Modular Kitchen Design Ideas & Tips

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Design Concept

The basic principle of a modular design is that an area's overall space should be divided into self-contained compartments or units. For example, in modular spaces, bookcases and shelves include smaller units such as draws. The same idea is applicable to cabinets, pantries, and appliances.

Every unit such as a shelf or drawer within a kitchen should provide its own independent and unique function. For organizational purposes, each module can be further divided into additional sections. For example, you can partition a silverware drawer into separate sections for forks, knives, and spoons. Even though each component of a modular kitchen is isolated, every aspect of the kitchen contributes to the overall system. In other words, each structure is equally independent as it is part of the whole design.

By partitioning your kitchen into units, you are better able to maximize the functionality of your space. To some people, organizing a space is intuitive, but for many others, the task is considerably more difficult. Designing a modular space will enable you to have a concrete organizational plan ahead of time, before you're back in the routine of cooking and cleaning. While designing a modular kitchen, you will do most of your organizing and planning ahead of time, enabling you to streamline your daily tasks.

Modular Dining Room Modular Dining Room

A modular kitchen design suits almost any color scheme, whether you are working with pastels, bright colors, grayscale shades, or natural tones. Experiment with bold colors that stand out for all surfaces including counters, floors, cabinets, and walls. Examples of commonly used bold colors include green, teal, yellow, and red. If you are worried that a color is too bold, or if you need more variance with your design, you can consider using accent trims in a neutral or contrasting color.

Cost Effectiveness

The overall cost of a modular kitchen varies based on a number of factors including the materials and appliances that you use. If your primary material is wood, then you may spend more money than you would if you were to use manmade materials such as plastic, laminate vinyl, or linoleum.

Some designers argue that as a concept, a modular kitchen is not a cost effective option. Because a number of compartments are necessary, you'll need more materials for building items like drawers, cabinet doors, space separators, and shelves.

On the other hand, buying a prefabricated design may actually save you money since these items are mass produced. You won't need to consult an interior decorator, and you may be able to save money by completing the kitchen yourself.


Use the natural wood tones of your cabinets and hardwood floors to establish the color scheme of the kitchen. You can give your modern kitchen a modular look and feel, or you can design it with a more down to earth aesthetic. When it comes to colors, your options are flexible.

As a general design rule, you should select between three and four colors to provide balance and variance within your kitchen. Select a mix of neutral shades and bright shades for a complementary effect.

Prefabricated Kits

Many modular kitchens are available in kits that you can buy at a furniture store. From cabinets to counters and appliances, you can literally buy everything that you need all at once and at the same place. When you buy a packaged modular kitchen, all the parts - from large wooden blocks to nuts, bolts, and hinges- will arrive disassembled. If you have time and feel confident, you can assemble your modular kitchen. Otherwise, you can hire a contractor to help you complete the task.

Modular Dining Room Modular Dining Room

Because all of the planning and designing is already complete, installing a prefabricated kit may only take a few hours or days, depending on your kitchen's needs and your skill level.

A prefabricated kit may be useful for people who don't have time to hire an interior designer or prepare a detailed plan. Some sets are also less expensive when you compare the costs of designing a kitchen with an attractive design. With most sets, you can tour a demo on a sales floor. Before purchasing your kitchen set, you will know exactly what to expect from the end result.


Your kitchen, especially a modern kitchen, should be very bright. Use a balance of natural and electrically powered light to meet this objective: incorporate large windows and install skylights. Your kitchen is one of the most resource-intensive spaces in your home, so to conserve energy and cut electric bills, make use of daylight as much as you can.

For lights in an electrical kitchen, avoid structures that are hanging. Lighting should be streamlined into the kitchen's overall modular design, so recessed lighting is most likely the most practical option.

Cabinets & Floors

Modular kitchen cabinets are streamlined and functional, compartmentalized in a way that maximizes floor space. Compartmentalize your cabinets so that you can arrange your kitchen in a way that makes sense and helps you stay organized. Make sure that you have enough storage space for pots, pans, and everything in between.

In terms of building materials, you have ultimate flexibility between wood, linoleum, ceramic tiles, paint, and more. There are no restrictions surrounding what works and what doesn't in a modular kitchen.


One of the main objectives of a modular kitchen is to maximize counter space. Keep clutter to a minimum, by storing items in fit-together cabinets. Make enough space so that you only need to keep a few things like fresh fruit and baked goodies on display. Choose a material that is practical, suits your budget, and is in line with your kitchen's overall look and feel.

Sinks & Faucets

A modular kitchen sink should fit neatly into the overall design of your kitchen as if it were its own compartment. Keeping this information in mind, avoid freestanding sinks and spaces that are set-apart from the rest of the kitchen. The most common materials are porcelain and stainless steel. Keep in mind that while stainless steel can create a modern look and feel, the material is prone to dents and damage.

Choose faucets that complement your sink. With a modular kitchen, there is no need to select a faucet that is too large or ornate for your space. Above all, it should appear functional. For ultimate practicality, consider installing a spray hose that will allow you to cook and clean more efficiently.

Last Updated: January 20, 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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