Editors Note: This is a guest post written by Innovative Kitchens
The walk-in-pantry is a bit of an econometer (my word for a measure of wealth).
A century ago in a wealthy estate household the kitchen was a large preparation and cooking area that was completely separated from the dining area. Dinner was a formal affair with food delivered to the dining area by servants. The pantry in these houses was a walk-in room with big storage facilities for grains and preserves. The daily fresh market provided seasonal products. Poorer families were enjoying open style kitchen-dining areas.
Houses developed for the middle class in the twentieth century continued the practice of a strict separation of dining and kitchen areas. Dinner was still largely a formal family sit-down meal. Technologies for storing and preserving products reduced dependency on fresh markets. Walk-in-storage areas were less common. The big step-in corner pantry with cutaway shelves became common.
Lifestyles changed significantly later on with the arrival of television, computers, smaller families, and both parents working. Families have less time together and dining has become informal. Families want more opportunity to be together in living areas. Parents want to see their children in the lounge while they prepare dinner. Jamie Oliver and other TV shows created huge interest in food and cooking and so more family members are now in the kitchen. These lifestyle changes took down the walls between the kitchen and living areas such as the lounge and dining room. Open plan kitchen-dining has become very popular.
The semi-open plan has also been popular – a raised bar top between kitchen and dining area to screen off the kitchen from the dining area. We still get asked for this by some clients and it is still a good way to hide the mess around the sink area. But flat open benches with breakfast bars are more common.
Pull-out pantries and pantries with pull-out drawers are technologies that offer better use of the space versus a large step-in-corner pantry or a pantry with cutaway shelves.
In the last few years we have seen increasing demand for walk-in-pantries. The size and complexity depends on budget and lifestyle.
We have created small walk-in areas that are dedicated to storage only. These typically have a door to close off the area. Inside there are no doors, shelves are shallow and product is easy to see and access. Pick-and-go is the technology.
Larger walk-in-pantries will typically have a bench area allowing for small appliances to be used on bench and lots of open shelf storage. Pull-out drawers may be used under bench to make access to product easy and convenient.
Sculleries or “butler’s pantries” are walk-in areas that are used for more than storage. Some Asian or Indian clients are asking for larger walk-in kitchens which are used for cooking styles that involve strong spices and lots of steam generation. Strong extraction can be planned into these rooms.
If you are thinking about planning a walk-in-area as a feature of your kitchen then think about the following:
1. What will the primary function of the walk-in area be? (storage; storage and cleaning; preparation, cooking). The answer will tell you what appliances will be needed in this area.
2. If you think you need a sink in the walk-in area – ask yourself when and how you will use it? (We often find that it is not needed since preparation will happen in the main kitchen and the primary use of the space is only storage.)
3. Is there space for a walk-in area? This question is sometimes hard for you to answer. If it is an important feature to you – you may find that a professional kitchen designer will be able to achieve a design incorporating this.
Last thought is construction of the doorway.
Builder’s cavity slider doors are often used. The entrance will look like any other door in a framed wall. Another option is to create panels and doors matching kitchen cabinetry. This can make the walk-in area less obvious and in some cases can create more space for storage.
Functionally, we think the walk-in-pantry is a great idea in the kitchen. As an econometer, we still think it adds capital value to the property.
8c Carr Road, Three Kings, Auckland.