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Everything we hate about walk in pantries

Everything we hate about walk in pantries

Have you noticed that walk in pantries are getting bigger and bigger?

It’s no longer surprising to see a sink, dishwasher, fridge, wine fridge, second oven(s), and coffee machine in a pantry. Leaving the kitchen with a fancy stove, a sink and about 20 metres of empty bench space.

The bench space is supposed to be for people to mill around, since we don’t use dining rooms anymore.

It’s the dream to have a showcase kitchen with all the everyday-life-stuff tucked away in a pantry. We all love to look them on Pinterest and wish they were ours.

What I hate is when a beautiful kitchen and big pantry don’t function together properly. Let me explain…

 This kitchen’s from one of my favourite shows,  Three Birds Renovations . Check out the size of the island bench!

This kitchen’s from one of my favourite shows, Three Birds Renovations. Check out the size of the island bench!

The scale of the island’s perfect in this massive space with amazing cathedral ceiling. It looks great, visually. I bet they can’t reach the centre of their bench though. They probably have to put a cloth on the end of a long stick so they can clean it!

Look at all that open space, and the appliances are all hidden inside cupboards. They clearly do a lot of entertaining, with crowds of people at a time.

Put your hand up if large functions are a regular occurrence at your place. Not many hands, I would think.

The scale of this kitchen’s not for everyone, yet it takes my breath away.

 ...and this is the butlers pantry that goes with it.

...and this is the butlers pantry that goes with it.

Their butlers pantry’s the space they’ll probably use more often. We may as well call it their second little kitchen, or their everyday kitchen. It has everything and it’s all within reach. More importantly, if the kids make a mess in there, it’s fine.

I assume their big kitchen’s mainly just for show. I’ll bet they have epic parties there though.

That type of kitchen’s kind of like the “good china”. You bring it out to impress your guests at dinner parties. And the butlers pantry’s kind of like the “everyday set”.

At my house growing up, that set hardly ever got used. It was kept in the sideboard and remained in pristine condition for several decades. We never got to enjoy it unless guests came over.

The good china’s precious and beautiful to look at, but if you’re only using it on special occasions, it seems like such a waste. The same goes for an entertainer’s kitchen if you’re not an “entertainer” all the time.

 The butlers pantry is an extension of the kitchen. It can be another prep area that’s also closed off to guests. A cavity slider door to the pantry is a great option. | kitchen by  GIA Renovations

The butlers pantry is an extension of the kitchen. It can be another prep area that’s also closed off to guests. A cavity slider door to the pantry is a great option. | kitchen by GIA Renovations

Okay, okay… you still want your kitchen to be a showpiece and all the mess hidden behind doors. I get it.

Just remember, this means you’ll be spending most of your time in your pantry - which now becomes your second kitchen. So make it work for you. And for goodness sake, put a window in there.

 This second kitchen / walk in pantry by  Foomann Architects  has fantastic light. It's a place anyone would enjoy being in. Even if you’re doing hum drum domestic tasks.

This second kitchen / walk in pantry by Foomann Architects has fantastic light. It's a place anyone would enjoy being in. Even if you’re doing hum drum domestic tasks.

THERE’S NOT ENOUGH NATURAL LIGHT

Who wants to be working in a cave, under artificial light, with no fresh air? Leaving your beautiful big kitchen, with all the best conditions, never used.

Sometimes a window is overlooked in a pantry design because, after all, the space is meant to be about storage. With every inch of space utilised for that purpose.

Of course, if you intend this room to be a dark, cool room that’s ideal for food storage, that’s another matter. I myself, have opted for this scenario. It doubles up as a great wine cellar too :P

 Window Splashback: An example, from  Austin Design , of how you can let lots of natural light into your pantry. Now you can see what you're doing without turning the lights on all the time.

Window Splashback: An example, from Austin Design, of how you can let lots of natural light into your pantry. Now you can see what you're doing without turning the lights on all the time.

