10 kitchen cabinet ideas from classic Shaker design to contemporary concealed styles

Stylish kitchen cabinet ideas really are endless, but we've rounded up all our favorites to help you decide...

modern kitchen cabinet ideas
(Image credit: Shapeless Studio)

Looking to update the heart of your home and need some kitchen cabinet ideas? No problem. Whether you want to do a full renovation or simply want to give your existing units a makeover, these design-led ideas will set you in the right direction.

Shaker-style cabinetry is a great option for traditional design fans as it's honest, simple, and utilitarian; you can also modernize it with a contemporary, bold color or keep it neutral for a tranquil feel. 

Merlin Wright, Design Director at British Standard by Plain English, says: 'We have noticed a substantial increase in demand for cupboards that are highly functional and also thoughtfully considered with a real nod to traditional [and practical] touches- think ample shelving, well-placed hooks and with a utilitarian aesthetic.'

Something sleeker on the menu? Opt for handleless or minimal styles without any detailing and clever, hidden storage. There really is a kitchen cabinet design out there to suit any space, any size, and any style. And while plenty of options are no bad thing, so much choice can get overwhelming, so we have rounded up our favorite kitchen ideas and cabinet styles to help you make a decision.  

Kitchen cabinet ideas 

1. Give Shaker cabinets a moody twist with darker hues

Plain English green kitchen ideas

(Image credit: Plain English)

Update a Shaker-style kitchen with a fresh, rich forest green hue. There's a growing interior trend for deeper, moodier kitchen cabinet colors, which create a stylish and sophisticated personality with a sense of balance and renewal.

Bringing the outdoors inside with this restorative green color scheme produces a beautiful and vibrant yet natural atmosphere. A green kitchen island can contrast seamlessly against white walls. Introduce soft pastels and metallics to complete the contemporary look.

Helen Shaw, Benjamin Moore (opens in new tab) Director, says: 'Despite many regarding the kitchen as a ‘neutrals only’ space, rich, bold colors marry unexpectedly well within a kitchen setting as these spaces tend to be a busy and bustling heart to the home rather than a room for serenity. For many, kitchens are also increasingly becoming places for entertaining, meaning people are seeking a wow factor, a statement kitchen that reflects their personal style while maintaining a contemporary feel.

'Kitchens themselves, however, can be costly investments and aren’t easily interchangeable, so using paint to add a daring color pop to a cabinet front, island or shelving unit is not only cost-effective, but also allows for a unique burst of creativity and personality to be injected with ease.'

2. Go floor to ceiling with your kitchen cabinets

Modern wooden kitchen with island and white pendant lights

(Image credit: Rei Moon)

The Victorians were onto something with their penchant for tall cupboards... If you've got the space, go high. The traditional cabinet layout of floor cabinets and walls cabinets does offer worktops, but that gap between both can be a waste of space if you can forgo the surface space. So where possible in your space go full length with your cabinets and take them all the way to the ceiling.

If tall cabinets aren't a practical option in your kitchen, we'd recommend at least taking your wall cabinets up to the ceiling. Especially in a small kitchen when space is tight, that extra storage can make all the difference. 

3. Add a softness to kitchen cabinetry with a curtain

Plain English modern kitchen ideas fabric skirt

(Image credit: Plain English)

This old-fashioned look is making such a comeback, it's a huge kitchen trend that we are just seeing more and more of. And while switching cabinet doors for a curtain may seem quite traditional, it can work really well in a modern rustic kitchen, where it feels far from fussy and in fact just adds a lovely softness and texture to the space. In this pink kitchen, there's definitely a farmhouse feel, but the rosy hues and the playful pattern of the skirt give it more of a quirky, eclectic look.

The key to this trend is choosing the right material for your skirt. You want to go for something that you machine wash, can handle wear and tear, and is heavyweight enough that it hangs nicely. If you are looking for ways to introduce pattern to your kitchen a skirt is it, you could even have a few on rotation so you can switch up the look every few months. 

4. Mix and match cabinet colors for two tone design

Open plan rustic kitchen with island

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

Want to experiment with color but don't want to go the whole hog? Try giving your kitchen island or just some cabinets a statement shade. Two-toned kitchens are increasingly growing in popularity for this very reason, you can introduce a bolder color without it overwhelming the space.

This open plan kitchen is the perfect example of how it can work – the light grey wall cabinets keep that light and airy feel plus are a classic so are never going to date, a safe choice. Then the island is in a velvety navy blue, that grounds all those paler hues and makes the kitchen feel bolder.

Helen Shaw explains that, 'Rich blue tones varying from vibrant teal to chic navy have increased in popularity due to their versatility and connection with the outdoors. Conservative, yet bold, shades of blue can create a feeling of restfulness and harmony in chaotic spaces like the kitchen.'

5. Bring in a pantry cupboard for extra storage

Sage green kitchen with concealed pantry

(Image credit: Roundhouse)

If you are starting from scratch with your kitchen design or have the room in your current kitchen, adding a pantry cabinet can be a real asset, providing so much storage and worktop space too.

'Rather than filling your walls with cupboards, it’s the pantry cupboard we love the most.' says Helen Parker Director of deVOL. 'So for a quick solution, we would always recommend a proper classic pantry cupboard, vintage or new they are perfect. If budget is tight, then have a hunt on eBay or at an antique fair, it may take a while to get the size you want but it’s worth the wait.'

