by Katie Mientka | photos by Dave Pluimer

Built-In vs. Walk-In vs. Butler’s Pantry

When it comes to kitchen storage, most homeowners want more. A spacious pantry is one of the most sought-after features among home buyers and owners; according to the National Association of Home Builders, 85% of buyers want (nay, demand!) a pantry. Walk-ins are the most desired, but this is not always feasible given the space – or the best solution for your unique needs.

Which option is right for you, your lifestyle, and your household? A built-in cabinet? A walk-in? A butler’s pantry?


Here, the pantry is built right into your kitchen in the form of a cabinet or set of cabinets; this is ideal for smaller spaces or if you choose to use your square footage for other purposes. Beautiful, functional, and streamlined, cabinet pantries offer you exceptional extra storage, as well as ultra easy access to your staples and essentials.

Pantry cabinets are typically large and tall, allowing you to store everything from your broom and trusty air fryer to boxes of cereal and bags of flour. Cut clutter, hide away cleaning supplies, and keep often-but-not everyday-used items both near at hand and out of sight.

You can also install cabinet inserts to take full advantage of the pantry cabinet’s versatility. For example, organizers help you store spices and other smaller items, so they don’t get lost in the large space. Pull-out shelves/drawers and Lazy Susans make it effortless to reach anything you need. Builtin pan dividers and racks ensure you always have easy access to the right pot. The options can be endless!


When homeowners and buyers such as those in the NAHB survey say they want a pantry, they typically mean that they want a walk-in pantry. Not only can this add to the value of your house, it adds – immensely – to its usability and convenience. And anything that cuts clutter and helps us maintain a less-mess kitchen is a winner in our book.

Walk-ins average about 5×5, but if you have the space, why not go big? An 8×10 or even 10×12 space gives you the room you need to store, organize, mix cocktails, and create photoshoot-worthy charcuterie boards while your kitchen stays guest-ready. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to a walk-in pantry; the beauty is that you can design and arrange the space to accommodate your needs and lifestyle. It can be as simple as open shelving for your grains and canned goods or as elaborate as offering temperature-controlled wine storage and food prep areas.


How is a butler’s pantry different from a walk-in? Location has traditionally been one difference. The butler’s pantry was an intermediary or connecting room between the kitchen and dining room. With open concepts, this doesn’t always apply today. Generally, a butler’s pantry integrates not only storage but ample workspace. Think of them as a kitchen within a kitchen.

They are essentially an extension of your main kitchen and have the capacity (e.g., sink, outlets, appliances, counter space, etc.) to prepare and stage food. With both upper shelves and other cabinets, they offer exceptional storage for and access to all and sundry.


Which pantry style will help you win the war on clutter, sparse storage, bulky but beloved appliances, unsightly supplies, and the perennial lament, “Why is there never enough counter space?!”?

Think about your needs and how you will most effectively and efficiently utilize your space. Then talk to us about your ideas. Connect with the ACo team to discuss your pantry dreams.