Contemporary kitchen design dates to the 1940s and traces many of its stylistic origins to European countries. Today’s contemporary kitchen evokes clean lines and simple styles with designs that focus on the proper use of open space for a highly functional room the whole family can enjoy.
Whether you’re planning to remodel your current kitchen or looking to update some elements of your existing contemporary kitchen, here are some essential ideas to get you started.
The Contemporary Palette
Monochromatic color schemes, especially those featuring combinations of black, white, gray, and/or greige make up most contemporary kitchens. This modern, sleek look is often softened with warm touches of wood or a splash of the homeowner’s favorite materials or colors. Mid-century modern kitchens may also feature bright teal, yellows, and greens.
Contemporary kitchens can seem a little cold, which explains why greige (a blend of grey and beige) is still so popular. The right shade of gray creates a balanced and welcoming space. To avoid an industrial look, warm things up with something natural like a wood shelf or wood flooring. A simple herb garden or several potted plants with clean lines are a great way to add a nice touch of nature to the room.
Other ways to introduce grey in a kitchen include:
- Using a high-gloss base like the one pictured here for the island.
- Adding a touch of drama with rich gray kitchen cabinetry. If you go for this look, keep everything else like the backsplash, countertops, and flooring simple and uncluttered.
- Create a 3-D space by using contrasting instead of color to make neutrals pop. Instead of one solid row of color, mix and match cabinetry in deep charcoal greys and whites. Most people know the trick of using one cabinet color to make a room appear larger, but you can get a similar effect with more than one color as long as they are contrasting neutrals.
Contemporary Kitchen Cabinets
- Minimal ornamentation and flat-front cabinets that favor simplicity and function are the trademarks of contemporary cabinetry. Crown moldings, carving, and raised panels are avoided, as fewer decorative element create a seamless appearance. While many people think contemporary only works in large spaces, it is a great design choice for smaller modern homes, as well.
- Contemporary cabinets are made from a wide range of materials including wood, metal, plastic, glass, and repurposed materials. Lacquer and metallic-looking paint are two cabinet finishes now gaining popularity.
Contemporary Kitchen Tiles
For contemporary design, form and shape come first, with colors, textures, and patterns playing a secondary role. Backsplashes, the “jewelry” of the kitchen, are no exception. Really simple glass and ceramic tiles laid in a straight pattern are a typical choice. A geometric grid pattern with a contrasting grout creates a modern look with just the right touch of “edge.” In this example, diamond-shaped tiles are combined to create a geometric cube effect that enhances the room’s simple fixtures.
A popular choice for contemporary kitchens, open shelves offer endless design possibilities:
- Add visual variety by substituting some of the upper cabinets with open shelving, especially where you need it most: at eye level.
- Use them to display high-end kitchen tools and decorative elements but keep it simple.
- Plan for what needs to be stored away; open shelving in a contemporary kitchen isn’t meant to hold pantry items, etc.
- Integrate open shelving into the island design.
- Use the same open shelves in the kitchen and adjoining room to tie together the two areas.
If you’re not completely sold on the idea of open shelves, start out small by adding just one shelf along the backsplash. Or break up a large wall of cabinets by adding just a couple shelves above the food prep area. Don’t forget to use under shelving lighting to create a warm ambiance and draw attention to the area.
Contemporary design elements may come and go, but they are always stylish and of the moment. If you’d like to learn more contemporary kitchen ideas, talk to one of our designers today. We look forward to showing you all the exciting possibilities!
Megan’s passion for design extends beyond her workplace. In her free time, Megan enjoys all types of crafts, including knitting, crocheting, and rehabbing/reupholstering furniture.