Designing Roles for a Modern House of Influence and O/p dynamic

I have often been asked by people in the lifestyle communities what roles do I train people for. Often this is a question of exploration and learning to know what more is out there. This has been a topic I have thought about often during my personal development and I am talking about this a lot after the release of my book, The Tao of Relationship Maintenance for Mind Controllers. After a move across country I am about at the start of establishing my House again and I have spent a considerable amount of time contemplating this topic. In my book I talk about what it means to be a servant in O&p culture and how being part of that culture influences my life and art. What I am going to do in this article is discuss traditional roles of servants in Houses and great homes of the past. I’ll also be sharing what these same services cost today. In sharing this information, I hope the reader will see the parallels of power exchange that exist in these roles and society from the past to today. I break down how to think planning to have these roles staffed in our home in order to make it a House of our own design and influence. I share with you the roles that I am seeking to establish at present in my House. Lastly, I share how I think about service. I welcome reader commentary on these roles and stories on how you have made your House operate.

The concepts of O&p and the culture is present in mainstream culture today more than most people realize. Living a life of service is still seen by many people as a way to better oneself, acquire a skill, and earn respect and responsibility. The work is hard and the hours long, but a servant working for a considerate and enlightened House can expect to lead a life of far greater comfort and quality than he or she would have outside of their service. For some to sleep in a warm bed, to eat good and plentiful food, and to be properly cared for when he or she is sick is more than they had at home. Working for a lifetime is hard, and a life in service is no harder than most, with considerably greater rewards. In the past the work of a man or woman became their life and it was almost all that they would know.

The British television show Downton Abbey is set in 1912 and delivers us a polite story of common themes of O&p as part of every episode. The servants of a House allowed it to function and prosper according to the desires and whims of its owners. A House should be thought of as a property that is lived in by family, and groups of people. It is both residence and an institution which includes business, politics, and influence. These facts about make a House have not changed in over a hundred years. I’ll share a simple breakdown of a house servant hierarchy to assist us in choosing roles that we might want or need when adding an individual to our House today.

The following is a list of servants taken predominantly from the early 20th century, a brief description of duties, and today’s salary is provided for each position. You will notice that male and female genders are attributed to many of these positions, as traditionally these roles served one gender primarily, or exclusively, in specific roles for many houses.


The butler is the chief servant of a household, the position was traditionally held by a man, and he was respected from all stations and feared by many. A butler has normally served a long apprenticeship as a footman before being appointed to his position by the Master of the House. The largest households had Under Butler(s), who acts as his deputy. The butler's main responsibilities, beyond general administration of the household, was to answer the front door, greet guests, collect visiting cards, answer the telephone, serve drinks in the drawing room, supervise the service of meals, to serve the most important family members and guests himself, control the wine cellar, and keep secured the butler's pantry. The butler would have extensive knowledge of alcoholic beverages, ‘the charge of Wine and Liquors’ and most aspects of banqueting and entertainment. In smaller households, the butler replaced the valet in his duties.

The butler's pantry contains the valuable crystal and silverware, and like the cellar it is kept locked, with the butler holding the key. The butler always wears a tailcoat and waistcoat, usually dressing in plain black. He is traditionally addressed by his surname only, and will politely remind any guest who insists on calling him 'Mister' of this fact. The other servants, however, do address him as 'Mister X' or as 'Sir'. The butler and the Master are often close friends, and in many houses it is traditional for the two to have a drink together before retiring for the night. The butler's last action before going to bed every night is to make his 'rounds', checking that all doors are locked and that the house is secure against intruders and fire. Most butlers are trusted absolutely by their employers, and very few would dream of abusing this trust. The butler is a loyal member of a House and is often stationed for a lifetime of service. Today a butler usually earns a salary between $50.000 and $150.000 annually, plus benefits. A butler can be a live-in or live-out employee. Follow this link to learn more.

Estate steward or sometimes called Agent and House steward

This position is a key administrative role within a house which is particularly necessary when the Master of the house had to attend to business elsewhere. Depending upon the size of the house, the complexity of the business and interests that a house was involved in, there may be multiple individuals filling these roles. The stewards(s) and/or agent(s) saw to processing almost every aspect of management for the family and its affairs, communicating with lawyers, architects, suppliers, tenants, and other family members. An estate usually consisted of different property spread across a region so an agent might have had responsibility for more than one estate steward. On smaller estates the house steward performed all these duties as one. Today, a House Steward Salary in Princeton, NJ, (I chose a location at random.) earns a salary of $85,000. Apparently the average House Steward salaries for job postings in Princeton, NJ are 9% higher than average House Steward salaries for job postings nationwide.,+NJ

Today this position may also be considered by a Domestic couple or Estate Couple. Often a married couple offering the combination of services of Butler/Housekeeper or Housekeeper/Caretaker. Both typically live in. Uniforms are often required.


