An interesting facet of kitchen design from the past is the occurrence of a butler’s pantry or scullery kitchen. These terms might not be familiar to some of you, but these were additional rooms or areas that were used when further storage or meal prep zones and clean-up were necessary. Each of these areas had its own use and purpose. A home might have one or both of these rooms, depending upon its size. The main difference between these two is whether extra food prep or storage is needed.

Butler’s Pantry

This is a small room off the main kitchen that deals primarily with storage. It is considered a dry area because meal prep and cleaning are not done in this room. This can be an entirely different room from the kitchen, or it can be created from a repurposed space (such as a previous walk-in pantry). You can store almost anything you like in this space, but it received its name because this is where the entertaining items went. This created more space within the home that could be used regularly while allowing storage for items that were used infrequently. Previously, the butler would polish the silver within this space. Hence, the butler’s pantry.

Scullery Kitchen

This room is also off the kitchen but is considered a wet room because this is where kitchen prep and clean-up take place. This area would be larger than a butler’s pantry due to the extra space needed for prep. When guests come over, the regular kitchen area can be a place where finished foods are displayed, and the scullery kitchen can be where the trays and drinks are prepped for sharing. Then when plates and glasses are dirtied, they can return to the scullery kitchen to be washed. This leaves the regular kitchen area looking presentable for the guests. It can be considered a back kitchen or food prep kitchen as well. The idea is that the actual work for events is hidden from the guests.


When deciding if either of these options is for you, it is important to consider budgetary and size constraints. Repurposing a space to convert it into one of these areas will lessen building costs, but you will lose that space for something else. Also, you will need to decide if extra plumbing will be needed to cover the cleaning and prep in the scullery kitchen.