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Should I go modern or traditional for my kitchen renovation?

This is the golden question! If you have been browsing online for design inspiration for your upcoming kitchen renovation—you may be caught between wanting a sleek, modern kitchen or a more character filled traditional style kitchen. Some prefer a contemporary design, while others favour a classic and more traditional feel to their home. No design theme is right or wrong, as it completely comes down to your personal choice and individual taste. If you’re thinking of renovating or redecorating your home, then it’s wise to understand how each of these designs differ and what it is that separates these two distinguished design themes apart.

Obviously, this choice will ultimately come down to your preferred style—however, here is our detailed guide outlining key features of both styles—and the benefits that come from opting to incorporate a modern or traditional design plan for your upcoming kitchen renovation.


What is the difference between modern and contemporary kitchen renovations?

‘Contemporary kitchens’ and ‘modern kitchens’ are terms you will often hear and see written interchangeably. While this is not a problem in everyday speech, confusion can arise if you are talking to architects or interior designers as there are some key differences with the two terms that come down to technicalities.

‘Contemporary’ is a term that encompasses a range of styles developed in the latter half of the 20th century. Contemporary design emerged initially in the San Francisco Bay area and became the prevalent look of American residential homes in the 1950s. Contemporary pieces feature softened and rounded lines as opposed to the stark lines seen in modern design. Contemporary interiors contain neutral elements and bold colour, and they focus on the basics of line, shape and form.

‘Modern’ refers very specifically to a period of time in the early to mid-20th-century—which was a point in time where a revolution where modern mass-produced building materials, clean lines and a new, previously inconceivable, type of design was born. Glass, steel and concrete could now be produced in larger quantities and sizes with machine-produced precision. This was the first time technology of this nature was available and the world was embracing it. Designers started to realise they could push the boundaries with this modern take on design in a way that was unable to be explored before. It was quite a departure from the styles before the industrial revolution and still sends ripples into the designs we enjoy today. Modern kitchen designs ensure that the cultural and creative norms are pushed and are ever growing. Modern kitchens use beautiful engineered surfaces and glamorous concrete/steel products which give your kitchen an extreme, horizontal and bold look.

Characteristics of a ‘modern’ kitchen renovation.

  • Space and lighting
    Modern kitchen designs ensure that the light and space are maximised with the use of reflective materials and cleverly designed kitchen storage solutions. This may include floating shelves, cabinetry to the roof and open airy designs that aren’t overly cluttered.
  • Kitchen doors
    Modern kitchen doors have a flat panel design that provides a horizontal and simple line design. This increases the appearance of space and offers a streamline and sleek look.
  • Layout attributes
    Modern kitchen designs boast open plan living designs that are open, airy and surrounded by oversized glass windows and doors. Often modern kitchen renovations will include floor plans that stretch the entire length of the kitchen layout. They embrace zoned living and welcome monochromatic colour palettes and smart technology. Minimalism and streamlined features are what really give the modern kitchen its classic look.
  • Cabinets
    Modern kitchen cabinets may combine materials like wood, laminates, glass and metal to achieve a more streamline feel. Often you’ll find—that modern cabinets requested for upcoming kitchen renovations will possess a horizontal line design which is magnified by the cabinet hardware extending the full length of the drawers and doors. Modern style cabinets have a curved corner which provides a streamlined look and offer a reassuring safety element in a
    family kitchen.
  • Minimal
    Modern kitchens are always minimal. You won’t find bulky appliances or cooking utensils overpowering the room in a modern kitchen design plan. There is always an emphasis on storage to ensure everything can be stored away and out of sight to create a clean and decluttered look.
  • Monochrome
    Black is a strong and electrifying colour that is renowned for modernising your kitchen in unbelievable ways if utilised right. Black is a very sophisticated colour choice which can add a sense of depth to your space. Incorporating black in high traffic areas of your home, such as the kitchen will aid in keeping your space clean and tidy as it is great at concealing marks and scuffs. Pair your chosen black cabinetry with bright white surfaces and a white splashback which will allow natural light to bounce around your space in a very inviting manner.
  • Lighting
    Many who are wanting to engage in a modern overhaul of their kitchen when renovating request lighting strategies that are clean and bright. Zoned smart lighting is popular in modern kitchen renovations to ensure all parts of the open plan design have adequate lighting. Crisp and hidden task lighting and adjustable lighting is reflective of a modern kitchen renovation design plan.
  • Flooring
    Laminate, engineered wood, tiling and polished concrete floors are all very modern takes on flooring for your upcoming kitchen renovation. Fresh, white porcelain tiles or natural stone like slate, can all be embraced for a modern kitchen design depending on your personal preference.
  • Appliances
    Modern kitchen appliances can range from new black or stainless steel designs for fridges and cooktops. Or more commonly the fully integrated look is very prevalent in modern kitchen renovations, as thanks to modern advancements, your appliances can now be completely hidden away within your space. This provides your kitchen with a fully cohesive and streamlined design.
  • Traditional
    Characteristics of a ‘traditional’ kitchen renovation.
  • Crown molding
    Crown molding is a form of cornice created out of decorative molding installed atop an interior wall. Crown moldings are a signature feature of traditional kitchens. They help lift the space, drawing your eye up—to make the ceiling feel higher. Crown molding can increase your home value as it creates a feeling of grandeur within your home.
  • Corbels
    The term ‘corbel’ refers to an architectural member that projects out from a wall and acts as a type of bracket to carry weight, such as that imposed by a balcony above. Corbels allow you to increase the depth of your kitchen and will add traditional character to your kitchen renovation design.
  • Neutral colours
    Traditional kitchen renovations always stick to the classic colour palette. Think warm and cool neutrals, like deep cherries and light beige. Traditional style colours are easy to live with shades that aren’t too bold or jarring to the eye. Avoid pale or pastel colours in a classic colour scheme for a traditional kitchen renovation.
  • High-end benchtops
    Traditional kitchens always have a luxurious or high-end stone benchtop that complements the neutral toned cabinetry. This may be marble, granite or quartz—and featured in a variation of classic shades.
  • Cabinetry
    Vintage or raised panel cabinetry can give your kitchen renovation a really traditional look. This is a more embellished cabinet design that steers away from minimalism and clean lines. Traditional shaker cabinets can be a simple alternative for your traditional kitchen renovation too.
  • Antique finishes
    Many traditional kitchen designs are complete with glazed cabinetry. This is when a second colour is added to your cabinets. This colour will help to accentuate the architectural details such as corners and molding which are textbook features of a traditional kitchen.
  • The classic splashback
    Vibrantly coloured kitchen splashbacks or stainless steel variations are super modern and not usually found in a traditional setting. A simple tonal square or rectangle tile with white or grey grout is generally incorporated into a traditional kitchen renovation. White, ivory, cream and soft grey splashbacks are often popular choices for traditional kitchen renovations.
  • Ornate lighting
    Traditional kitchens are not fit with sleek downlights but rather dazzling chandeliers that tie the space in together. Traditional kitchen lighting is quite decorative and elaborate and commonly—a singular statement piece is chosen to accompany some task lighting within the space. This allows for both beauty and functionality to work harmoniously together in a traditional style kitchen.
  • Handles and hardware
    Opt for a unique, antique influenced kitchen pull handle that is both practical and visually appealing. There are a range of interesting handles to welcome that old-world charm into your space. You can buy these from antique stores or even source them from thrift shops. Traditional style handles are no longer only available in brass options as many companies have created replica handles that embody this traditional style in a range of varying colours and styles.
  • Appliances
    Traditional kitchen appliances are more bulky than your modern ones as they represent a time when technology was not as advanced. This does not mean you need to sacrifice on power and capability, as many modern brands have embraced the traditional kitchen appliance design and created exceptionally high performing traditional looking appliances. This can be found in the form of the freestanding cooker, refrigerators and smaller kitchen appliances such as mixers, blenders and coffee machines.

