Pick a Kitchen Style in 15 Minutes Flat

Choosing among Kitchen Styles doesn't have to be complicated or take forever...  
First answer this question:

Do I generally prefer Modern or Traditional styles?

Picking kitchen styles to suit your taste is not too hard, I promise!  First start with choosing whether you like Modern or Traditional styles best.  This is the easy question because most likely you already know. 

You either like tried and true, or cutting edge.  If you're not sure, just look in your closet.
If many of your clothes and shoes would have been in style years ago, and will still be in style years from now, you generally prefer Traditional Styles.

If many of your clothes and shoes are the latest fashion style, and weren't available a few years ago, you prefer Modern Styles. 

Both styles make beautiful kitchens, and have several sub-categories.  And there's an in between, called Transitional.  But don't worry, we'll get to all that in a minute. 

Classic Traditional


Now for step two: Assess the current situation...

Does my current home reflect my preference for Modern or Traditional style?

If the answer is yes, then you can go full steam ahead with your overall preference.  If the answer is no, proceed a bit more carefully.

For example, say you live in a traditional style home, but you love modern style kitchens.  To preserve the resale value of your home, you'll need to keep the kitchen basically the same style as the house overall.

Many new homes are built to cater to both traditional and modern fans by using a transitional style kitchen.  It has elements of both and has a wide range of appeal. 

For those in the situation of living in a home style that doesn't match their ideal, I recommend a transitional kitchen. 

Also, for anyone who doesn't know or can't decide if they favor traditional or modern- you have a good mix of classic and trendy in your closet- stick with a transitional kitchen for a look you'll love.

If you strongly prefer either a Modern or Traditional style, now you simply narrow down your selection from your choices of subcategories.

Are you Traditional?  Read on.  Modern?  Skip Ahead...

Transitional? Read both and cherry pick the elements you prefer...

Who Wants a Traditional Kitchen?

For anyone who loves classics that never go out of style, a traditional kitchen offers the best option. They can be formal or informal, domestic or international!

There are so many types of traditional kitchens. They may look completely different, but all hold an appreciation for the past and a sense of history about them. 

Older or antique construction methods are expected, including raised panel doors and traditional joinery (look for dovetail joints on drawers for the ultimate in strength).  Pine, cherry wood, and oak cabinets are the most common woods, but any natural wood will work.

A warm stain color, beadboard backsplash, and furniture details suggest a comfortable country home.

Do you want a more formal and elegant space? Try the Classic Traditional style.

If you like traditional with an informal mood (and finishes that are better at hiding wear and tear!), try one of these on for size:

*American Country (can include Farmhouse)
*Italian Country (Tuscan)
*French Country
*Scandanavian Country
*Rustic Styles
*Arts and Crafts (includes Craftsman and Bungalow)
*Cottage (Country or Beach)

Choose one of the general kitchen styles above, and you can tweak it to your liking.

Who Wants a Modern Kitchen Style?

You're always on the lookout for the latest and greatest style.  Why not for your kitchen?

Everyone knows that Europeans offer some of the best in modern design style worldwide.  But the Modern kitchen style offers several sub-categories, too.  Which is for you?

First decide if you want a formal and elegant feel, or more casual and relaxed feeling (I suggest the latter for households with children).

If it's a formal feeling you're after, try one of these:
*Modern European

For a more relaxed version of Modern:
*Warm Contemporary

Modern kitchens can use any durable material and construction technique, but slab doors and unusual materials are not uncommon here.   

Kitchen Style Rules are Made to be Broken

Quick Test!  What cabinet style is this?

Answer: Transitional.  The flat panel in the drawer (instead of a slab drawer) leans toward modern, especially with the modern brushed nickel pull. The raised panel door is traditional.  Modern + Traditional = Transitional Style 

People get too wound up about what to call a particular style, in my opinion.  What is Classic to one person may be a little too Modern for another to even resemble Classic! 
And very few kitchens are purely one style.  Nearly every kitchen "breaks the rules" a little. 

And that's the fun of it!

Even my Mema had a modern white coffee maker in her country kitchen, probably on the same counter where she canned green beans and tomatoes from the garden out back.

So what's the point to this exercise?  To create a kitchen style that works from a design standpoint as a unified whole, you need to choose elements that are mostly similar. 

In other words, most of your choices for cabinets, sinks, appliances, countertops, colors, flooring, lighting and backsplashes...

Should support your overall kitchen design style. 

Otherwise, you will have an eclectic kitchen, which runs the risk of having no clear design direction (yikes!).
And when I say support the style, I mean the item is either a hallmark of the style (like a farmhouse sink is to farmhouse style), or at least it doesn't oppose it. 

And when I say most of your choices, I mean about 80%.  So if you took a photo of your kitchen, aim for at least 80% of the photo to have a very similar style, or a style that doesn't oppose the main one.  For example, you don't want rustic cabinets in a modern kitchen.

Shiny, modern granite floors and counter tops, with modern stainless appliances highlight this kitchen vignette in a showroom.  This is an example that doesn't pass the test- the modern design surrounding the distressed kitchen cabinets makes them look out of place.

When deciding if an element for your kitchen design supports the style you are after, just ask, "would this be totally off-limits if the kitchen was purely the style I want?" As long as it's not off limits, you can use it.  (But remember large items contribute more to the style of the kitchen because of their size.  Keep kitchen cabinets in the same style as the overall kitchen style you want!)

Kitchen Styles: You Passed!

You now have enough knowledge on kitchen styles to start designing your kitchen.

Learn more about designing a kitchen for activities (not just the work triangle!), or see Kitchen Interior Design 101 for more on designing the look of your kitchen.

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