At the start of the year, we were thinking through projects that we could work on for the new year and came up with a number of ideas. Towards the top of that list was a butler pantry. Our home, despite being a builder-grade home, has a nice big walk-in pantry and it is perfect for a butler pantry. Since the start of the year, we have been working on this butler pantry and now it is finally finished! I absolutely love how it turned out and can’t wait to show you the entire process for building your very own butler pantry!
Butler Pantry Tutorials & Videos
Free Butler Pantry Tutorial
Wow! What a transformation this area went through! This project has been one of our most ambitious projects to date and on par with our office IKEA hack. The before and after pictures of this space are quite stunning. This new pantry has everything necessary to keep things organized and will also provide easy access for Little Miss.
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Butler Pantry Plan
The first step in the process is always to plan out your project! Take the measurements of your space and design your butler pantry. In our space we wanted to have floating shelves, tile backsplash, upper cabinets including an upper corner cabinet, lower cabinets including a Lazy Susan and pull out drawers, a beverage cooler, and then an area to store larger buckets for flour/sugar/chocolate chips (yes, we buy chocolate chips in bulk!). Once your plan is complete order the necessary supplies and then move on to demolition!
Supplies & Tools
Demolition was, of course, one of my husband’s favorite parts of this project. Our pantry had your pretty standard MDF shelves that were built around the wall and all of these needed to be removed. Using the sledgehammer, it was easiest to hit the shelf from the bottom until it came off the cleats that it was resting on. To remove the shelf, start at one end and hit the shelf until it comes from, then work from the free end to the other until the entire shelf comes free.
Once the shelves were removed, we also had to remove the cleat that the shelf was sitting on. This was done by using a crowbar and a hammer to work the cleat free of the wall. We found that using the hammer, once you could get it behind the cleat, prevented the drywall from being smashed.
Butler Pantry Cabinet Installation
Supplies & Tools
The next step is to install the cabinets. We ordered cabinets from Lowe’s and had them delivered to our home. First, we had to assemble the cabinets but they were super easy to put together! We installed the upper cabinets first and it definitely took both of us to do. The first step was to draw a horizontal line on the wall at 54″ from the floor (at least that’s the height of the cabinet in our kitchen). The bottom of your cabinet will line up with this line when you install the upper cabinets. We also used a cabinet jack to help hold the cabinets up while one of us fastened the cabinets to the studs using screws. Before fastening the cabinet to the wall it is important to make sure that the cabinet is plumb using a level.
Next, we installed the base cabinets by sliding them into position starting with the corner cabinet and working out. Make sure the cabinets are level using shims if necessary. Next, fasten the cabinets to the wall using screws drilled into the studs.
Finally, the last step is to install cleats for any areas where the countertops will span (i.e. over a beverage cooler). Make sure the cleats are level with the tops of the lower cabinets using a level. Fasten the cleats to the wall using screws drilled into the studs.
Installing a New Outlet for the Beverage Cooler
Next, we needed to install an outlet for our beverage cooler. We were lucky in that our pantry already had an outlet installed, however, this outlet would be above the countertops once they were installed. We didn’t want to put a hole in the countertop just to be able to plug in the beverage cooler plus we wanted the outlet to use above the countertop for other things. The only reasonable solution was to add an additional outlet below the countertop for the beverage cooler. Since there is already an outlet within the same stud bay it will be easy enough to draw power from that outlet and create a new one.
Butler Pantry Countertop Installation
The next step is countertop installation. Depending upon your choice of countertops this might be a job best left to professionals (for example, quartz=professionals & butcher block=DIY). We wanted the countertops to match the rest of our kitchen, which are quartz, and so we had professionals install our countertops. The first step in this process is to take your plans to a countertop specialist and select your stone. Based upon your plans and countertop surface area they will give you a quote for your project. We recommend comparing quotes from different fabricators as there can be quite a difference in prices from one shop to the next.
Once you have accepted a quote, a technician will come to your home and measure the exact area for the cabinet using lasers. The countertops will be custom cut from these measurements so the countertop fits your area perfectly. Once the countertop has been cut an installation team will come to your home and fit the countertops into place.
Butler Pantry Backsplash
Supplies & Tools
*For a more detailed installation process of backsplash see our DIY kitchen backsplash.
The next step in the process for us was to install the backsplash. We debated whether to install the backsplash first and then the floating shelves (which would sit in front of the backsplash) or vice versa and tile around the shelves. Ultimately, we decided that installing the backsplash first would look better.
After doing our DIY kitchen backsplash we have learned a number of things that made the backsplash much easier on this project. The tips we learned from that project were:
- Buy a tile saw: it doesn’t seem worth it but the time savings and ease of a tile saw compared to a tile cutter are well worth the investment.
- Stick to rectangles and square: herringbone is definitely not a pattern for beginners!
