Scullery, walk-in pantry or butler’s pantry – we are all familiar with such rooms contributing to the status of an English country house. While such rooms were traditionally quarters frequented by servants, modern day interior design sees them as everyday spaces used by the master of the house instead. At Artichoke we enjoy bringing these rooms to life – planning their use and their fitted furniture to complement life in a busy 21st century home.
The Walk In Pantry – A Resurgence
We have experienced an increasing demand from clients commissioning authentic, high-end architectural joinery to support domestic spaces such as the pantry, designed in a way that is sympathetic and appropriate to the style and period of the house. When considering, for example, a Georgian country house, Artichoke has the knowledge and expertise to be respectful not only of the period of the house but also of the hierarchy of joinery – the design of such detail depending on the room – the upstairs being more elaborate than the downstairs or servant’s domain.
The Butler’s Pantry
Pantries are a relatively new invention in English country house architecture, chiefly appearing in Georgian houses as separate rooms annexed off the kitchen or near the dining room for food preparation and the storage of silver, valuable dishes, table decorations and cooking equipment. Often the cabinetry was grand in scale to store the significant amounts of crockery and cutlery needed to entertain many guests over five or more courses. Traditionally, pantries were much cooler than kitchens, often located in a north facing part of the house, making them the perfect place to store fruit and vegetables to prolong their shelf life.
The Walk-In Pantry Today
Pantries provide a wonderful second space for food storage, food preparation and a shut-off room to hide used crockery and dishes when entertaining at scale. They rarely need to be as big as their predecessors, chiefly because we don’t tend to eat as many courses or entertain as many people as regularly as they did 150 years ago. There is also a growing awareness that many foods benefit from not being stored in the fridge. These days, when kitchens tend to be the heart of the home, even in large, period properties, it is useful to have behind the scenes spaces where the mess and practicalities around domestic chores are hidden from view. From a design point of view, it also means that some of the uglier appliances (such as the freezer or microvave) which look out of place in a period setting, can be hidden from view.
Things to Consider When Designing a Pantry
More often than not, interior architectural redesign is often needed when renovating a period home. These buildings were often designed at a time when the lives of their owners were very different to those of modern families. Often they had staff to run their kitchens, and often these kitchens and pantries were located far away from the family living quarters. We live differently these days, and most clients will want their kitchens at the centre of their homes. This may often mean a client will want to move their kitchen into a more central location. This can be challenging in a listed house. We explore these challenges separately in our article Moving Kitchens in a Listed Building. The major point to take away when moving a kitchen to a more cenral location is to ensure that there is a natural location for a supporting pantry. Often clients will us a smaller room, such as a downstairs loo, and repurpose the space for a pantry if it is within easy reach of the new kitchen location. We have also seen clients use the space created under a staircase for a new pantry location.
Clearly in a newbuild, the issue of location is not such a problem, with many clients choosing to add a separate scullery and pantry room to support the main family kitchen. The additon of these two rooms into a scheme frees up the main kitchen space, ensuring it’s design does not become too cluttered.
Each house is different, so there are many other factors that can sometimes raise their heads. If you are considering moving a kitchen or designing a new house with a pantry, let us know. We have many years of interior architectural experience and in helping improve how period homes can peform for modern family life. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, or call us on 01934 745270.