A kitchen is rarely just a kitchen these days, with Clients expecting more and more from the hub of their home. A few weeks ago we looked at laundries in kitchens; today we’ll step into the ‘unseen quarters’ of today’s larger kitchens, and work out the difference between a Butler’s Pantry and a Scullery.

We’ll start with a step back in time to the Victorian Era, and look at the roles of the namesakes of today’s pantry extensions.

You’ll be greeted by Mr Butler

The upper-class houses of the Victorian era saw the Butler’s role rise from a simple cupbearer to a highly ranked servant. In his newly established position, the Butler added the more modern wine cellar (‘buttery’ or pantry) to his charge, alongside his dining room duties and front door attendance. In his day-to-day work, the Butler would greet and announce the arrival of guests, wait on the table at meal times, and clean and polish the household silver and knives.

His pantry space (the ‘Butler’s Pantry’) was a dedicated space for the cleaning, counting and polishing of the family silver, sets of china, serving dishes and so on. The Butler would keep this pantry locked in order to prevent the theft of the family heirlooms, and would sometimes even sleep in the space for added security!

But you won’t meet the Scullery Maid…

At the opposite end of the servant hierarchy was the lowest ranking female servant, the Scullery Maid. Scullery maids were very young girls employed to assist the cook. They were the first to wake in the morning and the last to go to bed. They rarely saw the outside of the Scullery, which was the small kitchen or room at the rear of a house used for washing dishes and other dirty household work.

So how do these historic roles determine what we call our kitchen extensions today?

If your client is looking for a dry storage space to house the overflow of their pantry-ware, it’s likely they’re after a Butler’s Pantry.

If they’re asking you for an unseen wash-up area, and need cooking quarters and sinks and suds in their kitchen extension, you’ll be designing a scullery.

Of course, both areas need good design, and as the potential ‘work-horses’ behind a show pony kitchen, they need plenty of attention in the design stage. We’ve taken this into account in our new-and-improved Awards program, and will be excited to share our new categories with you soon. Watch this space!