Kitchen Styles: The 3 Styles You Need to Know

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Choosing between Traditional, Contemporary, and Transitional

By Ryan Horvath

Choosing between kitchen styles can be frustrating. This is especially true if you don’t know the difference between them. In this week’s blog, I’m breaking down the three kitchen styles and providing some design tips.

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A traditional style is full of details and embellishments. The ornate accents add character and charm. Using English and French design elements, a traditional kitchen is warm and classic. This kitchen style separates into three categories: Coastal, Old-World, and Mediterranean. The Coastal style uses soft, soothing colors with seaside décor. Picture an East Coast beach house kitchen and you have the idea. The Old-World style uses rich colors to create a dark, romantic look. Our Choice Premier® Cambridge cabinets are a perfect example of this style. The Mediterranean style incorporates warm, earthy hues with pops of colors. Our Choice Premier® Renaissance’screamy white with caramel glaze is ideal for a warm, inviting Mediterranean kitchen. Check out the examples of Cambridge and Renaissance below. Click on the images to enlarge.

A characteristic of the traditional design is the raised center panel cabinets. A raised center panel cabinet adds design, sophistication, and beauty. Use this style of cabinetry to create a warm setting. Tie your kitchen island in by using wainscoting and corbels. Add an extra design element to your cabinetry with crown molding. With the traditional design style, it’s the extras that make the kitchen.


A contemporary or modern style is the opposite of the traditional style. A contemporary or modern style uses sleek, clean lines and evokes minimalist styling. As much as contemporary and modern are similar, they also differ. Contemporary is the style of now and trendy. Think of it as what’s trendy in minimalism. One characteristic of a contemporary style is hiding the clutter. In regards to clean lines, counter and small appliance clutter become a distraction. Contemporary designers are finding clever ways to help hide the clutter. Check out the blog I wrote about storage and organization solutions by clicking here.

The cabinet fronts can either be a slab, a Shaker-style, or a combination of both. Below are our Choice Premier® Aspen and Choice Essentials® Brentwood and Summit cabinets. Aspen is a Shaker-style front while the Brentwood and Summit are a combination front. Click on the images to enlarge.

Modern is the style from a specific era. When it comes to kitchens, experts say it’s between the 1940s and 1950s. Yet, it can include the beginning of the 1960s. The modern style uses super sleek cabinets. These cabinets are built without using a face frame. This type of construction is known as frameless. You’ll also notice the emphasis on horizontal lines and minimal hardware. Our multi-unit division was able to create modern styled cabinets for a few projects. Below are examples from the Luxe at Pepper Pike and Mariner’s Watch projects. Unfortunately, we are currently not able to recreate these cabinets. Click on the images to enlarge.


The transitional style combines design elements from traditional and contemporary styles. This is a popular style since it creates a sophisticated, timeless look. You’ll find homeowners using a neutral color palette for the walls and cabinets. Stay within the white, grays, and browns. Transitional cabinets have simple accent pieces. Our Choice Select® cabinets have a piece of molding on the inside edge of the Shaker profile. A designer will tell you that you can use crown molding and corbels for the extra flair. Just don’t go overboard with it or you’ll end up with a traditional style kitchen. Below are examples of a transitional kitchen using our Fremont and Graphite cabinets. Click on the images to enlarge.


Picking between kitchen styles shouldn’t be hard. If you’re looking for that English cottage kitchen, the traditional style would be for you. Go with a contemporary/modern kitchen for the Jetsons look. Want a combination of both? Choose the transitional style. Most of all, choose a style that you can live with for years to come.

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