Discreet Luxuries

Do an online image search for “luxury kitchen” and you’ll see that there is an even bigger design decision homeowners have to make when choosing a refrigerator. It is not Sub-Zero or Liebherr but rather whether or not to hide the biggest kitchen appliance behind a custom panel matching the cabinetry.

Pictured is a recent application of the Bakes Appliance Pull (BB-1) in action.  This traditional kitchen outfitted in white cabinetry flawlessly integrates a twin refrigerator and freezer set into the overall kitchen design. Just imagine how such large pieces of kitchen appliances would change the feel of the space if the exterior finishes were not wood cabinetry but stainless steel. By using the Bakes Appliance Pulls, the kitchen design disguises industrial sized appliances with furniture-like panels. Thus, maintaining a warm, homey aesthetic that would otherwise be undermined by professional grade refrigeration.

Different factors will contribute to the decision making process.

Are coordinating panels in the budget?

Whether you are planning a $1,000 remodel or a $100,000 remodel, everyone is working with a budget. That means certain things on the wish list may go unrealized. While refrigerator door panels used to be associated with custom cabinetry, more middle grade cabinet lines are offering this option. Still, this finish choice for your refrigerator is an added cost; the finished cost will increase once you add matching appliance handles.

What is your design aesthetic?

Matching appliance panels contribute heavily to the clean, integrated look modern design enthusiasts seek. Kitchens with old–fashioned aspirations benefit from the look of custom panels, disguising appliances that would detract from a period look. Traditional kitchens also reap style rewards when appliances are hidden behind cabinetry, blending the kitchen seamlessly into the now ubiquitous open floor plan.

Are there appliance handles that match your cabinet hardware?

Most people choose to hide the refrigerator behind matching panels to create a serene, suited look. Don’t undermine this by neglecting to match your appliance pulls to your cabinet hardware. When beginning the cabinet hardware selection, save time by seeking out hardware lines that have knobs, pulls, and appliance hardware.

This past year, Horton Brasses increased appliance pull offerings and now includes 5 different appliance pulls that coordinate with the other kitchen hardware. Whether you are interested in seductively clean curving lines for a modern kitchen, historically accurate Macintosh pulls for an Arts & Crafts restoration, insanely elegant handles for that classically bespoke British affect, or really want to make a statement in your kitchen with hefty bin pulls or barn-like iron grips, Horton’s got it.

What did you do in your kitchen? Did you put that big fridge on display or did you integrate it into the look of your cabinetry? Was appliance pull selection a factor for you when choosing your kitchen cabinetry hardware?

Bad Hardware!

Three Terrible Hardware Mistakes Not To Make

Whether sprucing up a vintage kitchen or choosing hardware for a new space, it’s easy to make a few boo-boos while trying to make a statement. Some people have the gift of visualizing design details, some people are talented at Photoshop for mocking-up a space and some people, well…some people made these choices.

Let’s critique.

Pull Placement

Where on the door face to mount hardware? If you’ve ever gotten a brand new cabinet with no holes drilled, then you’ve definitely agonized over this question. Here’s what Horton Brasses owner Orion has to say on this topic:

The handles should always be centered on the drawer. Anything else makes it appear very off balance IMHO. With traditional furniture there is currently some debate about how and where to locate the handles. The historically correct answer is simply “where they look good”. IE, they should be visually centered even if not actually centered. With graduated drawer sizes they eyes can play tricks. I think the same logic applies to kitchen drawers.

Thank you, Orion! Now, can anyone tell me what’s “off” in the above photo?

Fake Hinges

There’s ornamental hinges and there’s fake hinges. Look at this picture and tell me which category you think this very beautiful piece of cabinetry falls into? Unfortunately, the desire for period-inspired decoration was not well thought out. Someone should have consulted a forum of experts before drilling into the immaculate doors.

Notice I did not say doors + face frames.

Bluntly put, these hinges just don’t make sense. They are mounted on the doors but do not attach to the cabinet box. Plus, the center doors don’t have hinges at all. Oh, sad cabinet. It is painful to watch.

Ghetto Un-Fabulous on the Cheap

Do you need a tissue? Are you crying or laughing? A little of both? I understand. Really. Because I know the proprietor of these cabinets and she is crying and laughing every day over this disaster.

