Traditional, modern or both? How to pick your kitchen style

Standing at a fork in the road you freeze. To your left is an old cobbled path, children running and laughing as they throw a doll between them. The smell of freshly baked bread rises from a cosy looking cottage in the distance. Looking closer you realise that one of the children, looks like a younger version of you, all hope and joy. To your right lies a glistening marble road, leading onwards to a brighter horizon. You shield your eyes just to see and sure enough you make out the vision of your future, successful, smiling, happy.

Welcome to the thought process behind choosing a new kitchen design: do you go for the charm of a traditional look or do you embrace the modern aesthetic? It’s a big choice and getting it right can transform a home. If you’re stood at that fork it can seem overwhelming, however all is not lost, just let squarepeg be your (metaphorical) signpost.

Know your beans

Before installing a new kitchen it’s first important to understand what the terms ‘modern’ and ‘traditional’ really mean when applied to design. You might have an idea of a traditional kitchen being primarily fitted with wood but in reality some are and some aren’t. Likewise some modern kitchens use wood almost exclusively while others avoid it like the plague. Overall the main differences lie in what the space aims to reflect.

Traditional kitchens are expressive and embrace characterful features. These could be anything from rustic tiles, patterned surfaces or freestanding furnishings. Contemporary kitchens on the other hand are defined by their sleekness. Using clean lines and high tech appliances they work to give a feeling of light and function, often using clever mechanisms to hide plates and crockery when not in use. Neither is ‘better’ than the other and it’s possible to combine features of both. However there are a few key considerations to help you make the most of your new space.

Work with what you’ve got

When drawing up your plans try to factor the type of property you own and the existing look of your home. If you own a period property, a traditional style might be more conducive to the overall feel of the home by accentuating its natural character. Generally speaking it’s easier and far more common to incorporate a modern kitchen into a traditional home than vice-versa. As the modern style is defined by its minimalism it’s fundamentally more flexible in where it can be placed.

Should you stay or should you go now?

A key consideration is whether you’re planning to stick around for the long term. Fitting a modern kitchen is sometimes considered to be the safer move if you have future plans of upping sticks and selling your home. Because the character of such kitchens vary less than those of traditional looks, it’ll hold appeal to a wider range of potential buyers. However if done well, a unique traditional kitchen can truly add the wow factor to your home. Again, as long as it’s consistent with the rest of the home then the style itself isn’t a huge factor in the ultimate valuation of your property.

If you’re remodelling a kitchen with dreams of a happy retirement in mind it’s worth bearing in mind that traditional shaker kitchens, by their very nature, won’t go out of style. It’s widely accepted that as tastes change and materials develop a modern kitchen will begin to look dated after 5 -10 years. After all, it was only a decade or so since bisque was all the range.


Nothing says comfort more than cooking with an AGA range oven, however putting one in the same room as a NASA inspired refrigerator might look a little, well, jarring. It’s therefore important to consider the practicalities of a space when redesigning it. A traditional look is more flexible in that there’s normally more licence to use freestanding appliances as well as antique pieces and personal touches. Modern kitchens on the other hand are great for organisation, cleaning and as multi use spaces.

Mix and Match

There’s no reason you can’t have your cake and eat it. Speaking with expert designers can help you in understanding which style, if any, is best for you. There are a number of ingenious ways to combine the personal warmth of a traditional style with the functionality and sleek look of a modern kitchen. For example, building a feature fridge into an oak panelled cabinet is just one such solution. Likewise using traditional hardwoods as a surface for a more modern kitchen counter effortlessly blends both into a room that not only complements your home, but reflects you too.

All things considered, that fork in the road isn’t a black and white choice, it isn’t a right and a wrong. There’s no reason you can’t walk both paths, taking time to enjoy the benefits of all kitchen styles; indeed there’s no reason you can’t turn around, discard the compass and walk your own path. We know this journey can be a winding one and starting work on a new kitchen is not something most people take lightly. As the core of the home it’s important that a kitchen is an extension of the history and personalities that surround it. We know all adventures start with the preparation and at Squarepeg we’re more than happy to help you draw up the map and join you for the ride, just get in touch!
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