What is Contemporary Kitchen Design?

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Written by Carol Van Zile, CKD, CAPS

Sleek lines with functional, modern designs describes today’s contemporary kitchen. Design ideas come from current trends, colors, and materials to create a look that is very fresh and “now” while maintaining an uncluttered and open feel.

The Layout

Contemporary design works particularly well for floor plans that allow free flow and movement, such as L-shape, U-shaped and island kitchens, or alternately areas that are that require supreme efficiency of space, such as one-wall, small or corner kitchens.

Islands are extremely popular in the contemporary style, and bar seating is a common feature, often replacing the traditional dine-in kitchen table setup entirely. 

Get the Look

The key words when designing for contemporary kitchens are New, Sleek, and Purposeful. Each choice should be made intentionally, favoring stylish simplicity over adornment. In other words, a “less than more” approach is practiced.

Minimalist cabinet and hardware styles are used with little decoration. Flat-fronts or small bevels are favored, with pulls kept slim and efficient. Appliances should be kept up to date with modern lines and forward-looking finishes.

Color and lighting choices are generally bright and fashion-forward.  However, the cabinetry is typically white or gray. Intense colors are welcome in moderation and generally contained to islands, backsplashes, accents, and (of course) the accessories.

The majority of the lighting fixtures in the area are typically recessed can lighting. These provide excellent coverage without drawing any attention to themselves. A well-placed, contemporary ceiling fixture can be a focal point; however, it’s important to remember the less is more rule. Most spaces can only “support” one.  Keep in mind that pendants over the island can visually cut up the space, which is counterproductive if trying to maintain a sleek, unobstructed space.

Focus on the Details

Don’t mistake a clean design for something necessarily boring or austere. Contemporary kitchens delight in small accents and fine materials and textures.

Using only the latest, most popular materials, colors, styles and finishes will distinguish your kitchen and make it your own.

Warmer metal tones like slate, copper and oil rubbed bronze are becoming increasingly popular for knobs, fixtures and accents. For appliances, stainless steel is a solid favorite, with white and muted metals like slate gaining in popularity as well.

White (or even grey) painted cabinets can give the space a clean look, but wood finishes also fit nicely in the Contemporary style. Because the grain is subdued, Maple & Birch remain popular wood choices.

Whether to go light or dark is purely a personal preference. Until recently, lighter cabinets have been the most popular choice.  However, dark cabinet finishes are now gaining a strong following, as are glass tile backsplashes instead of ceramic or stone.

And while natural stone countertops such as granite remain a clear favorite, the contemporary kitchen of the future will likely look to composite and recycled glass options. 

Interested in a contemporary design for your kitchen? Our staff would love to help you!