This house is a rental built circa the 1960’s. Obviously the owner switched out the original hardware from pulls to knobs. Now, I know that people don’t want to blow a whole lot of money on a rental. And I would never tell someone to go buy Horton Brassses luxury suite of Bakes Pulls for a rental (unless that rental was in the Hamptons!). But really people. Head over to your big box store and buy some eighty-nine cent pulls before you commit this travesty.

A Latch For Every Door Style!

New & Improved

Remember the cabinet-latch liquidation sale? That was big. But you know what? It’s over now!

Instead of great cabinet latches at a fantastic price, Horton Brasses is now offering FANTASTIC cabinet latches at a great price. Our newest version of the classic latch looks exactly the same on the outside but has been totally upgraded on the inside. The springing mechanism will out-perform any other latch on the market.

Here’s what Orion has to say about these latches:

There are many varieties of these on the market today. Not only do most work poorly or fail after frequent use, they cost a small fortune! If you are installing these in your kitchen, the last thing you want is failure. Before we made this latch ourselves, we sold several other vendor’s latches and found we were repairing most before sending them out. This is now our third generation latch and it works beautifully. The mechanism is durable and has a wonderfully smooth feel. We guarantee the latch for 5 years and the springs are replaceable. We pride ourselves on making hardware that lasts. I am proud to say you will not find a finer latch on the market at 3 times the price, and even our competitors agree with that!

Love latches but I don’t have inset doors…

Blogger Vincent Scordo used Horton Brasses Hardware in his kitchen. Here is a great close-up shot of the pantry latch mounted on beautiful white inset cabinets.

It’s true. Cabinet latches, pantry latches, icebox latches—they were typically seen on inset door styles. But not everyone is willing to shell out 20% more for this door frame style. Don’t fret! Your kitchen cabinets can carry off the charm no matter what style door or frame you go with.


Frameless cabinets are just that—a box without a frame in the front. These are often called European overlay since that’s how they make cabinets in Europe (I’m assuming). Scherr’s and Ikea are big manufacturers of this style in the U.S. and it will give you the most useable interior space since there is not frame to block the interior.

Select butt doors to mount latches on this type of cabinet. This is important because the cabinet latch is a two-part hardware. One door will display the latch while the other has the catch. Obviously, it can’t work unless two doors butt up against one another.

Partial Overlay

Also known as “affordable,” this cabinet style has a bad reputation for being uncool. It’s not uncool! I love it! I selected it for both of my remodels and am making it my life mission to preach it!

Honestly, I’m no woodworker so I don’t quite get how you would mount this but check out this pic:

Any experts out there want to chime in? Do you need custom hardware? I’m assuming the catch would need to be built up somehow to meet the latch.

Full Overlay

By far this is the most popular and readily available cabinet style in the U.S.  It is the opinion of some that full overlay can, when using certain door styles, emulate the look of inset. What do you think?

Whether or not you are trying to trick that look, you can definitely mount latches on full overlay cabinets just as you would on frameless. Again, the key is the butt door.

Do you love the look of latches? How would you use them in your kitchen?

Disguising Modern Amenities in a Victorian Remodel

Victorian Bin Pull in polished nickel

Any Canadians in the house? May 23rd marked Victoria Day for our neighbors to the north. To celebrate, Corey at Design Kula commemorated the day with a post on Victorian sculleries. I love the picture he posted of the dish drying rack over the huge sink! His post inspired the Victorian snoop in me and I started searching other images of authentic Victorian kitchens, keeping an eye on the hardware, of course.

I stopped my scroll down dead in my tracking pad when I came across this remarkable period restoration of a Victorian kitchen in Portland. Posted on Old House Online last year, the article documents the pains Kim and Roy Fox took to get their museum-like kitchen right. Even though the hardware source is not mentioned, I knew the maker right away–Horton Brasses!

If it wasn’t for the homeowner’s desire to hide the electronic advances of their new kitchen, the hardware may not have been showcased in the photo gallery. This particular shot shows off a clever design solution. The pull hides the dishwasher’s cycle display.

