A transitional family kitchen is all about creating a space that works for where your family is now, but can flex and shift as your needs change over time. As your family grows and evolves, having a kitchen design that can adapt is key. Here are some tips for creating the perfect transitional family kitchen.

Choosing Flexible Features

When designing your transitional kitchen, choose features that can multitask and change over time.


A kitchen island is a great transitional feature. It can provide extra counterspace and storage now, but also serve as an eat-in dining area as your family expands. Look for an island that offers both seated and stand-up heights to serve multiple functions.


Opt for cabinetry with adjustable shelves and removable components. That way you can reconfigure storage as needed over the years. Features like pull-out shelves andlazy susans also maximize cabinet space.


Quartz and solid surface countertops hold up well over time and come in neutral hues that complement multiple design styles. There are also inexpensive butcher block and stainless steel options that can be switched out down the road.


Double sinks allow for multiple cooks, while bar/prep sinks offer additional cleaning space. An apron front single sink is another transitional option.


Choose appliances like ranges and refrigerators in classic, timeless styles rather than anything too trendy. This allows them to flex with different design styles over the years.

Creating a Flexible Layout

The layout of your transitional kitchen should allow for changes in how your family uses the space.

  • Allow room around islands and peninsulas to accommodate stools or tables when needed.
  • Use movable carts and prep tables that can roll where needed.
  • Keep major appliances along the perimeter so that the main floorspace can evolve.
  • Allow for a dining area that can expand with a table or shrink with a bistro set as needs change.
  • Use transitional flooring like hardwoods throughout so that cabinetry and walls can be adapted without having to change flooring.

Selecting Durable, Neutral Finishes

Finishes that can endure years of wear and tear are important in a transitional kitchen. Timeless, neutral hues also make it easy to shift the look as desired.

  • Paint cabinets and walls in whites, grays and subtle tones of blue or green that offer flexibility.
  • Choose classic subway tile or neutral granite, quartz or marble surfaces.
  • Opt for brushed nickel or oil rubbed bronze hardware and fixtures for an elegant, timeless look.
  • Go for wood, stone or porcelain flooring that can withstand heavy use.

Incorporating Personal Style

While designing a flexible, durable kitchen is key, don’t forget to make it reflective of your personal taste.

  • Add color accents with removable accessories like stools, rugs, curtains and art. This allows color changes over time.
  • Install a statement backsplash or interesting light fixtures that reflect your style.
  • Choose sink and faucet finishes like black, copper or champagne bronze to show your personality.

Creating zones

Designate distinct zones in an open concept kitchen for different needs that shift as your family grows.

Cooking Zone

Keep major appliances together in a primary cooking zone. Add a food prep zone nearby with a second sink, butcher block and bar seating.

Cleaning Zone

Allow space for dirty dish storage, trash/recycling and cleaning supplies separate from cooking zones.

Dining Zone

Create an eat-in dining area adjacent to (but not overlapping) food prep zones. Size it to allow for expansion.

Homework Zone

An island, desk or banquette seating area can serve as a homework zone for kids, then convert to extra seating later.

Storage Solutions

It’s all about maximizing storage in a transitional kitchen. Some space-saving ideas:

  • Opt for closed cabinets rather than open shelving to keep clutter hidden.
  • Use roll-out trays, pull-out shelves and lazy susans to access back spaces.
  • Try drawers instead of lower cabinets for easy access.
  • Install an angled blind corner cabinet organizer.
  • Use door racks and cabinet inserts to double storage space.
  • Hang extra storage on insides of cabinet doors if needed.

Lighting Layers

Proper lighting ensures your transitional kitchen functions well for family needs through the years.

  • Include overhead lighting on dimmers to control brightness.
  • Use task lighting at key areas like islands, sinks and counters.
  • Add accent lighting under cabinets and inside display cabinets.
  • Include pendants or track lighting to illuminate dining areas.

The Takeaway

The beauty of a transitional family kitchen is the ability to adapt. Focus first on durable surfaces and cabinetry that can change over time. Then incorporate multi-use islands, furniture and lighting that flex as needs evolve. Stay neutral on permanent elements like cabinetry, then layer in personal style with color accents and fixtures. Follow these tips to create a kitchen that truly transitions with your family through the years.

FAQs about Transitional Family Kitchens

What are the key features of a transitional family kitchen?

Some top features include an island that offers both dining and prep space, durable quartz or solid surface countertops, timeless shaker style cabinets, flexible lighting like pendants and dimmable overhead lighting, and neutral backsplashes like subway tile that withstand heavy family use.

What’s the best sink for a transitional kitchen?

An apron-front single bowl sink or a double bowl sink provide great flexibility. Stainless steel is durable, while ceramic or composite materials add style. Include a second prep/bar sink if space allows.

How much does a transitional kitchen remodel cost?

A full transitional kitchen remodel can range from $20,000-$40,000 depending on size, materials and custom work. But you can also transitionalize in phases – updating cabinet fronts, adding an island, changing light fixtures and backsplash to refresh the look over time.

What backsplash works best in a transitional kitchen?

Tile backsplash in white, neutral and gray tones is a great choice. Subway tile is classic, affordable and easy to swap out. Marble, travertine or quartz slab backsplashes offer durability and elegance. Use mosaic tile sparingly as an accent.

Should I choose open or closed cabinets in my transitional kitchen?

Having some closed (or glass front) cabinets balanced with a few open shelves offers the best of both worlds. Closed cabinets hide clutter while open shelves display cherished dishware. Just be sure to use sturdy metal brackets for open shelving.

What flooring works best for transitional kitchens?

Durable porcelain or ceramic tile is a great option, along with hardwoods or laminate wood flooring. Stone finishes like slate and travertine add elegance but require sealing. Choose neutral tones that complement multiple cabinetry and wall color changes through the years.


Creating a transitional kitchen means having a space that can flex and change over time as your family grows. Focus first on durable surfaces, cabinets and an adaptable layout. Then add movable, multi-use islands and furniture, adjustable lighting and personalized accents. Selecting sinks, appliances and finishes that stand the test of time is also key. Follow these tips for a family kitchen that gracefully transitions along with you through the years. The end result is a warm, welcoming heart of the home designed to meet your family’s needs now and in the future.