Though it’s often derided as stark and cold, modern design is all about creating clean, open, functional, and calming spaces with room for character and personal style. And that also happens to be the recipe for a perfect kitchen. If you’re after a modern kitchen that exemplifies the sleek, innovative aesthetic, we have you covered with plenty of designer-approved ideas. Whether you want something bright and whimsical or monochromatic and sophisticated, these modern kitchens will inspire you to think outside the farmhouse box.
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Use Sculptural Light Fixtures
While modern design is all about natural lighting, you’ll still need some light fixtures. Go for simple yet sculptural ones, like the brass pendant with two globe lights in this kitchen designed by Regan Baker.
Offset cold white marble counters and cabinetry with sleek yet cushy bar stools. In this kitchen designed by Pure Salt Interiors, the curved stools with dark wood bases bring comfort and warmth into the space.
Keep your counters free and your kitchen looking uncluttered by hiding your coffee station. For the kitchen in HGTV star Alison Victoria’s Atlanta loft, she hid a Miele espresso machine behind custom cabinetry that easily lifts up.
To infuse her Toronto kitchen with glamour and warmth, designer Natalie Chong incorporated gold cone-shaped pendants, a gold faucet, and a silver range hood with gold details. Brown leather bar stools and a navy island make it feel extra inviting.
A countersplash—when the same slab style is used for the countertop and backsplash—offers a smooth look and provides easy cleanup for cooking splatters. In this kitchen by Michelle Nussbaumer Design, the white marble countersplash makes the pink upper cabinets and deep blue drawers pop.
Incorporate a Contrasting Hood
In a white kitchen with beige cabinetry, designer Caren Rideau added a large black range hood for a statement-making contrast. The textured bar stools break away from the modern design, giving the space a cozy feel.
Many modern kitchens boast bright white counters, but dark ones can add a moody touch without compromising the airy atmosphere. Take it from this kitchen designed by Linda Hayslett, which still feels bright thanks to the natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows and crisp white walls.
Maintain a clean look by using bar stools that blend in with your island. Here, designer Pam Schneider added backless bar stools that easily blend into the black island when pushed against it. Wood beams and a large plant add a rustic, welcoming feel.
Try Open Shelving Within Cabinetry
In an all-white kitchen designed by Barrie Benson, a section of open shelving in a warm wood tone sits between the cabinetry. It’s ideal for displaying your favorite dinnerware while also giving the room much-needed warmth.
Cabinetry with glass fronts may seem counterintuitive to the clean look of a modern kitchen, but that makes them the perfect unexpected touch to make your kitchen stand out. Enhance the space with natural light, white marble counters, and a good range hood for good measure, as designer Summer Thornton did in this kitchen of a Chicago townhouse.
Stainless steel is a modern kitchen staple, but we’re also loving the edgy, high-shine look of mirrored islands. In this kitchen designed by Dries Otten, the gold mirrored surface brings some glamour to the playful elements throughout, like the single pendant light, swirls of pink marble, and cobalt blue loft railing above. Oh, and that built-in planter is genius.
Clean lines, graphic fixtures, a simple color scheme, and plenty of natural light… This space designed by Arent & Pyke features all the characteristics of a striking and modern kitchen.
Warm chocolate stone surfaces rule in this kitchen designed by Hecker Guthrie. The smooth and seamless transition from surface to surface creates a soothing visual flow. This monochromatic and moody set-up is perfect in a kitchen with little natural light, as it embraces the existing space and creates a cozy and intimate speak-easy effect.
Since you have to spend most of your time at home, why not make it a fun place to be? Taking notes from this vibrant, playful, and geometric kitchen designed by Dries Otten is a good place to start. It’s a bold and contemporary interpretation of classic Art Deco staples.
Because this kitchen is exposed to the dining and living room area, Hecker Guthrie chose hardware-free cabinets and a sleek white color so it blends into the background. This way, the pretty baby pink cane chairs and pearly marble table get to shine in the spotlight.