Kim & Roy Fox went for period accuracy when they remodeled their Portland Victorian home. That’s why they chose Horton Brasses hardware—known for its period accuracy.

I personally have this pull in my kitchen in two different finishes—antique brass and polished nickel. It is also on the Horton Brasses website in dark antique and light antique brass. So I’ve seen this Victorian inspired pull in 4 out of 7 available finishes.

Well, now make that five.

Dark antique, light antique and polished nickel finishes. Is it just me or does the finish really transform the mood of these pulls? The dark antique looks staid, conservative and simple. Even though it is a decorative pull, I could see it in a Shaker or Mission style kitchen. Light antique is putting off a strong Victorian vibe to me. And the polished nickel is making me feel very 30’s, 40’s, 50’s; very glam Hollywood Regency.

My kitchen, my pull. Antique brass subdues the decoration, making this ornate pull an unexpected detail in an otherwise simple kitchen.

I am not sure what finish the Fox family used, but my guess is bright brass. Orion, you want to weigh in on this? What’s interesting to me is that look of the pull really varies depending on the finish.

Because of the sand cast relief design, the finish of the bright brass and polished nickel is quite dramatic. Only the raised areas are polished, so the recessed sections remain darker and non-reflective.

Universal Design for Multi-generational Kitchens

We all know that baby boomers are aging and that Americans are living longer, more independent lives in their own homes. Even if you are decades away from old age, remodeling with the future in mind can prove financially wise. By implementing a well thought out floorplan now, any future remodeling may only need be cosmetic, thus saving large amounts of money with simpler cosmetic updating.

Not only are people staying in their homes longer, there is also a rise in multi-generational households. With that in mind, it is smart to consider every family member’s needs when designing that new kitchen. Universal design is enhances functionality and speaks to a growing need as the homeowning population ages. It is a definite selling point for second time home buyers of a certain age.

Universal Design Sketch-up by Linda Knapp

10 Remodeling Tips for a Multi-generational Kitchen:

1)     Countertops—Vary heights so that family members of different ages can have easy access to work surfaces. Keep in mind that countertops mounted at a maximum height of 34” must have room free of cabinets underneath to accommodate someone seated in a wheelchair. Even if you are not anticipating the use of a wheelchair, design an area for seated counter work by including either bar seating or pull out cutting boards. Avoid polished surfaces that will create glare.

2)     Lighting—A variety of lighting, including overhead and task lighting, will increase visibility and reduce accidents in the kitchen. Also, it is a good idea to vary the type of bulbs used throughout the kitchen since the light quality will differ. You may want use softer, traditional bulbs for overhead lighting and brighter fluorescent or halogen bulbs for under-cabinet task lighting.

3)     Switches & Outlets—Position these at a level no higher than 44” and no lower than 15” off the floor to make them wheelchair accessible. These guidelines follow the Americans with Disabilities Act.

4)     Flooring—Many people are traditionalist and believe tile is the only way to go in the kitchen. If using tile, opt for a textured matte tile to avoid slips. Consider softer flooring choices such as wood, bamboo, cork or linoleum. These materials can be less slippery and are also easier on the knees.

5)     Base Cabinets—Think about switching from doors to drawers. Drawers allow you to pull out the contents of a cabinet, literally putting everything at your fingertips. Cabinets with doors will require you to squat down and search around, putting stress on your hips, knees and back.

6)     Appliances—Refrigerators with bottom freezers are great options for children and adults in wheelchairs. Avoid over the range microwaves, locating this frequently used appliance under a counter to make it accessible to everyone. Induction cooktops eliminate the worry of family members burning themselves on a hot stove. And elevated or drawer dishwashers take the stress off the back, making loading and unloading easier.

7)     Hardware—Cabinet hardware is often overlooked when designing a multi-generational kitchen but this small detail is quite important. Knobs and latches require the use of fine motor skills not yet developed in the young and sometimes compromised in older folks due to arthritis. To encourage independence at all ages, cabinet pulls prove the easiest hardware to grasp. Note that this refers to traditional pulls, not bin or cup pulls.

8)     Walkways—Ample room to get around is important in any kitchen. Walkways and doorways should be a minimum of 36” in width. This will accommodate wheelchairs if needed. However, if you have 42” to spare, the added space will make a huge difference for both ambulatory and wheelchair assisted family members.

