Kitchen Pantry Scullery

Kitchen Pantry Scullery

It is time for us to start tackling the back of the house. The back of the house was the servants area. It is divided into  kitchen, pantry and scullery. Three rooms when we just want one, a kitchen dining room.

Our first thought was to knock through all of the rooms to create one large room (see floor plan below),  however this would create a long narrow room, 11.43m (36ft) by 4.35m (14’3″) narrowing to 3.18m (10’5″) which is a strange shape. Also, as we have lived in the house and learned more about it, we have grown hesitant about knocking it about so much.

The reason you buy an old house is because of its quirks, its details, its character so you probably shouldn’t rush to destroy them, you may destroy its charm. The Victorian Society and SPAB would both argue that there is no need to knock the rooms together and that this is only a modern fashion and should be resisted. Maybe there is a sense to keeping different areas divided? high on people’s wish list is a separate pantry, a utility room, and a kitchen dining room maybe we could achieve this with our rooms.

Can we live with it?


How did the Victorians use a Kitchen, Pantry, Scullery?

The Kitchen

This is the largest room, 5m x 4.35 (16’7 x 14’3 if you prefer imperial)  it was for preparing food and cooking food. There would be a large range to cook on, heat the water boiler for the house and keep the kitchen warm. Plates would be stored in the large cupboards in the room, there would not have been a sink or water. The servants would have eaten in this room, and it would have a large kitchen table as well as a dresser.  Here it is today as we start the long process of stripping back:



The Pantry

This is the small middle room 2.87m(9’5”) x 1.93m(6’4”). It was for storing food it would have had a meat cupboard and cold room and was on the north side of the house to keep it cool. This room was cool and dark. Presently this room is used as a utility room, and dumping ground


The Scullery

At the back of the house with access to the outside courtyard is the Scullery. This was for washing and cleaning. Laundry would be washed, the plates would be cleaned and dirty food would be prepared (muddy vegetables scrubbed, fish gutted and descaled, birds plucked). This area was all about water and the ability to sluice down. We use this area as the kitchen, it was installed in the late 70’s early 80’s and has locks on the cupboard doors as it was a staffroom. It is of a medium size 3.56m(11’8”) x 3.18m(10’5”)



We also have a housemaids pantry where the brooms, buckets, and cleaning tools would be kept and a Coal bunker where the coal would be delivered, but these are not on the plan.

Kitchen Zones

We want to change the use of these rooms for modern use, we no longer have coal delivered, we have fridges to keep food cool, we don’t pluck chickens or gut fish and washing machines and dishwashers do all the cleaning. We want to eat in the same area as we cook in as it is not fun carrying hot plates through several doors and then taking dirty plates back.

So how can we make the current layout work? A good test of a kitchen is the cup of tea test. This is the most common activity in a kitchen so is it easy to make a cup of tea?

What are kitchen zones?
Zones in a kitchen are the separate work sites within a layout, each intended for different tasks and activities. The primary zones are those for preparing food, cooking and washing up.

What’s in the prep zone?
The kitchen prep zone is really important, as this is where we spend around 70% of our time when using our kitchens. It should include ample work surface for completing everyday tasks, including chopping, peeling, mixing, making a sandwich and more.

Preferably, your storage units and fridge should be in close range of the prep worktop, allowing easy access to ingredients, utensils, pots and pans. Similarly, the kitchen bin should be located within the prep zone, so you can easily dispose of peelings and packaging without having to cross a kitchen.

What’s in the wash zone?
The wash zone typically includes your sink, dishwasher and washing machine. Around 20% of our time in the kitchen is spent clearing up after ourselves, yet there’s no fun in this, letting you finish quickly and get back to relaxing.

Ideally, the wash zone should be separated from the prep and cook zone, although having your bin within reach of the sink and dishwasher makes it easy to scrape, rinse and load plates. Crockery storage should be near by making unloading a dishwasher full of mugs, plates and glassware an easy task.

What’s in the cook zone?
The kitchen cook zone typically contains the oven, hob, extractor, warming drawer(s) and any other cooking-related appliances. Ideally, the cook zone should sit adjacent to the prep zone, or else opposite it, but not in a separate room!.

You should easily be able to lift newly prepared food into a pan or the oven from your prep work surface. Importantly, this will mean there will be less distance for hot food to travel back to the worktop from the oven or hob.

Will a cook zone work in separate rooms?
This is not the most efficient arrangement, it’s also not safe; when turning from hob to sink to drain your piping-hot rice or vegetables, should anyone else enter the kitchen, it heightens the likelihood of accidents and burns.

This gave us some ideas but maybe we should look at professional kitchens for further help.

How To Design The Professional Kitchen

Preparation – Position main preparation between bulk storage and the cooking process, to ensure the correct flow pattern. In addition, consider adequate refrigerated storage for prepared food.

