A butler’s pantry is the new must-have in kitchen design, and tops many renovators’ wish lists. But to ensure the space provides all the functionality you’re looking for, there are a number of key elements you need to get right. We’ve asked three experts to share the most common design blunders rookie renovators make when planning a butler’s pantry – and how you can avoid making the same ones yourself.
1. Blunder: The entry door opens into the kitchen
Obstructing the flow of a kitchen with an outward-opening butler’s-pantry door is a common mistake renovators make. It can seriously affect the functionality and flow of both your kitchen and butler’s pantry.
Solution: Choose a different door style. Consider an inward-opening design, a bi-fold door, cavity sliders or even a sliding barn door – none of which will encroach on your kitchen’s floor space
2. Blunder: Not getting the proportions of the butler’s pantry right compared with the kitchen
A sizeable butler’s pantry can be a fantastic addition to the home, but make sure it doesn’t detract from your main kitchen’s footprint.
Solution: Allocate no more than a third of your total kitchen space to the butler’s pantry. This should give you plenty of space for a functional butler’s pantry, while keeping the main kitchen a decent size.
3. Blunder: Poor placement of appliances
The last thing you want when you’re stepping inside your butler’s pantry is to be impeded by the likes of an open dishwasher or fridge door.
Solution: Position any large appliances in your butler’s pantry, such as the dishwasher or fridge, with care so they don’t get in the way when people are entering and using the area. When you’re planning the space, consider the width of the walkway and be sure to keep the entrance clear
4. Blunder: Not having enough space for a butler’s pantry
Before you plan your dream butler’s pantry, ask yourself if you really have the space for one. Factor in the dimensions of the walls that will need to be built to house the area, and any inclusions.
Solution: Consider the space requirements carefully before committing to a butler’s pantry. You can easily move in and out of an 800-millimetre-wide door carrying groceries. However, bending, reaching and opening drawers requires much more space. The minimum distance I’d recommend between two sides of a butler’s pantry is 1,000 millimetres, although 1,200 millimetres is preferable.
You’ll then need to add another 600 millimetres for a run of benchtops. If you are including a refrigerator, dishwasher or double sink, you’ll need even more space.
5. Blunder: Not making the benchtops wide enough
This blunder makes your butler’s pantry less functional and makes it feel cramped and cluttered. As a result, clutter and mess can start creeping out into the kitchen – which is, ironically, one of the main reasons for having the butler’s pantry in the first place.
Solution: The standard benchtop depth for a sink run in a kitchen is 600 millimetres – and the same rule applies for the benchtops in your butler’s pantry. If you’re not placing a sink in your butler’s pantry and won’t be using bulky appliances, you could get away with making the benchtop slightly narrower.
6. Blunder: Poor functionality
A key design consideration for any kitchen layout is the ‘working triangle’ (the points between your refrigerator, sink and cooktop) and the efficiency created in the distances between these areas. Placing the only refrigerator in your kitchen in the butler’s pantry may reduce this best practice in kitchen dynamics.
Solution: When choosing what to put in your butler’s pantry, factor in walking distances. If you choose to place one part of the working triangle – say the fridge – in the butler’s pantry, make sure that no single leg of the triangle is longer than 2,700 millimetres long. Otherwise, you’ll have too many steps to walk and your kitchen will not function efficiently.
7. Blunder: The butler’s pantry is too small
This blunder results in a space you can’t use efficiently or don’t want to be in – your butler’s pantry just becomes a dumping ground for those items that don’t have a home – kitchen ones and otherwise.
Solution: When planning the layout, think about your size, how many people are in your family, how many people will be using the butler’s pantry at once, and what you want to include in the space.
8. Blunder: Not enough storage space
Getting the right balance between bechtop space and storage space is crucial in a butler’s pantry. Inadequte storage space can mean you end up shopping far more often than you’d like to as you can’t accommodate all the items from one big, weekly grocery shop. It can also mean you don’t have enough space to store large kitchen appliances.
Solution: Get out a tape measure and measure all the benchtop appliances you want to store in your butler’s pantry and allocate storage space for them. Then, measure the number of shelves you’ll need in order to cater for the size of your grocery shops and other items you wish to store. When it comes to bench space, measure up and make sure you have enough room for the activities you’d like to do in your butler’s pantry, such as food preparation or making tea and coffee.
9. Blunder: Too many cupboard fronts and drawers
When opened, cupboard doors and drawers take up far more floor space than open shelves, as you have to factor in the door swing and drawer pull-out.
Solution: In a small butler’s pantry, use cupboard and drawer fronts sparingly and where it really counts – for the cutlery drawer, sink cabinet and floor runs. Elsewhere, use open shelving.
If you have the space, I love the visual aesthetic of cupboard and door fronts. But if space is tight, opt for space-saving open shelves and cabinets. A depth of 300 millimetres is ideal for open shelves for pantry storage
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