This week, I finally tackled the butler’s pantry! I don’t know what took me so long and it’s hard to believe it lasted as long as it did without being painted, but I do think my patience has improved with age and experience. I also painted a lot of cabinetry when I first moved in and I needed time to think about this space and how exactly I wanted to finish it. I finally could see it in my mind’s eye, so I bought the paint and materials and went for it.
The main thing I wanted for the butler’s pantry (which sounds fancy, but it’s really just some cabinets between the kitchen eating area and the dining room) was to make it look like a piece of furniture, instead of just cabinets. I also wanted it to fit in better with my design aesthetic. Painting it all white would’ve been an obvious and easy choice (and not a bad one), but I wanted it to be a feature.
Originally, I had planned to remove the upper cabinets entirely and build something custom to replace it, making it look more like an old hutch that filled the entire niche, but Jeff talked me into scaling it back. I’m glad he did, because then I was able to work on it myself and have it done in just a few hours with a few materials.
So, the new plan was to remove the upper cabinet doors, replace the glass shelves with wood shelves, add bead board to the back of the shelves and backsplash, and add architectural detail with some simple corbels.
I bought four packages of THIS BEAD BOARD and three of THESE CORBELS (affiliate links), and had 1″ MDF cut to the size of the shelves, all from Home Depot. I also used three scrap pieces of 2 x 4’s from our garage project as spacers under the cabinet. Our cabinets have a trim piece on the underside that hides under-cabinet lighting. It’s a nice feature, but it would’ve hidden the top part of the corbels if I had attached them directly to the underside of the cabinets. I used the 2 x 4 scraps to position them low enough, so they would be fully seen. It also gave me an easy way to install the corbels.
I inserted three 1 1/4″ wood screws through the top of the 2 x 4 scrap down into the corbel, attaching them together…
I then inserted more wood screws through the bottom of the 2 x 4 scrap up into the cabinet.
Once painted, it will all look cohesive. Do you see how the 2 x 4 positioned the corbels even with trim?
For backing, I used thin tongue and groove bead board planks and cut them to size on a chop saw (mitre saw). I dry fit all of them (meaning, put them in place without any nails) and then I inserted a few 1 1/4″ finish nails once everything was cut and fitted. I didn’t need a lot of nails, because the tongue and groove held all of the planks together.
Before painting, I filled in some of the seams with paintable trim caulk.
Once the caulk was dry, I lightly sanded and then primed everything with Zinsser Bullseye Primer. I was excited before the primer even went on, because it was looking so much more like a custom piece of furniture!
Once the primer dried, I applied the first coat of paint, which is the same paint I used on my kitchen island. It’s Advanced in a satin finish by Benjamin Moore and the color is a custom match to Boxwood from the MMS Milk Paint line.
Before I started painting, I had this idea to paint the bead board white and everything else green. To see if I liked the look, I painted everything green and left the bead board just primed.
A part of me liked it and how the white lightened up the green and accentuated the corbels. I was torn, though. My original vision was painting it all green, so it looked like one piece. Would the white chop it up too much? Would the white ironstone get lost on the white background? Would all green look too visually heavy and dark?
I was so torn, I even took a poll on instagram and over 70% of my followers who voted said to keep the bead board white. That’s how I was leaning, too.
The next morning, I decided to play around with the space before breaking open the can of paint again. I used the doors to cover the shelves and backsplash and experimented with some different looks for the accessories… blue & white, all white, cutting boards, totes, linens, etc.
The decision became clear to me. The white would look too busy and disjointed and it didn’t really relate to anything else in the room. All green would be bold, but it would look more cohesive and it would tie into the island.
So, I went against the poll, followed my initial instinct. and painted it all green…
And it looks amazing.
I can’t wait to show you…