The concept of a scullery dates back to the 15th century and refers to a room, separate from the kitchen, used to clean and store dishes and utensils, and generally house all the “dirty work” required to prepare meals. Sometimes, it even served as the laundry room. As time progressed, sculleries became utility rooms and mudrooms.

A concept not quite as old as the scullery, the Butler’s Pantry originated in the mid-1800s. It was primarily designated for the storage of silver, crystal and china and was kept under lock and key by the butler himself who used the area for final meal preparations. The modern-day version can be as simple as a sideboard or elaborately accessorized.

Today, the desire for kitchens to be another beautiful show piece in the livable home has given way to a rise in these additions, bringing back an outdated concept in an updated way with back areas that hold wine coolers, a second set of appliances and even a warmer.

“In the kitchens we design, the incorporation of a scullery kitchen has arisen out of our client’s desire to keep their new, showstopping kitchen clean when guests show up for dinner parties. Since kitchens have become more connected with the living spaces in a home, it’s hard to have everything in order when guests arrive after hours of meal preparations,” explains Julie Bradshaw of Bradshaw Designs in San Antonio, adding that what gets included in each scullery kitchen is simply a question of what each client needs to make their home more functional for how they live. “While some offer only an extra sink and dishwasher for dirty dishes to get stashed just before guests arrive, others are fully functional kitchens where caterers can set up their base of operations for large parties.”

As an alternative to an elaborate scullery addition, architect Dianne Kett of DK Studio in Austin weighs in on the Butler’s Pantry. “Since the very popular trend of open shelves in kitchens has become so prevalent, and fewer people have buffet furniture pieces in the dining room, homeowners still have a need for various items that need to be stored. The pantry becomes a lot prettier, making it a Butler’s Pantry with countertops, open shelving, built-in cabinets and cabinet hardware that match the kitchen. We typically design a pocket door for their entry so they can be closed off when guests arrive but kept open for daily living.”

Whatever the size or capabilities, there are beautiful ways to update the ultimate utilitarian room of the home.