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How to identify and describe your kitchen style to a decorator, designer, or contractor.

If you’re reading this, you are probably thinking about remodelling your kitchen soon. But how will you describe your style to a decorator, designer, or contractor?

In this series, we will be looking at different kitchen styles to help you identify and describe your style when you consult with a kitchen designer or contractor. Kitchen styles fall into three main categories, namely: traditional, transitional, and contemporary. Using individual elements (generally associated with one of these styles), one can further define the style to fit within a more specific niche.

Traditional Style Kitchen

Describing Traditional Style Kitchens

Traditional style kitchens exude charm and character with their unique stylised touches. Defined by their fascinating details, traditional kitchens are popular in personality-filled homes. Old-world, Mediterranean, coastal, country, rustic, and even industrial kitchens often make up sub-classes of this style.

You may be thinking that none of these styles sounds like you. So, how will you know whether “traditional” is the best category for you? Well, if any of the words in the graphic below appeal to you, you might discover that your style is more “traditional” than you think. The more words you can relate to, the more likely it will be that your style preference falls within the “traditional” category.

adjectives that can be used to describe traditional kitchen styles
list of descriptive words that could be used to describe traditional style kitchens

If you can use any of the words below to describe your personal style, a traditional style kitchen may be suited to your taste.  The more words that you can relate to, the more likely it will be that your personal style falls within the “traditional” category.


aged formal orderly classical historical
matchy-matchy flea market finds dreamy moody charming
cultural old world comfortable spiritual embellished
detailed interesting eclectic personality-filled feminine
frilly busy quirky rustic handcrafted
raw lived-in weathered gardeny organic
cozy vintage heirloom-feel nostalgic colourful

10 Elements of a Traditional Style Kitchen

There are so many words to describe traditional style kitchens, but some may seem completely contradictory. Using elements typically found in a traditional style kitchen will further define your style.

Furniture style cabinets are the most recognisable element of traditional kitchens – combined with other “traditional” facets you will be able to create a look that matches your style. Other popular components that fall into the “traditional style” category include luxury countertops, apron-front sinks, custom cooker hoods, and distinctive looking hardware.

Let’s take a look at ten elements frequently featured in traditional style kitchens.

 1. Furniture-style cabinets

Detailed cabinets that resemble furniture are the signature look of almost all traditional kitchens. Raised cabinet fronts are a frequent installation in traditional style kitchens. They often feature additional embellishments such as applied mouldings, carved trims or wood appliqué. Flush-inset doors are less common but allow for details such as the frame, doors, drawers, and hinges, to be visible. Mitred door panels, glass panel inserts, crown mouldings, and corbels are typical of traditional cabinetry.
Traditional stains and paint finishes, rich in colour and texture, are often used to finish traditional-style cabinets. Glazed cabinetry is also popular, as are cabinets with antiqued finishes which add extra age and patina.

Neutral colour palettes are a favourite in traditional style kitchens. However, rich deep jewel tones work exceptionally well with furniture-style cabinets and are becoming increasingly popular.

traditional white shaker style kitchen

Photo by Mark McCammon, image source: Pexels

2. Luxury Natural Countertops

Traditional kitchens feature luxurious natural countertops that are optimal for food preparation. Marble slabs for creating perfect intricate pasties, and butcher’s blocks for handling fine cuts of meat, are no strangers here.

Marble, granite, and quartz countertops are all popular choices as their uniquely veined and flecked surfaces add character and interest. Detailed edging, such as bevel, ogee, and bull-nose, can be hewn into solid stone countertops adding to the embellished look popular in traditional kitchen styles.

Solid wood surfaces can add warmth and texture and gain character over time as the wood will begin to show wear from its encounters with knives, cleavers and other utensils. Combining wood and stone can create quite a visual impact, especially when there is a notable contrast in tone.

3. Distinctive Hardware

Handles, doorknobs, and taps can completely transform and define the style of your kitchen, and perhaps this is most notable in traditional style kitchens.

