Transitionally styled black kitchen by Urrutla Design. Photo via Houzz.
Easy Transition: How to achieve transitional style
Situated between the ornate detail of traditional style and the austerity of contemporary design sits a look that’s a bit more comfortable and flexible…even familiar. “Transitional” is a design theme that achieves a middle ground, blending elements of both traditional and modern into a whole new style that’s equal parts elegant, casual, and comfortable. Above all else, transitional style is meant to be simple and functional, which makes it a much-desired look, especially in today’s kitchens and baths.
The amount of flexibility is quite possibly one of the best features of transitional style. From furniture to accessories, more thought goes into an object’s use than its ornamentation. By combining classic elements with a modern twist, transitional style can be eclectic. It’s a look that gives the homeowner freedom to express their unique tastes or showcase prized collections. It’s an uncluttered style that’s actually quite timeless.
Amy Yin of Amy Yin Interiors in Cherry Hill, NJ says that her clients like transitional style because it helps them incorporate their fresh, urban aesthetic into the architecturally traditional suburban homes they’re moving to. “These stylish couples are moving to the suburbs to start or raise their families. Transitional style offers them clean, sleek silhouettes mixed with comfortable materials, intriguing textures, and inviting color palettes,” she explains. Plus, her sophisticated, worldly clientele enjoys the references to historical periods that accompany transitional design.
And one really cool thing about transitional style is that it doesn’t have to have a high price tag. Cabinets, accessories, and furniture evoking transitional style are available at every price point. Though there are no hard and fast “rules” to transitional style, here are some tips and tricks on how you can help your customers achieve the look in their homes.
Transitional white kitchen by Distinctive Designs Inc. Kitchens & Baths. Photo via Houzz.
When it comes to scale, transitional elements should be ample, but not overwhelming. Choose furniture and accessories that are neither overly large nor minutely small. Stick to accessories like simple candlesticks and bud vases that are not overly dramatic.
Transitional style achieves the perfect balance between masculine and feminine. Avoid tipping the scale by not using too many accessories from one end of the spectrum or the other. Balance out lace and flowers with leather and wood.
Keep the focus on simplicity rather than ornamentation. Since transitional design blends the comfort and warmth of traditional design with the clean lines of modern design, it’s more about practicality than formality. While there may be carved corbels, mouldings, or other accents, they’re only used to add personality. Also, there is no real need for uniformity or symmetry in transitional design.
Two-toned kitchen by Barbara Seidel. Photo via Houzz.
The combination of various cabinet finishes and colors is a very transitional theme. It’s common to see an island in one color and perimeter cabinetry in another, or even overhead cabinets in a light painted finish with contrasting under-counter cabinets in a darker wood finish. The contrast of light/dark, colorful/neutral helps to create a less formal, more inviting atmosphere.
Gray cabinets with a pop of red by Odenza Homes Ltd.. Photo via Houzz.
Use a “New Neutral”
Transitional style opens up the door for a whole world of color possibilities, such as today’s exceptionally popular gray. Considered “the new neutral,” gray works well with many other colors. It pairs beautifully with warm wood finishes, and it’s also ideal for contrasting with vibrant colors such as red, orange, yellow, or lime green. Combining gray with these cool colors creates a fresh look that feels modern yet elegant. Gray also works with so many different colors that it’s easy to change up the overall look of a room by merely swapping out colorful accessories.
Keep in mind that in transitional design, the focus is more often on the “lack” of color rather than its presence. Along with gray, colors like taupe, brown, olive, tan, and even vanilla helps to add depth while contrasting beautifully with pops of bright color.
Lighting is a simple element that can make a big impact in a transitionally styled room. Striking modern pendants, sconces, and chandeliers can add drama without overwhelming a room. There are so many beautiful options for modern lighting that this is a good area to implement the “something new” required in transitional style. The right lighting, such as this fun Cluster Glass Pendant from West Elm can help set the mood and tone for an entire space.
Add Interest and Texture
Perhaps more so than color, texture is a key focus in transitional design. Tactile fabrics like corduroy, suede, leather, and chenille can add tons of personality. But do use caution with patterns. Avoid busy, complex prints. (Geometric patterns are always a good choice.) Select objects and accessories with an interesting patina. (A touch of nostalgia can go a long way in transitional design.) For countertops, go with a matte finish over the typical polished, and keep an eye out for unusual patterns in granite or marble for added interest. Concrete is another countertop material that translates well in transitional designs. It adds a sense of eccentricity as well as depth and texture.
Luxe Transitional bathroom cabinetry by KraftMaid
Cabinets are Key
When it comes to the kitchen and bath, most transitionally styled rooms favor simple shaker or mission cabinets over more ornate styles. They also trend toward dark stained or painted finishes over natural maple or cherry. Much like the overall style itself, the key to transitionally styled cabinetry is subtle beauty with lots of flexibility. Hardware is typically understated, even minimalist in most cases. And there is a great deal of focus on storage. In order to keep countertops clear from clutter, cabinets are packed with organizational elements like lazy susans, pull-out organizers and more.
KraftMaid is one cabinet company, for example, who has introduced a specific line of transitional cabinetry. Their Luxe Transitional collection offers distinctive classic style with all of the newest design features. The entire goal of the line is to offer a new way for individuals to express their unique personality and make a bold statement in the kitchen or bath.
Also sometimes referred to as “updated classic,” transitional styles can be playful. The classic elements help the space to feel familiar while modern elements keep your kitchen or bath feeling current. Again, remember that there really are no absolute rules. The idea is to simply create a space that feels right for those living in it.