Modern Kitchen Design: Your Guide

Kitchen Design

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It can be tough to distinguish between modern and contemporary, and for good reason. Many spaces are both modern and contemporary, and people often use the terms interchangeably, but there are differences in look and terminology. “Contemporary” typically means of the moment or current, the design of right now. “Modern” refers to a specific design style from the early to mid 20th century that broke with the traditional styles of the days before the Industrial Revolution.

“Modern” can be a tricky term because sometimes it’s used to describe something that’s the opposite of traditional, which varies depending on the time period. When we think of modern kitchen design, we think frameless cabinets, sleek and simple hardware, strong horizontal lines and a lack of ornamentation, with the natural beauty of the materials shining through.

However, it takes more than just a few sleek appliances to make a kitchen modern. As with most things, the secret to the style lies in the details. Having the perfect elements can move your kitchen from slightly modern to a really stunning multi-functional and modern space. Let’s dive into what are some of our must-have elements that will elevate the look of your modern kitchen.


One of the first things that people think of when it comes to the modern kitchen is the technology. Appliances are very important in this case because they have to be sleek, durable and ensure performance with advanced features. The functionality of the appliances is important to take into consideration as well as integrating other elements including lighting components and hardware.

Sleek Hardware

Another feature of cabinetry is sleek hardware that runs flush with the surfaces they’re attached to. The look of the hardware is more integrated. Occasionally, you will find hardware that accentuates the horizontal lines of the cabinet by running the full length of the drawers and doors.

Lack of Ornamentation

The lack or ornamentation is a signature of modern design. This is one of the best ways to distinguish a modern kitchen from a traditional or transitoinal kitchen. A modern kitchen will have minimal texture, colors or patina.

Reliance on Natural Materials

Modern kitchens are not necessarily completely devoid of all ornamentation. But when it’s there it tends to be from the natural beauty of wood grain or the veining of a marble countertops.

Consistent Styling

Accent pieces should remain consistent in a modern kitchen’s interior design plan and kitchen decor. Unlike an eclectic kitchen you will need to plan elements like lighting, bar stools, tables and chairs so that they match the space and keep the sleek clean look that modern kitchens are known for. That is not to say that you cannot add a dash of color into your design, but you will want to pull it through.

Color Schemes

Choosing a color palette, for a modern kitchen can be as muted as a cool gray tone or as bold as lime green. It gives you, the homeowner an opportunity to inject your character in the kitchen, and making it feel more like home and less showroom. Dark cabinets are popular in modern kitchen designs. Espresso stain and opaque paint give dark cabinets rich color, warming up the cold fittings and fixtures often found in modern kitchens while still looking sleek and contemporary.

Kitchen Cabinets: Door Style

Flat-panel door style is most popular when trying to achieve a modern kitchen design. This is sometimes referred to as a slab-door style and is a signature element of modern kitchen design. Frameless cabinets maximize storage and offer a clean, modern look. Whereas, maple doors with a white painted finish are often used in transitional kitchen designs. Slab doors in exotic veneers or poly finishes offer an edgier more modern effect. You might see a modern kitchen using a Shaker door style, but that often falls into transitional rather than modern — which is not to say it can’t be used; it’s just not what one thinks of first. Just remember that the most important rule in modern cabinetry is no extra detail, no raised panels, and no extra moldings.


Dark or concerte countertops works well in modern kitchen designs for a dramatic effect. However, white marble countertops are trendy yet timeless and can easily be incorporated into a modern design. Marble often features swirls of gray within the natural pattern, which pairs well with modern stainless elements. Marble surfaces are porous, so wipe up spills immediately to prevent stains and never chop food directly on the countertop.


Smart and stylish lighting is key in any kitchen design but especially a modern one. Modern kitchen lighting is all about using current technology to better allow homeowners to do their tasks comfortably and properly. Spotlights and track lighting on kitchen stations, for example, are used to great effect for targeted task lighting. 

Light fixtures, whether a large chandelier or multiple pendants over an island, can instantly add modern style to a kitchen. Those with geometric shapes and clean lines are especially popular. Light fixtures with round elements are a great way to break up the streamlined, square edges of modern kitchen design and add softness. Modern kitchen furniture like retro chairs and round tables can also soften the design. Of course, natural light also remains a big consideration.


Update the appliances– You should look at the slimline, stainless steel appliances, less bulky equals more modern. As well as going for the more built-in unit; will leave you wondering why on earth did you wait so long to replace your appliances. With built-in’s you save room for cabinet space without changing the footprint of the kitchen.

Clean and cool stainless steel screams modern. It’s also a great surface for the kitchen, where it is necessary to wipe down surfaces and clean up food messes often. Stainless steel appliances, faucets, hardware, range hoods, and even modern kitchen sinks give a streamlined look. Because so many types of products are available in a stainless steel finish, it’s even easy to incorporate the material into a small modern kitchen design.


Basic, classic subway tile is, and will always be, a favorite for a backsplash. White subway tile works for many different kitchen styles due to its accessibility. The crisp lines and shiny surface of subway tile go well with the streamlined look of modern kitchen decor. Subway tile has been reinterpreted with a modern twist and many modern subway tiles are made of sparkling, crystalline glass, but even the beloved ceramic white subway tile has become fresh and trendy, sporting raised, beveled edges. Including a colorful backsplash is a smart way to integrate a pop of color, movement, and attention to your backsplash area. 

Open Shelving

Open shelving serves as a space for both storage and decor. Stainless steel or neutral shelves allow dishes and accessories to stand out in a modern kitchen. Converting cabinets to open shelving eliminates the heft of cabinet doors and opens up a kitchen, especially in a galley kitchen, which are oftentimes seen in older homes and apartments.

Emphasis on horizontal lines

You might not notice at first, but many modern kitchens share a tendency toward the horizontal: long, wide lines, stacks of drawer cabinets lined in a row, hardware set long and horizontal to accentuate the lines of the drawers. Horizontals are found more often than not in every modern kitchen design. 

These elements will help you come up with a truly modern design for your kitchen. And please don’t feel that a modern kitchen belongs only in a modern home. You can incorporate this design just about anywhere with a little imagination. Gather inspiration from our collection of Modern Kitchen Designs. 

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