- Musselbound tile mat: it’s easier to install then Bondera tile mat but it has its own difficulties such as the tiles have to be completely dry and dust free (use a blow dryer).
- Tile spacers: use them everywhere ensuring that you have two points of contact on every edge.
The basic steps for installing the backsplash are:
- Install the Musselbound tile mat using a box cutter: it’s easiest to install vertically but we were also able to install it horizontally under the cabinets.
- Place the tiles: use tile spacers and place all of the tiles for your backsplash. When you are ready, press the tile mat into the tile mat for 5 seconds to bond it in place. Cut any tiles that need to be cut using the tile saw (make sure to blow dry the tile dry before placing on the tile mat).
- Grout the tiles: First, mix the grout in a bucket. Then use a grout float at a 45 degree angle to work the grout into the spaces. Next, clean the excess grout with a sponge. Finally, wipe the haze off with a microfiber cloth.
- Seal the tiles: Finally, seal the tiles using a tile and grout sealer.
Butler Pantry Floating Shelf Installation
Supplies & Tools
For the floating shelves, we decided to go with Ultra Shelf. We have done our own DIY floating shelves but for the butler pantry, we wanted floating shelves where the brackets wouldn’t be seen. Ultra Shelf has designed these really awesome brackets that can be used with their custom-built shelves or with your own DIY floating shelves. The brackets are designed to be able to always hit a stud so you don’t have to worry about the shelf coming off the wall. To install the shelves Ultra Shelf provides all the instructions necessary on their website.
To install the shelves the first step is to make sure the shelf gets installed in the correct location. To do this, since our shelves would be between a wall and a cabinet, we held the shelf up on the wall and traced the edge of the bracket so we knew where it needed to go. Next, we took the bracket out of the wood shelf and held the bracket up to the tile wall, and marked all of the holes in the bracket on the backsplash using an expo marker.
Tile Hole Saw
Next, we drilled the holes to install the bracket. Since the bracket would be installed over the tile backsplash we needed to use a diamond bit hole saw to screw the bracket to the wall. To use the diamond bit hole saw place painter’s tape around the area where you want to place the hole. The reason we do this is so that the backsplash doesn’t get scuffed because the drill bit tends to slip in the beginning stages. To drill a hole start at a 45-degree angle to the wall and start your hole and then rotate until you are perpendicular to the wall and can finish the hole.
Once all of the holes have been drilled then you can install the bracket on the wall. In our case, the builder didn’t place studs 16″ on center on the wall where the floating shelves were to be hung. We only ended up having 1 stud that could be used to hang the shelf (since the other studs were outside the bracket location). Because of this, we had to use toggle anchors. The toggle anchors were placed in the holes where a stud wasn’t located. Next, the bracket was secured to the wall using the supplied screws.
The final step is to install the floating shelf. This step is super easy and is just sliding the shelf onto the bracket. The last step for installing the shelf is to caulk the shelf seam to the backsplash.
Butler Pantry Organization
How I organized the butler pantry!
The last step in the project was to organize the space! I’ll be the first to admit that my pantry used to be a hot mess. After all this work of getting the pantry completely redesigned, I didn’t want to go back to my old ways of haphazardly throwing things on shelves. I ordered a bunch of organizational materials from Amazon to transform the space.
I went drawers by drawer, cabinet by cabinet, organizing each space. The cereal was placed in cereal storage bins. The sugar (brown & powdered) was placed in storage bins. The Lazy Susan holds these larger items for easy access. Canned goods were placed on the spice rack organizer so that they can be easily seen. Oats and pasta were also placed in cereal bins. Oils and spices were placed in turntables to be easily seen. Seasoning packets were placed in plastic containers to keep them in their place. Plates, straws, plastic spoons, etc. were also placed in plastic storage containers to keep them from going all over the place.
Within the drawers, the top ramen, mac & cheese, kool-aid, and zip fizz were all placed in plastic storage containers. In the bottom drawers placed in plastic containers are pop-tarts, fruit snacks, fruit roll-ups, Oreos, chips, Cheetos, and other snacks for Little Miss for easy access.
Next, inside the beverage cooler, all of the cans were placed in plastic can organizers so that the cans roll forward for easy dispensing. The beverage syrups (for example coconut syrup) were placed on a turntable above the beverage cooler on the counter.
Finally, the floating shelves hold all of my dishes, bowls, and cooking items that don’t get used often but look pretty! This way I am able to showcase some of these things.
Finished Butler Pantry
Finally, that concludes our butler pantry project! I am so in awe of how it turned out and the space has been completely transformed. I find myself wandering into the pantry just to stare out how it has turned out. I’m super excited to have an organized pantry and for everything to have a place. I’d love to hear what you think about the butler pantry in the comments below!