Aha… The Difference Between Traditional Kitchens & Transitional Kitchens Finally Explained!

Posted on | September 10, 2014 | No Comments

While the rich beauty, history and charm of traditional kitchens have made them enduringly popular with North Carolina homeowners, many people are shifting their attention to the clean and streamlined styling that transitional kitchens have to offer. North Carolina Design wanted to know – what it is that truly defines traditional and transitional kitchens? To find out, we talked to talented and knowledgeable Charlotte kitchen designer Jeneane Beaver of Walker Woodworking. Walker Woodworking is a family-owned team of skilled craftsmen and designers, known for their exceptionally crafted custom cabinetry.

Images Courtesy of Walker Woodworking ©

“Traditional kitchens are warm and classic in their look, and they have elements of English and French styles,” she explains. “They also have a lot of carvings and other ornate details that make them feel like a more handcrafted space. Traditional cabinetry features raised panels and heavy mouldings, and the cabinets tend to be staggered at different heights. Kitchen islands tend to have heavy detailing, heavy corbels and legs.”

Traditional kitchens also tend to be colorful – in a subdued way. “We use a mix of colors for traditional kitchens, but in muted tones,” Jeneane notes. “If we use green it’s a soft green. You won’t see anything bold or over-the-top.”

Natural elements play a big part in traditional kitchens. “Almost every aspect of a traditional kitchen has a natural element to it,” Jeneane affirms. “You’re likely to have a cobbled stone or natural stone backsplash, as well as natural stone or wood floors. The appliances are typically integrated into the design with wooden appliance panels so that the stainless steel is hidden. And the wood cabinetry and flooring in traditional kitchens tends to be stained in natural wood tones.”

In contrast to the highly decorative style of traditional kitchens, transitional kitchens focus more on a clean, streamlined appearance. “Transitional kitchens have very few ornate details and very few carvings,” says Jeneane. “The cabinets have a more European look, and tend to feature a frameless build method in which you see none of the box, just the drawer and door fronts. The cabinet heights aren’t staggered; they tend to be at one height all around the room.”

You are likely to find a more limited color palette in a transitional kitchen than you would in a traditional kitchen. “Transitional kitchens tend to feature neutral colors, and finishes tend to be either very dark or very, very light,” Jeneane affirms. “Backsplashes and countertops have less color, less movement and a cleaner look.”

Jeanene notes that transitional kitchens tend to have a bit more of a sleek, industrial feel than traditional kitchens. “Transitional kitchens do have some natural elements, but they also feature man-made elements that give them industrial ties. You’ll see more ceramic and glass, as opposed to natural stone, and exposed stainless steel, rather than integrated appliances.”

Jeneane appreciates both kitchen styles, but her own personal preference leans toward transitional. “I like some of the embellishments and mouldings in traditional style kitchens, and I like the staggered cabinet heights, but I do prefer a more transitional look for my own kitchen. My kitchen has simple cabinetry in a dark finish, a more contemporary glass mosaic backsplash tile, and simple granite countertops without a lot of movement. There’s something about a cleaner, simpler style that just really appeals to me.”

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