Building a Butler’s Pantry

Transforming a useless Wet Bar into a fabulous Butler’s Pantry

We’ve lived in this house for eight years.  It was only two years old when we bought it and, in January, there were only two rooms we had not touched.  One was this wet bar, between our kitchen and dining room.  When we first looked at the house, I thought it was so cool.  I thought we’d actually entertain and use it and I loved that it had running water.  I think my husband disconnected the water the first or second year because we never used it.  Sure, we stored liquor in the cabinets and junk in the drawers and glasses in the cupboard and wine rack.  The problem was that it became our junk space.  Anything and everything got tossed into it and it was always a mess.

So I started thinking about how we could transform it and make it not only functional, but beautiful. I’ve grown to love the comfortable look of modern cottage style and I’m a firm believer that moldings and architectural features not only make a house a home, but add much to the resale value too.  I also knew that we had too much stuff in our kitchen cabinets…so much so that some of it was stored in the basement.  I wanted easy access to my baking pans, without having to pull out all of them, sort through them and try to re-balance them in an awkward lower cabinet.  I began thinking about the finishes I wanted and the smartest ways to utilize the space and Ed got out his power tools and curse words.  Both are necessary for any project in our house.

Forgive the before photo…seriously, there is no window near here and Ed and I are HORRIBLE at taking the befores!  This was after he removed the wall cabinet and wine rack (of course!).

This was after he removed the lower cabinetry.
After demolition of the interior space, he had to close off some of it to add a door.  I debated about this because I knew the space would be beautiful, but open concept shelving in kitchens, while trendy and pretty to look at, are a pain the rear to keep clean and dust free.  I wanted a more practical approach.
He removed the moldings…
then built the frame and added drywall.
The next step was adding beadboard eight feet up the nine foot walls.  Trim would come later.
He figured out a way to box in the plumbing without taking away much space and we began to research and decide what depths we should build the shelving.  At first we thought the deeper, the better.  Then I began reading about the dark hole pantries where things get lost and we wanted nothing to do with that.  We decided to build the bottom shelves 16″ in depth for larger items and then began tapering the depth of the shelving as we went higher.  I bought storage baskets I liked (at TJ Maxx) and we made sure they fit in the spaces.  The one here holds all of our liquor.  I’m not even sure why we have it…we are not big drinkers, but we do have an occasional cocktail.
Here you can see the box around the plumbing and how we made sure the baskets fit properly.
Deciding how to build the pan rack I want, while still reusing the wine rack and having additional storage for glasses.
I definitely wanted a pan rack.  This is vital to my happiness and peace of mind!  Ed began planning his strategy and ended up building a great space to vertically store my muffin pans, cake racks, 13×9 inch pans, and a sandwich maker and I was thrilled.  I made sure everything fit before be made the finishing touches.
The next phase was planning custom “cubbies” for my round cake pans and my pie plates.  This took some measuring:
Sophie, the dog, thinks he’s cooking something.
And when we were satisfied with the build, he installed it.
A level is crucial!
Yes, there was blood.  There is always blood.  Be prepared!

The next few days were filled with finishing off the shelving, painting the pretty corabels and deciding where they would look best.  Ed installed an egg-dart type of molding to the edges of the shelves, installed trim, and spent lots of time caulking and painting.

I also visited TJ Maxx again to find jars for dry storage.  I happened to also find cute little chalk paint labels.
I have to tell you, this is my new favorite room in the house!  I can’t stop looking at it!
I love the trim work.

Butler’s Pantry

A wide angled lens helps capture the details.
I love my cake pan cubbies!
A seriously fantastic transformation!  I have a clean and organized space to store just about everything that overflowed in my kitchen cabinets and it actually stays neat.  I love the way it looks, which makes utilizing it such a pleasure.

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