Traditional, Modern, or Transitional? A Basic Kitchen Style Guide

a traditional kitchne style white inset cabinetry kitchen island

What are the different styles of kitchen design? Just as there is wide variety in clothing and furniture styles, there are also many types of kitchen styles. You may have heard heritage names like French Country, Craftsman, Mediterranean. In fact, all three of those styles are types of a traditional kitchen style.

Add contemporary and transitional kitchens to the mix and you have your three basic kitchen styles, each with its own variations and spin-offs. Having a basic idea of these three design styles will help you get oriented as you put your room together.

As you determine your kitchen style, consider your personal preferences as well as the architectural style of your home. Live in a brand-new contemporary loft? A more modern, urban style will be more appropriate than a farmhouse look.

Traditional Kitchens

Traditional kitchens typically include more decorative and detail features like moldings, appliques, corbels, and raised panel doors. Sometimes traditional kitchens may be more formal in nature as you’d find in colonial, old world and French country.

black knobs and cup pulls white shaker kitchen brick backsplash

Other traditional styles, such as coastal, rustic and country, may be more casual. Traditional kitchens often showcase the natural beauty of the wood cabinetry. Other features of traditional kitchen styles include are raised-panel door styles, ornate glass doors, and decorative millwork or molding.

Explore CliqStudios kitchen cabinet finishes.

Modern / Contemporary Kitchens

The labels modern and contemporary are pretty imprecise. Distinguishing the difference between contemporary vs modern kitchen design can involve splitting some hairs.

Generally speaking, both contemporary and modern kitchens represent new, updated styles and trends. Recently they’ve emphasized clean, open spaces and sleek lines. It’s also common to see man-made materials such as paint, plastic, stainless steel, laminate, glass, and concrete incorporated into the design.

Bright White Kitchen with Island

Modern kitchen styles refer to the modernism movement in architecture, rooted in the early- and mid-20th-century. Architect John Hill explains that modern design is known for “an absence of ornament, structures of steel or concrete, large expanses of glass, a whitewash (usually stucco over brick) or another minimal exterior expression, and open floor plans.”

When thinking of modern interior design, Scandinavian design often comes to mind. If you’re familiar with IKEA, the global representative of Scandinavian design, then you have an intuition of many aspects of modern design: clean palettes (monochrome or pastel), natural materials, sleek horizontal lines, and a focus on functionality. Modern kitchen styles can often be recognized by the simple slab-style cabinet door.

contemporary style kitchen white countertops black backsplash pendant wood accents

Contemporary styles simply refer to “the current time”. The trends happening now. Unlike modernism, it is not rooted in any historical period but is oriented toward the present and future. It does not necessarily follow any particular stylistic strain or school of architecture, but deals with the new thing, however it happens to be changing.

In 2018, a contemporary kitchen design might incorporate new trends such as bold splashes of color, open shelving, smart appliances, mixed metals (especially brass) and a multi-user layout. Contemporary styles look very trendy, but before you start buying a ton of contemporary fixtures, keep in mind that different trends come and go.

Transitional Kitchens

Arguably the most popular style today, the transitional kitchen combines features of both traditional and modern design to create a fresh, updated look. The goal is to balance out the embellished familiarity of the traditional design with the new paints, trends, and materials of the current day – without seeming stark or futuristic.

Design lines in transitional kitchens are typically softer, lean towards the simple and linear, and are not as heavy with decorative accents. Simple embellishments and cabinet molding may be used. With their clean and streamlined profile, Shaker-style doors are popular in transitional kitchen designs. Cabinets are often finished in a neutral paint such as white, gray, or black.

A playful mix of old and new, transitional kitchens often seek to capture timeless styles with a personal touch. The modern farmhouse design style is a perfect example of a transitional kitchen. Other styles you may have heard within the transitional category include the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Arts-and-Crafts Movement as well as Pottery Barn-inspired cottage styles.

kitchen with stainless steel appliances

What’s your favorite kitchen style? Whether it’s traditional, contemporary, or something in between, understanding the different styles available will help you as you plan your kitchen renovation.

3d rendering of cliqstudios kitchen design with white shaker cabinets and tea leaf kitchen island with seating

Ready to start your free design?

Send us a sketch with your kitchen measurements

and we’ll connect you with your personal designer.

What do you think?

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>