The Characteristics That Define a Traditional English Kitchen

traditional english kitchen

For many people, the kitchen is the heart of the home. It is where food is cooked and where the family gathers. Therefore, it is important that you get your kitchen design right. This should include consideration for the practical elements of a kitchen along with your choice of interior design style. The type of style you choose should reflect your personal tastes and the general style of your home. One of the styles that you might like to consider for your kitchen is traditional English. Here are the characteristics that define a traditional English kitchen.

What is a Traditional English Kitchen?

A traditional English kitchen is one that is inspired by the traditional English interior design style. According to Small Design Ideas, this is an interior design style that is inspired by traditional English country homes, usually from the 17th and 18th century. The style is a combination of the elegant style choices of aristocracy with added elements of comfort. While some people may utilize the traditional English style for the whole kitchen, others may implement just some aspects of this style into their kitchen.

Color Schemes

There are several different choices when it comes to choosing colors for a traditional English kitchen. A modern interpretation is to keep things neutral with natural wood units and a neutral color scheme on the walls. To keep with the more traditional look, Vogue says that you should choose natural colors for your units, such as deep greens, grays, and blues, and then add a lighter shade of the same color to the walls. You should use paint with a matte finish, rather than a gloss or satin finish. You can use both complementary and contrasting colors in your accessories.

Materials for Traditional English Kitchens

Burnhill Kitchens says that the materials used in traditional English kitchens are natural materials as the style reflects a time when many of the materials used in the modern-day were not available. Therefore, you will find materials such as stone, wood, and brickwork.

  • Kitchen Units – Wood units are the only option for a traditional English kitchen, and you should opt for a classic style. Units are usually painted, although natural wood units, such as rustic oak, will also work. A traditional English kitchen has a combination of top and bottom units. A distressed paint effect on the units also works well. If you choose a modern kitchen in a traditional style or if you have bespoke kitchen units made, then consider integrating modern appliances so that they are discreetly hidden and do not conflict with the theme of the room. If possible, have modern appliances in a separate room, such as a laundry room or pantry.
  • Work Surfaces – In most cases, the work surfaces in a traditional English kitchen are wood. However, you can also opt for a stone or tiled work surface for your kitchen. Avoid modern laminated work surfaces or worktops made from marble as this is in conflict with the theme. A modern alternative to stone or tiles is polished concrete, as this can have a similar look to natural stone.
  • Floors – Most floors in traditional English kitchens are made from uneven slabs of stone in irregular shapes. This is both a practical and an aesthetically pleasing choice of material for the floors. Other options include tiles or wooden flooring that is sanded, stained and treated. If you have a large kitchen with a dining area, add a rug away from the food preparation area. This adds warmth and detail to the room.
  • Furniture – Bespoke furniture is always best as you will get exactly the look, shape, and size that you want. However, there is plenty of fantastic furniture you can buy in stores, online, or from catalogs. Wood furniture is ideal for the traditional English style in your kitchen. If you have a large, farmhouse style kitchen that has room for a dining area, then the most important pieces of furniture you will buy are the table and chairs. Choose something like a large oak table and chairs in a rustic style, and opt for a shape that best fits in your kitchen.

Appliances and Fittings

The best option for cooking is a range or an AGA as these are the more traditional types of ovens available. As already mentioned, integrate modern appliances or keep them in a separate room. The best sink option is to have a deep, double-width, ceramic Belfast sink or a similar ceramic option.


Plants and books are common accessories used in traditional English homes. Therefore, consider having some potted plants or herbs on the kitchen windowsill and a shelf displaying cookery books. Other accessories to consider are plates or other ceramics displayed on a picture rail and pans hanging from hooks rather than stored away in cupboards. If you have an alcove in your kitchen, this is the perfect space to add some shelves to display other accessories.

Other Features

There are some other features that you may find in a traditional English kitchen. The first of these is exposed beams on the ceiling. If you are keeping the theme of your room as close to the traditional English style as possible, then leave the beams as natural wood or stain them. However, you can also paint them to give your kitchen a brighter look. Another feature you may see is an area of exposed brick or stone. You can leave just one wall of stone or brick exposed. Alternatively, choose a prominent feature of the room, such as a chimney breast, and leave the stone or brick exposed on this feature.

Traditional English Kitchen – The final Verdict

A traditional English kitchen is inspired by English country homes in the 17th and 18th century. However, most now also include elements of modern design styles. Natural materials and colors are important to the style. It is essential that you combine aesthetics with practicality to achieve a traditional English kitchen that is both visually pleasing and fit for its purpose.

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