From Boring Pantry to a DIY Butler’s Pantry Makeover

January 5, 2023

Hi! I'm Nicole

Fearless DIY. Sharing building project tutorials and interior design tips. Let’s build something beautiful together. For more projects, design tips and behind the scenes, follow me @designtobuild.nicole

More About Me



From boring pantry to DIY butler’s pantry. I have wanted to make this drastic change for the longest time now. At the start of this year, I tackled my biggest room remodel yet! My kitchen! So, of course, making my dreams come true of a bona fide butler’s pantry, was a must. And I absolutely love it! No regrets!

I ripped out all of the builder’s grade shelving to add an appliance countertop along with custom open shelves. It was just what this pantry needed to elevate the space.

Header Image

Functionality was my most important goal I wanted to achieve. While the style and beauty of it was vital, organization and extra space to house all of my countertop small appliances was key.

A big part of this was, my microwave needed a new home. For all the years we have lived in our home, our microwave has been above the range. Removing the microwave was just one of the ways I brought our kitchen to a more modern day design. Moving the microwave to the butler’s pantry still allows for easy access to it.

All white kitchen with gold hardware and black appliances

Of course, a key function of butler’s pantries are food storage. While my pantry is a small room without enough space for food prep, I do have plenty of open shelving for all my pantry items. Which now includes the perfect spot for the toaster, microwave and coffee maker. I love the counter space this has freed up in my main kitchen area.

Another factor that was very important to me in my DIY butler’s pantry design, was making sure I had plenty of designated storage space. Utilizing the floor space provided the perfect place for extra storage.

How I Turned My Boring Pantry into a Butler’s Pantry

First a quick look at the boring (and cluttered pantry)…

Pantry cluttered with grocery items and small appliances

The very first thing I did was tear out all of the builder’s grade shelving. Carefully, mind you, because I planned on using this wood to rebuild the shelves.

Now with a blank canvas to work from, I was ready to start building the shelves. Prior to getting started, I drew up my plans regarding how much space I wanted between each shelf. These were not elaborate plans by any means, just enough to get to a starting point. A few things I needed to consider with the spacing were:

  • The height of my tallest appliance. I wanted to make sure the countertop had plenty of room and didn’t feel cramped.
  • The height of my baskets/bins I was planning on adding for better organization.
  • The height of my cereal canisters. Knowing that these are taller than my baskets/bins, I designated the bottom shelf for them to sit on. I was sure to leave more clearance when starting on the shelf above them.
  • How many shelves I wanted to incorporate.
  • The length of my baskets/bins to determine how deep I wanted my shelves to be.

Being the visual person that I am, I drew lines where each of my shelves would start…

Lines drawn for floating shelves for DIY butler's pantry

I then built my floating shelves working from the top down. Here’s a great tutorial on how I make my floating shelves. 

Small closet with a ladder in it

In no time, all of the cleats for the shelves on the left wall were finished…

Cleats for floating shelves in DIY butler's pantry

And I was ready to move onto the next wall. Forming an L-shape, I built the cleats for the adjoining wall…

Small pantry with cleats for floating shelves for a DIY butler's pantry

One of the ways I saved money during this project was by using the wood from the builder’s grade shelving. Since I was planning on painting the shelves, there was really no need to go out and buy all new wood. This was a real money saver, especially considering lumber was at it’s all time high during this remodel.

Like a puzzle, I pieced together each board…

DIY butler's pantry with the beginnings of floating shelves

Until they all fit. And then I added 1/4″ underlayment underneath each cleat that was visible to the eye. I did this to cover up the underside of the cleats. Notice that the bottom cleats do not have underlayment added. This is because, once I add the front boards, you won’t see the cleats anymore…

Floating shelves being built with a drill and tool belt on them

It was at this point I started painting the walls…

Floating shelves with underlayment on the bottom of them in a DIY butler's pantry

Ideally, I would have painted them before attaching my cleats for the shelving. However, I had already drawn my lines for where each shelf was to go and didn’t want to have to reconfigure all of that. So, this was the next best option.

Since I didn’t have to be careful at all with painting around the cleats, this actually went very quickly. Along with painting the shelves too…

Small closet wall painted navy black with cleats for floating shelves

Next, I was ready to add the front of the shelves. I cut strips of wood and stained them to give the shelves a chunkier look. If you’re interested in the staining technique I used, here’s the post all about how I got this look.   …

4 boards stained for shelving for DIY butler's pantry

For the countertop, I went with a more non-traditional approach. Rather than a laminate, quartz, or butcher block, I added 1×5’s to build my countertop. Sticking with the same stained finish as the fronts of the shelves,

I love how this light wood stain pops against the darker painted walls. As you can see, I still needed to stain the front shelf boards after filling them with wood filler.

Shelving inside a small DIY butler's pantry

As an afterthought, I decided to add vertical shiplap to the walls. Yes, it would have been much easier to attach the shiplap first. But…you gotta love those last minute decisions…

Shelving with shiplap above and below it being attached with a nail gun for DIY butler's pantry

And I do love the added texture this element brings to the space. So, in the long-run, it was worth it…

Pantry with floating shelves

I played around with some basket choices and this one wasn’t it. The gray felt too drab. I also didn’t like the overly busy vibe the multiple styles of baskets was giving.

Organized DIY butler's pantry with custom shelves

In the end, I settled on two different baskets. Wood tone and simple white plastic.

