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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 in the near future, 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 personal style before you consult with a kitchen designer or contractor.  Kitchen styles are classified into three main categories namely: traditional, transitional, and, contemporary.  Each category can be further broken down into individual elements which then define more specific styles.

Traditional Style Kitchen

Source: Unsplash

Describing Transitional Style Kitchens

Transitional kitchens offer homeowners a unique opportunity to bring together the features that they love from a multitude of styles, they are essentially the marriage between traditional and contemporary styles.  Because transitional kitchens contain elements of both old and new they become instant classics that are hard to pinpoint to a particular era.  If you are the kind of person that loves expressing your personality through your home then a transitional style kitchen might be the perfect style for you.

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

If you can use any of the words below to describe your personal style, a transitional 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 “transitional” category.


adventurous youthful humorous clever blended
idyllic striking whimsical kitchy different
collected storied unique mismatched repurposed
random exciting inviting refreshing versatile
extravagant glamorous quality blingy luxurious
classic elegant comfortable practical vivid

 10 Elements of a Transitional Style Kitchen

There are so many ways to describe transitional style kitchens, and it is not surprising at all because no other kitchen style lends itself so well as to express the personal styles of individuals sharing a home.  As the name suggests, transitional style kitchens are the mid-point between traditional and contemporary kitchens and elements of both are incorporated and blended to create a unique look.

Transitional kitchens are a firm favourite in family homes as every generation will find an element that appeals to them individually – young couples with children may want to bring in nostalgic elements from their own childhood whilst keeping the energy in the space young and fresh.

Inspiration for a blended kitchen style may be found in these 10 elements that are frequently used in transitional kitchen designs.

1. Shaker-style cabinets

Incredibly versatile, clean-edged shaker cabinets form the basis of nearly every transitional kitchen design. This simple, recessed-panel, door style can be adorned with almost any hardware and paired beautifully with nearly all other kitchen elements making it the most popular choice for transitional kitchens.  Shaker style cabinets look great in any colour, as well as in natural wood finishes – which can be achieved through either solid wood or wood veneers.  These types of cabinets are usually finished in polyurethane, which allows homeowners the option of having the cabinet fronts refinished in a different colour should the original design begin to appear outdated.

green transitional kitchen

2. Plank Style Flooring

There is something wonderful about plank-style flooring in a kitchen design. Flooring is the one element that ties the kitchen in with other areas in the home to create a cohesive overall look and feel.  Plank-style flooring comes in so many different materials ranging from traditional solid wood to modern options such as vinyl and ceramic tile with a wood look.  The many different configurations in which plank-style flooring can be laid out give homeowners myriad options to personalise their space, and with some innovative thinking, features such as plank details under a kitchen island can bring a uniqueness to your design.

dark blue transitional kitchen

Source: Harvey Jones

 3. Kitchen Island

Including an island in the layout is quite common when a transitional style kitchen is planned.  Kitchen islands create surface space, a gathering place, and ease of flow, within a space; this may be why they are so popular in transitional kitchens which are so well suited to the bustling activities in family homes.  A kitchen island in a transitional design may or may not include any of the following: appliances, a preparation sink, storage, or seating space; but the island will always have a clean-edged countertop in a natural-looking finish.  


Injecting personality into a kitchen is easily achieved through the choice of backsplash, and in transitional kitchens, it’s all about colour, texture and pattern. Geometric tiles are extremely popular as they provide homeowners with endless playful possibilities.  Simple rectangles may be laid out in a multitude of configurations each with a unique appeal; while hexagons, or squares, may have interesting textures or patterns which when laid out in different ways could create completely contrasting looks. Marbled slabs and exposed brick are popular choices where a more classic look is desired due to their simple yet textural nature.

Traditional Style Kitchen


Colour schemes in transitional kitchens tend to be fairly simple with usually no more than two complementary colours as the base.  Strong colours are quite often used on kitchen cabinets with accessories in varying shades and tones of the complementary colour adding dimension and depth to the space.  In a transitional kitchen, it is advisable to create variation through texture rather than excessive use of colour, although a bright pop of colour here and there can be introduced through artwork, light fixtures, seating, potted plants, or small appliances which add character to the kitchen.

Traditional Style Kitchen

Source: Magnet


Modern pendant lighting is the preferred style for visible lighting fixtures in transitional style kitchens – often paired with downlighting, concealed bulkhead lighting, or LED lighting beneath wall-mounted cabinets to provide sufficient levels of illumination. Pendant lights in a transitional design are more often simple in form than the ornate lighting that can be found in traditional kitchens.

Wall sconces may be paired with the pendants (which are typically installed above the kitchen island) to provide additional ambient lighting within the space and can be either similar or contrasting in style and material.

accenting tile in traditional kitchen

7. Accessible Storage

Keeping things close at hand for ease of flow is what transitional kitchen design is all about. Transitional kitchens are planned around zones and activities within the space to ensure that human energy is conserved and used efficiently.  Pantry cupboards, pull-out pan rails, customized drawer organizers, and hidden bins are just a few of the storage and accesiblity features that are common place in transitional kitchens. 

accenting tile in traditional kitchen

8. Modern Appliances

Shaker style cabinets paired with slick modern appliances bring a contemporary edge to transitional kitchens.  Although, modern appliances with a retro feel are also quite popular.  Installing appliances in a block configuration surrounded by cabinets is quite an effective way to create a focal point in the space – this is a design feature very seldom found in traditional style kitchens, but often used in contemporary designs which is why it works so well in transitional spaces.

Traditional Style Kitchen

Source: Magnet


Natural countertops are one of the more traditional elements found in transitional kitchen design, but unlike the counters of traditional kitchens, the edges of counters in a transitional space will never be embellished.  Simple straight edges on slabs of natural stone (or materials that mimick natural stone) are one of the key elements for a transitional kitchen design.  There are some wonderful, innovative countertop materials on the market these days that work phenomenally well for creating this look!

accenting tile in traditional kitchen

10. Black or Brass Hardware

Black and brass hardware finishes are the most popular choices for transitional kitchens.  The patina of brass brings an air of nostalgia to transitional spaces, whereas the simplicity of black, and hardware in simple clean-lined designs, give the space a more modern appeal.  Ornate, or exceptionally shiny, hardware is not recommended for use in a transitional kitchen, as these elements may tip the design heavily towards either an awkwardly traditional or overtly modern style.  It is always best to keep the visible hardware in this style of kitchen as simple as possible.

accenting tile in traditional kitchen

Source: Unsplash

Thoughts on transitional kitchen styles

Whether beautifully blended, or subtly juxtaposed, the (traditional and contemporary) elements that make up a transitional kitchen give homeowners the ability to truly make this style of kitchen their own.  No other style of kitchen has the ability to be both cutting-edge in design and nostalgic in appeal.  It is no wonder that this is the most popular style in family homes where young children, teens, parents, and grandparents would all like to feel equally at ease in the kitchen.

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