Butler’s Pantries: the New Powder Rooms

Even if you’re a casual interior-design enthusiast, you’re probably familiar with the idea that powder baths are an area of the home where designers and homeowners often go for the boldest, quirkiest, or edgiest décor elements: the funky wallpaper, the statement mirror, the gorgeous jewel-toned paint, the art-like light fixture. Because the powder bath is necessarily self-contained, it can be its own little expression of the homeowners’ personalities without having to accommodate a lot of visual alignment with other rooms in the house.

Here at Duet, we’re now seeing homeowners embrace that same design philosophy when considering how to finish their butler’s pantries. (And we love it!) These spaces are small and intimate, and while butler’s pantries used to be “reserved” for caterers or for the messy work of preparing for a dinner party, now the spaces are integrated into how homeowners host parties: We see clients setting up the bar for cocktail parties in these spaces, or using the butler’s pantries as space for the dessert buffet at Thanksgiving.

So how do you think about designing such a space? We advise aesthetic cohesion with the kitchen if the two spaces are in sightline of one another: For example, perhaps you maintain the same cabinet-door style and hardware, but (as we recently did), the kitchen cabinets are wrapped in gorgeous wood veneer while the cabinets in the butler’s pantry are painted in red lacquer. (Zing!) Because butler’s pantries don’t often have water, you have more freedom regarding the applications you can choose for your backsplash: Maybe you go for a hip vinyl wallcovering that wouldn’t work in a wet area, or maybe you invest in an ultra-high-end tile that wouldn’t be cost-effective in a larger kitchen space but fits in the budget for the smaller room.

One approach we love to take with clients is to consider bolder options in small spaces, which is where people tend to have truly great experiences in their homes. A gorgeous and zany powder bath, a colorful and brilliant butler’s pantry—these are the spaces that help make a home feel customized and personalized.

Let’s be elegantly playful in our designs.
After all, life’s too short for a boring butler’s pantry, don’t you think?

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