A farm-style kitchen might have simple hardware, whereas an industrial kitchen may have more unique fittings that add character. Antiqued brass is a popular option since the patina gives an aged look and feel. In more formal kitchens, brilliant brass or bright silver tones can give the space a stately presence. Blackened steel is another exciting option for both simple and highly detailed designs.

4. Custom Cooker Hoods

A stand-out feature in many traditional kitchens is the custom cooker hood, often paired with a range style cooker; decorative hoods create a beautiful focal point at the heart of the home.

Various materials, including wood, plaster, stone, and metals such as copper and stainless steel, are often used to create elaborate designs. Ornate carvings, mouldings and corbels add detail and can be used to depict a particular era or geographical location refining the style of your traditional inspired kitchen.

Traditional Style Kitchen

Image source: Pexels

5. Apron Front Sinks

Also referred to as farmhouse-, or butler’s sinks, apron front sinks have an old-fashioned character that makes them a popular choice for traditional style kitchens. White porcelain sinks of this style feature prominently in rustic farm-style kitchens. However, other materials such as marble and copper make them equally popular in other traditional style kitchens.

The typically deep basin of the apron front sink makes it a practical choice for cleaning large cookware and preparing large quantities of fresh produce. Another practical element of this style sink is that the front extends beyond cabinet fronts, protecting the cabinetry below from water damage by allowing drips and splashes to fall to the floor. Traditionally configured with a single basin, the popularity of this style has in recent years given rise to a variety of basin configurations that are more practical for application in modern homes, ensuring that this nostalgic style remains as popular as ever.

Traditional Style Kitchen

6. Ornate Lighting Fixtures

Formal decorative lighting fixtures are favourites in traditional style kitchens. Ornate chandeliers in crystal or brass work well with detailed cabinets. Lantern style lights and shaded wall sconces bring charm and character to more rustic traditional styles.

Decorative lights provide ambience and set the mood, but adding recessed lighting can provide sufficient task lighting when ambient lighting is insufficient.

accenting tile in traditional kitchen

Image source: Pexels

7. Accenting Tile

Focal points in traditional kitchens are often composed of tiles. Using tiles to accent cabinetry and appliances gives homeowners a unique opportunity to express their personal style. An extraordinary variety of tiles are suitable for creating an area of interest. Whilst being practical and easy to clean, tiles can also be used to pay homage to a particular heritage as a pattern or texture may have cultural or historical significance adding charm and character to the home.

accenting tile in traditional kitchen

Source: Vóila

8. Range-Style Cookers

The vintage appeal of range-style cookers makes them a popular choice for traditional style kitchens. Range-style cookers have an heirloom feel and the ability to bring an air of nostalgia, giving the impression that a kitchen has stood the test of time and will continue to do so for generations to come.

Traditional Style Kitchen

9. Muted Complimentary Colours

Most traditional kitchens have colour palettes featuring muted complementary tones. This doesn’t mean that they can’t be colourful; on the contrary, rich, warm colours and deep jewel tones can often be found in traditional kitchens. However, this style of kitchen will rarely feature vibrant bright colours, which are more suited to contemporary styles.

The key to using colour in traditional kitchens is that colours should complement each other well and that contrasting colours should not compete for attention but rather be used to create balance.

accenting tile in traditional kitchen

Source: Houzz

10. Backsplash Niches and Ledges

Backsplash niches and ledges create pockets of visual interest and can be practical for keeping spices and utensils close at hand. Adding a ledge, or niche, to a backsplash allows for the counter space beneath to remain clutter-free. Potted herbs, scales and cloches, glassware, and even objet d’art can be displayed along ledges adding unique personal touches to an otherwise formal space.

accenting tile in traditional kitchen

Thoughts on traditional kitchen styles

When one thinks of traditional-style kitchens, grand stately homes quickly spring to mind, yet another image that is easily conjured is that of a cosy cottage with a kitchen filled with charm and character. Homeowners who prefer traditional kitchens are almost always lovers of good food, and they appreciate the art of cooking a hearty meal to be shared with family and friends.

Although traditional kitchens have a formal look to them, you can rest assured that anyone who sets foot in this type of kitchen will feel right at home. Traditional kitchens will simply always be in style.

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