An increasingly popular, traditional addition to modern kitchens is a larder or pantry. Historically, large houses had these features built into the kitchens to store food and/or kitchen items. Whilst for many years now most homes have simply opted for a fridge and cupboards, forgoing the pantry or larder as a separate room, they have once again become popular and are now often found in modern houses that have the luxury of space, or are being revived through restoration projects on older properties.
The word ‘larder’ dates back to when stored meat would be covered in a thick layer of lard to help preserve it for longer. Other references state that the name comes from the fact that it is simply where lard would have been stored. The small room would be naturally colder than the kitchen itself, as they were built into the north or west sides of properties to avoid direct sunlight, in the basement or sunken slightly lower than the kitchen. The shelves, walls, floor and butchers block often found in the centre of the room would traditionally have been made from stone (usually marble or slate) and the stone shelves would have been built into the wall to keep the surface temperature low. The larder was used to store items that are now commonly kept in the fridge, such as butter, cheese, milk and eggs. Traditional larders were divided into two sections, a wet larder and a dry larder. In the wet larder you’d find raw meat and dairy, whilst in the dry larder would be, amongst other things, root vegetables (kept in the dark to avoid them sprouting) and grains.
Originally referring to the place where baked goods were stored before being eaten or sold, a pantry has a slightly different function. Whilst it was also a walk-in addition to the kitchen, it would normally be more of a large cupboard than a room, and the inside temperature wasn’t particularly considered or monitored. The name ‘pantry’ dates back to medieval times, and comes from the French word ‘pain’ (pronounced ‘pan’) meaning ‘bread’. Unsurprisingly, this is where items such as bread, and other dried goods would be stored. The pantry was also often the home of crockery, kitchen utensils, jars of preserves, beverages and condiments that didn’t need to be kept close-at-hand in the kitchen itself. Note that historically, traditional pantries might also include an additional internal larder called a ‘thrawl’, which was a stone shelf used to keep perishable food cooler.
Featuring a larder or pantry, or a large pantry-style cupboard in your kitchen is a great way to keep small appliances such as coffee makers and food processors off counter tops and out of sight, plus they make for perfect storage solutions. Depending on the floor plan of your house, if you’re keen on having a larder or pantry but lacking on space, a great place to have one built-in is under the stairs, as this utilises a dark, cooler space that may otherwise be unused. Internal lighting is also a good feature when creating your custom food storage space, as the deeper the cupboard, the darker it will be in there!
Do you have space for a walk-in pantry? Amazing! Small rooms that connect to your kitchen can be designated as pantries, and designed to maximise storage, whilst being exceptionally on-trend. If you’re looking to utilise every inch of space, you could build shelving, such as a spice rack or bottle storage, into the door of your pantry, that then leads into the storage space itself. In this room you would commonly store non-perishables such as bread, condiments, jars, tins and beverages, as well as kitchen utensils, cutlery, crockery and glassware.
If a walk-in option isn’t possible then you can consider a pantry cupboard – a double door with in-built storage (barn-door style) opening to a full height, deep cupboard. Inside, above a set of deep drawers you can have a stone or marble worktop to keep items naturally cooler than the ambient temperature of the kitchen, with shelves above. Whilst not a room in itself, a large cupboard like this can create the feeling of “a room within a room” and allow you to keep items on a work surface but with the benefit of being able to shut them away out of sight when the doors are closed.
When considering your bespoke pantry or larder space, you may want to include an array of modern features that will maximise storage space and keep kitchens clutter-free. Pull-out internal drawers (such as a large, heavy-duty one at the bottom) are a great place to store bulky pots, pans and trays, or can be used to house those essential but less pretty plastic storage containers. Opt for smaller drawers higher-up to stash cutlery and utensils. As mentioned above, internal door racks provide a space for spices, packets and jars. Keep appliances out of the way until they are needed by either incorporating them into the design of the cupboard (with sockets or access to wall sockets designed in) or just having a specific place for your coffee machine, food processor and blender.
Aside from being practical additions to a kitchen, pantries and larders are also a beautiful design feature. Get in touch to discuss your kitchen storage needs and we’ll help you find a functional and aesthetically pleasing solution.