Whether you are looking to remodel your kitchen or build a brand new one, you’ll want to do as much research as possible on the particular style you have in mind before starting your project.
Maybe you’re not sure what style you want to go with and just want to browse through some ideas. That’s fine as well! The more research you do and inspiration you draw from examples, the better position you’ll be to get the right look.
Kitchen styles can vary widely, depending on current trends, geography or simply personal tastes. What follows is a list of some of the different styles of kitchens that are available today, many of which have a long history and tradition.
While kitchens can be an expression of individual tastes, there are certain common features that define specific periods or design styles. Let’s take a look at these features and styles now in greater detail.
Modern kitchens are characterized by clean geometric forms that are intentionally lacking ornamentation. Surfaces are sleek, crisp, and linear. Layouts tend to be more open with a greater emphasis on form and function.
Modern color schemes tend to use light, neutral colors, though often times accent colors can be used to add some pop. White marble or light shades of granite or quartz are common in modern kitchens.
Cabinetry tends to be more open, and often shelving is used in place of standard cabinets. Hardware is usually simple with crisp edges, and sometimes, no hardware is used at all for a sleeker more minimalist look.
Because of the clean edges and lack of ornamentation, modern design can seem lacking in warmth. Sometimes wood is used in combination with modern materials to soften up the feel and provide some warmth.
Contemporary kitchen design is often used interchangeably with modern. While the two share many similarities in terms of a clean, minimalist aesthetic, there are a few differences that distinguish one from another.
Contemporary design is constantly evolving. It represents current trends in design, based on the concept of modernity. Modern design, on the other hand, is specific to a specific time period during the early to mid-1900’s. It never changes.
Metallic accents are used in combination with light neutral colors, wood, synthetic resin plastics, and recycled materials mixed in Portland cement. Stainless steel has been the metal of choice in contemporary design, however, brass is gaining in popularity as well.
Similar to modern kitchens, contemporary kitchen layouts tend to be more open with an emphasis on functionality. Cabinetry is sometimes open and shelving is often used in combination with cabinet units.
Traditional kitchens offer a more formal and classic look, reminiscent of American and European homes of the 1700’s, 1800’s and early 1900’s. This kitchen style tends to be very elegant and ornate with a more formal layout.
Cabinets are typically made with rich wood materials such as mahogany, cherry, and walnut. They also are coated with glazes or antique finishes rather than a natural finish. Moldings and trims are usually highly ornate.
Appliances and fixtures are, for the most part, antique in style and made with distinctive finishes. Hardware can often be made from rugged metals such as copper and brass, though stainless steel can be incorporated as well if the detailing is traditional.
Traditional kitchens usually have a neutral color pallet, with warm beige and deep cherries dominating the space. Countertops are typically made of luxurious materials such as marble, quartz and granite.
The craftsman style originated in the early 20th century as a response to the highly decorative and ornate furniture of the time. The style repudiates ornamentation and instead favors quality craftsmanship in its place.
In kitchens, the craftsman style translates to furniture with simple straight lines and minimal, to no ornamentation. High-quality construction in cabinetry is emphasized as well, as is functionality.
Craftsman kitchens provide a warm feel. Simplicity and comfort are also central to the design philosophy. Wood is the most commonly used material in craftsman style kitchens, including countertop applications.
Wood elements are never painted. Natural or stained woods are typically used instead. Oak, maple or pine are the most commonly used woods in craftsman style cabinetry. Hickory kitchen cabinets are also used.
The wood tones are usually complemented by surrounding materials in earth tones such as wood browns, greens, and rusty orange. Handcrafted tiles and hardware are also typical of craftsman kitchens.
Mediterranean kitchens capture the warm, sunny, easygoing nature of the European Mediterranean. By incorporating warm, earthen hues, Mediterranean kitchens aim to capture the feel of the region.
Natural untreated dark wood and handmade, hand-painted mosaic tiles are commonly used to add some visual interest. Unlike other styles which incorporate more linear forms, Mediterranean kitchens make ample use of curvilinear shapes and ornate patterns.
Wrought iron is the metal of choice in Mediterranean kitchens. Often used on cabinet doors or chandeliers, wrought iron has become synonymous with the Mediterranean kitchen style.
In terms of wall surfaces, exposed brick and stucco are commonly used in addition to dark stained woods. Exposed wooden ceiling beams are also symbolic of Mediterranean kitchens.
Farmhouse kitchens combine centuries-old styling with elegant rustic detailing. Both practical and unassuming, farmhouse kitchens tend to offer stylistic allure with an emphasis on functionality.
Open shelving is commonly used in farmhouse kitchens to give them a more open feel and make them more roomy and accessible. Glass-door cabinets can have a similar effect.
Exposed kitchenware, including pots, pans, and other cooking utensils are often placed out in the open not only for easy access but also as part of the kitchen décor.
Another prominent feature of the farmhouse-style kitchen is the use of beadboard on walls and other kitchen surfaces. Relatively inexpensive, beadboard can have a significant effect on creating a farmhouse look.
