The dictionary defines the word “transition” as the process of changing from one thing into another. When it comes to kitchens, transitional is the latest by-word that you will hear on the lips of keen remodelers and interior designers.
A transitional kitchen means the design straddles both modern and traditional kitchen styles. You could say that a transitional kitchen offers the homeowner the best of both worlds!
This kind of kitchen design is different from the more ubiquitous “one-theme” kitchens because it provides a seamless blend of two styles coming together in harmony.
The Transitional Aesthetic
Transitional kitchens are no accident. Two aesthetics – modern and traditional - are brought together to integrate as one cohesive look. The traditional palette is welcoming and warm, and the modern palette is unfussy and clean. The two styles complement each other and bring out the best in each other as well.
These two components can read as both styles when blended together, yet they have to be mixed cohesively so that the key notes of the looks aren’t jarring. Here are some of the hallmarks of a classic, well-done transitional kitchen.
1. A mix of man-made and natural materials
Considered to be one of the cornerstones of the transitional style. The kitchen can feature both wood and steel, glass and stone, or marble and laminate. For example, the kitchen cabinets might be made of wood, the floors of concrete, the appliances metallic, and the countertops of marble. The space will seem cohesive and referential, while appearing industrial and warm at the same time.
2. Only a neutral color palette
In general, a transitional kitchen features shades and tones on the neutral side of the color palette. A pop of brighter colors might enter in the form of a bowl of fruit of flowers, but the overall look is one of sophisticated timelessness.
Neutral color doesn’t mean boring! This is because the textures make everything stand out. Think tile surfaces, polished stone, rough materials like coir as mats and holders, pottery accents, and metallic or matte appliances. Visual interest abounds in a transitional kitchen.
4. Low Profile Cabinetry
Wood cabinets are one of the signature looks of the transitional kitchen, but they have to be streamlined and low profile. If embellishments such as elaborate hardware or intricate carving were added to the cabinets, it would read as fussy and overwrought. However, wood cabinets are the one feature that often makes the transitional kitchen so recognizable.
Cabinetry doesn’t always have to be in shades of brown. A stripped white wood or black stained wood brings the textural warmth a kitchen needs. Add some recessed handles and voilà, you have a gorgeous modern/traditional space.
What can keep your kitchen from looking too modern are the materials you use. Adding wooden cabinetry instead of lacquer, laminate, or glass is what brings the tradition to the table. If you are re-doing the kitchen in a pre-war apartment block or mid-20th century detached home, the features of a transitional kitchen are what can pay homage to the architecture while bringing in elements of modernity as well.
5. Blending the Best of Old and New
If you love the idea of having a super-modern, state of the art wine chiller standing in your kitchen, but can’t bear to say goodbye to the stressed oak butcher’s block you’ve had forever, then you have a great idea of how the transitional kitchen aesthetic works.
The definition of this particular design is to borrow elements of the modern thematic while keeping those key traditional pieces. A brushed metal kitchen island standing on art deco tiles, Perspex chairs pulled up to an antique breakfast nook, refurbished antique chairs at a marble textured breakfast nook - you get the idea.
Using Transitional Elements is What Saves a Kitchen From Being Boring
Blending both modern and traditional styles in a kitchen can be a really exciting undertaking during a makeover. If you own a traditional or modern kitchen currently, and think it’s time to sweep away the tired aspects of it, have a close inspection of what you want to keep. You’ll hear this a lot when people talk about their renovations: “It was time for a change, but I couldn’t let go of my retro refrigerator/Victorian dish drainer/Italian marble countertops.”
Transitional kitchens mean you get to keep what you love while sweeping away the bits you don’t. If your appliances are out of date, you can change them for new ones and it will only take a few more tweaks to eliminate that clash of shiny, new appliances with an older kitchen layout. Try adding some modern light fittings, bring in some metallic chairs, or even go the whole hog and concrete over the floor.
What Might Throw Off My Transitional Kitchen Style?
This is a frequently asked question, and you’ll be pleased to know that the answer is: Not a lot of things can throw off the look of a true transitional kitchen! The only mix that would create a strange juxtaposition between the two styles would be to create a space where the appliances are old and battered.
If you have taken the time to have beautiful new cabinets installed and positioned them next to art deco tiled walls and pull-down brushed steel light fittings, thirty year old appliances and a cheap microwave sitting on the countertop will totally throw off the look that you are trying to achieve.
The most exciting take-away from this is setting out to renovate your kitchen with no strings attached. You can use your entire box of crayons (figuratively speaking) when it comes to planning how to get yourself from tired and boring, to fresh and transitional.
This look is so popular because it usually allows for only a few sections of the kitchen to be renovated. If you own a traditional kitchen space, there’s no need to rip the whole thing out and start over. Keep the best and change up the parts you think need refreshing – in true transitional style.