Transitional Kitchen Design – How To Get The Look

When it comes to designing a kitchen, there are countless styles out there for inspiration. From the sleek lines of modern design to the cosy charm of the farmhouse style, the choices are as varied as they are attractive.

But what if you’re searching for a kitchen style that beautifully bridges the old with the new, and stands the test of time while still boasting a contemporary edge? Enter 👉 Transitional Kitchen Design.

In this post, I’ll discuss the key features of transitional kitchen design, provide ideas for incorporating this style into your kitchen, explore the benefits of this design approach, and offer tips on how to achieve a transitional kitchen design.

Let’s get into it!

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What is a transitional kitchen?

Transitional kitchen design is a style that blends traditional and modern design elements to create a seamless and balanced look. This style takes the best of both traditional and modern design styles and combines them to create a unique and sophisticated look.

It typically features neutral colour palettes with warm, muted colours, such as off-whites, beige, grey, taupe and cream. The focus is on creating a cosy and welcoming space with the use of natural materials, such as wood and stone. The cabinetry is often simple and sleek, with clean lines and minimal decorative elements.

Image – deVOL

At its core, a transitional kitchen embraces the warmth and welcoming feel of traditional design while infusing the clean, streamlined elements of contemporary style. Picture the sophistication of modern design merged with the comfort of classic features; that’s what transitional kitchen design offers.

This balanced fusion of styles results in a timeless yet trendy kitchen that feels open and inviting, but also functional and efficient. While the style is characterized by its neutrality and subtlety, that’s not to say it’s dull or boring. On the contrary, a transitional kitchen stands out because of its simplicity and the ease with which it accommodates a mix of natural and artificial materials, classic and modern elements.

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Key Features of Transitional Kitchen Design

Now that we have a better understanding of what the transitional kitchen style is, let’s dive deeper into its key features.

Combination of modern and traditional elements

As previously mentioned, transitional-style kitchens incorporate elements of both modern and traditional kitchen styles. This balance of classic and contemporary design creates a timeless and sophisticated look that is both inviting and functional.

From ornate, traditional moldings to sleek, contemporary countertops, a transitional kitchen balances different shapes and forms in an uncluttered yet engaging space.

Neutral colour palettes (typically)

Neutral colour palettes are a hallmark of transitional kitchen design. These colours provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere while also serving as a backdrop for the various textures and patterns that are often incorporated into this style. Earth tones, such as warm whites, beige, grey, and cream, are popular choices for transitional kitchen colour schemes.

However, that’s not to say that darker colours can’t be used as well. Soft dark greys and blues can also work very well. Especially as a contrasting kitchen island colour. It’s more about avoiding very bright, bold and over-saturated colours.

Blend of materials

You’ll often find a mix of natural elements like wood and stone paired with manufactured materials like glass and stainless steel. This blend of materials provides a sense of warmth and organic beauty that complements the overall design.

For example, hardwood floors or marble countertops can add a natural element to the kitchen, while metal hardware and fixtures provide a touch of modernity.

Simple and sleek cabinetry

Cabinets are typically simple and sleek, with clean lines and minimal decorative elements. The focus is on creating a cohesive look that blends seamlessly with the other design elements in the kitchen. Think shaker-style doors or flat-panel cabinets without excessive detailing.

Integration of technology

Transitional kitchens often incorporate modern technology seamlessly. High-tech appliances, smart home technology, and other contemporary conveniences are smoothly integrated into the design, often integrated or hidden behind traditional styling or cabinetry for a streamlined look.

This can include everything from a smart refrigerator and state-of-the-art cooking appliances to under-cabinet lighting systems and touch-free taps. The key is to make sure these high-tech elements blend naturally with the overall aesthetic of the kitchen, maintaining the seamless fusion of old and new that defines the transitional style.

Transitional kitchen style design deVOL
Image – deVOL

Benefits of Transitional Kitchen Design

Selecting a kitchen design style is no small decision, and it’s important to consider the multitude of benefits that a transitional kitchen design can offer. Here are some of the top benefits:

  • Timeless design: It strikes a balance between traditional and modern styles, creating a timeless and sophisticated look that will never go out of style. This means that your kitchen will remain relevant and stylish for years to come, regardless of changing design trends.

  • Versatility: This style of kitchen can be adapted to suit a wide range of design preferences. Whether you prefer a rustic farmhouse look or a sleek, modern design, transitional kitchen design can be customized to fit your style.

