Modern Kitchen Design Ideas & Tips

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Design Principles

Indisputably, a modern design is a favorite of many style enthusiasts. There is something so incredibly attractive about this style that can transform any space into a unique and artistic ambiance.

You may have a general understanding of the furniture and design elements that you need to create a modern kitchen, but like many people, you may have a difficult time putting your ideas into words - in the end, you want something that looks "modern."

So what is it about modern interior design principles that work so well in your kitchen? Unlike many other kitchen design themes that are based on a color or pattern, a modern kitchen is closely tied to its theoretical principles that originated in the early 20th Century. Over the years, those photos from your art history textbook have influenced the evolution.

The main ideas of modern architecture and design are minimalism and functionality. There is no need for superficial décor because every element in your kitchen serves a purpose. To counterbalance this emphasis on functionality, everything in a modern kitchen that serves a functional purpose should also have an aesthetic purpose.

Modern Kitchen Modern Kitchen

When you create your modern kitchen, embrace your home's architecture, and work with the flow of what you already have. Think: simplicity, geometric shapes, man-made materials, streamlined architecture, and ultimate functionality with each and every item. By default, modern kitchens make the most of your space regardless of whether your kitchen is large or small. Adhering to a modern design approach will allow you to make your kitchen as efficient as it could possibly be.

When designing a modern kitchen, pay attention to the style and design, and pay just as much attention to the purpose of each and every style. Everything should be as functional as it is visually appealing. When it understanding your kitchen, look for for functionality, not symbolism.


Your appliances should be the focal point of your modern kitchen. Emphasize the beauty of your stainless steel shapes by keeping them on display. Integrate appliances with your cabinetry so that every aspect of your kitchen's design is streamlined into a knit-together, space-conserving design. Emphasize the inorganic and linear elements of your appliances by centering your kitchen's configuration on them.

Modern Appliances Modern Appliances

Avoid clutter by maximizing your storage space and by keeping items neatly stored. Choose appliances in monochromatic shades in stainless steel or black. Make sure that you actually use your appliances - they should be as aesthetically pleasing as they are functional.


Modern kitchens should incorporate a monochromatic color scheme - black, white, and gray. Instances of bold and bright colors will also complement the overall design, so feel free to incorporate purples, pinks, teals, and reds.

Modern Colors Modern Colors

Yellow, green, and dark brown will also work, but be careful to avoid earthy or natural shades. Any colors that you use in addition to black, white, and gray should be bold rather than pastel or dull.

Floors & Cabinets

Materials in a modern kitchen should be manmade, so use plastic, wood laminate, frosted glass, linoleum, stainless steel, and chrome. If you are environmentally conscious and would prefer natural materials, choose wood or natural stone in a very dark or very light color for countertops and floors. Laminate vinyl sheets are additional inexpensive options.

Modern Cabinets and Floors Modern Cabinets and Floors

If you have wood cabinets, paint over them with a bold color. Most modern kitchens look best with black cabinets, but other colors such as gray or a bold red are also possible options. Stainless steel cabinets will also fit well in a modern kitchen. If you overemphasize your appliances and stainless steel details, you may be able to effectively design a modern kitchen with a light or white colored wood.

Bold and streamlined colors will allow your kitchen to appear bright and spacious. Many manmade materials are also inexpensive.

Faucets & Sinks

Choose faucets and sinks in stainless steel to overemphasize the sense of modernity and functionality. Choose elaborate faucets in less-than-basic shapes for a unique design that appears artistic. Avoid faucets that are large or ornate in colors such as bronze or brass. Instead, choose designs that are equally practical and functional as they are distinct and aesthetically pleasing.

Modern Faucet Modern Faucet

Keep in mind that stainless steel dents easily. Although stainless steel sinks are easy to clean, they may become damaged, especially if you drop something heavy. You may not be able to bend the sink back into shape after it becomes damaged. If you want to avoid stainless steel, consider using porcelain instead. Make sure that your faucet and sink fit into your kitchen's overall design. If you have two sinks - one in a kitchen island, for example-make sure that your main sink is larger than your secondary sink.


Glass tile mosaic backsplashes provide an ideal way to combine art with functionality. The functional purpose of a backsplash is to facilitate easy cleanup of spills and splashing food. When creating a mosaic you have complete artistic control over choosing a pattern. Just be sure to avoid organic shapes like circles and ovals and create a design based on geometric shapes like squares, rectangles, diamonds, and other polygons.

If you use ceramic tile, be sure to follow the monochrome color scheme, even if you'd like to design a pattern. Your coffee makers, refrigerator, microwave oven, and other appliances should stand out from your countertop and wall tiles.


The lighting in your kitchen should be extremely bright. Fluorescent lights create a white hue while LED lights have a slightly bluish tint. If opting for lights with a yellowish tint, consider installing recessed overhead lights. Make sure that you have plenty of overhead light so that you have enough visibility while cooking and cleaning.

Even though modern kitchens are designed to showcase manmade items and appliances, you can maximize natural light in your room's design. Big windows and skylights will help your kitchen be more resource-efficient, so you won't need to use lights until the evening.

Last Updated: January 18, 2012
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About Ritika Puri Based in California, Ritika Puri has worn a number of professional hats ranging from blogger to quantitative researcher, martial arts instructor, and cartographer. No matter what she does, she loves to write and specializes in topics related to home improvement, personal finance, and business. She writes regularly for's Financial Edge section, and her work has appeared on SF Gate, Yahoo! Finance, and The Chicago Sun Times Online. She holds a B.A. from Claremont McKenna College and an M.A. in Demographic and Social Analysis from the University of California at Irvine.  

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