What Is a Scullery Kitchen? This Historic Home Layout Is Making a Comeback (2024)

For those who love to entertain, a scullery kitchen can be a huge help. When space allows, this smaller, fully functional secondary kitchen helps keep kitchen messes out of sight. What was once an outdated design element has made a major comeback over the last few years, and scullery kitchens are on the rise again.

According to a recent kitchen trends study by Houzz, searches for “scullery kitchen” grew 38% over the last year, and many homeowners are implementing the historic layout into their kitchen renovations. “Nearly 3 in 5 homeowners use their kitchen for entertaining following a renovation,” says Mitchell Parker, senior editor at Houzz. “That motivation may be influencing the rise we’ve seen in searches for ‘scullery kitchen,’ which provides a room for cleaning and doing messy kitchen work away from guests.”

To inspire your next kitchen refresh, learn what a scullery kitchen is and how it can make your space more functional.

What Is a Scullery Kitchen?

A scullery kitchen is essentially a smaller, secondary kitchen space that can help handle the extra dirty kitchen tasks or the overflow from your main kitchen. A scullery often has plenty of storage for appliances or fancy dishes that don't fit in your main kitchen cabinets, but don't necessarily belong in the pantry.

If the function of a scullery sounds an awful lot like your primary kitchen, you’re not far off. The term is a holdover from a time when well-to-do homeowners had hired help to do the kitchen work. As such, traditional scullery kitchens were small but highly efficient spaces, frequently tucked away towards the rear of the home.

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What's the Difference Between a Scullery Kitchen and a Butler's Pantry?

A butler's pantry is another small but functional space adjacent to the kitchen or dining area. While a scullery kitchen and a butler's pantry do sound similar (and some folks use the two terms interchangeably), the two spaces serve different purposes.

The original distinctions were based on the roles of both butler's and scullery maids as well as concerns with sanitation and household management in wealthy homes starting in the Victorian era,” says Mindy O’Connor of Melinda Kelson O'Connor Architecture & Interiors. “While these concerns are no longer prevalent, any home with the luxury of the space and budget to consider these can adapt the ideas for a very useful and beautiful way to organize kitchen spaces.”

Think of a scullery kitchen as a space ideal for food preparation and cleanup, and a butler's pantry as a space better suited for entertaining and serving. If you’re trying to decide what type of supplemental kitchen space would be most helpful in your home, designer Ginger Curtis, president of Urbanology Designs, suggests evaluating your specific needs and lifestyle preferences. Think about what purpose you want the room to serve, how much space is available, and what your entertaining habits are.

“A scullery kitchen typically requires a larger area compared to a butler's pantry. If there is ample space to accommodate a secondary kitchen with extra countertop and storage, a scullery kitchen might be the preferred choice," she says. "However, if space is limited, a butler's pantry can still provide valuable storage and serving capabilities without the need for a full kitchen setup."

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Scullery Kitchen Design Elements to Consider

If you're planning a full kitchen remodel or building a home, it's easy to add a small space for a scullery kitchen. If a large-scale project isn't in your budget, you can still incorporate some of the more helpful design elements into another space, such as a walk-in pantry or hall closet off the kitchen. If you like the idea of adding a scullery kitchen into your space, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Storage Solutions

Some homeowners may choose to keep bulky countertop appliances like toasters and mixers in the scullery. “First and foremost, prioritize storage,” recommends designer Victoria Holly of Victoria Holly Interiors. “We like to install a good amount of cabinets in a scullery kitchen to accommodate all necessary kitchenware, appliances, and pantry items.”

Practical Features

Another must-have? Ample counter space for prepping. Beyond that, other items that can be useful in a scullery can include anything the primary kitchen has, including a sink, dishwasher, refrigerator, or freezer. It may also be helpful to include more entertaining-focused features like a warming drawer, beverage cooler, or coffee station.

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Consider Function

How the small space functions is an important consideration as well. “Design the scullery kitchen with an efficient layout that promotes smooth workflow," Curtis suggests. “Ensure that the workstations, appliances, and storage areas are well-organized and easily accessible, minimizing unnecessary steps and maximizing efficiency.”

Have Fun with Design

O’Connor, who likes to refer to the space as a working pantry, recommends the scullery be directly connected to the kitchen. Since it's no longer taboo to see the inner workings of a kitchen, you can choose to keep the space partially or entirely closed off, or even completely open to the primary kitchen.

