Modern Kitchen Ideas

10 ways to design the perfect butler’s pantry

The secret to a pristine kitchen lies in a little help behind the scenes.
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We’ve embraced ‘open-plan’ as a way of life with combined living, dining and kitchen areas, but what to do when a stack of dishes start piling up halfway through a dinner party? The ultimate solution lies in the addition of a butler’s pantry, which is basically a mini kitchen within a kitchen. 

Butler’s pantries can be used to store appliances, prepare food and stow away mess mid-party. Learn how to design the perfect butler’s pantry by following our tips to create this hardworking space to suit your needs, where practicality reigns over luxury finishes.

1. Know when to save and splurge

Keep costs down by opting for inexpensive materials, as this area won’t be on display. Laminate or engineered stone benchtops are a fraction of the cost of other finishes and can be closely colour-matched to your main bench, ensuring continuity of style, however, beware of the incoming ban on the use of engineered stone.

Renovated Scandi style kitchen and butler's pantry.
The new butler’s pantry is one of Skye’s favourite inclusions in her Scandi renovation.“My husband, who’s a plumber, kept saying to me, ‘Don’t you want a sink in there?’ And I said, ‘No, I just want storage and the appliances.’ There’s a sliding door on there, but it never really gets closed. It’s just fantastic – and it’s quite big.” (Photography: Simon Shiff)

2. Consider how much space you have

Think about the footprint you can allocate to a butler’s pantry and how it will be utilised. As a general guide, the width of the walkway should be at least 1000mm, then add another 600mm for benchtops. 

Consider L-shaped cabinetry to make the best use of space and for a modest pantry; allow a minimum area of 1.6m x 2.2m. For a pantry with a double sink, dishwasher, microwave, fridge and bench space, allow upwards of 2.4m x 2.8m.

3. Opt for open shelving over cupboards

Open shelving will help to stretch your budget further. If you prefer cupboards, try melamine door fronts, which are cheaper than laminate, polyurethane or timber veneer fronts.

Butler's pantry with open shelving
Vertical storage space has been maximised in this compact butler’s pantry with the addition of floor-to-ceiling open shelving. (Credit: Photography: Simon Whitbread | Styling: Corina Koch)

4. Get organised to maximise space

Pack in the storage by taking shelving to the ceiling and organising the contents by frequency of use. Glass jars or stackable square containers with locking lids are ideal for organising pantry staples such as cereals and pasta and are available from major retailers such as Kmart.

Wire baskets are good for under-bench storage to make the most of your butler’s pantry and tricky corners can be utilised with pull-out cupboard systems such as Blum’s Space Corner.

5. Map out your storage needs

To prevent losing items at the back of the pantry, opt for a U-shaped design with shallow shelves. For smaller items such as herbs and sauces, aim for a shelf width of 200mm. Open shelving is a great option for condiments, salt and pepper, which can be seen at a glance for easy access.

butler's pantry with stainless steel benchtops, open shelving and blue painted cabinetry

Space for a butler’s pantry was carved out by adjusting the location and shape of the new kitchen. “It’s a luxury to have everything in this room, all the appliances, a steam oven and a second sink – I feel like I have two kitchens,” says homeowner Kate of the space. (Credit: Photography: Eleanor Byrne)

6. Section your butler’s pantry off

Keeping your pantry off-limits is as simple as installing a door. A great space-saving option is a cavity sliding door or a bifold.

7. Find the right sink

Factors such as cupboard placement and pot size will help you determine the most suitable butler’s pantry sink for your space. If budget allows, consider a fireclay sink for the ultimate butler’s pantry statement.

8. Ensure your pantry is well-lit

Good task lighting is a must in a butler’s pantry. Consider using a ‘micro switch’, where a trip catch attached to the door frame turns the light on when the door is open.

Butler's pantry with shaker style cabinets
Cabinets with a shaker profile give this butlers pantry a classic, yet contemporary feel. (Credit: Photography: Helen Ward)

9. Create a list of must-haves

Allocate a spot for regularly used appliances within the pantry and calculate your space requirements. Remember to install extra power points to use appliances in place and maximise efficiency.