Farmhouse sinks, as their name would suggest, are a central part of the farmhouse kitchen style. They are deep sinks and generously proportioned with an apron that projects beyond the countertop. Rustic style faucets are often used in conjunction to add to the effect.
Free-standing cabinets are also associated with farmhouse kitchens. They can improve functionality while at the same time helping to give the kitchen the desired look. Hardwood flooring, often distressed wood, can also help add to the vintage style.
Lighting fixtures can be either ceiling hung or flush-ceiling mounted and typically feature metallic materials such as copper or wrought-iron and sometimes galvanized metal for a more worn look.
Farmhouse color schemes tend to be soft and muted. White is commonly used for cabinets and walls, but light gray, powdery and greyish blues or even lighter yellows and cream colors can work as well.
Cottage kitchens share many common design features with the farmhouse style. They tend to be colorful with vintage-inspired features. Wicker furniture and accessories with patterned fabric are often used in cottage kitchens, a hallmark of the style.
Cottage style kitchens offer a relaxed and unpretentious feel in contrast to more formal styles. They hearken back to simpler times and carefree living, where the kitchen was the focal point of the home.
Cottage kitchens also tend to be more utilitarian and practical in nature. Open shelving is common for this reason since it allows cooks quick access to dishes, cooking utensils, and other accessories.
Beaboards are synonymous with the cottage style. The groove style of paneling adds immediate architectural interest. Color palettes are light and airy, including white, soft yellow, light blue, or light beige hues.
Another characteristic of cottage kitchens are the furniture-style cabinet details. Freestanding armoires were used before fixed cabinetry, and often modern cottage kitchens use bun feet and corbels under cabinetry to evoke that feeling.
Countertops are typically natural wood, and hardwood flooring is common as well. Farmhouse style sinks are used in cottage style kitchens. With extra-deep bowls to accommodate large pots and stacks of plates.
Coastal kitchens capture the cool beach vibe of coastal regions. Light hues and ample lighting along with an open, airy kitchen layout create a serene coastal feel. Neutral colors are commonly used in combination with blue hues to create a cool and calming effect.
Typically, cabinets are painted in a light neutral color, white in particular, and shades of blue are used as highlights on backsplashes, countertops, smaller furniture pieces, accessories, ceilings, and floor tiles to create the illusion of sea water.
Tiles with waves or seashells can help create that distinctive beachy feel which is common in coastal kitchens. Accessories and decorative items with sand, seashells, or starfish can also help enhance the look.
Wood elements, including driftwood and ship deck, can be used in combination with other beach motifs to recreate the characteristics of the coast. Movable furniture pieces such as high chairs are often made of wood.
Rustic kitchens are defined by the battered, worn-out appearance of cabinetry, flooring, furniture, and accessories. These are purposeful design features that are meant to provide authenticity to the rustic design motif.
Rustic kitchens typically make use of reclaimed wood, antique metals, wrought iron, and vintage glass. Often, rustic kitchens can resemble mountain lodges or log cabins. Ceilings and floors are commonly made of weathered wood.
Earth tones and neutral color combinations with very little contrast are typical of rustic kitchens. Browns, rust orange, deep reds, forest greens, dark yellow hues and off-white or tan are common colors used.
Wood types used in rustic kitchens include pine, hickory, or alder. Stains are sometimes used to add warmth to cabinetry or furnishings, though a more natural look can be achieved with a clear varnish to help protect the wood.
The rustic theme can vary depending on the region. Often, designs will incorporate local features, history, and geography creating a greater sense of authenticity. Southwestern, Central Plains, Mountain West, Appalachian, are among the more common regional styles in the United States.
While country kitchens can be rustic as well, they tend to include a wider range of design elements. In fact, modern features often make their way into country style kitchens as do more traditional design elements.
Often you’ll see a mix of the two combined with materials and decorative elements that relate to the countryside. Color combinations in country kitchens also tend to vary widely, with vibrant hues and warm neutrals being used throughout.
Woodworking and wooden furnishings are common in country kitchens. Oak is the most used type of wood used. It is often stained in a variety of colors, ranging from cherry for a more formal look or white for a more casual, simpler feel.
Distressed wood can work well, as can antique icons that help enhance the look. Handcrafted furniture and accessories also help to keep the look authentic. Open shelving is common to allow antique bowls and dishware to show.
Beadboard is common as well as is wooden cabinetry with tarnished brass. Exposed copper pots hanging from a wrought iron rack along with antique cooking appliances on the wall can help complete the look.
While having a cohesive look that closely adheres to a particular style can result in great design, there is no reason you can’t get creative and experiment a bit with ideas and materials as long as they compliment each other well.
Part of the fun of coming up with a design for your kitchen is experimentation. If you’re going for the country look, salvaged antiques that you find while traveling or at garage sales can become centerpieces in the space.
You don’t necessarily have to stick to one particular style, era or color. As long as you connect different items and style by a single common thread, you can make it work. If you select different styles, sometimes you can use color to tie them together.
Pick your pieces and materials strategically so that they help accent the room, but not overwhelm it. As with any other room, avoid clutter. Most importantly, have fun personalizing your kitchen to suit your individual style.
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