Updated for 2023

Planning a kitchen renovation can be a lot of fun, but it’s also a bit confusing. There are so many different designs! However, once you understand the top kitchen styles, you’ll be better equipped to work with a designer and create your own very personal kitchen look.

We’ve defined, characterized and described each kitchen design to show readers the impact each style can have on the feel and look of your kitchen:

  1. Traditional
  2. Contemporary
  3. Transitional
  4. Modern
  5. Classic

Traditional Kitchen Design

Traditional Kitchen Style Ottawa

Definition: Traditional kitchen style is old-fashioned, ornate, expansive, and somewhat formal.

Characteristics: The hallmark of a traditional kitchen is elaborate furniture-style cabinetry, possibly enhanced by ”legs.” Cabinet doors often feature either raised panels or insets of glass or metal mesh. Mouldings and similar architectural details embellish the kitchen’s appearance.

Colours Used: Deep rich colours such as browns and beiges predominate.

Materials Used: Materials are usually natural – more suited for a natural design kitchen. Wood is de rigueur for cabinetry, perhaps with rubbed brass hardware. Granite is popular for countertops. Sinks are often porcelain, apron-front or farmhouse style, with a decorative tile backsplash which may include a mosaic or other artistic detail.

Contemporary Kitchen Design

Contemporary Kitchen Style Ottawa

Definition: Contemporary kitchen design is continually evolving, incorporating styles that are currently on-trend.

Characteristics: A successfully designed contemporary kitchen tends to contain a playfully curated mix of the best fashions of various eras. Presently, there is an emphasis on openness, both open floor plan and open shelving instead of kitchen cabinets. Plenty of counter space and in-kitchen seating is essential; contemporary kitchens multitask as areas to gather the family and entertain guests.

Colours Used: In contemporary design, popular colours are a dramatic combination of dark cabinets with white counters. A few splashes of strong colour accent the room, in the form of bright hand towels or wall art.

Materials Used: Kitchen island materials are often granite or marble in light shades. Metal is quite evident, in stainless steel appliances, brushed nickel hardware, and chrome stools.

Transitional Kitchen Design

Transitional Kitchen Style Ottawa

Definition: Transitional kitchen design style is best described as balanced; it blends the best of traditional and contemporary.

Characteristics: This design feels warm and welcoming. While generally simple (Shaker-style cabinets with plain hardware are a favourite), it usually includes one or two special features such as a statement light fixture.

Colours Used: Serene neutral or pastel colours help set the transitional mood.

Materials Used: Wood is favoured for both cabinets and kitchen flooring. Countertops are constructed of natural material – marble, for example. Backsplash materials tend to be low-key, often classic subway tiles, although these may be offset or used in other slightly out-of-the-box ways.

Modern Kitchen Design

Modern Kitchen Style Ottawa

Definition: Modern kitchen style follows the Modernist design movement of the 1950s.

Characteristics: Modern kitchens are sleek, emphasizing strong horizontal lines, frameless cabinetry, plenty of negative space, and minimal clutter. The focus is heavily on fine craftsmanship since there are no frilly details to distract the eye.

Colours Used: White is abundant.

Materials Used: Materials like high-quality woods, rather than embellishments, are uber important. Reflective surfaces are common, whether lacquered slab cabinets or glossy quartz counters.

Classic Kitchen Design

Classic Kitchen Style Ottawa

Definition: Classic kitchen design incorporates many of the principles of traditional kitchens, but in a simpler, more restrained way.

Characteristics: A classic-style kitchen is fresh, light, and comfortable, offering universal appeal and timeless value.

Colours Used: White or cream is used abundantly (but the two never appear together), as a low-key background to an active kitchen. The one contrasting colour is often black, grey, or brown.

Materials Used: The focal point in a classic kitchen tends to be a marble or other stone counter, with a luxe honed (matte) finish or bullnose edge. Cabinets are made of wood, with a small tasteful accent such as a narrow strip of bead moulding.

Find Your Own Style

Now you’ve got the basics. The next move? Talking with a kitchen designer to decide which elements work best for you.

Contact Laurysen’s experienced kitchen designers to create a kitchen you’ll love.