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While we can’t stop the passage of time, most of us like a kitchen that doesn’t feel dated just a few years from upgrading the cabinets or countertops. And although kitchen trends and fads seem to last about as long as a high school crush, many of us continue to come back to the look of a period-inspired kitchen-a space with glass cupboards brimming with Grandmother’s dishes and a sturdy farm table taking center stage. Kitchens based on historical designs seem to transcend the ages and look appropriate even in the 21st-century. But what makes these kitchens timeless? The right proportions, materials, and design details hold the key to their success.

“A timeless kitchen is one that blends beauty and function and takes into consideration the style of the home and the tastes of the owner. Quality materials are utilized, from the cabinets to the appliances to the fixtures. A timeless design also serves many purposes and should reflect the needs of the cook as well as the rest of the family. There should be adequate workspace for cooking and food prep, eating or gathering, and thoughtful storage.” Leanne Smith, Owner of Family Kitchens


Timeless kitchens abound with natural materials. Using wood flooring and cabinets is a great place to start. A well-worn reclaimed wide-board floor offers authenticity to the room and wood cabinets lend an ageless feel. Linoleum flooring is also an enduring alternative. Introduced to kitchens in the early part of the 20th century, it has regained popularity once again for its durable and sustainable qualities. Natural stone is also an important material when achieving a lasting look. While a scratched laminated surface quickly dates your countertops, the beauty of soapstone and marble-two great timeless materials-only look more beautiful when well worn. Tom Kelly, owner of TRK Designs, believes a mix of materials-wood, stone, even concrete-is key to creating a space that remains fresh for years to come. Frank McCormick of McCormick Kitchens agrees about keeping the look simple with an earth tone color palette. “There are some great manmade products on the market that offer a natural look-the Cambria line of countertops are durable and timeless.”


Cabinets reproduced from old butler’s pantry designs of the late 1900s are a great alternative to today’s more elaborate designs that quickly date themselves. These well-proportioned Shaker-style (simple raised and flat paneled doors) profiles never go out of fashion. Instead of solid cabinets, mix open and glass-front cabinets to evoke a timeless feel, and incorporate freestanding dish hutches for an unfitted look. “Stay away from trendy cabinet looks that will label your kitchen to a specific timeframe years from now,” says Ken Dempsey, president and owner of Northshore Kitchens. “Choosing colors and details that don’t break the bank but give your kitchen a ‘wow’ factor is important for long-term consideration.” Cabinets painted white never seem to go out of fashion, and don’t be afraid to go with a dark stain on a wooden counter-the color contrast is striking. Kelly agrees, “Incorporating simple colors and designs will make the look last.”


One thing that is wonderful about kitchens based on these timeless principles is that the latest appliances always seem welcome-whether it’s a stainless steel Sub-Zero or an Aga cooker. The design doesn’t fall apart when they are introduced. “Choosing the right appliances that will hold up equally well to the quality and life expectancy of your kitchen cabinets is also important. The number one reason that most homeowners decide to remodel a kitchen is due to failed appliances,” says Dempsey.

Design Details

Lighting, hardware, plumbing fixtures, and sinks can also make or break the timeless look you’re trying to achieve. Reproduction cupboard catches and bin pulls offer perfect alternatives to more contemporary hardware. Light fixtures should be kept simple such as pendant and wall-mounted lighting fixtures with white bell shades. White porcelain farmhouse sinks and wall-mounted faucets were ubiquitous in old-house kitchens and are as timeless today as they were back then. “My advice to customers and friends is first, buy what you like and what fits your lifestyle,” says Chris Velonis, CEO of Peabody Supply. “Second, if you want to include a look that is based on a recent fad, do it in the form of an accessory-that way, it’s easily changed without spending a lot of time and money. As an example, if you find a funky faucet that you love, but come to the realization a few years from now that you no longer love it, the faucet can be easily changed. A bad selection in flooring, cabinets, or kitchen sinks can be with you for a lifetime.” The true success to a timeless kitchen is to keep it simple and let understated traditional details keep your kitchen relevant for generations to come.


 Three Timeless Picks from Yvonne Blacker,  Salem Plumbing/ Designer Bath

Add character and charm to a modern-day kitchen with these accessories.

1. An apron-front Copper Farmhouse Sink from Stone Forest 

Combines timeless beauty and natural patina

Old World-style antique dark copper finish

Hammered or smooth finish on apron-front

2. A deck-mounted bridge faucet from the Country Collection by Rohl 

Rich, exquisite detailing with functional design

Available in polished chrome, polished nickel, or Tuscan brass

3. Sinle-lever, single-hole Perrin & Rowe kitchen faucet 

Classic and ornate English styling

Available in Inca brass, polished chrome, English bronze