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Traditional vs Modern: A Comparative Cabinet Guide

Apr 20, 2020
iCabinetry Traditional vs Modern A Comparative Cabinet Guide IMAGE1 scaled

What type of kitchen appeals to you most: a traditional kitchen with old-fashioned elegance and refinement or a modern and sleek kitchen with a more unique artistic vibe? In general, people will gravitate toward one type of kitchen or the other.

So what can you do to create the desired effect? Are modern vs traditional kitchens all about the decor, or is it the choice of color? What about the appliances?

Believe it or not, much of a kitchen’s specific design effects comes down to its cabinets. Custom kitchen cabinets can be made in a more traditional design to appeal to more antique and classic tastes or in more modern designs to appeal to a fresher and more contemporary market.

When you’re shopping for kitchen cabinets, make sure that you know exactly what you’re looking for. You can rely on the following design guide, which breaks down the specific differences between traditional and modern kitchen cabinets.


In design terms, texture refers not to the tactile sensation of touching a material–rough, smooth, bumpy, etc.–but to the visual texture of a product. For instance, glossy paint reflects more light and allows slight color variation on a surface, which adds texture.

In general, traditional kitchen cabinets have more texture, while modern cabinets are smoother and more uniform-looking. Rustic styles, glossy wood finishes, more exposed wood grain, and features like trim and beadboard give traditional cabinets their old-fashioned appeal. People who prefer modern cabinets, meanwhile, prefer the more clean and uniform appearance, which hidden pulls and handles and an absence of frames. However, bright paint colors and more advanced materials can provide visual interest, for those who want to avoid a sterile look.


Traditional kitchen cabinets are more likely to have varied features, like glass-front cabinets, exposed wine racks, and more. Modern designs tend to look more uniform, and may even blend appliances like the refrigerator and dishwasher into the facade of the cabinets. One variety that modern design tastes allow for is the occasional switch to open shelves in cabinetry design. However, modern kitchens have more inconspicuous features, like compact sliding drawers and stain-resistant laminate.

Note that the best custom kitchen cabinets will include as many or few features as would appeal to clients. After all, it’s hard to note any practical or longevity differences between modern and traditional cabinets.


In general, traditional cabinets allow for a more unique and detailed or ornate kitchen layout. Horseshoe kitchens, angled corners, rounded fronts, and curved bars give kitchens a traditional grandeur. Meanwhile, modern kitchen layouts are less forgiving. Because simplicity is key, the layout of the cabinets should be fairly straightforward, prioritizing right angles and parallel surfaces. In-line and island layouts are the preferred arrangements of modern kitchens.

So if you’re looking to shop for custom kitchen cabinets online, use the above guide to make your kitchens learn more modern or traditional. Remember that neither style type is superior, and it always comes down to personal preference.

If you need more assistance, you can turn to a professional cabinet company, like iCabinetry. Start designing your dream kitchen with our custom-made kitchen cabinets and get access to the best kitchen cabinets available nationwide.

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