Can you amalgamate the two?

Combining traditional and modern furniture and kitchen design elements may seem like a challenging blend to get right. However, when done correctly, this mixture of two iconic themes—creates an individualistic and interesting space. One of the main pros of blending traditional and modern interior design styles is developing a personal style that won’t be prevalent in other homes. Due to how individualised this process is, you are bound to have an end result that is both unique and inviting.

Mixing traditional and contemporary styles can pose a challenge for those who aren’t interior design inclined as this can be daunting and seem risky. However, it’s also a fun way to experiment with contrasts and an appealing way to embrace items that reflect different time periods under one roof. By ensuring you keep a sense of proportion, and linking different styles with common details or accents, you can achieve a unique design scheme to suit your personal tastes. Modern design is based on simple, clean-lined work and a minimalist design. This makes it simple to mesh the two styles as you can introduce traditional pieces in the form of furniture or appliances without making it seem outdated or Victorian style.

You can absolutely decorate with pieces from more than one period or style (people do it all the time) but be sure to find similarities in colours, wood tones, lines, and scale to pull it all together harmoniously. After all if you want a kitchen renovation that will add value to your home, be sure you get this design element right through thorough planning and expert advice.

Why choose BJF Joinery for your modern, traditional or mixed theme kitchen renovation?

BJF Joinery, are a Gold Coast based kitchen renovation and expert joinery company—that pride themselves on fulfilling customers kitchen renovation goals by being upfront and transparent in all stages of planning and construction. BJF Joinery, offers impressive design work that is always completed in a timely and economical fashion for their valued customers. They have a team of certified designers that can help you through all stages of planning your kitchen
renovation to ensure the end result is exactly as you imagined.

The BJF Joinery team consists of market leading cabinet makers specialising in custom high-end joinery for kitchens, bathrooms and laundries of any size. They are a locally owned and operated company with over 30 years’ combined experience in the business. BJF Joinery have created cabinetry, custom furniture and fitted out commercial space for numerous customers with winning results.

Using only quality materials, hardware and the latest technologies, BJF Joinery will assist you with all your joinery needs from concepts to installation. Call BJF Joinery today—for specialised information regarding your space. The team at BJF Joinery are ready and waiting to answer your burning questions about your upcoming kitchen renovation plans.

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