What happens here: Storing, displaying, serving, mixing drinks, and dreaming up parties, menus and events
Location: Washington, D.C.
Size: Just under 100 square feet (9.3 square meters)
Designers: Nadia N. Subaran and Megan M. Padilla of Aidan Design
The backstory: This house was built for avid entertainers and has a gracious dining room. The kitchen already had plenty of storage space, so this overflow area wasn’t an absolute necessity. “The butler’s pantry lacked a real purpose,” says interior designer Megan Padilla. “It wasn’t quite presentable and seemed to merely mimic what was already available in the main kitchen in terms of storage.”
Style and purpose: Padilla and her colleague Nadia Subaran decided to give the space a specific purpose and started referring to it as “the china pantry.” They envisioned a lovely room that could be used for storing serveware and displaying collections. They also wanted it to be a “happy space” where the homeowners could admire their favorite pieces and be inspired to plan their next party.
“As kitchen designers, we’ve been told by clients time and again that while they love grandma’s china, if it’s not readily available, it won’t get used. So, in a nod to a bygone era of more genteel entertaining, we designed a custom cabinetry solution for the homeowner, who collects china, barware and servingware,” Padilla says. “The pantry was designed to be a restful space where she could linger and plan parties as well as easily choose table decor.”
Problems: The space sits between the kitchen and the formal dining room. It was perfectly functional and nice but nothing special. Padilla and Subaran wanted it to be a distinctive space on its own, one that was just as grand as the other rooms around it.
Scope of work: The designers replaced existing cabinetry and appliances, and decorated with new paint, wallpaper and window treatments.
Color palette: “One aspect of the design that was integral to pulling it all together was the use of saturated and textured color,” Padilla says. The icing on the cake is in a spot that’s often ignored—the ceiling. The wallpaper they used there inspired the custom finish on the cabinetry.
Light fixture: An antiqued-mirror chandelier tops off the glamorous room.
Other functions: The room is designed to be seen by guests as well, and is a good spot to set up a bar or a buffet. “Our intention was that it move beyond storage into a happy space that inspires creativity and the planning of special events for family and friends,” she says.
Window treatments: The relaxed Roman shades in white linen are a less formal touch.
Stony Ground wall paint and Ranelagh wallpaper: Farrow & Ball; custom window treatments: Gretchen Everett Studio; Lido chandelier by Niermann Weeks: Circa Lighting; floor cloth: Billet Collins
Cabinet interiors: The designers were working with a specific collection of china and serveware, so they were able to design the storage options to fit.
“The idea was to provide both deep and shallow storage to accommodate the varying shapes of tableware,” Padilla says. Large drawers have plenty of room for china and linens. The designers also incorporated several drawer-within-a-drawer accessories to allow large and small items from the same collection to be stored together.
Grille detail and hardware: “We also purposefully used antique brass chicken wire mesh for the doors to keep the room approachable, and make the items stored inside feel more accessible and less like museum pieces,” Padilla says. The finishes on the cabinet hinges and hardware are also antique brass.