Kitchen Design…Transitional vs. Contemporary vs. Traditional. What’s the difference?
Transitional cabinetry is the merger of contemporary and traditional. Here is one way you can figure it out. If the kitchen cabinet door is not a traditional door, with heavy or multiple moldings which you could describe as ornate, and you suspect it could be contemporary; ask yourself if it reminds you of a traditional style. If it does then it could be called transitional. If a contemporary door in no way reminds you of a traditional door then the cabinet door is simply contemporary.
A leading institution in the Kitchen and Bath industry is known as RICKI which stands for Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence. At the International Builder Show and National Kitchen and Bath show RICKI presented findings from one of its many surveys of professionals in bathroom & kitchen design, interior design and Architecture as well as home owners. “Transitional” is now the most popular theme in design for the first time, beating out Traditional.
Architects, Interior Designers and Kitchen & Bath Designers bandy this term transitional design about but few can define it. Now you can.
Not only is it the merger of contemporary and traditional it should also be simple and practical not sleek or shiny. If it were a space it would be open but it would not necessarily be minimalistic. So a Craftsman or Shaker cabinet door is now transitional despite being historically traditional.
Traditional Cabinetry Design think Queen Victoria 18th century England, French or Colonial American country side. Comfortable warm and inviting, detailed wood work which you can see in the plinth block in the picture to the left. Rich wood work and neutral tones. Obviously nothing is more neutral than off white. Symmetry is another attribute of traditional design note the toe kick valance.
We suspect that transitional has become popular because it is safe. Our kitchen designers sometimes joke about the conservative nature of our
Washington Metro Design Build clientele. “A couple comes in and insists that they are “contemporary” and want to look at only contemporary doors. Four weeks later their kitchen design includes a craftsmen recessed panel door style. Another couple comes in and describes themselves as “traditional” and they only want to look at ornate molded door styles. Four weeks later their kitchen design includes a craftsmen recessed panel door. We conclude transitional cabinetry is safe.
Here are several more examples of bathroom & kitchen design with traditional, transitional & contemporary styles.
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