16 modern kitchen ideas – the colors, materials and moods to choose

The best modern kitchen ideas, from colorful backsplashes and metallic cabinets to clever storage solutions

modern kitchen ideas built in seating
Design by Blakes London
(Image credit: Blakes London)

Modern kitchen ideas are something we spend a lot of time thinking about here on Livingetc. As the heart of the home it's a space that needs to be inviting, nice to spend time in, but also functional and able to be used to cook in, too.

This desire sets the tone for how we approach kitchen ideas. We're characterizing modern kitchens as designs that use contemporary colors, unexpected textures,  often look sleek and always look chic. Essentially, the opposite (probably) of what your parents would choose. 

That said, today’s modern kitchens are increasingly important spaces that not only offer a place to prepare meals but a social hub for family and friends to gather. "I love spending time in the kitchen, cooking up a storm and having fun with my family," says the designer Kelly Wearstler.

“Most people spend a significant amount of their lives in their kitchen – cooking, chatting and cleaning,” says Alex Main, Director of  The Main Company. “So, when it comes to designing your kitchen, most people dream of a unique, bespoke and entirely personal space to spend their time in.”

From the colors to choose to the materials to use, getting them right will set the tone for the entire house.  After all, a brand new modern kitchen can transform the way you live, cook, eat, and entertain – and can even increase the value of your home.

Modern kitchen ideas to get that on trend contemporary look

1. Use terracotta

modern kitchen ideas terracotta island

(Image credit: Colombo and Serboli Architecture)

Committing to one hue in a space can have a glorious effect, and terracotta is an easy color to work with. Thanks to its connection to nature, it is just a small step away from a neutral. Terracotta is carried well by numerous kitchen materials, so why not go all in and embrace it across your kitchen countertop ideas, worktops, paint, cabinetry, and accessories for a soothing-yet-statement cook space.

"Terracotta is a key trend as we continue to look to our homes for comfort and sanctuary," says the designer Kelly Wearstler. "The shade is not only versatile but is inherently warming and effortlessly complements handcrafted objects made from natural materials, such as rattan, seagrass and linen. I love using terracotta in the home. It’s an easy-going color characterized by softness, like morning sunlight."

A hugely versatile color for the kitchen, terracotta combined with complementary shades, such as dusky pink or cerulean blue, creates a tonal look with a backdrop of muted white and cream tones. "Introduce the shade subtly through tiled flooring or worktops, or create a full monochromatic terracotta look with rich materials, such as marble, terrazzo flooring, and tiles in the same hue," Kelly says. "When it comes
to terracotta, integrating local stones can create an emotive link between the home and its surroundings – designs that play upon the raw, natural beauty of an environment are the most beautiful."

2. Choose multi-functional furniture

moden kitchen ideas built in seating

(Image credit: Blakes London)

Blending a modern kitchen with your dining room ideas creates an informal and relaxed space and lets whoever is cooking join in with conversations. ‘A kitchen that includes both island unit and dining table is an increasingly common request, especially in sociable, open-plan settings,’ says Annie Ebenston, lead designer at Blakes London. ‘However, this room is relatively long and narrow  (9.5m x 5m), which didn’t leave sufficient room for both.’ Incorporating banquette seating into the island is always a significant space saver because it takes the circulation space required around chairs out of the equation. ‘And we could then add drawers under the seat for storage.’

Done well, an island with a banquette attached can also form a striking focal point. ‘Here, we used deeply veined Green Guatemala stone with incredible book matching and a waterfall edge, alongside leather or faux leather seating in verdant Forest Green,’ Annie says. ‘For comfort and ease, we always recommend manmade leather, which is more durable and easier to clean than real leather.’

3. Pair pastels with brights

Modern kitchen ideas pastel and green kitchen

(Image credit: Megan Taylor)

Russell Whitehead and Jordan Cluroe of London-based 2LG Studio used vibrant colors to divide their kitchen into different zones – knowing what colors go with green they used it in their dining space, then added blue for work, and pink for cooking.

“Our kitchen is the center of our life and the colors of the kitchen lead on throughout the entire house,” says Whitehead. “Don’t be afraid to fill your kitchen with personality – color is a great way to do this – then you can layer up with textures of tiling, wood, flooring, and brushed metal finishes.”

4. Blend wood and metal

Modern kitchen ideas

(Image credit: Michael Rygaard)

Danish kitchen company Garde Hvalsøe is all about celebrating craftsmanship. Their latest collaboration with Copenhagen-based designers OEO Studio – Kitchen of Love – takes inspiration from cabinetmaking traditions and Japan’s artisanal heritage. 