Depending on how open the scullery is to your main kitchen, you may choose to have the look and feel of the primary space carry over, or perhaps choose to be more playful and imaginative to give the small space a distinct look. “Think of either the scullery as a great design opportunity to add color, another finish material, unexpected decorative lighting, hardware or partially glazed doors that can elevate the overall design to include a more layered and interesting look, while still focusing on function,” she says.

What Is a Scullery Kitchen? This Historic Home Layout Is Making a Comeback (2024)


What is scullery in kitchen? ›

A scullery is a room in a house, traditionally used for washing up dishes and laundering clothes, or as an overflow kitchen.

What is the difference between a back kitchen and a scullery? ›

Unlike a back kitchen which is essentially an extension of the kitchen to allow more space for cooking, sculleries don't tend to have an oven or fully-fledged cooking set up, as a back kitchen would.

What is the most popular kitchen layout today? ›

L-Shape Kitchen

An l-shaped kitchen design is typically the most popular layout among consumers.

Why was it called a scullery? ›

The root of the word is in doubt, but it probably comes from the Latin word for wooden platter, scutra, or the Old Norse skola, "to wash." "Scullery." Vocabulary.com Dictionary, Vocabulary.com, https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/scullery. Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

What is a modern scullery? ›

A scullery kitchen offers more room and, in modern times, may also hide unkempt cooking and cleaning tasks from the main kitchen. A scullery must have a lot of storage space, counter space, and a sink.

What makes a scullery? ›

The essential elements of a scullery include ample storage space, counter space, and a sink. However, you can customise your scullery design according to your needs. This is your space so you can make it your own.

Do you put a fridge in a scullery? ›

Sculleries are also a great way to maximise your storage. We recommend using your extra drawers, cupboards and open shelves for food and kitchen items. You can also store all your larger appliances like your microwave, second oven, fridge or even a second 'drinks' fridge in your scullery.

Why do old houses have 2 kitchens? ›

A summer kitchen would take the heat out of the house proper so that the house would remain cooler. In winter, capturing that heat kept the house warmer. Older houses, particularly in the American south, would have a kitchen separate from the house proper. This would keep the smells of the kitchen outside the house.

What does a scullery look like? ›

A scullery is a room adjoining the kitchen where pots and pans are cleaned and stored. Sometimes the laundering of clothes is also done here. In Great Britain and the United States, houses built before 1920 often had sculleries located in the rear of a house.

What kitchen styles are out of style? ›

Insider asked four interior designers to share which kitchen trends went out of style in 2023. They say modern-farmhouse looks, open floor plans, and industrial designs are becoming outdated. The designers also say DIY-painted cabinetry typically makes kitchens seem unprofessional.

What is the least efficient kitchen shape? ›

Some peninsula kitchens are inefficient because the peninsula sticks too far out, thereby blocking the walkway. L-shaped kitchens have the potential to flow well, but they don't always provide a circular traffic pattern. Of course, you may only have the option to use one of these layout styles in your space.

What is the most space saving kitchen layout? ›

Originally called the "Pullman kitchen," the one-wall kitchen layout is generally found in studio or loft spaces because it's the ultimate space saver. Cabinets and appliances are fixed on a single wall.

What is a scullery girl? ›

in the past, a female servant in a large house who did jobs such as washing dishes and preparing vegetables: Cinderella is transformed from a poor scullery maid to a glittering princess. Scullery maids were expected to get up at dawn and spend up to 14 hours a day scrubbing floors and pans.

What is the difference between a pantry and a scullery? ›

No, a scullery and pantry are not the same thing. A scullery is a separate room or area dedicated to cleaning and washing dishes, pots, and pans, while a pantry is a storage space for food, ingredients, and sometimes kitchenware. Both serve different purposes in a home's organization and functionality.

Is it bad to leave dishes in the sink? ›

Breeding grounds for bacteria

We tend to think this one won't matter too much, because whenever we clean them we'll be cleaning up that bacteria. However, dirty dishes are simply ground zero for bacterial growth – they can multiply rapidly and spread from the sink to other parts of your kitchen at an alarming rate.

What is the difference between a galley and a scullery? ›

“Galley” (referring to the kitchen) is a term used to name a particular space onboard the ship, along with “mess” (the dining area), and “scullery” (the area devoted to cleaning dishes and disposing of food scraps.

What should be included in a scullery? ›

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.

What should be in a scullery? ›

As a small room adjacent to the kitchen, a scullery has historically been used for cooking preparation and cleaning up, leading it to be commonly classified as an "overflow kitchen." It may also be used for storing kitchenware like plates, bowls, and silverware, plus kitchen gadgets and appliances.

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