  • Comfortable and inviting: Transitional kitchen design prioritizes comfort and cosiness, making it an inviting space for both cooking and socializing. This design style is ideal for those who enjoy spending time in the kitchen and entertaining guests.

  • Increased home value: Perhaps it shouldn’t be your first thought, however, investing in this style of kitchen can increase the value of your home. This design style is popular among homebuyers, making it a wise investment for those looking to sell their home in the future.

  • Neutral palette to add personal touches: The use of neutral colours not only creates an inviting, warm space but also allows for easy updates. You can change the look and feel of your kitchen over time by swapping out accessories, decor, or even appliances, without needing to redo the entire space.

  • Efficient use of space: This design style often prioritizes efficiency and functionality, making the most of the available space, storage and layout of your kitchen. This means that even small kitchens can be designed to be highly functional and efficient.

Transitional Kitchen Ideas, Tips & Tricks

Creating a flawless transitional kitchen design might seem a little daunting, but with these tips, tricks and ideas up your sleeve, you’ll be ready to create your perfect space.

Incorporate Personal Touches

Your kitchen should reflect your personality and lifestyle. Whether it’s a piece of wall art, a cherished family heirloom, or your favourite colourful kitchen gadgets, don’t be afraid to inject your own style into the space.

Just remember to maintain the style’s balance and harmony — personal touches should enhance, not overpower, the overall design.

Use Texture Over Color

Image – deVOL + Our Food Stories

Since transitional design mainly uses neutral colours, you can play with different textures to add depth and visual interest. This could mean a subway tile backsplash, a beadboard panel on your kitchen island, a smooth marble countertop, an aged copper island top or a rough-hewn wooden table.

It’s all about creating layers of interest without relying on bold, vibrant colours.

Focus on Lighting

Transitional kitchen design lighting
Image – Harvey Jones

Lighting is a powerful tool in any kitchen design, but especially so in a transitional kitchen. Layer your lighting to ensure the space is well-lit and welcoming. Under-cabinet lighting, pendant lights, and recessed ceiling lights all have a role to play.

And don’t forget, your light fixtures are another opportunity to balance traditional and contemporary styles!

Incorporate Natural Elements

Transitional kitchen style design Blakes London.jpeg
Image – Blakes London

This could mean using hardwood for flooring or cabinets, natural stone for countertops or backsplashes, or simply incorporating potted plants into your decor. These natural touches help bring warmth and a sense of inviting comfort to the sleekness of the contemporary components of your kitchen.

The key here is to balance these with more modern elements. A beautiful quartz countertop could sit atop shaker-style wooden cabinets or a modern stainless steel range could be offset by a natural stone backsplash. This blending of natural and man-made elements is what makes this style so unique and appealing.

Keep It Simple and Clutter-Free

One of the hallmarks of a transitional kitchen is its clean, uncluttered appearance. This doesn’t mean it has to be stark or bare; rather, every item and design element should serve a purpose. This approach extends to everything from your countertops to your kitchen island.

A clean, streamlined space will allow the elegant blend of traditional and modern elements to truly shine.

Blend Styles Subtly

Transitional kitchen style
Image – Harvey Jones

When incorporating traditional and contemporary elements, subtlety is key. A seamless blend is what you’re aiming for, rather than a stark contrast. This might mean choosing traditional shaker cabinets with modern hardware, or a classic farmhouse sink paired with a sleek, stainless steel tap.

Mixing these elements with a thoughtful approach will create a harmonious balance rather than a jarring clash.

By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be able to create a transitional kitchen design that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also personal and balanced. It’s all about creating a space that feels like home. A space that beautifully brings together the best of both the traditional and contemporary design worlds.

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How to Achieve Transitional Kitchen Design

If you’re ready to achieve a transitional kitchen design in your home, here are some steps you can take.

  1. Selecting the Right Balance of Traditional and Modern Elements

    The key to a successful transitional kitchen design lies in striking the right balance between traditional and modern elements. Avoid skewing too far in either direction; instead, aim for a 50/50 split or close to it.

    For instance, you might choose traditional elements like a farmhouse sink or shaker cabinets, then counterbalance them with modern features like a sleek, stainless steel range hood or minimalist bar stools.

  2. Choosing the Perfect Color Scheme

    In a transitional kitchen, the colour palette tends to be neutral. This doesn’t mean it has to be monochromatic or boring, though. A mix of whites, greys, and beiges can create a warm, inviting space.

