Scullery or Butler’s Kitchen: What’s the difference?

We are increasingly getting asked this question during the design stage. In modern home design, a scullery or butler’s pantry/kitchen has become a ‘must-have’ feature for those who like to entertain.

The popularity of sculleries and butler’s kitchens probably stems from the prevalence of open plan living. With open plan living, our kitchens are sitting bang in the middle of our living area. This means that all of the mess and dishes associated with cooking and entertaining are also front and centre.

Far from being a new idea though, sculleries could been seen as a throwback to the days of the old English manors. The key difference nowadays is that not many of us can afford the downstairs staff that came with the sculleries in older times. The TV series Downtown Abbey comes to mind!

What is a Scullery?

In general terms, a scullery is another small kitchen in itself. It will have space for food preparation, cleaning and washing. It is great for people who like to entertain and a perfect space for caterers to work from in your home.

Kitchen Scullery


Key advantages of a Scullery

A key attraction of a scullery or butler’s pantry is that it provides a space to hide all of the dishes and mess while the main kitchen is being used as the entertaining hub for serving food and drinks.

The scullery kitchen will also allow you to increase the capacity of your kitchen to cope with cooking for a crowd. While this is fantastic for entertaining, it is also great for larger families or if you have extended family come over for meals frequently. Alternatively, it can be great for couples where you both like to cook, but need your own zone to work in.

What is a Butler’s Pantry/Kitchen?

A butler’s pantry tends to be a more modest affair and is smaller than a scullery and is usually more of a storage zone with a small preparation area. Effectively, it is a walk-in pantry that may also have storage for small appliances such as toaster, kettle, microwave and limited bench space for food preparation.

Sometimes a butler’s pantry/kitchen also includes plumbed facilities such as a sink and a dishwasher. This is where the line between a butler’s pantry and a scullery start to blur.

Butlers Pantry looking through to Laundry

So, what is the REAL difference between a scullery and a butler’s kitchen?

In practice, the terms scullery and butler’s pantry are often used interchangeably. Basically, they both refer to a space that is used as a mini-kitchen of sorts. The features, appliances, space, and storage that are designed into the room are generally governed by how much space is available on the floor-plan, balanced against what the homeowner can afford in their budget.

The inclusion of either a scullery or a butler’s pantry in your home renovation is certainly a modern-day luxury. One thing is certain, those that have them, love them.

When deciding whether you need a scullery or butler’s pantry, first carefully consider why you need or want it. I would then highly recommend getting a professional kitchen designer on board to plan your space properly.

Should I have a Walk-in pantry or butler’s kitchen, how are they different?

A walk-in pantry and a butler’s kitchen are similar but most definitely not the same. A pantry tends to be a storage area for dry-goods only. Whereas a butler’s pantry will usually contain some elements of kitchen functionality too such as a purpose-built area to use a coffee machine, microwave or an additional sink alongside a bench-top for food preparation.

^^Additional sink alongside a bench-top for food preparation.

<< Walk-in Pantry

Should you put your fridge in a butler’s kitchen or scullery?

A fridge needs to be in a place that is easy to access for all family members. For this reason, putting it in the scullery or butler’s pantry may not be practical. Some homeowners choose to have both a fridge in the kitchen and a separate fridge in the scullery. The fridge in the scullery becomes more of a drinks fridge and storage place for food platters when entertaining. The fridge in the kitchen then becomes the main ‘working fridge’ and contains all the food and drinks for everyday living.

What is a hidden scullery or hidden butler’s pantry?

With clever design, a butler’s pantry or scullery can be concealed or hidden. This can be done with clever cabinetry where the door looks like a cupboard, or by simply having a separate door to the room. The main thing with a scullery or butler’s pantry is that it is meant to be hidden! That is the whole idea, so that you can shut the door on the mess and dishes and hide it all away from plain sight.

Watch Steve in the video below, as he takes a quick walk-thru a recently completed renovation in West Perth, where he shows you a great example of a hidden butler’s pantry / scullery which has been concealed behind cabinetry: