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Modern kitchen: peculiarities, trends, and design ideas with photos

Do open spaces, minimalist layouts, and neutral color palettes appeal to your liking? It seems modern kitchens are just what you would like since these features perfectly describe what a cooking space designed in the Modern style looks like. 

A Modern kitchen is streamlined, decluttered, has little to no accessories, and puts practicality over any other feature. Now, most homeowners state they want a modern kitchen when asked by designers what they would want their kitchen to look like since it means a contemporary space that keeps pace with everything trendy and shows an irresistible cutting-edge charm. Still, not everybody knows that Modern is actually a movement that started in the early 20th century and continues to prevail in interior design. As a response to maximalist design solutions that were stylish till then, Modern did the opposite and offered homeowners the possibility to enjoy the functionality and comfort of their interiors with minimalist approaches to everything that defines design. 

Is a Modern kitchen the same as a Contemporary one? Any designer will tell you “no”. Although the concepts are close, unfolding a clean-lined interior devoid of unnecessary elements and featuring a calm color board besides functional choices to favor the owners’ convenience, Contemporary refers to the current representation of any design style that accepts the new trends. Contemporary has no boundaries in terms of design possibilities so that one can easily interfere and personalize the style, while Modern is a well-defined style with clear features that shall be discovered by you in this article. What makes a kitchen feel modern? What are the key elements of a modern kitchen? How to stay up to date with the latest design trends? And, how to personalize a modern kitchen? Find the answers as follows. 

Key features and principles

As we have written about Modern dining room and Modern bathroom designs, we have noticed a bunch of common characteristics that fall under the umbrella of minimalism, functionality, and simplicity. The same scenario unfolds for modern kitchens. In the case of cooking spaces, the following specific peculiarities are to be distinguished:

  • Open-concept plan. An open-floor system allows for a large and unloaded space that can even combine more functional areas, such as an additional dining zone or lounge area;
  • One-color scheme. It is not mandatory to consider a single color, yet a color board oriented towards one color, revealing its various shades, is appropriate;
  • Functionality over appearance. Not that the latter is underrated, yet the kitchen’s appearance should be the result of functional solutions in terms of shape, use, and convenience;
  • No cabinet frames. The traditional feature of accessorizing the cabinets with timeless frames fully belongs to Classic, while clean surfaces with well-defined lines are a Modern feature;
  • Sleek hardware. Ultra-modern faucets and simple to no cabinet handles, where preference is given to touch-to-open cabinets;
  • Cutting-edge appliances. Built-in ovens, dishwashers, ultra-modern refrigerators, electric stoves, and smaller appliances are welcome in a modern kitchen that makes the cooking process as easy as you want;
  • Metallic texture. Gold or silver hardware to incorporate new conceptual solutions or metallic-finished cabinets for exclusive design approaches;
  • Well-organized storage. All kitchen belongings should be systematically stored within cabinets with minimum use of the open surfaces;
  • Decluttered surfaces. Little to no accessories on countertops and open shelves unless they are of functional use or are the designer mark decorations;
  • Smart lighting. Recess lighting, track lighting, and any type of spot lighting practically brighten the working space;
  • Natural texture. Wood countertops, floors, and tables; rattan pendants, chairs, and decor; sisal accents; live plants.
  • Geometric shapes. Large-scale forms with visually appealing edges of practical value are sources of interest in modern interiors.

Colors

Since modern spaces favor visual simplicity instead of bold design features, it is worth putting the accent on color. Modern is usually once-color oriented, and one should be prepared to appreciate the beauty of a large dose of one color for the cabinets and different variations of this color for the walls, flooring, and furnishing. What would this color be? Modern likes neutrals, yet it approves new and saturated shades as well. You will surely not go wrong with the following options:

  • White;
  • Gray;
  • Tan;
  • Black;
  • Brown;
  • Naval blue;
  • Soothing green;
  • Burgundy;
  • Earthy colors.

Materials 

To be precise, this is about the various finishes in the kitchen. Starting with the ceiling, any designer would tell you that white-washed ceilings are the best option since they keep the kitchen unloaded and free and don’t steal the show with standout features. 

Designers suggest long-lasting laminate and porcelain tiles of neutral colors and patterns for flooring. Even authentic concrete surfaces are welcome if you strive for an industrial effect. The popular stone tiles and wood plates are more of a traditional approach and don’t quite fit the Modern style.

As with the ceiling, paint works better for walls. These should also be neutral shades that simply flow into the background and slightly stand out besides the main part of the kitchen – the cabinets. 

Since we reached the kitchen cabinets, we cannot skip the cabinet materials worth considering in a modern kitchen. The favorite is wood due to its natural texture, ease of use, and durability. Another solution is plywood, which means the bounding of layers of wood boards by pressure and results in moisture-resistant surfaces. A perfect alternative to the previous options is MDF, or Medium-Density Fiberboard, which is more durable and doesn’t change its composition over years of exposure to high temperatures and wetness. From natural solutions to man-made materials that rely on practicality, you should make your choice based on how you will use the cooking space, such as occasionally or on a daily basis, what effect you crave – natural or cutting-edge, and what other materials you plan on using so that they can collaborate.  

It would be worth mentioning the metallic texture since Modern is a secret amateur of silver and gold hardware. Why secret? It likes to lift up its features with tiny sparkles of metals, which seem quite appropriate in modern kitchens if used accordingly.

For countertops and backsplashes, designers suggest large-scale stone panels with sizable patterns, such as marble, or grained wood surfaces that slightly soften the strictly neutral color scheme. Generally, you can consider any material as long as it follows the common rule – simplicity and impartiality, although some can use the countertop and backsplash to add an accent to the kitchen if there are no other accents in the room. 

Layout

Ideally, modern kitchens suppose large spaces with high ceilings, huge windows, and open-plan systems. They allow for a spacious cooking space, where you can easily move around, perform your activities, and enjoy the airy effect. Depending on the floor plan, the kitchen can be structured in different ways; the main rule is to rely on horizontal lines and clear shapes. If the space allows, you should definitely decorate it with a kitchen island that should follow the same color scheme and textural rules. 

If you decide to combine the cooking zone with the dining area or living room, make sure you consider a layout that clearly underlines the borders, such as a smartly placed kitchen island between the cooking space and the dining area or a color matching sofa that stands between the kitchen and lounge area. 

Lighting

The best decision you can make for a modern kitchen is to ensure large amounts of natural light through full-length windows devoid of treatment. If natural light works perfectly during the day, then your modern kitchen requires functional lighting during the night. Think of any type of spot lighting, such as the already mentioned track lighting and recessed lighting above the workspace, considering inserted LED strips under the upper cabinets. But, no colorful LED light. You wouldn’t like to spoil your entire work so far to achieve a truly modern space. 

Cabinets

Modern kitchen aesthetics is achieved through clean-lined cabinets with no frames that celebrate the beauty of decluttered spaces. Mostly, they have touch-to-open doors and easily sliding drawers. If you decide to opt for cabinet hardware, these are usually metallic pieces with sleek shapes that go all over the length of the cabinet door.

Furniture

Among the mentioned elements, there are also tables, chairs, stools, and other pieces of furniture in the kitchen that require as much attention. To suit the beauty of a modern kitchen, you should opt for natural and industrial-inspired materials for a sleek and cutting-edge result. Wood, metal, and plastic or various combinations of those solutions for ultra-modern stools beside the kitchen island, ergonomic seats around the dining table, or a matching dining table. 

Decor

Modern interiors say no to accessories. Their best decoration is a decluttered space, while the main decorative pieces are elements integrated within the basic kitchen features, such as smartly arranged appliances, expensive stone countertops and backsplashes, sleek hardware, and a few green plants or beautiful lighting fixtures. If it is not a professionally thought-out design solution, you better not accessorize the space at all, and it will be the best decor idea for your modern kitchen. 

Daring colors

The current season allows for bolder colors in modern interiors. In a minimalist kitchen, color plays an essential role at the decorative level. You can safely go with burgundy, blue, or green. Still, consider slightly dusty variations since it is still Modern. Actually, it is one of the best design techniques for those who appreciate the simplicity of a modern interior yet fancy the tiniest splash of vivacity. You don’t even need to worry about decor with such bold colors.

Expensive material finishes

Another excellent trend that replaces any other decor is opting for expensive stone, marble, or wood finishes for the kitchen, or at least quality replications. They offer the interior an inexplicable beauty and authenticity alongside the neutral colors. This is why modern kitchens decorated with such materials seem reliable, elegant, and on-trend. Such interiors show exquisite designer’s work even if the design is not worked on by a professional.

Architectural shape

Instead of simple kitchen cabinets and usual islands, consider interestingly shaped ones with pillar scale and ancient architecture flair all over the kitchen. Play with shape and scale to receive personalized design approaches. Modern is known to work with geometric forms, and this is your chance to make the most of one of the key features of the style. 

Storage with tinted glass doors

Although Modern doesn’t like exposing cabinet belongings, the latest tendencies show appreciation for revealed wine collections or beautiful tableware from under tinted glass doors. It looks even better if such a trick is used in the dining area, in case the dining table is also part of the kitchen. It instantly sets a relaxing environment, particularly if those half-open shelves are decorated with inserted LED strips.

Sustainable decor

Biophilic decor inspired by eco-friendly solutions is a great asset in modern interiors and looks organic beside neutral color palettes and minimalist design approaches. A few sculptural clay pieces on the open shelves, an architectural vase with live greeneries, or a large pot with floating green leaves above the kitchen island are some of the options.

Kitchen with terrace

If your kitchen is lucky to have an open garden view, don’t hesitate to make a terrace and attach it to the kitchen entrance. Your modern kitchen goes with tiny yet firm steps beyond the limits of a simple cooking space and adds charm to the dining area. Even if the weather doesn’t allow an outdoor breakfast or a late-night family dinner, your process of cooking will always be guided by the beautiful outside landscape.

Double kitchen island

This is surely for truly large kitchens. Designers have been integrating lately two kitchen islands in the same space – one for cooking, the other for taking a meal. There is also the combined kitchen island with one side as a workspace and the other arranged like a dining table. Professionals see it as impressively practical, and the Modern style is all for functional choices. 

Choose the look

Try and combine the modern style with accents from other design directions to personalize the space. Keep the Modern style as primary and add slight splashes of color, new textures, or unusual shapes from other styles to make it seem original. Take a look at the following combinations:

Modern and Coastal – white, wood, green

Modern and Art Deco – less is more

Modern and Rustic – textured softness

Modern kitchen: new design ideas

Beyond-the-limit outlook

As much natural light and outdoor view as possible. Compensate for the lack of accessories in a modern kitchen with large windows with no window treatment that would fill the cooking area and possibly the one you take your meal in with invigorating colors and inspiring landscapes, whether it is a natural retreat or a charming urban panorama. 

Curved verges

Balance the overly sharp-lined kitchen with a curved-edge island. The geometric forms beautifully contrast each other and visually ease the streamlined effect. It impresses even more if the island is decorated with natural stone, such as sizable marble plates.

One-color plan

The fewer colors, the better for a modern kitchen. Any designer would state that a monochromatic palette is the best choice you could make for a minimalist kitchen. What colors to choose, then? As Modern claims – neutrals are the best friends of designs that strive to reach the stars through simplicity.

Marble with sizable veins

As many articles we have written about modern interiors, as many times we have got convinced that marble is an all-time favorite. Every year it impresses with greater veins up to the point that some designers opt for a full marble kitchen, which is, of course, a very luxurious solution. Still, a combined kitchen island countertop with a backsplash of extra veiny marble is the standout accent that Modern allows. 

Airy open space

Since Modern gives favor to open-plan spaces, an open-floor interior with a kitchen combined with a living room or a kitchen and a dining room is the top choice. The room will feel larger, freer, and more modern unless you don’t like it when the cooking process interferes with what happens in the other functional area.

Cottage inspiration

Wood is always a good idea in interior design, particularly when it is natural and untreated wood, particularly when it is the Modern style. Freestanding or in combination with neutral colors, the warming wood cabinets reflect the result of bringing nature closer to personal spaces that ends up reinventing the room. 

With a Scandi magnetism

The two styles are not far from each other, both striving for minimalism, naturalness, and simplicity. Combining them would not reveal a bold border yet underline a cohesive transition. With more emphasis on Scandinavian furniture, a bit more open space, such as open shelves, and even fewer accessories, your modern kitchen will have a story of its own to tell.

Inspired by Neoclassical

A fully modern kitchen that preserves all features peculiar to the style until it comes to the ceiling. Consider unusual Neoclassical decor that looks organic when paired with modern solutions. Such a technique looks expensive and surely leaves a designer mark on the space. 

Designer pendants

Decorate a minimalist kitchen with a statement pendant. These are not elegant chandeliers with crystals and lots of bulbs. Here, we speak about unusual pendants. Pick a light fixture that claims to be one of a kind and make it the defining feature of your personalized space. The best way you can ensure such an effect is to opt for designer pendants, which can even be made on your requirements. 

Formula for perfection

There is a secret formula designers usually use when asked to make a space roar modernity. They simply leave the surfaces clean, consider architectural furniture, compensate for the lack of visual interest with natural texture, and the interesting part – ensure the space is bathed whether in the cool morning sun rays or the warm sunset light. Everything works unintentionally, naturally, and peacefully. 

Modern kitchen design: what to avoid

Considering so many things you should ensure in a modern kitchen, you can easily get overwhelmed. In order to prevent any mistakes, we came up with a few brief design aspects to avoid when designing a modern kitchen.

  • Kitchen cabinet decor. Opt for clean-lined cabinets with even edges devoid of any additional layers unless you want to offer your space a slight transitional air;
  • Storage space on countertops. Even if your kitchen belongings don’t fit all in the cabinets, don’t store them on open surfaces. Ideally, they should all fit in, which means this aspect should not be overlooked when planning the kitchen design;
  • No place for a pantry. Following the previous suggestion, we recommend planning beforehand a place for a pantry so that you can functionally store the groceries and leave the cabinets for storing the other belongings so that the open surfaces stay clean;
  • Not considering the work triangle. The golden rule of any kitchen is ensuring the stove, refrigerator, and sink are placed in a way that allows you to functionally move from one to another to enhance productivity. Find out more about it in our article on Kitchen ergonomics;
  • Short upper cabinets. Unless the space doesn’t allow it, consider high upper cabinets that reach the ceiling with touch-to-open systems so you can ensure as much storage space as possible, avoid dust on the upper cabinet tops, and offer your kitchen a firmly modern status;
  • Designing the space for one person only. Unless we speak about one homeowner only, consider all family members when designing the kitchen regardless of what style we speak about. Ensure everybody has access to everything for practical work in the cooking area.
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