21 of the best modern kitchen ideas for spaces on the cutting edge of style
Modern kitchen ideas for colors, materials and styles that will ensure the most important room in your home is ahead of the curve
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In modern kitchens, there's a trend towards bolder, more exciting design. Where once the big concern was staying power, more and more people want the heart of their home to reflect their personality just as much as any other.
Of course, a kitchen is a big investment, and therefore not necessarily something you can change easily. That makes it important that not only your space feels modern, it has a timeless quality to it too - a characteristic that means you won't tire of it quickly.
With that in mind, we've pulled together a gallery of some of our favorite modern kitchen ideas right now - from cutting-edge uses of materials, to layout and storage, these design concepts are all fitting of the coolest, contemporary homes.
Hugh is an experienced homes and design journalist. Having previously worked for a specialist kitchen magazine, he knows his way around the design of our home's most important space, and has pulled together some of his favorite examples of how modern design can improve them.
21 modern kitchen ideas for homes of all styles
1. Incorporate textured marble for the ultimate luxe look
There's no doubt about it. One of the most elegant and refined materials on the market in kitchens is marble. This material has an inherent charm and luxuriousness to it, and huge range of variety.
'Natural stone has a wonderfully smooth appearance, ensuring a scheme doesn’t look too busy, allowing the finished space to exude luxury without being overpowered by too much color or pattern, but instead subtle, sophisticated detailing,' says Hege Lundh, of Lundhs (opens in new tab).
For an even more modern idea for a marble kitchen, consider this textured, fluted marble created for this kitchen by interior designer Noa Santos of Nainoa. It's a showpiece in craftmanship that goes to show there are plenty of options to be explored when designing with marble.
2. Elevate industrial style with stainless steel
Traditionally industrial materials don't have to mean an industrial style, as the revival in stainless steel kitchens goes to show. A sleeker, more elevated style has emerged using this material usually found in professional kitchens.
Unexpected combinations with luxurious finishes helps to re-position stainless steel for the modern home. 'We had the entire kitchen handmade with a local metal worker who is an artist in himself,' interior designer Tamsin Johnson (opens in new tab) tells us. 'I love that brushed matte and industrial finish against the glamour of the dramatic Calacatta viola marble.’
3. Contrast modern and raw textures
Too often, "modern" is a shortcut for overly sleek designs, but in reality, that's not a reflection of much of the contemporary design world. A transitional-style kitchen like this mixes the sleekness of slab doors and concrete floors with an earthy rawness that delights in its contrast.
'The tiles of the island are in terracotta, untreated. We were looking for a rough and irregular effect to contrast with the relatively smooth and contemporary look of the kitchen,' says Marie-Sarah Burckel of Oud Architecture (opens in new tab). 'The pattern carved into the tiles is reminiscent of Berber motifs, as an invitation to travel, in this apartment at the foot of the “desert” of the famous Dune du Pyla.'
4. Organic materials can create a warm ambience
When planning a kitchen from scratch, think about what kind of materials appeal to you. If you spend a lot of time in this space, or love to cook, you want to be enveloped in an environment that is welcoming and embracing.
'Incorporating organic textures and earthy tones into the kitchen is a wonderful way of creating a cozy and calming environment in the home,' says Mor Krisher, head of design at Caesarstone (opens in new tab). 'Bringing a touch of the outside in through raw materials and nature-inspired designs promises to instantly uplift a kitchen and connect us to our surroundings.'
'Choosing an alternative countertop that incorporates these earthy tones and textures will instantly create a cozy environment that links you with the natural world,' says Mor. 'A neutral surface will also give you flexibility when choosing accessories if you’re someone who likes to update your kitchen with the seasons.'
5. Go for a neutral palette for a seamless look
If you want your kitchen to look uniform, pleasing, and clean, then a great way to do that is with a neutral color used across the storage, island, and worktop. This is especially useful if you have a small, cramped kitchen.
'The desire to de-clutter our homes and create an aesthetic that helps us relax and unwind will remain an important factor in design for next year and beyond,' says Hege. 'When it comes to surface choice, homeowners and designers are opting for colorways and textures that blend seamlessly into kitchens.'
6. Try a modern take on the checkerboard floor
Checkerboard flooring might be more associated with traditional kitchens than modern ones, having incarnations in both period homes and mid-century styles. However, it's a kitchen trend that's returned with a vengeance this year in a slightly more rustic guise.
In this kitchen without an island designed by Lucas Interior, a beige and black color scheme gives this classic style a new twist, while the characterful timber cabinetry and clashing wall tiles breathe fresh life into the design.
'Using eclectic tiles in this home was a way to bring interesting patterns and colors into the palette,' says David Lucas, creative director at Lucas Interior (opens in new tab). 'We purposefully set up this type of opportunity throughout this home so that we could explore different patterns and color combinations in an organized and cohesive way.'
