Just like your favorite clothing or music, kitchens come in many styles. Since a kitchen remodel represents a long-term investment, choosing just the right style for your new kitchen style is an important first step. Knowing your style tastes will help you better navigate color, finish and material options at each step in the process. That’s why it’s a good idea to establish your new kitchen style right out of the gate!
Generally speaking, it will help to get a sense of the “broad design strokes” you will be using in your updated kitchen.
For example, do you prefer a more traditional kitchen or a more modern look? Are you more at home in a rustic space or an ornate and gilded room? Making these decisions early on will help you begin to narrow down your choices on everything from wall color to cabinet doors.
To take it one step further, after you determine an overall style, let’s say “Country,” then selecting a specific design theme like ‘English Country’ or ‘Farmhouse,’ gives you even more of a design road map.
Style Tip: Mixing and matching styles typically is called eclectic, while a look that blends traditional and contemporary elements is considered transitional.
Here are 5 major kitchen styles to help you get inspired:
1. Traditional – Formal, Elegant and Classic
Traditional kitchens have a formal, elegant look characteristic of American and European homes of the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. Expect to see:
- Crown and rope molding, fluting, corbels and other ornamentation and trim
- Cabinets in cherry, walnut and mahogany
- Raised panel cabinet door styles
- Antique fixtures and appliances
- Wood, stone or other natural materials
Victorian: Elegance is the catchword when it comes to Victorian kitchens. Cathedral arch doors and raised panels come into play, accented by ornate molding and trim. Dark and heavy woods are best when it comes to the cabinets.
Italianate: Much like the Victorian style, an Italianate kitchen relies on elegant cabinetry details, especially those of molding and trim. Generally painted cream with intricate raised paneling, these cabinets boast inlays, rope molding, and custom carved reliefs.
Georgian: Formal is the catchword when designing a Georgian kitchen. Look to woods like cherry, walnut and mahogany for your cabinets. Square panel raised doors are typical, as are heavy crown molding and stacked cabinetry that reaches the ceiling. Black accents (such as a painted black island) are not uncommon.
2. Country – Cheery, Welcoming, With Many Variations
Country kitchens are cheery and welcoming, with light and/or bright colors, painted and glazed cabinets, woven baskets, floral motifs, and decorative shelving and molding.
Expect to see:
- Floral, checked, striped, gingham and plaid patterns
- Window and wall treatments in fabrics such as chintz and calico
- Beadboard wainscoting and paneling
- Painted, glazed and distressed cabinet finishes
- Chicken wire or metal cabinet inserts
- Handmade, hand-forged, homespun look
- Antiques and flea-market finds
French Country: Framed cabinets in either raised or recessed panels outfit a room with French country flair. Cherry and oak cabinetry-glazed, distressed or pickled for an authentic finish-reign supreme, though pastel painted cabinetry is also a wise choice. Decorative shelving, the use of beadboard, a butler’s wall or pantry and plate racks will add to the genuine French Country feel.
English Country: Slightly more proper than French country, English country style relies on a square cabinet design accented by curves. To maintain a handcrafted look, light or natural cabinets in pine or oak are prevalent. A sizable wooden mantle range hood, wood cutouts in valances, and intricate crown and rope molding add authenticity.
Farmhouse: The words “wood” and “heirloom” should guide your decorative decisions when creating a farmhouse kitchen. Stained wood, both light and dark, fit in well, though excessive glazing and finishing can create a look that’s a little too complicated.
Cottage: Consider driftwood-like finishes for a seaside cottage feel. If you’re leaning more toward a lake look, a slightly darker (but still natural and wooden) cabinet is your best bet.
3. Contemporary – Modern, Minimalist and Geometric
Contemporary kitchens tend to be described as modern, minimalist and geometric. The characteristics include horizontal lines, asymmetry and a lack of molding and other ornamentation. Materials often are man-made rather than natural: stainless steel, laminate, glass, concrete, chrome and lacquer.
Contemporary encompasses styles from the 1940s to the present, with Europe-especially Italy, Germany and Scandinavia-leading the way.
Expect to see:
- Frameless cabinets with oversized hardware
- Cabinet material: stainless steel; white or bold-colored laminate; or subtly grained woods such as birch, ash or maple
- Cabinet door style: slab or horizontal lift-up
- Frosted glass inserts
- Stainless steel and other metallic accents
- Curved cabinets and counters
4. Rustic – Bring Regional American Flair to Your Kitchen
Rustic kitchens often have a regional American flair: Adirondack or Pacific Northwest, for example. Others resemble a lodge or log cabin.
Expect to see:
- Wood paneling and ceiling beams
- Knotty pine, hickory and alder woods
- Leather pulls
- Warm, rich earth tones and reds, greens and yellows
Log Cabin/Mountain: Try bold and natural choices, like warm cabinetry with a strong grain (such as knotty pine or alder) stained in reds, greens, or yellows. Wide rails and stiles (such as those of a Shaker door) enhance the look.
Rustic Country: Warm hickory wood tones shine on recessed flat panel doors. A hearth-style mantle hood, hand-carved turnings and furniture-like pieces bring a rustic country space to life.
5. Transitional (Contemporary mixed with Traditional)
Transitional Kitchens include elements of both traditional and contemporary design. Eclectic in nature, they mix natural and man-made materials as well as finishes and textures.
For example, an Arts & Crafts or Shaker kitchen can be made transitional rather than traditional by lightening the color palette, adding bamboo flooring, and showcasing appliances rather than hiding them behind wooden panels.
Molding and fixtures aren’t elaborate but do have some ornamentation.
Don’t Forget to Make it Your Own!
The most important part about planning a new kitchen is remembering to make your kitchen design your own. It will function for your family for many years to come, so it’s best to match your specific needs with your unique tastes. If you need advice or inspiration, stop by GNH Lumber’s Design Showroom in Latham to explore the kitchen possibilities. And don’t forget to have fun!
Sources: “Design Styles”, Kitchens.com
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