clients are taking a renewed interest in traditional butler’s pantries. “They make a nice transition from kitchen to dining room,” he says. “It’s a classic but very functional buffer between the two areas.” Perfect for staging a formal dinner or serving as a more casual buffet area, butler’s pantries can be designed to support the functions of kitchen, dining room, and built-in bar, while retaining their own individual identity. Homeowners also like the convenience of having a sink and well-organized storage space near the dining room.

Jack Pilk, owner of Arlington Restorations in Cape Elizabeth, agrees. “Clients building new homes are definitely looking for the versatility, storage, and convenience that you get with a well-designed pantry.” Pilk finds that some of his clients prefer the straightforward, walk-in type. “This kind of pantry with open shelving provides easy access,” he says. There is another advantage to a walk-in pantry: if it’s not in perfect order, you can close the door and think about it some other time.fg_2695_w.jpg

While deeply rooted in traditional design, butler’s pantries are also a modern addition to current trends. “For today’s active families, a butler’s pantry is another area to gather and work, out of the cook’s way,” says Stephen Malcom of the Knickerbocker Group in Boothbay. Malcom also believes that with today’s more open floor plans, a butler’s pantry located out of the general traffic pattern can absorb some of the appliance and storage clutter, creating a more pleasing view from the nearby living areas.

Price can play an important role in choosing the right pantry. Butler’s pantries traditionally include built-in cabinetry and often feature a sink and appliances such as icemakers, wine refrigerators, and, in some, even a second dishwasher. “Obviously a walk-in pantry is much less expensive to build,” says Joel FitzPatrick of FitzPatrick Associates of Cape Elizabeth. “It’s a better option if you’re on a tight budget.”

In the grand manor houses of Europe, it was not unusual for butlers to sleep in their pantries, keeping close watch on valuables like silver and wine. Today these spaces allow families to entertain, organize, and gather in style. Here are our favorite pantries in a vivid variety of spaces, places, and designs—all of them functional and fabulous.

See Resources for more information.