Butler’s Pantries and Sculleries: What are they and do you need one?

Kitchen remodel with custom butlers pantry cabinets

Butlers Pantries and Sculleries: What are they and Do You Need One?

When you hear the terms “butler’s pantry” or “scullery,” do you think of servants in formal uniforms and white gloves serving the aristocracy on silver trays?

While the words do sound old-fashioned, butler’s pantries and sculleries are actually coming back into fashion. These useful little rooms add functionality and ease to kitchens.

If you have one, read on to find out how best to use the space. If you’re remodeling your kitchen, consider whether you want to include one in your plans. They might be just what you’re looking for.

McManus Kitchen and Bath is a full service remodeling company with an in-house design team and showroom right here in Tallahassee, FL. 

We work exclusively with homeowners to help them remodel using a design-build approach that saves time, avoids confusion and creates better results. 

Key Takeaways

  • Butler’s pantries and sculleries were useful long ago for food preparation, staging, and storage.
  • Butler’s pantries are generally pass-through rooms with storage and space to prepare food.
  • Sculleries are usually more like “back kitchens” that handle the messier tasks related to food preparation and clean up.
  • These rooms are incredibly versatile and useful in today’s kitchens as well.
  • Butler’s pantries and sculleries are great for people who like to entertain, those with open floor plans, busy families, and more.
Butlers pantry with white cabinets and quartz countertops

A butler’s pantry is typically a pass though from kitchen to dining area with storage. It often includes a sink and some small appliances. 

Butler’s Pantries

Back in the old days a butler’s pantry was used as a place to store, count, and secure the family silver and china. They were often hallways between the kitchen and dining room but had locking doors on both ends.

The butler would polish and count the silver, making sure nothing was missing, and then put it away safely, and only he would have the key to the room.

Butler’s pantries were also used for storage and serving, as a kind of staging place for the food before it was brought to the dining room table. And that is what they are often used for today.

Modern-day butler’s pantries are still generally small rooms or passageways that connect the kitchen and dining room. They are often used for storage (think: extra dishes, the good china, serving platters, etc).

Many times, a butler’s pantry will have a small sink and a small fridge. A butler’s pantry can be used as a coffee bar or wet bar.

And the extra counter space it offers means more room for food and beverage prep and staging, allowing you to arrange the dishes and plates artfully before you bring them into the dining room.

Some butler’s pantries even include a wall oven for more food prep space. 

Butlers pantry remodel in Tallahassee Our Remodeling Process

One of Our Favorite Butler’s Pantries

The kitchen on this project is also gorgeous but the deep blue of the butler’s pantry cabinets really steal the show for us. 

Click here to visit the project case study


Where a butler’s pantry is more of a pass-through staging location, a scullery is a sort of “back kitchen.” The term butlers pantry is often used interchangably with scullery today, but historically there is a difference. 

In times past, a scullery was where much of the food preparation and clean up from meals took place. Sculleries were usually positioned in the back of the house near a water supply since water was carried in to wash dishes.

Sometimes they had stone, brick, or terra cotta floors and a drain in the floor. In addition to washing dishes, sculleries were used to clean game and fish, and sometimes to do laundry. Basically, the scullery was where the dirty work was done.

Today, sculleries are used as utilitarian spaces for washing and cleaning and for food preparation to keep the main kitchen cleaner.

Many homes today have an open floor plan which is great for gathering and conversation, but not so good for keeping dirty dishes, groceries, and food preparation areas out of the line of sight.

Many sculleries today are small rooms off the main kitchen. They often have a sink and sometimes a dishwasher. They can also have an extra refrigerator and freezer. They’re used for doing the messiest part of preparing food, and for stashing and cleaning dirty dishes.

Sculleries are also a great place to store large appliances like second overn or microwaves and for use as extra pantry space. 

Scullery in the back of a kitchen

A scullery is usually a room of the back of a kitchen like this one that you can see through the glass of this pocket door. 

An Example of a Modern Butler’s Pantry

If you’d like to see a remodeled butler’s pantry in action, click here for pictures. This is a kitchen remodel that we did a few years ago, which included a butler’s pantry. Originally, this butler’s pantry was a large room that had inefficient storage, a lack of focus, and was not being used to its full potential. We kept its footprint and removed the cabinets and carpet on the floor. 

We built in gorgeous blue cabinetry on multiple walls, a wall oven, and plenty of counter space for food preparation. We also installed custom shelving in the pantry. Tile floors were a much better fit for the space, and with the addition of a lovely table and chairs, this butler’s pantry is now a perfect, useful, and customized room that will suit the family’s needs for years to come.

Is a Butler’s Pantry or Scullery Right for You?

These useful and hardworking rooms appeal to many people. People who entertain regularly find the convenience and extra space to be helpful. Especially in homes with an open floor plan, it can be nice to have a room where the mess of meal preparation and clean-up is contained and out of sight. This makes it possible to pull up stools around the island in the main kitchen and linger over appetizers, drinks, or desserts without the sink full of dirty dishes right there.

Active families also find the convenience of a butler’s pantry or scullery useful. With the extra storage these rooms offer, families find that storing large or cumbersome items is easy. Others appreciate the additional pantry space which allows for the storage of bulk items, and for kids’ snacks to be in a place that kids can reach.

Additionally, people who enjoy a fully-equipped coffee bar or wet bar find butler’s pantries and sculleries to be a good fit for their needs. There is extra counter and storage space for a French press and a collection of mugs, for wine glasses and cocktail garnishes, and more. You can even install wine racks and a fridge.

Interested in a Remodel or Addition?

Our designers can walk you through your options and come up with a plan to give you a space you love. What if you don’t have one of these useful rooms? A kitchen remodel with McManus Kitchen and Bath can often add one to your home. Contact us to talk through your wants and needs. 

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