Getting to know today’s most popular kitchen design styles

Getting to know today’s most popular kitchen design styles

Your kitchen is due for an update, but you feel overwhelmed by all of the choices in cabinetry, countertops, hardware, flooring and more that are out there today. You could actually create hundreds of different kitchens by mixing and matching any number of colors, materials, accents and appliances. The best way to narrow it down is to think big. Begin by choosing an overall theme for the space. Are you classic or trendy? Antique or avant-garde? Rustic or urban? When you know your style, your choices will be become obvious—and the following popular kitchen design styles should help get you started.

Updated Traditional: A classic with a twist

According to j. Tobin Mansfield, designer and owner of j. Tobin LLC (, traditional kitchens are still in high demand in Atlanta because of the city’s classic architecture. Warm, wood tones; architectural details such as corbels, arches and framed cabinetry; and the use of distressed finishes and glazes are all common elements in traditional design.

Traditional, however, can be punched up and still preserve its classic ambience. Mell Hill, vice president of residential sales and marketing at Oldcastle Surfaces Inc. ( recommends using beautiful additions such as: wing-backed chairs, 19th century antiques and even intricate tile and floor patterns. Such attention to detail gives a traditional kitchen extra dimension and historical appeal.



1) Simple cabinet doors—often frameless with concealed hinges and minimum trim—provide a clean foundation for the uncluttered aesthetic of contemporary kitchen design.

2) Brushed-steel hardware with very streamlined, clean lines gives cabinetry a sleek and modern appearance without being too ostentatious or taking away from a simple cabinet door design.

Contemporary: Make mine modern

In recent years, more and more homeowners have opted to include streamlined, austere and minimalist spaces in their homes—and this aesthetic has found its way into the modern kitchen. Mansfield points to organizations such as Modern Atlanta (, which are painting bold strokes with local design. “Contemporary design is a diamond-in-the-rough in Atlanta,” says Mansfield.

Once thought to be cold in feel, contemporary design is actually quite varied and welcoming. “The design is often minimalistic and efficient,” says Rusty Parris, general manager of Stone Systems of Atlanta (, but contemporary kitchen designs offer looks that “range from a cohesive, monochromatic look to a more modern feel with bold pops of color.” Look for the use of metal, glass and laminate as well as warm wood tones and neutral colors, often with slabs of color that make a statement. Often open and uncluttered, contemporary kitchens make an impact and are gaining speed.



Transitional: The best of both worlds

For homeowners who can’t quite decide between traditional and contemporary styles, a transitional kitchen offers the best of both worlds. It allows for an elegant aesthetic that is warm and welcoming while also being streamlined and state-of-the-art. Hill considers transitional to be “an American look. This style mixes elements of both traditional and contemporary and leads to a casually elegant environment.” Mansfield agrees. “Transitional has the richness of traditional without all the fuss,” he says. “There is a broad range of design options to achieve the aesthetic.”



1) Cheerful painted floors, light fixtures and cabinet colors all contribute to the retro feeling without going overboard.

2) Stainless steel or chrome hardware and accessories inspired by yesterday’s charming diners and eateries give a little shine to the vintage style.

Vintage: Past meets present

A fun approach to design that allows homeowners to take risks with color, pattern and materials, today’s vintage kitchens capture the nostalgia of yester-year while delivering all of the modern advances in efficiency and performance that are available. “To create a kitchen with a vintage feel that isn’t trite, we mixed modern sensibility and tailored lines with accents of an older era,” says Niki Papadopoulos, of Mark Williams Design Associates in Atlanta. “Decorative touches maintain a vintage feel without sacrificing the conveniences of a modern kitchen.” Echoing back to the 1940s and 50s, look for curved cabinetry, shiny laminate and chrome, bamboo, geometric repeating patterns and color combinations such as black and red or teal and avocado.



1) Colorful backsplash tiles can be used to pick up and complement the colors in stone countertops; typically, granite with movement and unique colors is chosen to give the kitchen warmth.

2) It’s not unusual to find two different types of cabinetry for the perimeter of the kitchen and the island, which gives the space visual interest and an elegant focal point.

Updated Mediterranean: A new spin on Old World charm

“Mediterranean designs utilize vibrant colors, cultural influences and unique styles and have an emphasis on outdoor living,” says Hill. “This design tends to be elegant and casual in one.” Homeowners are drawn to the warm and vibrant look of the modern Mediterranean kitchen. However, the Updated Mediterranean kitchen forgoes the heavily carved, dark woods and ornate patterns and opts for more streamlined cabinetry, rich color and a variety of stone options that feature movement and warmth.
Parris characterizes Updated Mediterranean as “Old World” in feel as well as functional, inviting and casual. He, too, emphasizes the use of stone. This glowing natural material can be used throughout the kitchen and in varying depths of color in areas such as: backsplashes, flooring, countertops and even pillars or other architectural details. The result is a design style that retains its Old World appeal without being too busy or ornate and lends itself to complete customization.

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