Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Butler's Pantry – A Hidden Treasure In Interior Design

I’m often asked, as an interior designer, “What is on your clients’ luxury wish list?”  Some may presume their desires would be of major proportion.  In actuality, more of the conversations have been steering towards making the best use of an existing area, adding better function, while, of course, making it all beautiful.  I refer to many of these areas as “hidden treasures”.  They aren’t always hidden from view, but the optional uses could have been overlooked in the original house design plan.  Sometimes, if we can jump into the design process, and reallocate some square footage, we can carve out specialty niches for daily activities.

A wonderful example can be the Butler’s Pantry.  This is typically a room, found off of the kitchen – or - as in European homes, off from the wine cellar.  It’s usually used for storage, preparing food for service, and a various sundry of kitchen-related activities.  In some European households, the butler actually slept in this area in order to protect the silver pieces which might have been stored under lock and key.  In the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries it was not uncommon to find middle class homes, with a Butler’s Pantry included in a house plan . . . sans the butler!

Copy of Sink Wall

In one of my client’s original blueprints, this space was planned for a small desk area and a pantry closet access.  I had chatted with the client to be sure she had enough workspace, and after determining it would be a tight squeeze, we moved her desk space and created this lovely layout of cabinetry. Asking the right questions, opens up options. We blew through the wall, at the end of the hall, for better egress to the dining room, added a china pantry, (not seen in this photo), and moved the door for the storage closet.  The architect did a beautiful job in placing the arched top window between the curves of the groin vaulted ceiling.  I worked with the stone counter installers to create a pleasant profile for butting up to the hammered copper farmhouse sink, as well as to provide for shaped side returns to the upper cabinets.  The delight is always in the details!

Copy of Cabinets

One of the other challenges was to work with a special configuration, due to the back of a spiral staircase coming into the area.  My clients wanted to have some added storage capacity.  The plan was to create a pocket in the wall for a small freezer.  In the end, there wasn’t quite enough space to use this option, so we changed the dishwasher to an ice maker, and let the dishwasher in the kitchen handle the workload. (A bit quieter for the adjacent dining room, too.)  We skirted panels over the deepest part of the curve, so it looks like a continuous wall of cabinets.  There is ample storage for larger serving pieces, cookie sheets, and all things related to entertainment.  My clients do love to throw a good party!


Here is a bird’s eye view of the footprint.  Investing in the whole team concept - architect, contractor, interior designer, and great service/product providers, allows for the best outcome.  Another set of eyes, coupled with the combined years of experience, lessen the likelihood for errors. 

The Finishing Touches:

1-1612-6-56-02 But & China  IMG_2347

Lighting:  Progressive ~ Granite:  Golden Tulip

 Copy of Copy of Tighe Cab_ Hrdwre Pics - Pg 2

Tighe - Foyer, DR, LR

The flooring is maahvelous marble!

fir_7124_th_1  fir_7123_th_1

Vietri “First Stones” not only added a bit of Tuscan color, they are also supposed to represent good luck, blessings, and prosperity for a new home.  We placed a set of two, on each side of the cabinet walls, so my client should be in held good stead!

Other Options:

If you have a small alcove, hallway, closet, or even kitchen corner, which may not be finding it’s best use, a little space design and ingenuity can go a long way!  


Small quarters?  A brilliant layout squeezes in storage.  (Courtesy: Violet Designs)

Custom Cupboard Design

In another client’s kitchen area, I removed an old desk and side cabinet to create a separate butler’s area.  It opened up the space, gave her smarter storage, and it’s absolutely beautiful!  I drafted the above design for her.

Stout - Kitchen Desk Area IMG_1785 Stout - Cupboard

Before and in progress photos.

Stout - Cup. 2

This photo shows it almost completed.  I promise to post an update so be sure to stay-tuned!  I have the best wood craftsman, Phil Stapp!  (He hand-carved the side brackets on each end of the bead board back.)  Phil came back and removed the kitchen/family room door and we arched the opening to soften the edges.  It looks fantastic!  My decorative artist finished the cabinet and redid the original wall design.  New cushions and a rug are in the works. 

In my many years of experience, in interior design, I’ve never found it to be a more exciting time to help clients love the home they’re in!  I delight in finding hidden treasures of space and purpose.  You never know what jewel might be sparkling within!

What area would you change or add, in your own home?

Copy (3) of Signature

No comments: