When we first bought our house, the only way to get to the kitchen from the dining area (where all the eating happens) was through a swinging door and into a small butler's pantry (you can see the original floor plan here). I remember being really charmed by it when we first looked at the house. There was a window in there (the original back of the house, most likely) and old cabinetry. It quickly lost it's charm when I had to leave two toddlers unattended and out of view in the dining room every time I went to the kitchen (and carry our food through a maze of doors). I told Jack that we either needed to get an actual butler or make some changes.
Our first major renovation was to close off the door to the pantry and create a large opening between the kitchen and dining which improved our quality of life at home tremendously. With the latest kitchen renovation, we kept the pantry, but have altered it slightly (we did keep the window). The caged light fixture hangs in there. It houses a small bit of cabinetry and will eventually have shelving, but we've been a bit stymied as how to best use the space, so I've been revisiting some of my pantry inspiration:
Shallow shelves are a great way to use only minimal space and keep things from getting too cluttered. (Country Living).
I love the super-tall shelving and open storage for linens. (House Beautiful)
My flickr-friend Amy's homey pantry (she has a window too!). (Farminmama).