Kitchen Cabinet Design: What makes a kitchen traditional in style?

Kitchen Cabinet Design: What makes a kitchen traditional in style?

April 30, 2015

Details. Details. Details. These are the ingredients that make up a traditionally styled space. Classic and timeless, traditional style is one of three overall themes that describe kitchen design today. (The others being contemporary and transitional.) In a three-part series, we’ll take an in-depth look at each style of décor and learn about which elements—from cabinets to countertops—can be found in each style of space.


This traditionally styled kitchen by Venegas and Company features beautiful Bianco Antico granite countertops. Photo via Houzz.

Looked upon as classic and timeless, traditional décor typically includes carved moldings, fine woodwork, graceful lines, and sturdy, well-crafted elements. Some people think “traditional” means “antique” or “stuffy.” But this isn’t always the case. Traditional style influences many modern interiors today—especially in our New England neck of the woods. At Marble and Granite, Inc., we’ve seen our fair share of traditionally styled projects (and then some.) So…how do you go about creating a traditional kitchen? 

Well, as mentioned above, traditional spaces use ornamentation to create a warm “homey” feel. The idea is that forms, colors and materials that have been used in the past help create comfort and relaxation through a sense of familiarity. Those who feel a deep connection with Old World, European or early American history usually enjoy this style of décor.

This gorgeously ornate traditional kitchen by Lauren Catino features Giallo Capella granite; photo via Houzz

Architectural details are a big part of the overarching theme of traditional design. Traditional kitchens usually include embellishments such as arches, moldings, beam ceilings, famed and raised-panel cabinets, ornate range hoods, chandeliers, and furniture-style cabinets. Center islands most likely feature turned legs or pilasters and you’ll find carved corbels or brackets and plenty of molding or carved detailing between cabinets. One might find dark paneled wood inserts over appliances rather than gleaming stainless steel. You might find “legs” in other areas of cabinetry as well, which create an architectural focal point for the eye. And furniture-style toe kicks help the cabinets look as if they’re freestanding furniture.

Countertops are another important element when it comes to traditional kitchens. Luxurious materials such as marble and granite are popular choices for traditional kitchens. Even though marble is a slightly more “high-maintenance” choice, it has an Old World feel that makes it the perfect choice for traditional design. Keep in mind, however, that there are now lots of manmade products such as ColorQuartz  and Neolith that simulate the look of marble, but are virtually maintenance-free. And when it comes to finishes, matte or honed finishes are generally thought to be more traditional, though polished finishes can be used too.

Some additional elements that may be included in traditional styled kitchens include apron front or “farmhouse” sinks, glazed or antiqued finishes, niches and ledges behind the cooktop or sink, and decorative cabinet door inserts such as beveled glass or metal mesh. Traditional kitchens are usually thought of as elegant and formal, however casual details can help bring out a homeowner’s unique personality. Remember that, most importantly, there are no “rules” if it feels right.

Look for more on transitional and contemporary kitchen design styles to come!


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