The modern kitchen is built using light oil-treated oak timber and stainless steel with a Pietra di Fossena marble countertop, and the stunning finger jointed timber drawers shine a spotlight on the craftsmanship. It's the contrast which stops this from seeming either too rustic, or too much like industrial interior design.

5. Celebrate robust materials

Modern kitchen ideas brick island

(Image credit: Jack Lovel)

This home in Melbourne, Australia by Bryant Alsop embraces a palette of hardy materials, such as the brick and concrete used for the kitchen island ideas. Tierras terracotta tiles by Patricia Urquiola for Mutina were used for the splashback, a modern kitchen idea that gives the space a graphic accent.

“The materials were selected for their honesty and robustness, with a clear directive from the owners that finishes needed to be durable and suitable for real family life,” says architect Sarah Bryant. “Embracing the existing red brick was central to the bold palette.” There’s also a large window to the outdoor deck to extend the kitchen outside.

6. Go monochrome 

Modern kitchen ideas black and white worktop

(Image credit: DesignSpace London kitchens start from £25,000)

Black, white and shades of grey kitchen ideas form a classic and sophisticated color palette that works beautifully to create a modern kitchen idea that will stand the test of time. “The use of a palette of different black textures and materials in this kitchen achieves a masterful lightness in the space,” says Gary Moor, designer at DesignSpace London. “The inset wet zone, clad in white Statuario marble and Glacier White Corian, draws the eye as if it were a work of art.”

7. Make a statement with metallics

Modern kitchen ideas

(Image credit: Ledbury Studio )

Open plan kitchen extensions are a popular choice, allowing you to inject some real air and light into the space. This modern kitchen is positioned opposite an open lounge area, so the kitchen cabinets have been designed to resemble standalone pieces of furniture that blend into the interior scheme.

“The owner had a very definite vision for her whole apartment that included rich colors, mid-century furniture and metallic accents,” says Charlie Smallbone, founder of Ledbury Studio. “As such, our Metallics Collection kitchen – which harnesses the beauty of solid copper but in a contemporary kitchen setting – was the perfect fit.”

8. Shine a spotlight on a single material

modern kitchen ideas

(Image credit: Photography: Blakes London and @82mm photography )

Paonazzo marble sourced directly from the quarry in Italy is the star of this modern kitchen idea by Blakes London. The deeply veined marble kitchen island is set against a subtle backdrop of simple white cabinetry, allowing it to take center stage - the most wonderful of white kitchen ideas.

“The natural tones in the veining of the marble are complemented by unlacquered brassware, including custom-designed brass recesses, handles and bespoke dipped hot water and sink taps,” says Creative Director, Jamie Blake.

9. Channel retro vibes

Modern kitchen ideas kitchen lighting

(Image credit: Caption: The Main Company bespoke kitchen prices start from £25,000)

Give your kitchen a touch of vintage charm with quirky design details – like the patterned tile splashback and mismatched brass pendant kitchen lighting ideas lights in this eclectic space.

“Warm metallic tones were chosen alongside materials including antique brass and concrete to add texture and interest to the space,” says Alex Main, Director atThe Main Company. “For the splashback, we opted for vintage-inspired tiles to create a real statement that brings the entire look together.”

10. Make a statement with tiles

Modern kitchen ideas green tiles

(Image credit: Kitchen by CTD Tiles)

Tiles are an easy way to introduce bold color and pattern into a kitchen - they're particularly good as part of small kitchen ideas on a budget as a little goes a long way. 

“Bold earthy shades are becoming an increasingly popular interior choice across kitchens,” says Amanda Telford, marketing manager at CTD Tiles. “At the center point of the color wheel, blue and green will bring an instant refreshing update to interiors, providing the perfect backdrop to sleek worktops and cabinetry.”

11. Make the most of a small space

Modern kitchen ideas small white kitchen

(Image credit: Photography: Tatjana Plitt)

The kitchen is literally the heart of this small Melbourne home by Kirsten Johnstone Architecture – and clever design details help make the most of the space - utilizing some of the best small kitchen ideas.

“It’s quite a small house and the small kitchen is interconnected to all spaces,” says Kirsten. “The dining ‘table’ is an extension of the kitchen island bench, and a wall of built-in cupboards with two depths maximizes storage.”

The splashback is formed from a horizontal window that lets plenty of natural light into the small space.

