Tile by Style: Transitional Kitchen | Fireclay Tile
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Tile by Style: Transitional Kitchen

By Pearl

Tile by Style: Transitional Kitchen

Tile shown: 3 x 6 in Caribbean; Image: Open Homes Photography; Design: Eco + Historical Homes

Like your favorite button-down shirt, transitional style takes all the design elements you know and love and translates it into modern living. Transitional style is all about striking a balance--it wants to be elegant without feeling overdressed. Classic yet casual, timeless yet versatile, transitional style’s staying power lies in its ability to please anyone. the more examples you see the more you’ll realize that there aren’t many rules when it comes transitional design.

Architectural Elements

The architectural elements you’ll find in a transitional home feature characteristics that will feel immediately familiar and classic to you. Molding framing entrances and columns and turned detailing take cues from Victorian-era design. Transitional homes may also be similar to Victorian homes in terms of layout--rather than the vastly open layout of a contemporary home, transitional homes will often have rooms separated by designated function (living room versus kitchen versus dining room).


You’ll find a mix of manufactured and natural elements layered into a transitional home. Pairing elements like wood and woven fibers or marble and tile bring texture and dimension to a space, adding to its multifaceted take on design.

We love the way marble and tile are paired together in this transitional kitchen.

Color Palette

When it comes to a transitional palette, neutrals dominate. Timelessly fail-proof in the way transitional styles can be, neutrals help homes achieve a comfortable color balance. White, tan, chocolate, cream, ivory, and taupe (and the occasional grays) all feel at home in a transitional space. Try layering different neutral shades in a variety of textures to give a room extra dimension. The occasional splash of a non-neutral can also add pop to a palette--however, too much color can take you into eclectic territory (stay tuned for more on eclectic!).

Tile for a Transitional Kitchen

Tile can help to break out of the traditional and freshen up a transitional space. Glossy, water-resistant finishes add a bit of shine, while an array of neutrals give you plenty of ways to achieve a transitional look you can call your own.


To find a neutral hue that speaks to you, consider the color of your kitchen cabinetry. If it’s light and bright, consider a tile that goes a shade darker to give your space depth.

If your cabinetry is dark, go with a lighter shade to help brighten the look.

A crackled glaze will also help to add texture and a touch of patina to cabinetry with crisp finishes. Cabinet finishes with a patina however might be better served by tile colors with less crackle. Like we said before, the key to transitional zen is balance.

Here are some of our designer-favorite neutrals (you can’t go wrong with these):

Tile colors shown: White Wash, Foggy Morning with Black Patine, Silver Haze and London Fog


Tile patterns in transitional home should remain fairly classic. That means timeless patterns like Subway (or offset), and Herringbone. These all-time favorite patterns are choices that add just the right amount of visual interest without going too far off into left field.

Tile color shown: Frost

A light gray Herringbone pattern plays beautifully off the kitchen’s sleek paneling without dominating the space.

Tile shown: 2 x 6 in Foggy Morning

If you want to incorporate decorative tile into your kitchen decor, consider a small area behind your stove top and frame it with solid-colored tile. This can help lead the eye to the kitchen’s natural focal point.

Handpainted pattern shown: Grandola in the Neutral Motif

If you’re feeling inclined to add some extra color to your kitchen, a mosaic can incorporate a more playful look to your space. Just make sure the colors you choose are fairly close together in the spectrum if you want to stay true to the transitional look.

Finally, if you love classic design, an Architectural Molding might be just the thing to bring a distinctive look to your backsplash. We love the way it echos the cabinets’ molding while creating a border between the mosaic and subway tile (we’d call that a transitional triple axel if there ever was one).

Ready to order tile for your transitional kitchen? Order free samples now. Need some help? Simply call, chat, or fill out our Design Assistance Form and one of our talented Design Consultants will get back to you shortly.