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"Butler's Pantry: Essential Addition or Unnecessary Luxury?


When talking with clients in the the early stages of renovating their homes there are often a number of questions that come up as to whether they should include or exclude certain things. This is especially the case when the home is not really intended to be the forever home, and as such they want to ensure that they are not over capitalising on elements, or doing things which may inhibit future buyers. Ultimately, I do not profess to be a real estate agent, nor do I have a crystal ball about the future trends of buyers, however I think it is important to understand the pros and cons of your ideas and also have an understanding of the type of buyer that would be interested in your property to have a holistic view of whether some of your decisions are viable.


One of the questions that pops up from time to time (abit of a 1st world dilema) is whether it is prudent to include a butler's pantry. With the influx of renovation shows there has been a bit of a focus on including these spaces. Accordingly, clients are concerned that this is something that future buyers may expect to see in their homes. Before I go any further I think it is prudent to give a bit of a background as to what a Butler's Pantry is.


HISTORY


(image generated through WIX AI)


The concept of a butler's pantry dates back to the 19th century when grand estates and manor houses employed staff to assist with household tasks. The butler was typically the person whom was given the responsibility of directing and overseeing the staff.


The butler's pantry was an area within the home that would allow the staff to prepare and store food, usually adjacent to a kitchen and the dining area to allow for easy serving and clearing.


Over time the role of the butler's pantry diminished. However, with the love of open plan living, the value of the added storage and convenience to hide away "mess" the "butler's pantry" has made a little bit of a resurgence over recent times.


A true butler’s pantry is essentially a separate room or space off the kitchen where food preparation and clean-up can be done out of sight from guests. It is typically equipped with extra storage, counter space, and appliances such as a second sink, dishwasher, or refrigerator. The idea behind a butler’s pantry is to keep the main kitchen clean and clutter-free while also providing a functional space for meal prep and storage.


SO......What are the pro's?


ADDED STORAGE AND ORGANISATION


One of the biggest advantages of a butler’s pantry is the added storage and organization it provides. The provision of extra cabinets and shelves, means you can keep all of your kitchen gadgets, dishes, and pantry items neatly tucked away. This allows the main kitchen to feel less cluttered.


EXTRA COUNTER SPACE


You can never have too much counter space, given that this extra space is usually hidden from the main living area it also gives a bit more space to prep for entertaining.


GREAT FOR LARGE FAMILIES OR THOSE WHO LOVE TO ENTERTAIN


The butler's pantry provides a great area to clear things away and keep them out of sight whilst you entertain, leaving the main kitchen countertops clear. Basically the mess is contained out of sight..... until the guests go home. This allows you to entertain rather than feel like you need to do the dishes before you can get back to entertaining.


SO......What are the con's?


COST


If you are installing a true butler's pantry you are effectively adding a second kitchen. Accordingly one of the main concerns is the cost associated with building or renovating a butler’s pantry. Adding this feature can be a significant investment, especially in high-end properties where luxury finishes and top-of-the-line appliances are expected.


SPACE


The inclusion of a butler’s pantry takes up valuable square meterage that could be used for other purposes. In smaller homes or apartments, sacrificing space for a butler’s pantry could mean losing living space, or even reducing your normal kitchen space. Therefore in deciding whether you are going to include a butler's pantry you really need to consider your overall space and which area you would need to pinch the space from.


Other considerations?


I preempt this by stating that in making a design choice every situation is different, and ultimately if this is something that you want then go for it. Where we may start to suggest you weigh up the options is where you are renovating with the intention to sell in the not too distant future.


IDEALLY YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO COMMIT TO THE HIGH END FINISHES THROUGHOUT.


A butler's pantry is typically found in larger higher-end homes or luxury properties, accordingly there is generally an expectation that if you install a butler's pantry that the rest of the home will meet the level of a large luxury renovation. The finishes expected in the kitchen and butler's pantry would likely be expected throughout the property. To go high end in the butler's pantry a buyer would generally expect that the level of quality is throughout.... so high end bathrooms, fixturesd and fittings throughout.


EXPECTATION THAT THE PROPERTY IS OF A PARTICULAR SCALE


I touched on it above but there is generally an expectation that the addition of what is effectively a second kitchen would work in terms of scale with the rest of the property. While there is nothing to say you cannot have one in a one bedroom apartment, there is a general expectation that space from somewhere else has not been sacrificed. In other words you have three or four bedroom home with multiple bathrooms including an ensuite, a large living area and even a pool. To sacrifice a bedroom, a functional kitchen, or eat into your living area for a second kitchen would probably not be a prudent choice. They also need to connect to the kitchen and the entertaining area, having a butlers kitchen which is disconnected is not going to flow and ultimately will not get used to it's full potential.



So what is my opinion?...... Well in the right setting, the right market, and with the right intention they are wonderful, but as we see real estate get more expensive, and the spaces get smaller, I feel that they are a luxury, that unless you can match the quality and space throughout the property, is better invested elsewhere. Especially if it means losing valuable kitchen or living space. The importance of having a holistic view with anything that is essentially a non essential, luxury inclusion is paramount.


What are your thoughts......?



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