A male cook held great esteem for a household. French chefs were particularly coveted by many wealthy houses. The Master of the house made it his business to enquire about a good chef and seek references out. As head of the kitchen department, the male cook or chef demanded enthusiasm and hard work from his support staff. The kitchen of a Chef in the 1900’s was often described as resembling the high protocol of D/s perfection you may think of with TV Chefs like Gordon Ramsay. The display of entertaining insulting perfection had a boot camp like appeal that was often true to life and served as part of the reputation of such a Chef. A hundred years later a Chef’s anger in the kitchen can still be thought of as stereotypical. Today, the average pay for Private Chefs is $59K per year, and can range from $30K on the lower end to $111K per year near the higher end. Location, years of experience, and celebrity, each impact pay for this group, with the former having the largest influence.


The image of a blowzy woman shouting orders at young kitchen maids and errand lads is synonymous with the female cook. Not as prestigious as the male cook or chef, the female cook was nonetheless gifted and sought out for her sophisticated practical knowledge. She is the senior female servant in the absence of a housekeeper. Like the housekeeper, the cook is traditionally addressed as 'Mrs X', whether she is married or not. Large houses may also have one or more assistant cooks. Crucially, the cook had immense power over the reputation of her employer when it came to entertaining and feeding guests. Today, a Private Household Cook can earn a pay level that can range from $24,000 to $36,000, based on levels of tenure. Cooks in a private household can receive an average compensation of $31,200 per year.

Scullery maid

Scullery maids were the lowest-ranked and often the youngest of the female servants and acted as assistant to a kitchen maid. The scullery maid reported (through the kitchen maid) to the cook or chef. Also referred to as a house maid-of-all-work whose routine revolved around supporting the kitchen maids with fetching and carrying, scrubbing, washing and scouring pots, pans and the kitchen generally. Her duties consisted of whatever the other staff (mainly the kitchen maids) thought fit within that department. Today the average salary for all dishwashers is about $8.20 per hour. Experienced dishwashers at high-end restaurants can earn up to $10.75 per hour.

Valet also known as Groom of the Chamber

The better paid equivalent of the lady’s maid, the valet was the companion of the Master of the house and saw to every personal need. Like the lady’s maid, the valet helped dress and style his Master, accompany him, liaise with the other servants, and attend to the private domestic and social arrangements of his employer. Dedicated lifetime valets to one Master are very common. However, when needed footmen are often called into service when a valet is needed (such as when traveling). The butler may also valet for the Master of the house when necessary. Only in the largest houses will there be full-time valets, and they are often important men. The Master's valet sits in the House hierarchy second only to the butler among the male servants and addressed by the other servants as 'Mr X'. He is usually addressed by his Master by only his surname, although sometimes Christian names are used. The word is usually pronounced as VAL-itt in 1920s Britain, not as VAL-ay. Today salary range for a personal valet is $45K to $70,000 per Year. A valet is still considered a gentleman's personal gentleman.

Chauffeur or Driver

Most wealthy households own at least one luxury automobile, and employ a chauffeur to drive it. He must also be proficient in carrying out at least minor repairs and maintenance. A Chauffeur will typically be responsible for driving family members and guests to social and professional appointments. He or she is also expected to care for the car, making sure it is always clean and operating properly. A Chauffeur may also be required to work in the office of the employer, doing filing or faxing, and even doing errands. Often the hours vary, so flexibility is important. The chauffeur may wear the classic uniform, normally grey in color, of plastron-fronted jacket, breeches, boots and peaked cap. Drivers may be used for traveling or contracted for logistics in specialized transportation. Today, the average annual Chauffeur salary is $31,880, with a range usually between $27,164-$37,775, however this can vary widely depending on a variety of factors.


Like coachmen, grooms and chauffeurs, the gardeners are 'outdoor' servants. They frequently live apart from the other servants, often in rooms above the stables, and are generally only expected to enter the main house for their meals and when summoned. Naturally, townhouses rarely have gardeners, but country houses usually have at least one and may have many, with titles such as Head Gardener and Under Gardener. Outdoor servants may be addressed by their surname or Christian name depending on the tradition of the house. The head gardener of a large country house is an important man and is treated with respect. The knowledge of produce – the more exotic the better, could influence the reputation of his employer; pineapples, apricots, grapes or oranges were inviting and added a great deal of variety to the dining table. Today gardeners earn an average wage of $14.60 per hour and an average annual salary of $36,746.

Nursery Maid and Nanny

Modern-day perceptions of a nanny most likely come from the 19th century middle-class stereotype who was a stern and efficient outsider. The term nanny was used more affectionately for a long-standing female employee who had previously been in charge of the youngest children. The nanny's responsibility is the care of the young children of the household and the smooth running of the nursery. She has often served the family as a nanny for two or even more generations and is frequently a much-loved figure (although some nannies are notoriously authoritarian). It is certainly not unknown for a nanny to give the Master of the house a piece of her mind, particularly if he was in her care when a child. She is invariably known as 'Nanny' or 'Nanny X' (Christian name or surname) by all. Nanny's assistants help her to look after the young children and run the nursery. Most nannies are assisted by at least one nursery maid.

They wear normal maids' uniform, and are addressed by Christian name or surname depending on the tradition of the house. Today full-time nannies can expect to receive some benefits along with their standard weekly or hourly nanny pay rates. Nanny pay can vary quite a bit, depending on where you live and the competition for qualified candidates. According to a survey by the International Nanny Association, average pay for a nanny is $18.66 an hour. Newborn care specialists earn more.