What is a prep kitchen and why do I need one?

Having a second kitchen used to be reserved for the rich and famous, who would have a main kitchen on display and a separate area for a private chef to cook in. So why do you need one?

What’s special about a prep kitchen?

Prep kitchens are very different to walk-in pantries or utility rooms. They are an extension of the main kitchen and an an additional space for food preparation or serving, a sink for washing up plus somewhere to keep dirty dishes out of sight, and for appliances such as an extra dishwasher (or two). However, the final design depends on your lifestyle and needs.

“A second kitchen is a supplementary kitchen space. Typically located adjacent to the main kitchen or close to the dining area and is usually smaller in size,” says Molly Chandler, designer at Willis and Stone. “While the main kitchen usually serves as a central hub for family activities as well as cooking, the second kitchen is usually a much more functional space designed with specific tasks in mind.”

Edwina Kimble of Kimble Roden Architects has seen a massive rise in clients requesting this space. “We are seeing a growing popularity in our new build and renovation clients requesting a ‘prep kitchen and pantry space’. It’s where the untidy functions of a kitchen can happen offstage, leaving the main kitchen immaculate and as the focal point and the social hub of the home.”

“The other primary use of these prep kitchens is essential storage for all of the items associated with family living – from kitchen towels to ironing boards, products which do not need to be in the kitchen but can take up space,” explains Edwina.

Why do I need a prep kitchen?

A prep kitchen is perfect when you don’t want to stare at a mess all day, but even better for those of us who love to host. “It is perfect for those who love entertaining, as it allows the main kitchen and entertaining space to remain clean and clear,” says Richard Moore, design director at Martin Moore. “The dirty crockery and utensils can be taken away to the back kitchen to stay out of sight. They also allow unsightly and noisy appliances, such as washing machines and dishwashers, to be kept out of the main kitchen area.”

Now, let’s dive into some inspiration, so you can see how valuable a second kitchen can be…

Country cottage butler’s prep kitchen

Martin Moore has created a handy preparation area in this secondary kitchen, which features a sink with a pot-wash spray tap. It also hides the modern-looking appliances, such as the wine fridge, that would stand out in the main farmhouse-style kitchen.

Prep kitchens by Martin Moore
The second kitchen by Martin Moore includes a large butler sink.
Modern sink next to a large wine fridge
The second kitchen has space for a large wine cabinet, that would stand out in the farmhouse kitchen.
White farmhouse kitchen
The main kitchen space is bright and airy with a traditional feel.

Going with the flow

This design by Olive & Barr has turned an awkward space into a very helpful additional prep kitchen. Tucked away in the back, it feature lots of useful counter space and ample cupboards as extra pantry storage. The designers decided to remove the dividing door as it helps link the secondary kitchen to the main space.

Pink butler's pantry with sink
The prep kitchen by Olive & Barr includes a butler-style sink and space for small countertop appliances.
Walk-in pantry and prep area
Removing the door helps to create a sense of flow between the two spaces.
Modern pink and salmon kitchen
The main kitchen space by Olive & Barr is colourful and playful.

Small appliance scullery

The second kitchen in this project by Daval has two main functions: a pantry and a place for small appliances. Kettles, toasters and microwaves can quickly overcrowd your kitchen worktop, so having a dedicated area to store them away is helpful. Along with plenty of worktop space, this prep kitchen also includes ample storage with open shelving.

Prep kitchen with small appliances
The built-in shelves offer plenty of space for additional glassware.
Open pantry in a second kitchen
A second sink is a handy space for preparing vegetables and storing unsightly washing up.
Open-plan kitchen space with a large island.
A view of the prep kitchen from the main kitchen area.

Complete prep kitchen

This prep kitchen by KCA Kitchens is a completely functional kitchen. With a gas hob, plenty of prep space and a generous sized sink to do the washing up, you’ve got everything you need in one space. This set-up also acts as a utility room with a washing machine and dryer included in the layout.

Messy kitchen in white with gas hob and sink
This prep kitchen features a handyadditional gas hob.
The prep area doubles as a utility room
Storage is key in this space with large floor-to-ceiling cupboards.
A open plan kitchen
The main kitchen sits in an open-plan room with a grand island and bar stool seating for dining.

Breakfast nook and prep kitchen

To the side of a kitchen designed by Willis & Stone sits a green nook with all the appliances you need to make breakfast, including a coffee machine and toaster. It also features a large sink and dishwasher.

A prep kitchen in green
The ample worktop space creates the perfect food preparation area.
A large sink and draining area
A double sink and dishwasher help make cleaning up almost a pleasure.
A large white and blue design
The blue and green colour combinations help to create a distinction between the two areas.

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