July 16, 2013

The Farmhouse Pantry

The Farmhouse Pantry:

The farmhouse pantry evolved from butteries, larders, and cold rooms, to a space of task-specific rooms and storage areas such as cellars, dairies, washrooms, springhouses, and summer kitchens. Lasting well into the twentieth century, the farmhouse pantry was a staple part of most American homes.


Task Specific Rooms that Made Up a Farmhouse Pantry

  • The Buttery or Butt’ry :

A New England term taken from the Medieval English usage of the word: a cool, dry place for foodstuffs – often an overflow of the kitchen pantry.

  • Cellar or Root Cellar :

A room for additional food storage. The cellar kept preserves, canned goods, pickle vats, salt pork, and preserved meats cool, dry, and temperate throughout the year.

  • Milk House or Milk Room :

The dairy room where cheese and butter were prepared, was often incorporated into the farm kitchen for ease of access and sanitary reasons. Eventually the milk room became either a separate farm structure or part of the barn.

  • Springhouse :

The springhouse was built over a cold, flowing spring, often channeled into a sluiceway or flanked by flat rocks on which to place foodstuffs. The room was cold and the perfect place to store dairy goods and other perishable items.

  • Scullery :

A room traditionally used for washing dishes and laundering clothes. Also used as an overflow kitchen, when the main kitchen becomes filled to capacity. Tasks in the scullery in addition to washing dishes and clothes include ironing, boiling water for cooking, bathing, and soaking.

  • Summer Beam :

Also known as a Bressummer, a Summer Beam is a  Heavy main horizontal beam, anchored in gable foundation walls, that supports forebay beams and barn frames from above. In old American homes, It was not uncommon to see a summer beam running through a kitchen and or pantry room.

  • Summer Kitchen :

Summer Kitchens, particularly in New England but often in other parts of the country, were usually attached to the north of the main house or in an ell between the shed and main barn. Here food was prepared in summer in an area where heat and smells could be kept away from the main house. In the south, kitchens were built in separate buildings for this purpose.


How to Get the Look

(From The Pantry, its History and Modern Uses, by Catherine Sieberling Pond)


Farmhouse Pantry Style:

  • Combine open wood shelving with decorative brackets and cabinets with authentic – or reproduction – hardware or wooden knobs
  • Wood counters work well, but also consider making one of marble or granite for rolling out pie crusts and cookies
  • “Matchboard” wainscoting is a popular choice for walls and can be carried into the kitchen as well
  • An old enamel or soapstone sink  – perhaps from an old farmhouse – adds character and practical use
  • Hang old linen towels on a vintage towel rack or roller and aprons from hooks
  • Stack colorful tablecloths and other linens in an unused corner or basket
  • Arrange dishes and bowls in random piles
  • Display old cookie cutters in wooden bowls and antique kitchen items in clusters




Sarah A. Blank



Sarah Blank Design Studio is a high-end architectural design firm that specializes in high-end kitchens, butler’s pantries, libraries, and master bedrooms, bath suites.  The firm works predominantly in Fairfield County and Westchester County. Our award winning firm, with 33 years of experience, often works beyond the kitchens and baths of a clients home, and designs the architectural interiors for many of the projects that have been commissioned.