The New Traditional Style includes stained and painted finishs

The New Traditional Style

You’ve probably been hearing about or reading about the New Traditional style for kitchens. And you’re wondering what it is.

Homeowners want to capture the warmth of traditional kitchens (with warm wood tones, stone and layered textures). However, they also want to include elements from modern design. This mix of popular styles is what is being called the New Traditional kitchen.

Before we can get to New Traditional, we have to look at Traditional styling. Traditional is connected to the past, to past traditions. When you see the word Traditional, you think of a formal dining room with dark, heavy furniture. The windows are covered with layers of drapes and valances. Some people regard a traditional room as boring and old-fashioned.

However, many Americans grew up in homes that could be characterized as Traditional. Traditional furniture and décor has lots of history and can be beautiful. On the other hand, when it’s overdone, it can feel heavy, dark and dated. And today’s contemporary style has a sleek modern look, some people consider it to be stark or uncomfortable.

Enter the New Traditional

For homeowners who want the comfort of the Traditional style they grew up with combined with the modern look of Contemporary, there’s a happy medium: New Traditional. This blend of the old and the new combines the best of each. The New Traditional is both timeless and timely. 

The term ‘New Traditional’ may seem like an oxymoron. However, the style, which basically merges classic and contemporary elements, has become very popular.

This blended style creates the kind of livable spaces homeowners want. Especially those who find the Euro-styled kitchen cold and without charm and character.

An American Style Phenomenon

People who love traditional styling and people who love contemporary styling no longer have to each stay in their separate lanes. This mixture of styles has become more and more popular as homeowners understand they can have elements from both styles – that they can crossover between the two — and personalize it to their own taste, as well. They can include elements that reflect regional influences, a characteristic of the New Traditional that has designers calling it an “American style phenomenon.”

Modern life has caused people to re-think the Traditional style. Homeowners who are remodeling now choose New Traditional styling for their new kitchens for a reason: They want something classic and timeless.

The goal of a kitchen with this cross-over style is to provide a comfortable space for family living, and many people feel at home in a traditional space that has been updated and made cozy, inviting, personal and family-friendly for modern living.  

The New Traditional Kitchen combines classic and modern elements

Who’s Choosing New Traditional for Their Kitchens?

A home builder had something interesting to report regarding who is interested in New Traditional style. You would think that the type of buyers looking for contemporary style in their new homes would be the young buyers. But what this home builder is seeing is that the buyers who are downsizing are the ones looking to do something different from the type of home they’ve been living in. They’re looking for more contemporary styling.

It’s the young buyers entering the market — who are used to that traditional style in their parents’ homes — who are looking for a New Traditional style to feel more comfortable and family-friendly.

What kitchen designers around the country are reporting is that the New Traditional is a style that can suit the architecture of many homes, from suburban new-builds to historic row homes. The best New Traditional kitchens feel livable and comfortable.

Reduce the Clutter

The New Traditional kitchen showcases a combination of classic cabinetry and contemporary accents. And to achieve that look, less is more. It reflects a movement away from the “more is more” philosophy of years past.

Even though the New Traditional design is based on styles of the past, it includes fewer ornamental details. Consequently, the new style kitchen will be functional, family-focused and comfortable. You want to see and appreciate what is in the room, and you don’t need so many things to do this.

People remodeling their kitchens want a warm, lived-in feel without it being old-fashioned or stuffy.

New Traditional Style allows for mixing finishes

What Goes into the New Traditional Kitchen?

There is room for both the new and the traditional, the personal and the regional.

For example, raised panel doors and carved island legs showcase traditional styling, but open shelving and a walnut cabinet finish with a white painted island balance out any formality.

If you’re considering this hot popular style for your new kitchen, you will want to choose some or all the following:

  • Open space floor plan
  • Contemporary styled cabinets, together with something antique or vintage, like a refrigerator armoire. Or furniture-style cabinetry, woodwork and detailing
  • Crown moulding, beadboard or wainscot panels for the walls
  • Different textures for a layered look, like something natural or handmade. Make a personal style statement using textures.
  • Darker wood finishes for cabinets and floors. Warm, rich wood tones, such as walnut, for cabinets and darker stains for flooring
  • Matte finished floors and honed countertops. No shiny surfaces.  
  • Cabinet door and drawer hardware with detail.
  • Simple window treatments. Or none at all.
  • Color palettes that include neutrals with spare use of bold color
  • Glass front cabinets to display dishes and other collectibles and bits of color
  • Coffered ceilings
  • Modern lighting, stools, faucets, sinks, tile and hardware


Just because Traditional design is connected to traditions from the past doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t change and modernize with the times.

Today’s New Traditional kitchens incorporate modern elements that are combined with traditional elements, creating a space that is timeless, not trendy.