7. Or try this alternative to a concrete floor
Poured concrete floors are a popular look for a kitchen with a luxe yet industrial style. However, they're notoriously difficult to install, compared to alternatives like tiles. When it comes to your kitchen flooring ideas, if you love the poured concrete look, why not consider an alternative like these concrete floor tiles, which also introduce pattern into the mix.
'These concrete floor tiles were produced in the Bisazza factory – part of the Lunas Bilbao A collection,' says Jenya Lykasova, founder of JL STUDIO (opens in new tab). 'While Bisazza specializes in glass mosaics, they released this special concrete collection. Each drawing has its character and looks unique.'
8. Install oversized lights for an eye-catching kitchen
Kitchen pendant lighting ideas might be a finishing touch for your space, but they can certainly set the tone, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the kitchen design of this Californian home.
An oversized design will not only add interest to your home, but pendants in unique shapes or materials will enrich the design scheme of your interiors. Since the kitchen is the heart of the home, use this opportunity to showcase eye-catching elements.
'We wanted our clients to walk in through the front door and have something wow them,' says Raili Clasen, principal designer at RailiCA Design (opens in new tab). 'Our inspiration for the oversized pendants came from a much smaller light fixture that we asked Buzzell Studios to supercharge. The dark and moody palette of the kitchen begged for a dramatic, strong light installation.'
LED Pendant Ceiling Light, Amazon (opens in new tab)
This pendant made in steel with polished chrome finish has a smart, unique look, and can make for a wonderful addition to a bedroom or kitchen. It comes with dimmable lights that can help set a mood.
9. Don't be afraid of color
Sometimes a complete remodel may not be on your mind, in which case, a fantastic paint job can do all the work for a stunning refresh. Use color to demarcate areas if you have an open plan. Experiment with kitchen cabinet color ideas to make your storage units look new. Consider palettes that are reflected around your home to create cohesion and a theme.
'In this traditional Madrid flat, a system of load-bearing walls run parallel to the facade,' say Gonzalo Pardo and Ana Torres, principal designers at Gon (opens in new tab). 'Enclosed within is a set of rooms of different sizes that are isolated and at the same time connected by a corridor. The home's most unique characteristic is the length of the house – nearly 70 feet of free and fluid domestic space. To design it we created marked different areas for cooking, sleeping, resting, working, and socializing through visual elements of color and lighting.'
10. Try color drenching
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 (opens in new tab). '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.'
Red Earth from Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab)
This light terracotta reminiscent of the soil beneath our feet creates a warm, earthy feel indoors. Often best used in smaller spaces.
11. Get clever with the layout
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 (opens in new tab). ‘However, this room is relatively long and narrow (30 feet x 16 feet), 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 modern banquette attached can also form a striking focal point in your interior design. ‘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.’
12. Pair pastels with brights
Russell Whitehead and Jordan Cluroe of London-based 2LG Studio (opens in new tab) 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 Russell. '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.'
This approach also works when going for kitchens without backsplashes, using color to cover the walls instead of tiles.
13. Blend wood and metal
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.
14. Celebrate robust materials
This kitchen embraces a palette of hardy materials, such as wood and concrete used for the kitchen island ideas.
Select these materials for their honesty and robustness, as they are durable and suitable for real family life. The good thing is that they do not need to be replaced for years, sometimes even generations, and yet always look timeless and smart.
15. Go monochromatic
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. (opens in new tab) 'The inset wet zone, clad in white Statuario marble and Glacier White Corian, draws the eye as if it were a work of art.'
16. Introduce a patina
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 at The Main Company (opens in new tab). 'For the splashback, we opted for vintage-inspired tiles to create a real statement that brings the entire look together.'
17. Make the most of a small space
The kitchen is literally the heart of this small Melbourne home by Kirsten Johnstone Architecture (opens in new tab) – 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.
18. Be more eco with your modern kitchen design
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 of AluSplash (opens in new tab). 'It’s the perfect option for homeowners looking to add a green and eco-friendly finish to their kitchen scheme.'
19. Be bold with brass
Beautiful brass details stand out against a stark backdrop of black joinery in this rustic 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.'
20. Add a modern take on a breakfast bar
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 (opens in new tab). 'It also provides an opportunity to include different materials and details into the design, creating a focal point in the kitchen.'
21. Consider storage carefully
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 (opens in new tab). '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.'
What modern kitchen trends should I look out for?
Trending in modern kitchens in 2023 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 (opens in new tab). '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 work best for modern kitchens?
The big colors in kitchens for 2023 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 Kelly. '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.'
Hugh is the Deputy Editor of Livingetc.com. From working on a number of home, design and property publications and websites, including Grand Designs, ICON and specialist kitchen and bathroom magazines, Hugh has developed a passion for modern architecture, impactful interiors and green homes. Whether moonlighting as an interior decorator for private clients or renovating the Victorian terrace in Essex where he lives (DIYing as much of the work as possible), you’ll find that Hugh has an overarching fondness for luxurious minimalism, abstract shapes and all things beige. He’s just finished a kitchen and garden renovation, and has eyes set on a bathroom makeover for 2022.
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