9)     Faucets—Single lever faucets are easiest to adjust and facilitate a wide range of motor abilities.

10)  Hire a specialist—There are ample resources available for free online, but some people may feel they need additional help. Certified Aging In Place Specialists are available nationwide for consultations to assist you in designing a kitchen with longevity.

Check out Horton Brasses selection of cabinet pulls for reproduction period hardware that will age just as well as you!

Expanding Options for Narrow Cabinets

Going the route of custom cabinetry? Take advantage of every last inch of storage space without worrying how you will match your hardware across door fronts of varying sizes. Even some well designed RTA stock cabinets, such as Ikea’s, come in narrow widths to make the most of your kitchen space.

Whether you use choose a standard spice pullout or have your cabinet maker sneak in hidden broom storage, narrow cabinets present challenges when choosing hardware.  Some people seek out mix and match hardware for their kitchen, yet a large number of homeowners desire a uniform look, using a single style pull throughout the entire room.

House Beautiful

Vertical pulls fit the narrowest of cabinet fronts. Get the look with Horton Brasses Bakes Pull, available in 7 different finishes and made of solid brass.

But what do you do when that 8” pull simply won’t fit on a 6” cabinet? Knobs are compact enough to fit on any cabinet front but for some, knobs are not an option. That is why Horton Brasses carries the Queslett and Bakes Pulls. If you want beautiful hardware that flows with continuity througout the kitchen, these pulls are a wonderful option.

top / available in 6,7,10,15 inch sizes) & Queslett (bottom)

Art of Logic

Wouldn’t those tiny Queslett Pulls look adorable on these apothocary drawers? An unexpected departure from knobs.

Moon to Moon

A salvaged library card catalog defines this quirky space. Finger bin pulls accentuate the piece. Replicate the look with distressed custom cabinetry and tiny Quesletts in the antique finish.

Unlike other suited bin pull sets that typically run from 3.5” to 8,” The Queslett runs from under 3” to over 9.” Woo-hoo! This allows a singular hardware look from appliances to apothecary drawers. And the unique look of the Queslett’s backplate sets it apart from other bin pulls.

Don’t let the catalog pic of the Bakes Pull fool you into thinking it must be mounted horizontally. No! Do a quarter turn and mount that pull vertically for hardware that will fit anywhere.

The Cabinet Factory

Ditch the knobs and up the style ante with pulls! This small kitchen is a perfect example of maximizing storage with bespoke cabinetry. Those small cubby drawers would look darling with tiny, chunky pulls dressing them up like buckles on a pair of pilgrim shoes.

Kennebec Cabinet Company

Of course, Horton Brasses has nothing against knobs! Especially if your cabinet design is traditional, knobs on your tiny fronts will augment the look of ageless elegance. Horton Brasses has both simple, pared down knobs as well as more decorative styles.

Interview With a Designer: Monica Mackenzie

When reviewing the portfolios of designers who’ve used Horton Brasses hardware, I was floored when I set my eyes upon Monica Mackenzie’s kitchen designs. Her use of painted and distressed cabinetry defines the look that many customers are striving to achieve with their remodel. I definitely wanted to interview her for the HB blog. Here we  talk a lot about finishes—both cabinet and hardware. Also, I want to note that this is the second interview I’ve done in a week where the designer commented on the importance of lighting. Jot that down!

You’ve been designing interiors since 1999. What’s your background and how did you get your start?

I have been designing both interiors and remodeling since I started a business in interior design in 1999.  I started by working on friends homes when my children were small. I have always loved design and color and my business has expanded to include both interior design as well as new builds and remodeling. I now have a general contracting license and home improvement license. I have a great team of subcontractors. I often go to the Boston Design Center  for inspiration and read everything on the subject.

The homes you work on are largely old houses with historical architectural elements and new builds emulating that feel. How do you manage to negotiate retaining the old charm while ramping up the function?

I work on a lot of older homes. I love the details. They often have little things that make them so special. The problem is that they are often not what people are looking for for the way they live now. I try to open the house up. The kitchens and baths usually require a redo. I usually get requests for mudrooms and pantries. I also do a lot of master bedrooms and baths.

