We've pulled together the 15 most striking modern kitchen ideas for an up-to-date look.
The old adage that the kitchen is the heart of the home has never been more true. Today’s kitchens are increasingly important spaces that not only offer a place to prepare meals but a social hub for family and friends to gather.
“Most people spend a significant amount of their lives in their kitchen – cooking, chatting and cleaning,” says Alex Main, Director of London-based kitchen company 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.”
In periods of global lockdown, our kitchens have become even more essential spaces. “This year, there has been a massive increase in meals being prepared and eaten in people’s homes,” says Søren Lundh Aagaard, co-owner of Hvalsøe Garde. “As a result, the look of our kitchens has become important in 2020 and 2021 in a way we have never seen before.”
Take inspiration from these contemporary kitchens, which combine on-trend colours and finishes with timeless design, to create a kitchen that is not only functional but celebrates your own personal style. After all, a brand new kitchen can transform the way you live, cook, eat, and entertain – and can even increase the value of your home.
1. Make a splash with colour
“Our kitchen is the centre of our life and the colours of the kitchen lead on throughout the entire house,” says Whitehead. “Don’t be afraid to fill your kitchen with personality – colour is a great way to do this – then you can layer up with textures of tiling, wood, flooring, and brushed metal finishes.”
2. Get crafty
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 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.
3. Celebrate robust materials
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.
4. Go monochrome
Black, white and shades of grey form a classic and sophisticated colour palette that works beautifully to create a kitchen 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.”
5. Make a statement with metallic cabinets
This 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 colours, 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.”
6. Shine a spotlight on a single material
Paonazzo marble sourced directly from the quarry in Italy is the star of this kitchen by Blakes London. The deeply veined marble kitchen island is set against a subtle backdrop of simple white cabinetry, allowing it to take centre stage.
“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.
“The glass in the larder is smoked to create added sophistication and drama to the space.”
7. Channel retro vibes
Give your kitchen a touch of vintage charm with quirky design details – like the patterned tile splash back and mismatched brass pendant lights in this eclectic kitchen.
“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. “For the splashback, we opted for vintage-inspired tiles to create a real statement that brings the entire look together.”
8. Make a statement with tiles
Tiles are an easy way to introduce bold colour and pattern into a kitchen – like these bright blue and green Dyroy ceramic wall tiles from CTD Tiles. “’Bold earthy shades are becoming an increasingly popular interior choice across kitchens,” says Amanda Telford, marketing manager at CTD Tiles. “At the centre point of the colour wheel, blue and green will bring an instant refreshing update to interiors, providing the perfect backdrop to sleek worktops and cabinetry.”
9. Make the most of a small space
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.
“It’s quite a small house and the small kitchen is interconnected to all spaces,” says Johnstone. “The dining ‘table’ is an extension of the kitchen island bench, and a wall of built-in cupboards with two depths maximises storage.”
The splashback is formed from a horizontal window that lets plenty of natural light into the small space.
10. Craft a kitchen with country charm
If you’re looking for a modern rustic aesthetic, take inspiration from this country chic kitchen and incorporate reclaimed materials, such as salvaged wooden beams and Cornish stone.
“To create contrast, we opted for dark blue cabinetry to offset the colouring of the wood on the central Island,” says Alex Main, Director at The Main Company. “Oak features heavily in this design to add character and depth to this beautiful and inviting space.”
11. Go green
Sustainability 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 aluminium-based panels by AluSplash, used in this kitchen as a splashback in Forest Green.
“The panels are produced with recycled aluminium 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.”
12. Be bold with brass
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.”
13. Add a breakfast bar
The black marble and bronze-framed breakfast bar in this kitchen contrasts with the grey units and white marble worktop, creating a sculptural centrepiece 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.”
14. Make the lighting a feature
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 kitchen is the centrepiece.
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 centrepoint 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.”
15. Everything in its right place
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’ colour, giving warmth to the room.”
Your modern kitchen questions answered
What are the kitchen trends for 2020?
According to the experts, the main trend for 2020 is less to do with colour 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 customised 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.”
For Søren Lundh Aagaard, co-owner of Hvalsøe Garde, 2020 is all about quality and sustainability. “While our company isn’t trend-driven, we have tapped into what is trending,” he says. “Firstly, it’s about the unique tactility found in well-crafted furniture that is made from high-quality materials, such as wood, stone, and metals. Secondly, there’s a focus on using products that will last for generations – this is key when it comes to taking care of our earth.”
What are the kitchen trends for 2021?
“Personally, I think the demand for personalisation in the kitchen will grow in 2021,” says Main. “Homeowners are beginning to experiment with bolder colours and reclaimed materials as people want to create unique spaces that can’t be replicated.”
What are popular kitchen colours?
The colour of your kitchen depends completely on your personal style. As showcased with our pick of inspiring kitchens, you can make an impact with any colour palette – from elegant monochromatic schemes to playful pastels and bold hues.
Main has picked up on a few recent trends, however. “We’ve noticed homeowners are opting for a more subtle palette of blues, greys and rust,” he says. “They are also incorporating a mix of materials and colours, alongside natural finishes.”
What 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 personalised 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.
What are the different types of kitchen?
The layout of your kitchen will depend on its location in the home and how much space you have to play with. It’s an especially important consideration if you’re planning a small kitchen, as a clever plan will help you to make the most of the space. Popular types of kitchen include a one-wall layout, in which everything is set against one wall, and the similar galley layout, which has two rows of cabinets facing each other. If you have a bit more space to work with, you could consider an L-shaped or a U-shaped kitchen.
What are the different styles of kitchen?
“While we stick to one style of kitchen at Hvalsøe Garde, there are many many suppliers that represent just as many designs,” says Lundh Aagaard. And he couldn’t be more right – from rustic charm, to sleek minimalism and industrial chic, there’s a kitchen style for every taste.