Concrete floors bring an understated edge to this kitchen designed by Studio DB. While classic hardwood panels or fun colorful tiles would also work well in this family home, the sleek grittiness of polished concrete is a welcome surprise. That sculptural light fixture also earns this modern kitchen some style points.
When you have a small kitchen, you need to be strategic. In this kitchen designed by Hecker Guthrie, the layout is perfect for cooking, there’s plenty of story space since the cabinets reach up the ceiling, and the understated bar stools do a nice job transitioning the kitchen space to the dining-living area. The modern circular hood and the countertop surface extending up the wall adds the perfect intrigue.
You know the drill: whiter=brighter. Keep everything white, then add in pops of color via serving ware, vases, and flowers. The pops of red break things up just enough in this kitchen from Leanne Ford Interiors, and we also love the upcycled soup cans for an affordable decor solution channeling pop art.
If a classic stainless steel hood feels too commercial or stark in your space, you don’t necessarily have to replace it altogether. In this kitchen, Hecker Guthrie found a clever solution: Hiding it behind a pretty glass encasement. This adds graphic fun and also polishes things off.
Modern design is streamlined, sure, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for experimentation and bold choices. In modern kitchens in particular, lighting provides the perfect opportunity to play with design and scale. Arent & Pyke clustered a pair of long, narrow, cylindrical pendants to offset the formality of this kitchen, instead of going with a classic pendant light over the island.
If you live in a space that has quirky interior windows (Fun fact: Many old apartment buildings have them because they were built to increase air circulation as a preventative measure against tuberculosis), here’s how to make them look intentional and incredibly stylish. In his Brooklyn apartment, Crosby Studios designer Harry Nuriev gets to look through a rose-colored window every day. He used cut-to-size plexiglass from a shop on Canal street, according to Architectural Digest. It’s like stained glass but with a 21st-century spin.
While white dominates this modern kitchen designed by Robson Rak, the warm wood surfaces and matte green stools inject the perfect balance of warmth and color.
Designed by Arent & Pyke, this kitchen feels like an approachable, family-friendly space while also being modern and fresh. The careful, asymmetrical balance instantly draws our attention, with the hood leaning to the right of the room. This creates a cool contrast with the rest of the neat, linear, and symmetrical placements throughout, from the floating shelf in line with the hood to the light fixture, island counter, and sofa.
To soften up an industrial kitchen, opt for a subway tile backsplash. This kitchen designed by ETC.etera features edgy concrete floors, a retro red stool, classic black stained-wood cabinetry, an ultra-sleek island, and simple subway tiles. All together, they create an eclectic yet cohesive whole.
To add depth and dimension to an all-white kitchen, opt for texture-rich plaster walls, a statement light, and wooden cabinets, as seen in this space designed by Leanne Ford Interiors.
When you can’t decide between an open and closed floor plan, strike a compromise with interior glass. Here, Hecker Guthrie frames the kitchen with interior partial walls to spread light between both rooms, as well as help transition the kitchen to the rest of the space.
Opt for exposed floating shelves if you have a collection of glassware, tableware, or ceramic kitchen essentials pretty enough to keep on display. Lean small-scale framed artwork on the top shelf to create a real (and unexpected) gallery aesthetic.
If you’re drawn to more timeless and traditional design but also want to give your kitchen some modern touches, look no further. This example from Studio DB strikes the perfect balance. It’s also making a strong case for gray, which is cool and calming as opposed to dull and bleak.
Dries Otten mixes whimsical style with industrial features in this unique kitchen. The stainless steel hood and exposed piping pop against the navy walls, while the striped blue fabric lightens the mood.
Instead of redoing your entire kitchen, choose a few things you want to update for a more modern look. In this Tamsin Johnson-designed kitchen, the concrete accents, architectural lighting, and avant-garde artwork help contemporize the more traditional roots of the space without clashing.
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