White or wood? Do you think the white kitchen craze is a trend or will it be around for a while?

I like both the wood and the pained finishes. The white is classic but does require a bit of maintance over the years. I like to mix the cabinet finishes then everyone is happy. You can always repaint!

Your portfolio shows a mix of wood stained, white and cream painted and distressed—or maybe “weathered” would be more accurate–kitchen cabinetry. Do you feel certain hardware finishes pair better with specific paints and stains?

I think that the painted cabinets are really in style now. I like to work with unusual colors of finishes. In the older homes the oiled rubbed brass looks authentic. Other times a modern stainless or chrome pull gives the look the client is after. It really depends on the age of the home and the look we are trying to achieve.

monica’s free street kitchen illustrates the popular style of mixing wood stain and white paint.

Mixing finishes has been a hot topic on kitchen forums and our blog. Do you prefer to keep the hardware, faucet and lighting finishes uniform or do you sometimes mix it up?

I like to keep the finishes the same in kitchens I think it makes the space consistent, especially if the cabinets and counters are mixed.

How long have you been using Horton Brasses hardware? What are your go-to pieces?

I have been using Horton Brass for years, probably 10? I love the square cabinet latches, the cabinet pulls and the simple knobs.

What is it you look for when choosing cabinet hardware?

I love that with Horton Brass the cabinet hardware can be different sizes or styles but the finish will match. I look for a good size, matching hardware pieces and the shipping and availability is terrific.

If someone’s remodeling a kitchen on a budget, what would you recommend they make a priority and splurge on?

I think that the overall design is the splurge. If a client wants a high end appliance that’s always a splurge.

What are some of the often overlooked details in kitchen design?

I like to have a second prep sink. I like to have pull outs near the stove for utensils and oils etc. I think that there needs to be a place to relax when someone is cooking. I like a TV in my kitchen but I want it built in. Lighting is also important.

Your kitchen designs are full of texture–from the backsplash to the cabinet finish. Your School Street kitchen really showcases this. How do you create layers of tactile finishes without overwhelming the space?

The school street kitchen is great. Its an old cape but the kitchen is in a totally new space. We used old materials salvaged and custom cabinets designed for the owners who loved the distressed look. They loved to cook. The Aga is great and the teak distressed top to the island gets better with time. They are great clients who encouraged the creativity. Loved that job.

Kitchens in portfolios and magazines are staged to look picture perfect. Right now if we were to visit your own kitchen, what would it look like? Is it spic and span or do you have your morning cup of coffee sitting in the sink?

My kitchen looks clean and organized.  That’s because I spent a good amount of time planning it out–what I need to store as well as what my family needed the way we are now. Its on my website under affiliates if you want to take a peak.

Big Over Small : Chunky Cabinet Jewelry

Seeking Out the Perfect Canvas

Twenty years ago when I worked as a salesgirl at the Gap, the store manager drilled this fashion decree into my head: big over small. She meant baggy clothes over skinny bodies, layering a given. It was, as she put it, “The Gap Look.” So it was.

Today’s fashion is a more streamlined silhouette, yet the pared down but decked out simplicity of big over small persists in how we accessorize our look. And I’m not just talking about clothing.

As lives become more complicated, the desire to minimize the white noise at home spurs the move towards clean finishes, plain lines and blank canvases that can be easily embellished with bold accents of color and texture.

Kitchen cabinetry is not exempt. Because kitchen remodeling is an expensive undertaking, and cabinets represent the largest percentage of the cost, many homeowners favor Shaker or slab style doors in white or neutral wood colors hoping these choices will transcend time and resonate as eternally stylish.

By choosing door styles and materials that make a minimal statement, kitchen cabinets become the little black dress of the kitchen—the perfect canvas for displaying chunky cabinet jewelry.

Accessorize with Style

Door styles without a lot of beading are generally less expensive than their tricked out counterparts. Also, the more detail to a door style, the more you are marrying your kitchen to a particular look. Get the look you want, but do it with something less permanent—and expensive. Just as you would oomph up a simple black dress to carry you from day to evening, dress up your cabinets with bold pieces of solid metal hardware.