 Another way to incorporate a window in your pantry design is to simply shelve over it. Maximum light and maximum storage space. | designed by  Kate Marker Interiors

Another way to incorporate a window in your pantry design is to simply shelve over it. Maximum light and maximum storage space. | designed by Kate Marker Interiors

yOUR BULTERS PANTRY’S TOO BIG

I can understand how this happens. You’ve dreamed of having a walk in pantry for as long as you can remember and now, finally, you have the chance to design one to be exactly as you want. You’re thinking, man, it’s going to be the best thing ever!

You say to your partner, “I don’t want anything on our island bench, lets put everything in the butlers pantry”. You want your pantry to have all the bells and whistles. Appliances, benchspace, storage, sink…

The trouble here, don’t forget, is it becomes another kitchen. You’ll end up with half a kitchen in one room (the pantry) and half a kitchen in the other room (the kitchen). That means a lot of walking between rooms to get to the things you need. Everything takes longer to do.

There’s also a greater chance of not finding things because there’s so many places it could be. “Why isn’t the dustpan under the sink?”, you say. “Oh, it’s under the other sink” …how annoying.

 Talk about space. This separate scullery, by  Enoki , would rival the size of many modern kitchens. The tessellated  Winckelmans  tiles are a wonderful flooring choice.

Talk about space. This separate scullery, by Enoki, would rival the size of many modern kitchens. The tessellated Winckelmans tiles are a wonderful flooring choice.

 There's two pantries in this one. Is it excessive or is it really well planned? I’d love to ask the owners what they think. | designed by  L.Kae Interiors

There's two pantries in this one. Is it excessive or is it really well planned? I’d love to ask the owners what they think. | designed by L.Kae Interiors

THE FRIDGE’S TOO FAR AWAY

There’s a reason why we normally have the sink and fridge a few steps away from the cooktop, with a bench in between. It’s convenient.

The fridge is the centrepiece of the working environment. It’s the appliance that’s used most out of all of them. It should only be a few steps away from the main workspace.

Imagine the amount of skating around you’ll be doing if you have a huge kitchen and your fridge is in the wrong spot. If you look at the pictures below, they explain my point.

 There are large Subzero fridges to the left (behind cabinet doors). In what looks like a small kitchen. Except it’s not a kitchen, it’s a butlers pantry. | from TV show The Block |  source

There are large Subzero fridges to the left (behind cabinet doors). In what looks like a small kitchen. Except it’s not a kitchen, it’s a butlers pantry. | from TV show The Block | source

 This is the kitchen that goes with it (which I adore by the way). The only thing is, the fridges are miles away, in the butlers pantry across the hallway. A big fail. They should have at least put a bar fridge in the kitchen. |  source

This is the kitchen that goes with it (which I adore by the way). The only thing is, the fridges are miles away, in the butlers pantry across the hallway. A big fail. They should have at least put a bar fridge in the kitchen. | source

YOU’RE MISSING AN OPPORTUNITY

Why have a butlers pantry if your space can be better used? Maybe you would prefer a home office nook, a boot room, or something else that’s tailored to your lifestyle.

If you don’t cook much, ditch the walk in pantry. Then you might be able to fit a more useful space onto your floor plan. Have a think about it before you get too far into the design phase.

 Instead of a butlers pantry, have a flower arranging station (if this is your thing). | source:  homebunch.com

Instead of a butlers pantry, have a flower arranging station (if this is your thing). | source: homebunch.com

 This is the view from the other side. A beautiful and useful space for flower arranging.

This is the view from the other side. A beautiful and useful space for flower arranging.

To sum it up, a walk in pantry is an extension of your kitchen. It gives you:

Extra space to store things

Extra space to prepare things

Extra space for mess to accumulate

Extra, extra, extra... Are you going overboard? Maybe you need to rein it in

…I don’t know, you tell me.

It really bugs me when I see pantry designs where they’ve thrown everything in - even the kitchen sink (pardon the pun). Where obviously there’s been no thought to how a person’s going to use the space in tandem with the kitchen.

Important tip: Think about the spaces you’re creating, and how you want to live in them.

For instance, why work in a little kitchen / walk in pantry when you’ve already got a bigger, better one? It doesn’t make sense.


Need more pantry design inspiration? Continue reading the Pantry Series:

Pantry room entrance door, yes or no?

Pantry room entrance door, yes or no?

Everything we love about walk in pantries

Everything we love about walk in pantries