    You might choose white cabinets, a grey backsplash, and a light wooden floor, for instance. Alternatively, darker hues like charcoal or espresso can also work, especially for an island or lower cabinets. The key is to keep the overall feel light and airy, not heavy and dated.

  3. Picking the Right Materials

    A variety of materials will come together in a transitional kitchen. You might have stainless steel appliances, granite or quartz countertops, a ceramic or subway tile backsplash, and hardwood or tile floors. Cabinets are often painted wood (white is classic) and may include glass fronts for a touch of modern elegance.

    The beauty of this design lies in its ability to pair materials you might not typically see together, like a traditional wooden dining table next to a modern chrome-finished lighting fixture.

  4. Lighting Considerations

    Recessed lighting can provide overall illumination, while pendant lights over an island or eating area can add style and focus. Under-cabinet lighting is another modern touch that enhances functionality and mood.

    Remember, lighting fixtures are also an opportunity to make a style statement, so choose fixtures that complement both the traditional and contemporary elements of your kitchen.

  5. Accessorising Your Kitchen

    Last but not least, don’t forget about hardware, fixtures, and decor. These finishing touches can tie your kitchen together. Choose hardware and fixtures that have a simple design, but don’t be afraid to mix finishes. Brushed nickel, oil-rubbed bronze, or polished chrome can all work well in a transitional kitchen.

    When it comes to decor, less is more. Keep your counters clutter-free and let the materials and design shine. Add personal touches that reflect your style, perhaps a piece of abstract art, a vintage clock, or a modern vase for a pop of colour.

By following these steps, you can achieve a beautiful and inviting transitional kitchen design in your home.


As you contemplate a transitional kitchen design for your home, you may find yourself with a few queries. Here are my quick answers to some of the most commonly asked questions I get about this design style:

Is a transitional kitchen design right for small spaces?

Absolutely! The beauty of transitional design lies in its flexibility. Its emphasis on clean lines and minimal clutter makes it an excellent choice for small spaces. The use of light, neutral colours can also help to make a small kitchen feel more spacious.

What style Kitchen cabinets are transitional?

Transitional kitchen design typically incorporates cabinets that have a simple and clean-lined design. The style of the cabinets can vary, but they should not be too ornate or overly decorative.

Shaker-style cabinets are a popular choice for transitional kitchen design as they have a classic and timeless look with their clean lines and simple profile.

Additionally, flat-panel or slab-style cabinets with minimal decorative elements can also work well in a transitional kitchen design. Ultimately, the style of the cabinets should complement the overall design style and aesthetic of the kitchen.

Is a transitional kitchen more expensive to design?

The cost largely depends on your choice of materials, appliances, and fixtures. The mix-and-match nature of this design style does allow for budgetary flexibility. You could invest in a few high-end pieces while balancing costs with more affordable options.

Can a transitional kitchen design work with an open floor plan?

Definitely! Transitional design is particularly well-suited to open floor plans. Its blend of styles can bridge the design of different spaces in an open-concept home, creating a harmonious flow from one area to the next.

Does a transitional kitchen have to be neutral?

While transitional kitchens often feature a neutral colour palette to help balance the traditional and modern elements, that doesn’t mean colour is off-limits. Feel free to use colour in your accents and accessories for a personal touch. Just remember, the goal is to create a harmonious, balanced space.

What Does A Transitional Kitchen Look Like?

Transitional kitchens blend the warmth and familiarity of traditional design with the crisp, clean aesthetic of contemporary style offering an inviting, evergreen look that marries the best of both design worlds.

It’s a perfect compromise for those seeking a timeless yet trendy design that will look just as appealing a decade from now as it does today.

It typically has a neutral colour palette, often with shades of white, grey, or beige. The cabinetry is usually simple and clean-lined, with a Shaker-style or flat-panel design, and the cabinet hardware is minimal and unobtrusive.

Transitional kitchens often incorporate a variety of materials, such as wood, metal, stone, and glass. These materials are used in combination to create a cohesive and balanced look. Natural elements, such as wood or stone, are often included to add warmth and texture.

Final Thoughts…

There you have it! My guide to transitional kitchen design and how to get the look.

Transitional kitchen design is a popular and timeless style that balances traditional and modern elements to create a warm and inviting space. It’s a versatile and sophisticated style that can enhance the look and feel of any home.

When designing your transitional kitchen remember to focus on functionality and efficiency, as well as aesthetic appeal. Choose materials and colours that complement each other and create a cohesive look.

Most importantly, have fun with it!



Michael from

Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for over 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.