I’m a bit tired of my lack of progress lately, and my set-back on the weight-front due to my recent business travel, so I decided to attack some low-hanging fruit and de-clutter my butler’s pantry. My house, which is approaching its 120th birthday, wasn’t designed for modern life…meaning it originally had no plumbing. The original kitchen is now a bedroom, and what was undoubtedly the original butler’s pantry, was the first bathroom. When we bought the house, it had a narrow, galley kitchen parallel to a stairway to the basement. The original entry to the basement had been from the outside, but it had been bricked over to create a foundation for a poorly-built back room to the house. From the basement, you could still go through the “outside door”, but it led to a small storage space that we took to calling, Injun Joe’s Cave, alluding to Twain, of course.
From the galley kitchen, you could enter a square hall with four doors…one to the kitchen, one to the dining room, one to the downstairs bath, and one to the downstairs bedroom. When we renovated, we decided that the bath belonged to the bedroom and that neither bed nor bath ought to be opening up to a hallway off of the dining room or the kitchen, so we added an addition to the back of the house and now the guest bed and bath have a greater air of privacy and the rear stairs have a proper path from basement to attic.
In closing off the doors to the bed and bath, and extending the space across where the stairs had been, we gained a nice little area for a butler’s pantry to join the kitchen and dining room. In researching butler’s pantries, I discovered some interesting facts. The word pantry, comes from the French word for bread, pain, and was the place for storing bread. The larder was where one stored meat, and the butt’ry was paradoxically not the place to store butter (that would be the creamery) but the place to store spirits…the barrels’ “butt” ends recommended the name. A butler, is as you would imagine, the man in charge of the accounts, and in some estates, the butler slept in the pantry with the keys to all (in particular the butt’ry) since he was entrusted with the lot.
Well, my house has nothing so glamorous as a series of storage rooms off of the kitchen (but if you want to see an amazing, American example of estate storage rooms, check out Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello), but I do have a butler’s pantry for the simple fact that it is the passageway that connects my re-located kitchen back to my dining room.
My butler’s pantry is a set of lower cabinets topped by a layer of drawers, with a counter. Above, I have some pretty cabinets with glass doors designed to look old, by using glass with bubbles and other “defects” to make it look more appropriate to the age of my house. At first, I wanted a “quick hit” and just cleared off the counter. Here you can see that I made a huge difference in this one-hour project. The piece of art is one my older daughter made in school and which was in that messy “before picture” hidden inside a box. The wine rack is new, one that I “earned” by eating frozen, diet lunches for about six months!
I was really pleased with the results, but when I looked at the upper cabinets, I saw such a mess! So, I spent many more hours cleaning out the upper cabinets, washing the shelves and glass doors, and cutting shelf liners to protect the 16 shelves. My younger daughter, whom I’d cut off from the TV, decided she wanted to help and she hand-washed the contents of the shelves. The results were sparkling!
It turned out that by grouping the contents by height and use, I was able to much better utilize the space. I even made room for my wine glasses, tea cups, and the few bar items I have in the upper cabinets. So, now I know exactly where all the pitchers and vases are, where the soup tureen is, and where my kimchi pot is! This also freed some space in my kitchen for other glassware, an unexpected bonus.
This project turned out to be a more work than I thought, but wow, what a difference! Now I feel ready to entertain and use my butler’s pantry to serve dishes instead of an embarrassment, cluttered and junky, to hide.
Find the Joy in the Journey!
Related post: Butler’s Pantry Take Two