Add an Entertainment Prep Area to Your New Kitchen

As Americans rediscover the art of entertaining, they are opting for not only larger, open kitchens with integrated dining areas, but also for spaces specifically designed for party and entertainment preparation. Make way for the butler's pantry.

According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), about 15 percent of kitchens remodeled or constructed in 1998 included a butler's pantry.

As early as the 18th century, a butler's pantry was used by servants to manage a family's food storage and party preparation needs. It was a separate area off of the kitchen with limited capabilities, although in larger homes it sometimes included a second sink.

Today's kitchens come with a butler's pantry integrated into the kitchen or slightly off to the side. It's now fully loaded in some instances with appliances, storage and fancy surfaces.

According to Mark White, a certified kitchen designer (CKD) in Annapolis, Md., the party-prep areas he installs for his clients typically include a bar sink, wine and stemware racks, storage for table linens, silverware, utensils and serving pieces, an undercounter refrigerator, a wine cooler, a dishwasher and storage for extra food. Counters typically are granite or premium quality tile, which highlights serving platters and stemware, and adds a luxe backdrop.

When deciding to add an entertainment area to your kitchen, there is at least one rule you should follow: Keep the party-prep area outside the kitchen's main work triangle, which is comprised of the cooktop, refrigerator and main sink. This way, when the guests are all assembled in the kitchen, one family member can cook while the other prepares hors d'oeuvres and drinks - without getting in each other's way.

Depending on your tastes, a prep area can be very affordable. Typically, cabinetry can run between $2,000 for stock units and $6,000 for a custom design. Appliance prices can range between $1,000 and $2,000, depending on the brands and features. Granite and marble countertops will add another $500 or so for a six foot long run.

Reprinted with permission by the National Kitchen and Bath Association