There is no hard and fast answer to this question as we are blessed in the UK with a myriad of different architectural styles with housing dating back to almost Norman times however, what I hope to enlighten you within this post, is the careful alchemy of mixing the old and the new and where to use what. The carefully curated look of mixing old and new speaks of a home that has been lived in and loved, that is personal to the owner and gives off an elegance that no other can achieve.
When I talk about contemporary I mean ‘of the now,’ reflecting the tastes of today. If it isn’t modern (post war years) and it isn’t traditional then it is contemporary. Contemporary styles include handle-less kitchens known as in-rail or J-Pull which have the handle profile built into the door.
In terms of ‘traditional’ anything that I deem ‘traditional’ in this post will refer to periods of time often borrowed in kitchen design such as Georgian and Edwardian. Particularly those shaker and in-frame styles we all know and love like this beautiful ‘Alderley’ kitchen pictured above right.
Now you’ve had possibly the most confusing and brief intro to the history of design let’s move on to what makes a kitchen space feel traditional or contemporary. A lot is to do with the way the room itself has been treated and the level of detail. If your kitchen has original cornice, ceiling roses, high ceilings and detailed architrave, then essentially it will have quite a traditional feel. Same with beams, old bread ovens and an ‘Aga’ as a centre piece for that quintessentially cottage look.
The best design is often composed of many a juxtaposition, so a room with a high level of architectural detailing may benefit from a simpler shaker door to not take away from that detail and make the room too fussy. Or, go the whole hog, and with our help create your own interiors magazine worthy kitchen by pairing all that glorious detail with a streamlined in rail kitchen that allows the original features to sing. Pair with luxurious materials like real stone for a link back to the traditional. If you are lucky enough to live in a period home with original features, simply decorating in a contemporary style will help neutralise some of that and help a contemporary kitchen work within the space. Panelling, picture rails, dado rails, beams and cornice painted in a single neutral palette will create a stunning backdrop for a handle-less contemporary kitchen such as the ‘Otto’ range pictured bottom and top right.
Or, work with the space and pair it with a simple in-frame design such as our ever popular and ever stylish ‘Langton’, a timeless classic with solid ash doors and available in a stunning palette of colours that evoke a bygone era with a few contemporary touches thrown in for good measure.
What if you have a modern home – perhaps a post 1950’s build? Modern or contemporary homes will always look good with a contemporary style kitchen, however finding a traditional style to work within a modern or contemporary interior usually requires a little fine tuning to ensure you are not creating a pastiche. Keeping the shaker door style contemporary, see Burbidge’s ‘Fenton’, which also comes in Handleless as shown or ‘Pembrey’ for in-frame and adding contemporary finishes like brushed metals and high-tech appliances like ‘Neff’s’ Graphite collection hide-and-slide oven prevents this. Belfast sinks can still work in this environment paired with a shaker door style but a perhaps consider a more contemporary range oven rather than a traditional Aga will strike the balance.
This is why we may ask in your design consultation about the history of the building, your personal style and the fixed features in your home such as fireplaces and window styles which all have to be taken into account.
If you would love a traditional in-frame kitchen but the budget won’t quite stretch then the Chartwell door with its subtle routered groove will give you the extra detail and is the perfect updated version of a classic style.
So, I hope that some of this unravels the mystique behind the whole balancing of traditional and contemporary, just remember there are no hard and fast rules, just guidelines, and if you would like an appointment to discuss your next project just give us a call. Or drop us a line.
The team @ PRK