June 20, 2024
9 Key Elements of Timeless Kitchen Design

Do you want a kitchen that will stand the test of time? From colors to materials, find out what makes an enduring design.

9 Key Elements of Timeless Kitchen Design

A modern kitchen features hard flooring, stainless steel appliances, and a kitchen island with a white countertop and wood design.

Photo: istockphoto.com

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Remodeling a kitchen is no small investment. These days U.S. homeowners are paying an average of about $26,000 for a new kitchen. Plus, there’s also the disruption to daily life and time devoted to managing the project. In order to max out the investment, it’s essential to consider longevity for both function and style when approaching a renovation. It’s also beneficial to avoid the temptation to follow the latest trends and bold choices that may seem appealing now, because fads often don’t endure and can quickly turn to regret. A timeless kitchen design, however, will continue to be appealing for years to come.

There are certain elements that professional renovators incorporate for a kitchen that will look great for years to come. “The key to timeless kitchen design is creating a space that feels both welcoming and functional, with just the right balance of classic and contemporary elements,” says kitchen expert and interior designer Kerrie Kelly.

1. Opt for neutral tones.

A white kitchen with quartz countertops features stainless steel appliances and cutting boards with prepared fruits and vegetables.

Photo: Galapo Group Design LLC

“I think that anything that is natural, warm, and neutral in tone will always remain timeless and classic,” says president of Galapo Group Design, LLC Jaime Galapo, who prioritizes simplicity in her work. When creating a classic kitchen design, she opts for wood tones or whites as a neutral choice for timeless kitchen cabinet colors. She says, “Some say white kitchens are out, but I believe white is classic.” However, she says that any neutral tones will work.

Steer clear of patterns that you might regret or tire of after a while. Choose surfaces that are easy on the eye, says Galapo. For instance, she suggests avoiding intricate mosaics and small tiles on the backsplash, opting instead for classic materials such as natural stone or subway tile.

2. Choose classic and subtle colors.

A predominantly white kitchen features stainless steel appliances, three navy blue chairs at the kitchen counter, and a golden metal wall art piece.

Photo: Galapo Group Design LLC

“While neutral tones like white, cream, or gray are timeless choices for cabinets, don’t be afraid to inject some personality with subtle pops of color,” says Kelly, who recommends soft hues of blues and greens or even a rich navy to add depth and interest. Stick to classic hues that can suit various design styles.

For those who want to bring in some bold colors, Galapo recommends integrating those on an island. She says this spot can provide the perfect accent while still being easy to repaint or reface for a face-lift. Wall paint and textiles are also great places to add color without a big commitment.

3. Focus on functionality.

A white kitchen features dark hardwood flooring, plenty of marble counter space, and a refrigerator within the kitchen island.

Photo: Galapo Group Design LLC

A space that suits its users well is one that will endure, and making a list of your kitchen must-haves is a helpful place to start. For instance, homeowners who love to cook tend to prioritize plenty of prep space and a hardworking stove. “A well-designed kitchen needs to be really functional,” says Galapo. “Always take inventory of what you have so that you can create a space for it in the design,” she adds.

Kelly says the classic triangular kitchen layout, in which the sink, stovetop, and refrigerator serve as the shape’s three points, remains essential for easy and efficient meal preparation. “Aim for a clean and functional layout that allows for ease of movement and efficient use of space,” she advises.

4. Blend modern and classic elements.

A kitchen features grey cabinetry, white countertops, white marble backsplash, and gold hardware.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Blending old and new elements can create balance in a kitchen design. For example, pairing traditional features such as crown molding and rich wood finishes with more modern kitchen trends like stainless steel and clean lines will result in a design that avoids the extremes of either side. “When it comes to crafting a timeless kitchen, it’s all about balancing classic elements with touches of modernity,” says Kelly.

To achieve this blend, consider using a traditional material in a new way. For example, integrate a classic subway tile with a herringbone or straight stack tile for a more contemporary arrangement. Alternatively, pair brushed gold hardware with a traditional cabinet style for a luxurious yet up-to-date look.

5. Choose high-quality materials.

A kitchen features hardwood flooring, a navy kitchen island, and white tiled backsplash.

Photo: Kerrie Kelly Design Studio

A kitchen needs to withstand wear and tear to last, so it’s important to choose high-quality and durable materials, says Kelly. “Hardwood floors, marble or quartz countertops, and solid wood cabinets are all timeless choices that exude elegance and sophistication,” she says.

Make sure to choose kitchen materials that are easy to clean, too. Galapo says to avoid choices that are difficult to upkeep, such as granite, which can be too absorbent for kitchen surfaces. Steer away from vinyl for kitchen surfaces as well, which can peel or warp when subjected to heat and water.

6. Keep the cabinet style simple.

A remodeled kitchen features brown slab cabinets, white marble counters, bar stools, and trendy pendant lighting.

Photo: Galapo Group Design LLC

A simple cabinet door may be the foundation for a timeless kitchen design. Shaker cabinets, popular for more than a century, feature a clean design with a center panel and a raised rectangular frame. Even better, this classic kitchen cabinet choice suits a variety of home styles.

Galapo also likes to use simple slab doors for an ageless design. The lack of ornamentation makes them modern and easy to clean while offering a neutral backdrop that can be paired with many aesthetics. She likes to dress them up with unique hardware for visual interest.

7. Opt for natural finishes.

A coastal-themed kitchen features light wood flooring, white and light blue cabinetry, and white appliances with copper handles.

Photo: Galapo Group Design LLC

Natural elements used indoors can create a sense of calm and organic beauty. Galapo loves to use natural stone as a central element of her designs. “There’s nothing quite like the beauty of nature,” she says. She often carries the stone from the countertop up the wall to create a timeless kitchen backsplash. “It’s clean, simple, neutral, and easy on the eye, and that’s what makes something timeless,” says Galapo.

Wood finishes will also bring natural warmth to the space. Choose a wood tone for shelves or cabinets, or consider butcher block for the island countertop. Integrate wood pulls or other small wooden accents, like bar stools or a rattan light fixture.

8. Make it relevant with layering.

A white kitchen features a small kitchen island with quartzite countertops, lighting underneath the cabinets, and warm gold hardware.

Photo: Galapo Group Design LLC

Think in layers when it comes to designing a swoon-worthy kitchen aesthetic. Classic cabinets and counters can be a terrific base for a timeless kitchen, but what sets the design apart is what’s layered on top of this classic foundation.

“There are many ways to make a neutral kitchen more relevant,” says Galapo. For example, she says, one might pair a simple slab cabinet door with bold or trendy hardware or integrate fun pendant lighting over a traditional island. She also recommends taking risks on other easily changeable accents such as accessories, fixtures, and textiles.

9. Add personal touches.

A modern kitchen features sage green cabinetry, open shelving, and white ceramics for decoration.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Nothing endures more than a personalized space. If the homeowner sees their interests reflected in the design, they won’t tire of it quickly. For this reason, make sure to integrate touches of personality, whether through artwork, wallpaper, textiles, hardware, or other accents.

Don’t be afraid to incorporate personal favorites that may seem less conventional. If pink is a lifelong favorite color, find a way to integrate the beloved hue into the design. Love plants? Create a display near a window. Have a collection of pottery or other items? Exhibit coveted objects on open shelves to pass by and admire every day.