10. Little extras make all the difference

Install hooks and rails to hang tea towels, utensils and reusable shopping bags and utilise wall space. Use slide-out drawers for storage is budget allows, or retro-fit wire baskets or modular shelving to suit your needs.

Try these butler’s pantry essentials:

Butler's pantry storage ideas


The Cooks Collective 18-piece airtight food canister in White

$89.98, Myer

Best for: Banishing pantry moths

Say goodbye to weevils and pantry moths and hello to sleek, silicone-sealed and organised pantry shelves. This starter kit is really all you need to get things organised and ordered onto shelves in your butler’s pantry and keep them that way! Extra units are available to buy separately or in sets of two once you establish your favourite sizes.

Key features:

  • Includes: 6 x 500ml canisters, 4 x 800ml canisters, 4 x 1.2lt canisters, 4 x 1.9lt canisters
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Silicone seals also suitable for fridge
  • Leak proof lids
Butler's pantry storage ideas


Kilner round clip top 1-litre jar

$17.95, Biome

Best for: Gorgeous-looking shelves on display

Who doesn’t love a traditional clip-top jar? A row of vessels filled with whole foods makes a satisfying display – particularly when your butler’s pantry is visible from the main kitchen. Designed for preserving and endless reuse, these jars punch above their weight to keep dry foods fresh long term and their dashing good looks don’t hurt.

Key features:

  • Kilner jars come in all shapes and sizes to suit all your pantry needs
  • Dishwasher safe (remove rubber seal and handwash)
  • Glass with metal latch
  • Old-school design
Butler's pantry storage ideas


Cut out storage tub

$3, Target

Best for: Grouping dry food and snacks

These little tubs are a wonder in the pantry (or anywhere in the house!) offering streamlined storage for any number of items. Gather snacks, legumes, nuts and herb packets in groups for easy access and simple sorting. At just $3 each, measure up and employ an army of these little do-gooders to sort your foodstuffs, stat!

Key features:

  • Fit sideways with cutout or lengthways with handle opening for easy access
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Dimensions: H10.3 x W24 x D17cm
Butler's pantry storage ideas


Classic pantry label collection

$29.95, Hardtofind

Best for: A beautiful butler’s pantry in minutes

No matter how many different shapes and sizes of jars and vessels you have in your pantry, everything looks beautiful when the labels match one another! Give your entire butler’s pantry an affordable makeover in an afternoon with these classically styled self-adhesive labels.

Key features:

  • 35 preprinted labels for pantry staples, plus 5 blanks
  • Self-adhesive, water-tolerant plastic-coasted vinyl
  • Dimensions: 100 x 35mm
Butler's pantry storage ideas


2-drawer wire shelf unit in White

$15.00, Target

Best for: Making the most of your space

You will literally elevate your pantry storage with a few of these simple wire drawer units. Double your storage capacity on shelving and in cupboards while keeping everything visible and within easy reach. Super affordable, measure up and buy as many as you need to solve storage issues anywhere in the home.

Key features:

  • Drawers pull out on narrow edge for maximum depth capacity
  • Powder-coated iron with MDF top
  • Dimensions: H39 x W24.5 x D51.5cm
Butler's pantry storage ideas


Turner Hastings ribbed fireclay butler sink

$1007 (usually $1320), The Blue Space

Best for: Quintessential butler’s pantry style

It all starts with the sink in your butler’s pantry and a ceramic fireclay sink is the OG in how to get the look.

Key features:

  • European-made, scratch and chemical resistant
  • Optional protective sink grid or silicone mat
  • Choose from 6 finishes of basket waste to match your tapware
  • Dimensions: H254 x W600 x D450mm. Bowl capacity 51 litres, drain outlet D90mm
  • Choose from gloss white or matte finish
  • Top mount, semi-recessed or under counter

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