'Paint it inside and out in your favourite colour, you can be a bit daring with a pantry, try something bright and bold. Source some beautiful old knobs or use the same as in your existing kitchen to give a link. Then attach some run of the mill spice racks on the door, even cheap ones look better painted. Then spend some time finding old boxes, cutlery trays and baskets to put on the shelves and on the top of the cupboard, a satisfying way to create a whole new place to store things.'

6. Add textures with wooden cabinetry

Pink and wood kitchen with glass fronted cabinets

(Image credit: Mary Wadsworth)

We're increasingly looking to biophilic design to create more organic, calming, earthy spaces. It follows that the trend for wood kitchen cabinets has grown. Try pairing with soft hues like sage greens or the palest of pinks to soften the natural textures. 

Daniela Condo, designer at Life Kitchens says: 'Texture is something that is also being increasingly explored when it comes to modern kitchen cabinet ideas. Materials such as end-grain, oak, and reclaimed wood can be blended with marble, stone or concrete to create a beautiful and highly resilient finish.'

Merlin Wright, Design Director at British Standard by Plain English, agrees: 'There's a renewed appreciation for natural and reclaimed materials such as wooden cabinets, sustainable wooden worktops and antique hardware.'

7. Opt for narrow units to make a small kitchen feel larger

Small blue kitchen with narrow blue kitchen

(Image credit: Anna Stathaki)

In small kitchen layouts, often the standard cabinet sizes just aren't a good fit. So be inspired by this small, but perfectly formed apartment kitchen and fit in more cabinets by opting for narrow designs. Because the space is narrow, you don't actually notice the cabinets are smaller as they are in proportion with the kitchen. 

And also note that the wall cabinets fill the space, going right up to the ceiling so as not to waste space. Plus, the taller cabinets creating the illusion of more height in this small space. 

8. Go minimal in style but bold in color

detached Victorian house in London

The brief of this amazing kitchen designed by Sola Kitchens (opens in new tab) was for it to 'not look like a kitchen.' The simple frontages help achieve that, the cabinetry could be used as storage in any room. Plus it's the simplicity of the design balances out the bold colors, creating a space that feels both classic and liveable but far from bland with an uplifting on trend teal that works perfectly to add interest to all the neutral hues going on throughout the rest of the space.

The wooden edging on the cabinets helps the color feel more muted and pared back too, adding texture to the flat matte fronts and mirroring all the wooden textures used throughout the rest of the space.

9. Reflect light with glass fronted cabinets

Small white galley kitchen with glass fronted cabinetry

(Image credit: James Merrell)

'When all the cupboards in a kitchen have solid fronts, it can sometimes feel a little imposing. To break up the monotony – as well as lighten the overall look of the kitchen – we design wall cupboards with a variety of glass fronts.' explains designer Irene Gunter.

'To maximize the flow of natural light, I suggest keeping it simple with transparent glass. If clients prefer not to have the contents of their cupboards on display, I recommend smoked glass. Keep in mind that whatever is on display will need to look pretty, so be prepared to do some styling when specifying glass-fronted cabinets.'

10. Create a sleek and seamless look with handleless cabinetry

Sleek white kitchen cabinets with marble backsplash

(Image credit: Mary Wadsworth)

Clean lines, glossy finishes, and handle-free cabinets are increasingly popping up in our kitchens. It's perhaps linked to a growing trend for concealed kitchens – kitchens that don't look like kitchens with all appliances hidden behind doors, clutter-free worktops, and seamless banks of cabinetry. 

Daniela Condo, designer at Life Kitchens (opens in new tab), says: 'Hidden storage features are becoming much more popular as consumers become interested in clever storage and maximizing on space, particularly city-dwellers. From pull-out and pull-down features, hidden pantries and multifunctional drawers, we are now considering storage options for the kitchen more than ever.'

What kitchen cabinets are in style now?

Don't be afraid to mix things up... You don't have to have exactly the same cabinets throughout the entire kitchen.

Jamie Blake, creative director at Blakes London (opens in new tab), says: 'Deeply textured and stained veneers are really popular at the moment. Increasingly we're designing and installing kitchens that combine different styles of cabinetry within the same space. This creates layers of interest and personality, for example we might have hand-painted shaker units on a wall run and then combine that with raw-sawn timber flat-fronted units on the base cabinetry.'

What color kitchen cabinets are in style?

'Greens are definitely still very popular in,' says Jamie. 'We're probably seeing the shade become more pastel green than the richer emeralds that were more common a few years ago. Earthier tones are seeing a real comeback in the form of natural textures, polished plasters, textured paints, and warm tones of browns and even deep reds.'

Merlin Wright, Design Director at British Standard by Plain English, agreed that natural shades are a favorite: 'A lot of our current projects are also being specified with natural colors such as greens, browns, and blues. A successful color scheme has a balance of proportion and intensity; our preference is for tonal colors (ie. the base hue dulled with grey) as these feel more natural and calming than pure or primary hues.'

He added: 'There will also be continued interest in strong colors and bold combinations; perhaps as a result of global uncertainty and a desire for the warmth and optimism of mid-century modernism.'

Ruth Doherty is a lifestyle journalist based in London. An experienced freelance digital writer and editor, she is known for covering everything from travel and interiors to fashion and beauty. She regularly contributes to Livingetc, Ideal Home and Homes & Gardens, as well as titles like Prima and Red. Outside of work, her biggest loves are endless cups of tea, almond croissants, shopping for clothes she doesn’t need, and booking holidays she does.