This neutral white kitchen (image decor pad) makes its biggest statement with in your face brass hardware. The large cabinet latches and exposed butterfly hinges define the look.

An oak kitchen is re-habbed with Farrow & Ball paint and new hardware. (images Cottage Living). I love how large pulls are used on drawer fronts and cabinet doors, creating a unified look. The drab neutral paint color transforms the cabinets from dated to timeless, creating a backdrop for hardware that really shines. Recreate this look in your kitchen with the Bakes Pull, available in 7 different finishes.

Here we have an exaggerated Shaker style door (Image Cozette Coffman Design), yet the principle remains true—keep it simple. And that’s a good thing considering how much other stuff there is to look at in this space.  Despite everything, the cabinet hardware immediately caught my eye when I first viewed this kitchen. Look at the cabinet to the right of the sink. Again, we see pulls instead of knobs on the doors but here the sizing and placement is unusual. Instead of a supersized pull centered on the door or the pull mounted vertically, a 6” pull is affixed to the door horizontally, taking the place of a knob.

If you are looking for cabinet hardware that is unlike any other, Horton Brasses’ newest additions to the kitchen line will surely command your attention. Streamlined styling, hidden screws and superior finishes will accentuate your kitchen in all the right places.

What’s Going On With That Contest Anyway?

View the Entries!

Did we tell you that we have a blog completely dedicated to our hardware giveaway contest? Well, we’re telling you now!

Visit the contest blog to peruse the entries, cast your vote and gain inspiration from the beautiful kitchens already entered. Pass on the link to anyone and everyone who might benefit from a kitchen full of fancy pants cabinet hardware. You can read up on how to enter, check out our panel of judges and even submit your own entry via email to hortonbrassescontest@gmail.com.

Contest FAQ’s

Many of you have had questions about the in’s & out’s of the contest. Here are the answers!

·      Can I enter if I already have hardware on my cabinets?

Sure! As long as you want to replace your current hardware with your winnings, enter away!

·      I would like to enter but right now my kitchen is just a raw space.

So this isn’t a question but rather an excuse. Pleas refer to the original contest post:

We understand that, if you are mid-remodel, the scene may be a little rough. The judges have vision, I assure you. If your cabinets have yet to be installed, you may submit floorplan elevations, pictures of door samples, etc.


We’ve got you covered! We are familiar with how kitchen remodels go and are very understanding. Submit your floorplan and door samples. You’ve got five pictures to make an impression. Go for it!

Don’t even have your cabinets unpacked yet? No worries. Send us pics of what materials you are using and our esteemed judges will use their designy vision to fill in the blanks!

·      I remodeled a few years ago but never loved my hardware. Can I still enter?

Honestly, and don’t take this the wrong way, we couldn’t care less when you remodeled! We’re looking for a well put together kitchen that is going to showcase Horton Brasses Hardware. We want to see this beautiful stuff in action!

Spread the Word!

We need 25 entries for this contest to be on. As of today we only have 12% of our entry goal. Help us spread the word by posting the contest to your friends on Facebook and to your Twitter followers. Do you have a blog? Post about this contest and I will mention your blog as a contest supporter across my online stratosphere.

Visit the Judges!

Not only is there shiny hardware up for grabs, but we’ve assembled a cadre of shiny judges to add some fun to the contest. Do be sure to visit their sites and check out what they have going on.

Vincent Scordo shares the Italian good life over at Scordo.com. His recent posts include musings on the environment from the perspective of a first generation Italian-American, a guide to Italian Deli meats that this vegetarian took a pass on, and lots of olive oil drizzled hither and thither.

Greg Henry of SippitySup! breaks down the spring roll vs. summer roll confusion, serves up a stack of hot mustard grilled cheese sandwiches sophisticated enough to pay homage to Saveur Magazine’s sandwich issue and gets regional with a review of a cookbook with the absolute most darling cover. Take a peak and tell me if Despite the guy chowing down at the table also reminds you of Steve Buscemi.

Susan Serra and her partner/daughter Kelly are creating loveliness over at The Kitchen Designer, her newly launched blog that will school you on what went down at KBIS 2011, current trends in kitchen design and a give you window into the stylings of European kitchens. Check out the blog just to see that copper patinated Liebherr fridge.

