What Is a Scullery and Why Do You Need One?

When you dream of your new custom home’s floor plan, do you think about including a scullery? This is an old word that you may not be familiar with. But we think you’ll fall in love with this concept when you discover the beauty of it, just like we have.

It’s something to consider including in your luxury home list of must-haves. We expect this design trend to grow exponentially as people realize how helpful it is.

In this post, we’ll define “scullery,” differentiate it from other similar rooms, explain four advantages of a scullery, and discuss five types of sculleries from which you may choose in your home interior design.

What Is a Scullery?

A scullery is generally an additional small kitchen, a second kitchen, used for the dirty work of cleaning and storing dishes.

A scullery kitchen provides more workspace and, today, may also conceal messy cooking and cleaning activities from the main kitchen.

The basic elements of a scullery must include plenty of storage space, counter space, and a sink. But you can add other things to your scullery design to suit your needs. This is your space, so it can be custom-tailored to your family’s desires.

It is the perfect addition to your luxury kitchen and also goes by other names like mess kitchen, caterer’s kitchen, refrigerator pantry, or butler’s pantry.

A brief history of the scullery kitchen concept

Historically, sculleries were associated with Victorian homes or English manors when a kitchen was not to be seen—like Downton Abbey. Of course, back then, wealthy homeowners had scullery maids, kitchen staff, butlers, and other servants who manned the hidden scullery, butler’s pantry, and cleaning supplies.

What are sculleries used for today?

Today, people love to have a scullery because they can have the messiest parts of meal preparation and cleanup hidden away out of view of their guests. The main kitchen can stay immaculately clean and ready for hosting and serving drinks and food.

In modern luxury homes, a scullery behind the kitchen or near the dining room can be convenient during entertaining. It is a delightful addition to your dream home’s kitchen design.

Kitchen in the foreground and a sliding barn door to a scullery in the background

What is the difference between a scullery and a prep kitchen?

A prep kitchen is an additional kitchen space adjacent to the main kitchen. It would have a great deal of counter space and a prep sink for washing vegetables and fruits.

Prep kitchens may also have other kitchen appliances to meet the homeowner’s needs. So this is where prep kitchens and sculleries tend to overlap.

People want their main kitchens to be a showplace with a beautiful kitchen island and high-end materials.

A scullery can provide extra meal prep space as well as a place for washing dishes, a dishwasher, dry goods storage, a wine cooler, and storage for cookware, plates, silverware, and more. It’s also a place where you could choose to use lower-cost, practical finishes.

Some people even include a refrigerator drawer or an extra fridge in the scullery. And this is the perfect place to store bulky small appliances like coffee makers, microwaves, food processors, bread makers, and the like while keeping your main kitchens counters gloriously uncluttered.

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

A butler’s pantry is primarily for storing dinnerware, silverware, linens, crystal, and china. Historically, it was a downstairs room where the most valuable household dining and serving ware was kept under lock and key by the butler.

Today, butler’s pantries often have cabinets, a sink that can be used as a wet bar or extra food prep area close to the dining room.

A scullery is technically more for cleaning and storing than for prep work. But the functionality of the two is often blurred depending on what people need from the space today. Sometimes the terms are now used interchangeably.

What is the difference between a pantry and a scullery?

A pantry is primarily for storing dry goods. It doesn’t generally have any plumbing or a counter area for food preparation.

A scullery can be a food storage place, but also has some kitchen functionality like food prep and a sink and dishwasher for cleaning up the dirty dishes after a meal. A scullery is also a great place for storing plates, silverware, cups, and even china.

Some homeowners like to combine the two into a scullery pantry.

Walk-in scullery with cabinets and counter space

4 Benefits of a Scullery or Prep Kitchen

A scullery had many advantages that today’s discriminating homeowners will love. Especially now that so many people are cooking at home more and want more storage space for their kitchens.

A scullery or prep kitchen can provide all kinds of advantages like:

1. A wealth of beautiful storage solutions

Having a scullery provides lots of extra space for pots and pans plus an ideal storage area for small appliances. Most sculleries have floor-to-ceiling cabinetry or base cabinets under the counters and open shelving above the counter.

Some people also use sculleries today as food pantries and butler’s pantries. You can include dry food storage, paper supplies, and fine china, silverware, serving dishes, and even display family heirlooms on the higher shelves or in the top cabinets with glass inserts.

2. Expanded food preparation and cooking capacity

Another great function of a scullery is to provide additional kitchen space and extra kitchen prep stations. This works well for those with large families or people who like to entertain guests and prepare large meals.

Having extra bench space (counter space) allows more people to help prepare the food. Having an extra kitchen prep sink and dishwasher for cleanup also lets more people be involved in clean-up if you have two kitchens.

For couples who each want their own cooking space, a secondary kitchen can also be a great way for each person to have their own space and not have to worry about tripping over each other.

3. A way to hide the mess of cooking and clean-up

Another fantastic benefit of having an extra kitchen is that you can do the messy prep work there and keep your main kitchen clean for hosting guests. It’s also the best place to stash dirty dishes after a meal out of your guests’ line of sight for you to deal with later.

4. An opportunity to be creative in your interior design

Some people see a scullery or secondary kitchen as a place where they can go with lower cost materials since they are going to be out of sight of guests.

Others think of an ancillary kitchen as a place to have more creativity and personality and to experiment more with color and fun, whimsical, or playful designs.

Hands kneading dough on a wooden countertop

5 Types of Sculleries for High-End Homes

There are different types of kitchen scullery designs, prep kitchens, or secondary kitchens to choose from.

1. Hidden scullery

A hidden scullery is walled off and has a door that allows you to do your cooking and clean-up backstage and out of view from your guests who may be gathering in your main kitchen. It’s generally located adjacent to the primary kitchen or beside the dining room.

2. Walk-in scullery

A walk-in scullery makes a wonderful spot for housing smaller kitchen appliances out of the way. Many people choose to merge a food pantry and scullery together to conserve space and create the best storage options.

It could be as small as a fairly large walk-in pantry or it could be a good bit bigger, depending on your house plan and needs.

3. Screened scullery

A screened scullery is an extra kitchen workspace that is blocked from view in the main kitchen by a screen, sliding wall, partition, or folding door.

4. Butler’s pantry/scullery

Some homeowners choose to combine the functions of a butler’s pantry with a scullery to create a beautiful place to store their fine china and silver, as well as a place to store everyday dishes and have a place for cooking and washing up that can be closed off and hidden from guests.

5. Laundry room/scullery or other multifunctional space

You don’t necessarily have to follow any rules when it comes to designing your scullery. If you want to have a multi-use space, that’s up to you. You could have a larger space that includes a laundry room and scullery concept. Or even throw in a craft room, home office, or home learning space, if you’d like.

Ready to build your new dream home? Looking for a luxury home builder in Lexington, SC?

We can help.

At Blythe Building Company, we build luxury homes in the Lexington, SC area and all around Greater Columbia. If you’re ready to find an award-winning custom home builder that is family-owned and operated and knows how to take great care of our clients, check us out.


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