Organized DIY butler's pantry with floating shelves

At first, I had all of the items in baskets. I loved the look of this, however, it just wasn’t practical. After one too many times of lifting a heavy basket to find a canned good, I was willing to sacrifice “aesthetically pleasing” for convenience and saving my back.

While the HGTV Home Edit crew would probably come in and find a better solution, this is working for us….At least for now.

Finished DIY butler's pantry nicely organized.

Once the DIY butler’s pantry was finished, I pretty much had the entire kitchen left to do. And with flooring being the last step of my kitchen makeover, it was a long time coming when I finally got to add these gorgeous LVP floors to my pantry…

LVP flooring in a DIY butler's pantry

New Additions to My Butler’s Pantry

When researching butler pantry ideas, coffee bars were a definite must. My husband is a huge coffee lover and must have it on a daily basis. This coffee bar has been such a great addition to our new kitchen.

One of my favorite new purchases for the DIY butler’s pantry, are these cereal canisters. I’m not sure why I didn’t do this when my kids were little. I’ve probably gained back the money spent on this pantry with the money saved on cereal.

No more unclosed, stale, half-eaten cereal boxes. Now they actually eat the entire box of cereal. It’s truly a miracle. If you do not have cereal canisters, you NEED them!! I promise you will save money with this low-cost investment. Here’s the link to the best ones on Amazon…

Floating shelves in DIY butler's pantry with appliances and grocery items

What’s not to love about this retro toaster and microwave? When I saw these on Amazon, I knew I had to have them. I was not looking for anything stainless steel or black. But rather, wanted appliances that were light and bright. These definitely fit that bill…. Here’s the link to the toaster. Here’s the link to the microwave.

Retro microwave and toaster on floating shelves.

Now, if I could just talk the Mr. into a coffee machine to match. 🙂 Haha! I don’t see that happening. He loves his Ninja! And now having a dedicated space for all of his coffee things….Well, let’s just say, exactly what I envisioned for my dream butler’s walk-in pantry. 🙂

Coffee bar with coffee maker and toaster for DIY butler's pantry

My daughter and I love to watch the series on HGTV all about getting organized– Home Edit. Ahhh! While I might not have Clea and Joanna’s organization skills, I do now have some of their organizational bins. It’s a start, right?

I love the quality of these wooden bins. With multiple sizes to choose from, I got a variety. The Container Store features many of the Home Edit organizational tools. These bins from Amazon are an even better deal and very similar to the more expensive ones I got. Here’s the link to save a little money.

Wooden box with handles for storage

Another addition I wish I would have tried years ago, is this large basket to hold all of our chips….

Woven basket with handles for storage for DIY butler's pantry

And these chip clips!! Have you ever seen a more glamorous chip clip?

Golden chip clips

Butler’s Pantry Fun Facts:

What is the difference between a pantry and a butler’s pantry?

A pantry is a small room/closet to store dry goods. While a butler’s pantry does the same, it also has an element of functionality. Oftentimes, a butler’s pantry will have a coffee bar, microwave and possibly even a sink. This of course frees up kitchen space, making the pantry a natural extension of the kitchen.

Why is it called a butler’s pantry?

Back in the day, the butler’s living quarters were within the pantry. In addition, this space was used as a prep area for meals. It also served as a storage area for goods/kitchen accessories. It was located immediately off the kitchen and even contained a logbook managed by the family’s butler.

What’s the difference between a butler’s pantry and a scullery?

A scullery is a small second kitchen used for all of the messy work….such as washing dishes and storing dishes. Whereas, a butler’s pantry served as a place for the butler to ensure the food was ready for presentation.

Should it have a door?

If there’s a lot of space and light, a door is not necessary. However, you will probably want to obscure the space from the view of guests, in some way. Given that a butler’s pantry is often used for dinner prep work, the space can become messy.

Will this addition help with resale?

The short answer is YES! The modern-day butler’s pantry has exploded in popularity. While they don’t serve the same purpose as the days when a wait staff was more common, they are all about functionality. Therefore, what works for your space and your family is key.

Customizing your DIY butler’s pantry to fit your space and your family is key. No two pantries will look the same. Nor will they serve the same purpose. It really is all about tailoring it to meet your needs. Whether you have a larger space or just a small closet to work with, functionality and beautiful aesthetics are both attainable.

Creating my DIY butler’s pantry was such a joy. I hope this has helped inspire you for your space.

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Drop your questions and comments below. I promise to get back to you.

Let’s go beyond the design to build something beautiful together!

Be sure to Pin This Post to your Pinterest Board for later…

pinterest pin

For more great content, be sure to sign up below for my weekly newsletter.

More Kitchen Posts:

Kitchen Makeover Reveal

Full view of kitchen makeover remodel with center island as the focal point




5 Benefits to LVP Flooring

Muted view of modern kitchen makeover reveal with a wildflower planter display

How to Replace Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Cabinets with gold hardware








Read more posts like this one…

How Can You Make Your Home Move Easier?

How Can You Make Your Home Move Easier?

There are quite a few things that you need to do when you are buying a home. The buying process is only the start of it though, the move is a major part of buying a home. It can come with a lot of stress and be hard to tackle.  It can at times, leave you pulling your...

Easy How to Makeover Your Garage Door to a DIY Carriage Door

Easy How to Makeover Your Garage Door to a DIY Carriage Door

In the 16 years we have lived in our home, one of the best upgrades we have ever made, is our DIY carriage door update. Without the added accessories, our garage doors are very boring. Nothing whatsoever to draw the eye. But a few years back, I added a few things to...