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3 Cabinetry Styles - What's the Difference?

When a client comes to us with a remodel, one of our first questions is: what style are you looking for?

One only needs to look at a Pinterest kitchen remodel board to see the wide array of kitchen cabinetry styles. Generally, a style falls into one of 3 categories: Traditional, Contemporary or Transitional. As you can imagine these vary from house to house, but there are distinct features of each.


Traditional cabinetry is a familiar look. It’s a style heavy in details and decorative accessories. Think embellishments, adornments and furniture-like pieces. Traditional cabinetry commonly boasts ornate details like crown molding, corbels, wainscoting and has rich deep colors or antique/glaze finishes. In addition, it uses face frame construction or raised panel doors.

Traditional cabinetry - ornate details, corbels, antique finish
Traditional cabinetry


Contemporary or modern cabinetry is on the other end of the spectrum from traditional. With its clean lines and frameless or flat-paneled doors, this style takes a very minimalist approach. The color palette is either very muted or extremely bold.  Its sleek, smooth-polished surfaces and simple fixtures are often contrasted with matte or metallic finishes.  Whereas traditional design comes across warm and refined, contemporary design makes a simple but sophisticated statement.

Contemporary Bathroom
Contemporary Kitchen


Transitional cabinetry can be simply described as the best of both worlds. It takes the warmness of traditional design and blends it with the sleekness of contemporary design. Lines are typically clean and uncomplicated, but decorative accents are also present. Transitional cabinetry typically uses flush-inset or frameless construction, modern hardware and comes in neutral colors. Dark hues of colors such as blues, green and browns are often accents for depth. Although transitional design is certainly moving quickly towards modern design, it is a delightful balance that can blend easily with the rest of your home.

Transitional Kitchen that leans more Traditional
Transitional Kitchen that leans more Contemporary
Transitional Kitchen - a perfect blend of Traditional & Contemporary

Here are some other features that compliment transitional design:

  • Intricate backsplashes like grids and geometric patterns

  • Taller ceiling heights

  • Open concept kitchen to living

  • Thoughtful combinations of lighting choices – pendants, recessed lighting, glass door & under cabinet lighting

  • Limestone, soapstone, marble or granite countertops

  • Stainless steel appliances

With more than half of all kitchen remodels leaning toward transitional design, it is certainly on trend for 2020 and will be around for years to come.

No matter your personal style or vision for your home, we’d love to help you transform your space. Contact us today to get connected with one of our design experts.


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