Eclectic by nature, the transitional style is far from cluttered, scattered or disorganized. It’s elegant, with crisp, clean lines blending contemporary and traditional styles.

For example, solid oak cabinets paired with a natural stone floor and earthy-hued countertops set the stage for today’s high-tech gadgets and appliances. Contrasting colors and lines help create a cozy, warm and inviting atmosphere.

According to Amanda “AJ” Szamatowicz, senior designer in kitchens and baths at Schilling in St. John, Ind., people are looking to mix up the traditional style that’s dominated kitchens for the past decade by adding some contemporary flair.

“I work primarily with builders, and we’re definitely seeing an increase in new construction over home remodeling right now,” she said. “Probably the biggest things everyone is looking for – across all price points – is super function and low maintenance.”

Cabinets: The transitional middle ground leans more toward cove rather than crown molding, dark-stained or painted finishes over natural maple or cherry, and simple raised panel versus super ornate cabinet fronts.

Smart storage solutions keep both often-used and rarely-used items tucked away. Organization has never been easier with sensible cabinet accessories like pull out organizers, dividers and lazy Susans that help keep everyday items near where they are used most.

With dozens of choices including wood type, door style, construction method plus color and finish options, picking cabinets can be a daunting task on its own, so it’s no surprise that most people tend to be a bit overwhelmed when it comes to designing or redesigning an entire kitchen.

Countertops: Beyond cabinets, there are decisions to be made on countertops that have profile, rounded or square edge choices, backsplash options, sinks, faucets, hardware, molding details and other various design details.

“It’s definitely easier when you’re working with a blank slate,” Szamatowicz added. “Remodels are typically a little more difficult because you have to work within an existing space.”

While granite and quartz are still popular choices for countertops since they are both durable, easy-to-maintain and come in a variety of colors, stainless steel appliances are being combined with built-in appliances, which are disguised by cabinet panels, more often now. There is also a recent movement toward more gray tones and monotone looks, according to Szamatowicz.

Color: Finding its way into the kitchen, gray has become a popular neutral hue in homes over the last several years. While some designers consider it to be a bit of an unconventional choice as the predominant color in kitchens, today’s transitional style has opened up the possibilities.

For starters, as a neutral, gray works well with other colors in the kitchen.

While gray can appear austere and chilly compared to warmer neutrals like beige and tan, the key is using it with a warm material like wood and/or a pop of contrasting color like red, orange, yellow or lime green for a fresh, cool and elegant look.

An advantage of using neutral gray cabinets with a bold wall color is that the walls are relatively easy and affordable to change when a different color strikes your fancy or if you decide to stage the space for resale.

And, just when you thought there couldn’t be any other decisions to make, there’s always the option of mixing cabinet colors in the kitchen.

“The two-tone cabinet trend started a few years ago and is still going strong,” Szamatowicz said. “There are also a lot more kitchen islands today that are different colors, gray islands with white perimeters for example.”

By blending elements from different styles, transitional kitchens look up-to-date and remain functional for many years. They also give people the option of incorporating a variety of elements that reflect their personal style.

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