Provide adequate prep sinks, separate pot-wash sinks and hand-wash facilities.

Wow three sinks!Sounds like a scullery.

Cooking – Workflows and safety should be the prime drivers in the layout of a professional kitchen. Simple things include ensuring there’s a set-down space next to deep-fat fryers.

Ensure the flow of the cooking suite suits the style of service, with fast-cook equipment such as fryers, grills and griddles nearest to the point of service and bulk cooking kit such as convection ovens and boiling pans further away.

Maybe we could turn the pantry into this space,

Food Service Area – The space requirement for service is often underestimated, particularly by architects. Consider adequate space for hot and cold holding of prepared food ready for service. Where possible, locate the service point close to the final cooking process to avoid double handling.

Wash-up – The dishwashing operation is key to the success of any catering establishment. Remember to allow sufficient space for the storage of clean items and the disposal of rubbish, ensuring the two are segregated to avoid cross-contamination.

Location is paramount to the efficient management of the space. Ideally it should be close to both the dining and service area to avoid double handling.

So this space could go in the scullery too with the bulk items, and prep area.

Still unclear where I would put the fridge, probably still in the scullery also not sure where I will put the tea and coffee making area , maybe in the dining room? and what about drinks? I do like a dry martini or a well made gin and tonic. When we have had parties before it is great to have the drinks area NOT in the kitchen.

 So thoughts at the moment are…

This is a 3D mock-up view looking from the Kitchen/Dining Room through the Pantry to the Scullery.  We retain the pantry walls and the sense of each original room but knock through ‘windows’ in the pantry walls to create a sense of a single space.  Of course this could at any point be easily returned back to it’s original state if future owners desired!

Scullery becomes…

bulk storage (pantry), bins, dishwashing, crockery storage, prep area, freezer with fridge, food mixer, food processor

Pantry becomes…

cooking area with oven, hob, microwave, meat slicer and service area to plate up (imagine a giant hollowed out island or a bar area). This room has windows cut through on both sides to give view through whole space….and usable works surfaces built into the ‘windows’ to allow easy transfer of food and crockery backwards and forwards through the kitchen.

Kitchen becomes…

dining room with tea and coffee, drinks cupboard,  sounds more like it is designed around a B+B.

What do you think?

Read about our Kitchen broken plan design here or jump to the creation of the new kitchen 

Join the Conversation


  1. Avatarsays: Leah

    I think it sounds great. Really good summary of the thought processes behind the conflict between trying to be true to the history of the house and modern life. We are also renovating a detached late Victorian house with a traditional kitchen, larder and scullery (on the IW though… We moved here from Leeds!). A slightly different lay-out to yours but we also came to the conclusion that it is the right thing not to knock the house about. We also have ceiling height differences which would make it difficult. I am debating two sinks… A prep and drain sink near the cooker and a proper wash-up sink in scullery with dishwasher and washing machine nearby. I think your windows idea might work for us too. Good luck! We are some months away from the kitchen so hoping I can see yours first! 😉

    1. Happenuponsays: Happenupon

      Hi Leah,
      thanks for the comment, it is lovely to know someone is facing the same challenges. We are thinking about two sinks too! (just off to pick one up from Barnsley which we found on ebay for £30 inc taps) we moved the washing machine upstairs as we had an old separate toilet space which we changed into an upstairs laundry – which I love. Our ceilings seem to be slightly different heights too but it is difficult to know until we remove the artex and see. We hope to get it done before Christmas!

  2. Avatarsays: Leah

    I saw that and thought it was a great idea. We debated reinstating the ‘servant’s’ staircase which was only taken out a few years ago.. It would have led from the scullery to a laundry room upstairs. We finally decided that we’ll create a washing area downstairs in the end as we do get lots of drying days… I know what you mean about drying clothes outside in Leeds… We always dried clothes in the house. Also, it meant we could create a little ‘guest suite’ in the two servants’ rooms upstairs for my in laws to come and stay in. That decision went back and forth several times. I started a blog too but only made one entry… So I’m really impressed by your energy to do the house and write it up after too! Can’t wait to see the kitchen…

  3. Avatarsays: Joe

    I would have the pantry as a pantry for food storage on shelves so you don’t need to spend loads on a modern kitchen (or less units). Have the scullery as a utility room, and have the kitchen as a kitchen/ diner space. Very import to keep rooms separate in my view.

    1. Happenuponsays: Happenupon

      Hi Joe, glad you agree that we should keep the rooms separate not many agree! we are further spurred on by the fact that the flooring runs through the tradesman’s entrance, old kitchen and the scullery but not in the pantry so we want to bring the floor back to life (red and black quarry tiles). We will continue to use the scullery as a kitchen as it is a bit big for a utility room as we already have a laundry room upstairs we will then use the pantry as a food prep area. We are going to knock through windows so that the rooms feel more connected, but these could easily be returned if somebody later chose to.

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