Traditional kitchens are very popular and have continued to be popular for decades now. While modern and transitional kitchen trends are always evolving, traditional kitchen styles have the advantage of always staying similar, so they don’t really age as much as “modern” kitchens can in 5 or 10 years.

Old-school kitchens can be a very sensible choice!

Traditional kitchen design is all about natural materials, warm colors, and an overall sense of homeliness that feels warm, comforting, and inviting. But what about traditional cabinets for kitchens? What style should they be and how should you incorporate them into the space?

Here we look at traditional cabinet styles for your kitchen and give you some tips on this classic design style. Let’s go!

What is a Traditional Kitchen?

Traditional kitchens, often referred to as “farmhouse kitchens” depending on the decor, are old-style kitchens that are designed to look classic and timeless, using lots of warm colors and natural materials to help the space feel warm, inviting, and comfortable.

It should feel old and worn in… not new and modern.

Traditional kitchen design often features rustic charm and character due to features such as exposed beams, stone walls, farmhouse sinks, and wooden countertops or butcher’s blocks. The idea is to harken back to a simpler time before culinary technology was widespread (while still keeping these appliances to hand).

Everything about a traditional kitchen design should feel warm. You’ll see a lot of natural wooden tones, as well as warm muted colors such as oranges, yellows, and greens. Cream and off-white cabinets are also quite common if they’re paired with the right colors in the rest of the kitchen.

From the hardware to the wall cabinets, everything should feel cozy.

A traditional kitchen is the dream kitchen of many homeowners, particularly if they grew up in the country or they just prefer the homely feel of the design. There are a few subsets of traditional design style, such as French Country Kitchen and Farmhouse Kitchen, though many of the style elements are similar regardless.

What are Traditional Cabinets?

Traditional kitchen cabinets come in different aesthetics depending on the look you’re going for overall. However, there are some common themes that you’ll see with traditional style kitchen cabinet sets no matter the specific style that the interior designer has in mind.

First off, they’ll pretty much always be wooden.

Traditional cabinet sets are always made from some kind of wood, as it’s the most traditional material you can get. As they say, these should be “cabinets that look like cabinets”. You won’t find laminate and glossy finishes here – it’s all about that natural, farmhouse feel.

Framed cabinets are usually standard here, and there are different styles of cabinet doors to take into consideration. For example, recessed or raised panel designs are very common, taking influences from Shaker designs and Portland cabinet door designs, respectively.

Whether it’s a recessed or raised panel, there’s usually some kind of wooden panel decoration.

Another style that’s sometimes used is Beadboard kitchen cabinets. If you’re not familiar, Beadboard refers to narrow strips of wood joined together with “beads” that can be placed on traditional-style cabinets and/or kitchen walls to evoke a cozy, almost beachhouse-like look. This series of raised panel boards can make your cabinets a real focal point.

When it comes to cabinet hardware, don’t expect anything fancy.

This traditional cabinet doors style is not about bling and fancy materials – your cabinet door hardware (handles, hinges etc.) should be focused on simple metals that contrast the wood panel doors. For many people, this means dull metals such as wrought iron and oil rubbed bronze or brass. You don’t want anything too shiny or distracting.

Remember, this kitchen style should feel humble and lived in. And if you like this style you’d probably appreciate semi-custom kitchen cabinets.

How to Make Traditional Cabinetry Look Rustic

If you’re going for that authentic rustic feel, it’s important to make your kitchen cabinetry feels aged and distressed, even if it’s brand new.

There are a couple of easy ways to do this. Depending on the design elements of your kitchen, one method may work better than the other.


This is the easiest way to make your panel doors seem aged, especially if they’re painted. Once the paint on the cabinet doors has dried (this should be in a flat finish) you simply take a sanding block and some sandpaper to your cabinet doors, helping to artificially age them.

It’s quicker than just waiting a few years!

The idea is to remove some of the paint layers and expose the wood color underneath, giving the impression that these cabinets have been in this kitchen for decades, with the paint naturally wearing off over time. Not everyone likes the distressed aesthetic, but many people find that it adds that extra layer of authenticity to the design.


Glazing is another common technique used in traditional kitchen styles. Essentially, this makes your cabinets look like antique cabinets that have been preserved for many decades (although they are showing signs of age). The glaze adds dark highlights to carvings in the wood, so it’s great for recessed and raised panel cabinet doors.

Really show off those wooden carvings!

First off, the door should be painted in a flat white (or off-white) finish and allowed to dry. After that, you glaze the door with a semi-transparent shade of brown or black, depending on the finish you desire. Once it dries, the darker brown hues will stain the white wood and settle in the grooves of the wood, making them look aged and “antiqued”.

Cabinets glazed in this style are sometimes called “antique white cabinets”.

What color should traditional cabinets be?

Kitchens with cabinets in the traditional style often used the natural wood tones of the cabinets for their color scheme, especially if the kitchen already features a lot of lighter colors that make the space bright and airy. However, if the kitchen is already beige and brown heavy, then you might paint your cabinets for a fresher look.

If you’re going to paint your traditional-style cabinets, these are your most common options:

  1. Pastel Colors – If you want to inject a little color into your dream kitchen without taking away the vintage vibes, try painting the cabinet doors a soft pastel color such as pale gray, pale blue, or pale green. These colors can blend into the feeling of the kitchen, especially if they’re matte.
  2. White or Off-White – White cabinets are often used in traditional kitchens that are full of darker colors as it helps to brighten up the space a little. Off-white and light beige are the most common colors used for this style, again in a matte finish.
  3. Vibrant Colors – If your traditional kitchen design is taking inspiration from modern kitchens, then you might choose to include a bright, vibrant red or yellow as part of your design. This isn’t very common, but it can tie together the look for certain design styles.

No matter what color you paint your traditional cabinet doors, be sure to keep the finish flat and matte – we’re not going for a modern high-gloss aesthetic here.

Should I Get Traditional-Style Cabinets?

As a general rule of thumb, traditional cabinet sets only look good in traditional (duh) or transitional style kitchens that take elements of old and modern design and combine them together. If you’re unsure whether they work with your design, speak to an experienced interior designer who can help. You can also look for french country modern kitchen

It’s always best to ask an expert!

Nonetheless, if traditional kitchen cabinet sets are at home in your design, then we would highly recommend them. Not only are these cabinets easy to maintain and keep clean, but they’re also pretty robust and moderately priced. If you want to be transported back to a simpler culinary time, look no further than these old-school cabinets!

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