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What's the difference between a Scullery and a Butler's Pantry - and why have either?
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In days of old, grand kitchens were complex catering areas involving many different functional spaces. It’s where kitchen staff and servants would spend their days busily catering for the varied culinary demands of the family ‘above stairs’. In addition to the main kitchen, there might be a scullery, larder, buttery, winery, a cook’s room and a butler’s pantry, to mention a few.

Today’s modern homes have done away with all that, simplifying the process of cooking to the extent that one kitchen per household typically suffices. What’s more, as a result of both the democratisation and automation of kitchen processes, the kitchen know and love has become the heart of the home. Better still, the space is often an open plan, multifunctional area were we cook and eat, relax and socialise with family and friends.

Old school storage
Which is all very well except for one tiny fly in the ointment: What are we supposed to do with our kitchen stuff? You would need a pretty big kitchen (in a pretty big house) with lots of concealed storage solutions to accommodate most people’s kitchen possessions without it looking cluttered. From pots and pans to china and glassware, food and drink, gadgets and small appliances, essential supplies and cleaning equipment, it all has to go somewhere – and ideally somewhere you can’t see it.

Whether you subscribe to the school of minimalist interior design, or you like traditional styling, suddenly the idea of an extra room to store all the necessary ‘stuff’ doesn’t seem such a bad idea. Maybe there’s a good reason that sculleries and butler’s pantries are emerging as the latest popular trend in domestic interior design?

With practical design and kitchen storage solutions being top of the list in terms of kitchen design, sculleries and butler’s pantries are being to find favour again. Interestingly, the two terms are often used interchangeably, though the two areas are actually not the same at all.

Depending on the exact needs of your kitchen and lifestyle, you will either need a scullery or a butler’s pantry. Visit interior design specialists Pfeiffer Design for more advice and inspiration in order to achieve your dream kitchen.

Now, let’s take a look at the difference between sculleries and butler pantries.

The Scullery
Back in the day, the scullery was a heavy duty working area. Scullery maids had the unenviable job of pot washer and cleaner upper, both after the cooking was done and after the meal had been consumed. Long before dishwashers were invented, the scullery was the room where it all happened. Located as a separate area just off the kitchen, it wouldn’t be visible to the rest of the home. There’d probably be an extra large sink, plenty of worktop space, perhaps a table, open shelving and large storage cupboards to keep all those practical everyday essentials that no-one wants on display close at hand.

In today’s modern kitchens, having a scullery is a definite luxury. Just think about how useful the space could be. Do you regularly host dinners? And do your guests always tend to gather in the kitchen, right next to the dirty dishes and empty wine bottles? Do you often use caterers for your soirees? If the answer is yes to most of these questions, an extra support room in the form of a scullery might be an absolute godsend.

Are you an enthusiastic hobby baker? Do you love making jams and chutneys, perhaps from home grown produce? A scullery will provide the space you need to spread out while processing your ingredients, store any equipment you may need as well as the finished results of your labour – while not getting in the way of general kitchen use. Very handy, I’m sure you would agree.

The Butler’s Pantry
The traditional butler’s pantry had a different function. It would typically be the household butler’s job to prepare and serve formal meals and drinks, and having a dedicated space near the dining room where last minute preparations could be carried out and a final eye glanced over the presentation of the dish before it went out to the diners must have been a real help. If you’re struggling to visualise this, any episode of Downton Abbey in which Carson, the family butler stars, is sure to enlighten you.

These days, of course, very few households have a butler, but that doesn’t mean that a butler’s pantry isn’t a very useful space indeed to have near your dining area. Whether it’s a simple sideboard discreetly positioned in an alcove or a fully stocked serving station complete with sink, it’s where everything you need for the table should be handily located. Table mats, napkins and napkin rings, cutlery, glasses, coasters – or why not a mini fridge or wine cooler or even a microwave?

The butler’s pantry is where you want to stop and check everything looks good before making the grand entrance into the dining room with, say, a tray of elaborate cocktails, a stunning dessert or even a big celebration cake.


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