When designing your dream home, you have a dilemma: you want a beautiful kitchen full of high-end appliances and rich wood cabinets that elegantly flow into the grand living room, but you entertain frequently and hate leaving the kitchen a mess with dirty pots and pans from the meals you’ve prepared. As an architect, it’s my job to determine what can be done to conceal the chaos – essentially giving you the best of both worlds. One of my favourite solutions to this challenge is the integration of a “messy kitchen” into the home’s design.

Often referred to as a chef’s kitchen or multi-use butler’s pantry, a messy kitchen is a small service and storage room often placed between a kitchen and a dining room. Described as the ultimate luxury item for today’s ultra-modern kitchens, the multifunctional space is great for homes that have the popular open layout because it keeps your food preparation, storage and cleaning tucked away and out of sight. Leaving your formal, “entertaining,” kitchen mess-free. The jack-of-all-trades area provides a better entertaining and dining experience for both you and your guests.

When planning a messy kitchen, it’s important to go over with your architect exactly how you plan to use the space as there are endless design options and configurations. When thinking of storage and lifestyle needs, try to list out all the large and odd-shaped items such as appliances and platters you may want to store and use in the space. This will help ensure everything has its own home, as well as the necessary electrical and plumbing requirements.

From small to large, these discrete, customizable kitchen concepts allow our kitchens with furniture grade cabinets, high-end countertops, and oversized islands to remain an elegant focal point. Perhaps the smallest and easiest concept to implement is the multi-use butler’s pantry. A modern spin-off of the traditional butler’s pantry, architects are now reimagining these spaces to serve as an extension of the kitchen with the primary function of storing kitchen essentials and having the extra space out of site for preparing food. Featuring all the appliances you’d find in your main kitchen.

If you’re just beginning to design your space, you may want to consider adding a beverage fridge or a wine cooler, or perhaps both! As the butler’s pantry grows in size, its functions grow as well, frequently including a sink and dishwasher to clean those unsightly dirty dishes. Most clients also request the addition of extra oven or built-in microwave to accommodate for the large dinner parties they plan to host. These “messy kitchens” are fully functional and can easily accommodate the needs of a private chef, whether for full- or part-time service. A full messy kitchen frequently has all the same appliances and features as the show kitchen, but appliances and finishes don’t necessarily need to be top-of-the-line, after all, they are out-of-sight. However, if you know you will be frequently utilizing a professional chef you will want to take into consideration their specific needs as well as make accommodations for how the chef will not only prepare but also how food may stay heated/cooled and be served to guests.

In my experience, butler’s pantries are most successful when designed in close proximity to the main kitchen to be an easy-access, transitional space to service the dining room. This concept is also the easiest to include when renovating your home as former closets or hallways may be able to be adapted into a fully functional butler pantry.

As the oversized butler pantry concept develops it may turn into a full-fledged messy kitchen, designed to be more of an extension of the kitchen. Modest and tucked away, messy kitchens don’t need to stay clean, at least while you entertain your guests, living up to its name of being a little bit messy.

Regardless of size, working with your architect to define your needs for a butler’s pantry, messy kitchen or even full chef’s kitchen, will ensure your open plan kitchen remains a pristine gathering and entertaining area of your home keeping the mess of a kitchen out of sight and out of mind.