12. Be more eco with your modern kitchen design

Modern kitchen ideas eco kitchen

(Image credit: AluSplash)

Sustainable living should be one of the most important considerations when it comes to any building project these days – and there are plenty of suppliers creating quality, on-trend finishes that are also kind to the environment. Take the luxurious aluminum-based panels by AluSplash, used in this kitchen as a splashback in Forest Green.

“The panels are produced with recycled aluminum material and the manufacturing process uses less energy and water to produce than a glass alternative,” says Nikhita Sejpal, Marketing Executive at AluSplash. “It’s the perfect option for homeowners looking to add a green and eco-friendly finish to their kitchen scheme.”

13. Be bold with brass

modern kitchen ideas

(Image credit: Photography: Rory Gardiner)

Beautiful brass details stand out against a stark backdrop of black joinery in the kitchen of this home in rural Victoria, Australia. “Brass was chosen for the bench and splash-back as it will patina over time, telling a subtle story of human habitation and also linking the home back to the era of cabins and sheds, which was important in its design,” says architect Ben Shields. “Along the southern wall, there is an almost invisible bank of seamless joinery that hides pantry, fridges, and storage, as well as an entry nook with drawers for clients to throw mobile phones, helping to disconnect after arrival from the city.”

14. Add a breakfast bar

Modern kitchen ideas

(Image credit: Property development by Fusion Residential)

The black marble and bronze-framed breakfast bar ideas at play in this modern kitchen contrasts with the grey units and white marble worktop, creating a sculptural centerpiece at the heart of the kitchen. “Incorporating a breakfast bar with the island has grown in popularity hand-in-hand with the trend for open-plan living,” says Richard Atkins, Design Director at DesignSpace London. “It also provides an opportunity to include different materials and details into the design, creating a focal point in the kitchen.”

15. Make the lighting a feature

Modern kitchen ideas

(Image credit: Photography: Riley Snelling)

The focus of this home in Toronto, Canada, by Reflect Architecture was to create a fun space for the young family to come together – and the contemporary kitchen is the centerpiece.

A large circular light fixture from Delta is a playful reference to the hearth around which families gathered in the past. “The clients wanted this space to be a center point of gathering for the family, where the kids could participate in the cooking and food,” says architect Trevor Wallace. “The oversized island allows the parents and their three girls to all have a place around the table.”

16. Consider storage carefully

Modern kitchen ideas

(Image credit: Martin Moore kitchens start from £35,000)

Pantry ideas are much sought after at the moment. There’s a place for everything in this pared-back, minimalist kitchen, thanks to the clever storage solutions concealed behind sleek pantry doors.

“The owners of this kitchen have hectic lives and wanted a streamlined space with a large multi-purpose island,” says John Davies, a designer at Martin Moore. “The milky cream walls, pale grey cabinetry and white granite worktop on the island create a calm impression and a sense of freshness. The kitchen island is painted in our beautiful ‘Prussian Blue’ color, giving warmth to the room.”

Trending in modern kitchens in 2022 are the colors terracotta and mint green, wood paneling, curved edges, and textured white finishes. 

According to the experts, the main trend is less to do with color and style and all to do with creating something unique. “We’ve seen an increase in the number of people investing in the luxury of a completely customized kitchen, which incorporates unique textures and finishes, to give the space more personality,” says Alex Main, Director at The Main Company. “We expect this trend to continue to grow as technology evolves and people become more creative in finding new ways to make their space work most efficiently for them.”

What colors are in for modern kitchens in 2022?

The big colors in kitchens for 2022 are terracotta, soft white, mint green, and the oaky brown of natural woods. 

"Terracotta is warming and creates a welcoming environment, which is perfect for the kitchen as it’s often the place where you spend the most time with the people you love," says the designer Kelly Wearstler. "Color is the spirit of a room, its heart, and soul – it defines the space and determines its character. Terracotta is such a quietly uplifting hue."

What modern kitchen cabinets are in style now?

Kitchen cabinets are one of the most important elements of a kitchen. Not only do they need to be highly functional, but they will define the style of your kitchen. As our experts have noted, current trends are towards highly personalized and bespoke kitchens, and the options are endless – from contemporary open shelving and sleek, minimal forms with textural finishes, to pared-back traditional styles. “For us at Hvalsøe Garde, it is still our cabinetry in solid wood featuring drawers with a tight floating design that are most popular,” reveals Lundh Aagaard. Whatever style you go for, make sure there’s enough storage space to suit your needs.