Kitchen Styles: Which One Is Right For You?

Which kitchen style is ideal for you? Traditional or luxurious? Perhaps spicy and daring? Read on and find out your personal style.


A Traditional kitchen, such as this, can be very inviting.

A Traditional kitchen, such as this, can be very inviting.
By: Mark McCauley

Personal style should dominate in your kitchen. Forget making it look like some Tuscan tomfoolery at the moment; fashion is out, you are in. But, how do you know the best way to incorporate your personality into your kitchen design?

For our purposes, let's divide the entire human race into four groups. Perhaps this is a tad simplistic, because we all know how complex a person you are, but we have no time for psychoanalysis here. Instead, a little quiz. Which of the following best describes you and your style?

1. 18th-century formality rules, the zenith of all styles, before and after. Your traditional kitchen gives you a connection to the past, a reassurance and orderliness.

2. Love those tear-jerkers? Have a soft spot in your heart for little bunnies? You are the romantic among us, home is where the heart is, as the saying goes and the heart of the home is the kitchen.

3. Are you a tad on the excitable side, like those hot peppers on the side and Tabasco colors? You are a pretty spicy, chica! Go for it!

4. Like to linger over a meal? Your idea of a good time is a little chardonnay, from a very good year, naturally, after the perfect meal, with your feet on a cushy damask ottoman and your head in the clouds? You love luxury and are not ashamed to admit it.Great! Now we'll find out what your choice means about you and your personal design style.

Picked number 1? You're TRADITIONAL

The example of a traditional-style kitchen shown above probably best fits your style type. These spaces can differ in formality levels, however, they all have antecedents in terms of overall look and coloration. Look to differing styles of the past for the traditional home. English, French or American are good places to start.

If yearning for the simple life, like Marie Antoinette and her little cottage at Versailles, choose toile de juoy fabrics for the windows, a slight curve to the cabinet doors and a perhaps a rustic hickory finish. Use a more pastel color scheme, with high contrast, as in checkerboard patterns and the aforementioned toile.

If Paul Revere sets your heart afire, look to accents of pewter on a darker ground cabinet color. Delft blue with silver and white, or perhaps the colors of the Green Mountain Boys and the British uniform, red and green (as in apples with stems) will make the statement you want.

Traditional English has color tones relating to stiff-upper-lippedness; royal blues and crimson reds, the colors of the Union Jack, straight and formal and reassuring.


Lots of fabrics and cushions make this romantic nook a favorite spot.

Lots of fabrics and cushions make this romantic nook a favorite spot.

You fell for number 2? You're ROMANTIC

You, old softie that you are, need to surround yourself with plushness and visual bounty. Unfortunately, these qualities are of short supply in your basic woodsy, hard-edged kitchen design.

In order to give the romantic in you free reign, think of the soft goods in the space; the dining chair cushions drapery, place mats, and, here's a romantic-tip, how about a little bling at eye level over the kitchen sink, maybe crystal beads glistening in the sun on your window treatments. Makes doing dishes a lot more romantic, doesn't it?

Incorporate the colors of romance. Golds, silvers, taupe grays, misty greens and — Queen of Hearts that you are — reds. Sumptuous colorations combat the harshness of the acres of wood and miles of window glass found in kitchens. This helps to keep the design balanced in terms of "materials mix," while providing for your special touches that make a house a home.

Adding truly important accent pieces, with deep meaning for you, or family photos taken at favorite vacation spots, will create fond memories in your kitchen and warm the cockles of your heart.

Think too of romantic eras in history such as French 18th Century, or perhaps, Hemmingway's Spain, a silent Japanese rock garden awash in spring-like colors or a romantic mountain hideaway. All of these will make the heart glow, the simple question is, which one makes your heart go pitty-pat!


This kitchen by Lou Ann Bauer is a blend of spicy and contemporary.

This kitchen by Lou Ann Bauer is a blend of spicy and contemporary.

You're all over number 3? You're SPICY

A woman of the earth, spice girls need the bounty of the land to surround them in maize golds, terra cottas, pepper green and plenty of bowls for communal dipping to be happy. Your life is an ongoing fiesta, so too, should be your kitchen.

Think of the rough hewn nature of hickory finish woods, more natural, weathered in feel, with wrought iron handles, countertops in rough edged marble, copper sinks and hanging pots and pans. This is a working kitchen, full of activity as the colors suggest.

Use the outdoors as your clues, mix stone, with hammered metals and hand-painted tiles as backsplashes and plenty, did I say plenty, of color. Bold splashes of color with high contrast, denoting the "upbeat," "we're all in this together" feeling.

Be daring in kitchens such as this — don't be worried about matching everything perfect-perfect. The ambiance of this type of kitchen is to be found in it's "found" nature, seeming as if everything has been there forever and the combination, not fussy, is more "fractal" in design.

Fractal design is best explained using a tree as an example. A tree has a large trunk, smaller branches, and twigs. All are basically the same looking thing, only broken down into smaller and smaller sizes.


Gail Drury created this high-end luxe kitchen.

Gail Drury created this high-end luxe kitchen.

Feeling comfortable with number 4? You're LUXURIOUS

Another round of hors d'ouvres, madam? No, I think not, but the luxurious life is the life for me. Yes, Virginia, you can love luxury and be guilt-free at the same time!

The luxe kitchen transcends the whole kitchen label and is a masterpiece in and of itself, not unlike a Rembrandt. Incorporating the latest in kitchen gadgetry and convenience, everything thought through, every color meant to please the eye, all the senses are feasting, as well as taste.

To create the luxe kitchen, think of a fine restaurant when beginning your design. While this is a working space, be sure to include lighting that is secondary in nature, throwing that soft ambiance when entertaining, for the luxe kitchen is ultimately an entertainment room.

Don't be afraid to use more formal fabrics in the space. Damasks and moirés are right at home in your kitchen, as are silver trays and candlesticks, and Chippendale back bar stools. Use deep cherry finishes, or, the ultimate, mahogany, with gold bat-wing pulls.

Or, say, California High End is your high point. Seaside colors can create the luxurious kitchen as well. Sands, taupes, whites, mixed with raw silks and tumbled marbles and the perfect wine glass and carafe can go far when thinking luxury.

Whatever your style, fill your kitchen not just with appliances, but also with the colors, fabrics and accessories that make you feel great.

Mark McCauley is a senior designer at Darleen's Interiors in Naperville, Ill.

More Info

Darleen's Interiors

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