Jane F. and Allison Arnett are full of good taste over at Atticmag. There is an amazing pictorial up right now showing off a serious 19th century English manor kitchen. If you salivate over copper cookware, do wear a bib. Gaggenau’s induction cooktop is on display and this thing cooks! Also on show is an entire room done over in chalkboard paint. Surprisingly, it’s bright and cheery!

James Swan continues to keep his Facebook fans entertained with his daily postings of dream interiors. Yes, sometimes they are nightmares, but it is all in good fun and keeps the comments coming. His book, 101 Things I Hate About Your House, also walks the catty line while delivering fundamental and clever tips to rescue your house from design disaster–elevating it to the personal palace you so rightly deserve.

And…Orion! He’s a judge too but apparently he’s a bit shy.

The Return of the Butler’s Pantry

(Don’t forget to read up on our deliciously stylish judges and check out the amazing kitchen hardware contest!)

Keeping Up With History

The Butler’s Pantry is making a comeback. New homes are built to include them while older homes are keeping this original feature when it comes time to remodel. Originally a staging room between the kitchen and dining room, the butler’s pantry housed the china and silverware. Original butler’s pantry cabinetry often has locking hardware. Some even housed large safes to keep the family’s collection secure.

The presidential butler’s pantry

From the White House Museum’s collection of photographs, here is the presidential butler’s pantry. For more images of the White House butler’s pantry, visit this link. Hardware buffs will notice that not much has been updated in the kitchen other than the knobs and pulls. Still, the choice maintains the butler pantry’s vintage aesthetic.

For another look at a butler’s pantry from a historic house, check out this post on Northern California’s Fioli estate.

A Secret Garden

Today’s butler’s pantries are often viewed as more than just added kitchen real estate. There is a certain charm that goes along with them. Let’s face it. Americans like the word “butler.” It conjures ideas of the best of British society, as well as a famously funny episode of Seinfeld.

In today’s butler’s pantries, beautiful painted cabinetry, apron front fireclay sinks and luxurious marble countertops are on display for homeowners and friends since very few of us have actual butlers these days. Yet the charm of the butler’s pantry persists.

Think of the butler’s pantry as your indoor secret garden. It is an interstitial space, offsetting the kitchen from a formal dining area. While entertaining, friends wondering in and out of the kitchen may linger in the cozier butler’s pantry, enjoying the intimate space and taking in the design details.

There is no rule that says your butler’s pantry must replicate the look of your kitchen. While it is best to avoid blatant design schizophrenia, the small footprint of the butler’s pantry provides a great opportunity to experiment with color or add certain luxury touches you may not be able to afford in your full kitchen.

This butler’s pantry designed by Miles Redd makes a statement with dark blue lacquer from Farrow & Ball. The monochromatic blue palette and polished nickel hardware contrasts with the walnut stained door and brass knob.

Inset cabinetry, cabinet latches, luxury cabinet hardware, boldly lacquered cabinetry, glass cabinet fronts, exotic stone countertops and high end lighting may break the budget when committed to a large kitchen space but in an are the size of a New York City apartment kitchen, it’s doable. Use the small space to fulfill your kitchen dreams to scale with your budget.

Modern Interpretations

Today, entertaining has taken a turn for the casual. Couples filling out their wedding registry are less likely to register for formal dinnerware sets and more likely to set their sights on a tricked out Italian coffee maker. It’s a reflection of how we live today.

Instead of housing collections of Lenox china and Waterford crystal, the butler’s pantries of today can be outfitted as a coffee bar, baking station or food pantry. There are plenty of ways to use the space to keep up with our modern way of life.

Another blue butler’s pantry by Miles Redd incorporates a bevy of luxe finishes in a small space. Sky blue painted inset cabinets with glass front uppers, a custom painted mural on the ceiling, and exotic blue stone counters make this space extremely easy on the eyes. Again, Miles contrasts brass with nickel, this time with a chandelier and cabinet hardware  Small knobs create an elegant, understated look.  Here we either have a butler with a drinking problem or a home bar for entertaining.