Kitchen Cabinet Design, Part III: Transitional Style Defined

Kitchen Cabinet Design, Part III: Transitional Style Defined

May 12, 2015

Transitional style is open to interpretation. It blends the old and the new. And most of all, it is a great style for those who really want to reflect their own personality. In fact, a recent survey by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) reports that transitional design has moved into the number-one spot for the first time, edging out the long-popular traditional style. The reason? Transitional style has a universal appeal. It defies trends and takes a practical, functional approach to kitchen design.

Transitional design can be cozy, elegant, clean, modern, classic, familiar, and edgy all at once. It’s called “transitional” because it’s the point where traditional intersects with, or transitions to, modern. It can also be thought of as a style that’s always in motion…always evolving…going somewhere. Transitional style uses elements that feel familiar. And while it may reference the past, there is an element of modern that makes it fresh and updated.


This transitional kitchen by Jan Gleysteen Architects, Inc. includes Imperial Danby marble around the perimeter. Photo by Richard Mandelkorn via Houzz

Transitional styled kitchens can fit in with any style of home. It’s versatile and can be very marketable in resale situations. For homeowners who aren’t quite sure how to define their style, “transitional” is usually their preference. It lets them experiment with various elements and finishes to really bring out their creativity.

Transitional cabinets tend to be modern in shape but can feature a variety of finishes from plain wood grain and paint to distressed. Typically, transitional cabinetry is crisp. It’s not as ornate and detailed as traditional cabinetry, yet not as unadorned as contemporary. Transitional cabinet styles are streamlined and are generally made of wood rather than modern materials like laminate. Simple paneled doors are common, with Shaker style being the most common. When you see light/dark finish combinations, the cabinets involved are more often than not transitional in style.

In transitional kitchens, the countertops are usually natural stone such as granite, marble, or limestone. These materials are versatile enough to fit into any style of kitchen and their durability makes them universally appreciated. Honed or matte finishes instead of classic polished are common, and color is a great way to express individuality. Instead of the usual beige or white marble, one might opt for a shade of blue or grey.

The one element you won’t see with transitional kitchen countertops, however, is elaborate edge treatments. Transitional edges are simplistic and unadorned, just like the cabinetry. However texture is frequently found in a transitional kitchen. This might be in the form of a reclaimed wood floor or tumbled stone backsplash.

Transitional kitchens have simple accents. Hardware is basic and wooden embellishments are few. One might find, for example, a farmhouse sink, but maybe in a sleek design with a contemporary finish, such as stainless steel.

Most of all, transitional style is flexible. It avoids fussy displays, clutter, and bold patterns. Those who aren’t really interested in following the “rules” and just “like what they like” will typically gravitate towards transitional style. Transitional style kitchens make great gathering spaces. They’re informal, comfortable, and a great place for enjoying time with family and friends.

No matter what style of kitchen you prefer, Marble and Granite, Inc. can help you choose your ideal countertop. Check out our website for more information on the kinds natural stone and manmade materials we offer. Feel free to stop by one of our two New England locations where our surfacing experts are happy to answer your questions about countertops or any other projects.


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