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Aditi Sharma Maheshwari

Butler's Pantry vs Walk in Pantry — "Here's How to Choose Based on Style & Storage"

A kitchen with a butlers pantry located behind.

Sometimes just kitchen cabinets and drawers aren't enough to contain the clutter and paraphernalia. While you can gain more storage through extra cupboards, benches, and shelves, another innovative way to do this is through a cleverly designed pantry. The most common designs are a butler's pantry and a walk in pantry, where both offer storage space but in different ways. Wondering which one perfectly suits your kitchen and style?

To answer this question, we reached out to experts. Here's everything you need to know about a butler's and walk in pantry.

The differences

(Image credit: deVOL)

Historically, a butler's pantry was a place used guessed it — butlers! This room was sometimes referred to as a ‘scullery’, and was utilized to keep crockery, china, platters, etc. Over time, the butler's pantry has been modified to fit into big and small kitchens.

'Picture a butler's pantry as the Swiss Army knife of your kitchen — small, mighty, and packed with features,' says interior designer Nishtha Vashist. 'It's not just a storage spot; it's a mini-kitchen where you can prep for parties without making a mess in your actual kitchen. With countertops, sinks, and sometimes even a fridge or wine cooler, it's the stylish secret weapon for hosting dinners.'

'On the flip side, a walk in pantry is like your kitchen's walk-in closet,' explains the designer. 'It's spacious, with shelves and racks from floor to ceiling, perfect for storing everything from spices to cereal boxes. It's the go-to place for seeing and grabbing what you need, making meal prep a walk in the park.'


(Image credit: deVOL)

If you are blessed with a large, modern kitchen then consider a walk-in pantry that can far surpass the capabilities of a butler's pantry. The shelving in this style of pantry can be entirely opened — with no cabinet boxes or frame to get in the way — allowing for maximum storage and easy organization. The deeper designs can provide room for something like a freestanding freezer as well.

Also, a walk in pantry is essentially used for food storage, but a butler's pantry is utilized more for excess cooking and serving items from the kitchen or dining room.

'For me, any kind of pantry is better than none, but if you have options then I would go for a special room above all else, but a very close second would be a beautiful big cupboard of a walk in pantry,' says Helen Parker, creative director of deVOL. 'Either way, you need slim shelves, well positioned at eye line height to incorporate tins, jars, etc. You need wider shelves low down, for bulk and tall storage. You may have space for cutlery and linens, or you may prefer to keep food stuff in one and tableware and crockery in a separate possibly glazed dresser. There is nothing sadder than hiding away piles of beautiful crockery and linens, showing them off in a glazed pantry.'

'A walk in pantry is the roomy warehouse of your kitchen, where you can stockpile everything from snacks to surplus appliances,' says Nishtha. 'With shelves that stretch from top to bottom, you'll have all the space you need to keep your kitchen gear in check.'


(Image credit: Rafael Soldi. Design Allison Lind Interiors)

'The butler's pantry is like a boutique closet,' says Nishtha. 'It’s not just about stacking stuff; it's about storing with style. Perfect for keeping your fancy dishes and party supplies neatly displayed and ready for action. It’s all about smart, stylish storage here—think floating shelves and chic cabinets that make your best glassware look like art.'

'You can fit out this pantry with tongue and groove paneling, painted shelves, open storage, brass rails, and wooden racking too,' says Helen. 'Consider beautiful joinery and metalwork as well.'

This modern kitchen storage space can be customized with interesting flooring, lighting, and other features to create a space that looks a bit different from the main kitchen and has its own identity with a visual appeal.


(Image credit: ideas-Stephen Karlisch. Studio credit Maestri Studio)

Largely, comparing the two based on costs can be tricky, as both are distinctly different styles and are often customized in a variety of ways. If you're remodeling a kitchen or designing one from scratch, it might be first prudent to take your storage needs, and family size into account.

'While they can be relatively similar in cost as they both are offshoots of the kitchen and can include appliances, a Butler's pantry typically has a sink so it would require plumbing with extra costs,' says Sarah Latham of Latham Interiors.

'The walk-in pantry wins as the more budget-friendly option,' says Nishtha. 'It's straightforward, focusing mainly on shelving and storage space, so it doesn't break the bank. The butler's pantry, with its fancy fixtures and finishes, tends to cost a bit more. But here's the twist: while it might be pricier upfront, a butler's pantry can jazz up your home's value, potentially making it a smart splurge in the long run.'

3 products for a well-organized pantry

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