The Modern Kitchen: 10 Tips to Upgrade Your Design

Thinking about renovating your kitchen and want to give it a more contemporary style? Get inspired by our selection of stylish modern kitchens and discover some great tips and tricks!

Clean lines, minimalist cabinet designs, accent colours, and trendy décor elements all make up contemporary kitchens. This style works well for both condo and suburban kitchens. It harmonizes quite nicely with other looks as well, making it a fun undertaking to mix traditional and industrial elements within one’s kitchen design.

1. Mix materials for a warm modern feel

In recent years, white lacquered cabinets were considered the modern trend to follow. However, you can very well use a high-end material such as wood for an equally modern look. It’s not the type of material, but rather the style of the cabinets that will determine the modern style. To maintain a modern look, avoid using detailed moldings, but rather prioritize shaker style cabinets, or simply flat front ones. Regarding the handles, choose simple models, or inserts directly into the doors. Keep in mind that the name of the game in contemporary design is clean and simple!

Marble is definitely the favoured material for modern kitchens. It’s usually used in lighter tones, but can also be found in darker tones, such as black or dark grey. It’s also used on kitchen islands to create a focal point in the room, and can cover all sides to give the illusion of one large block of stone. Albeit less common, stainless steel is also used in similar ways. It is mainly used for countertops and backsplashes, giving a sleek look to your contemporary kitchen, all while being durable and very easy to clean.

To learn more about material choices for cupboards and counters, read our articles Kitchen Cabinets: The Most Popular Materials and Their Prices and Kitchen Countertops: Best Materials and Prices.

2. Prioritize closed storage

Optimizing the space in your kitchen is a must, especially in a modern one. Storage can easily be integrated into ways that allow your kitchen to remain trendy. Opting for floor to ceiling cabinets is a great way to maximize storage space. Appliances can be integrated into kitchen cabinets to keep the essential clean lines and uniformity of modern design style.

Before renovating your kitchen, think about which appliances or accessories you use the most & how you can make them functionally accessible in your new modern kitchen. Many companies, such as Blum, specialize in creating practical solutions for everyday living. It’s a great solution to avoid making common kitchen renovation mistakes, like not having enough storage!

3. Choose neutral but cozy tones

Immaculate white kitchens have long been the go-to modern kitchen look. The latest trend is to warm up that clean look with tones of beige, for a more natural look. In addition to being timeless, beige or off-white may give the impression that a small kitchen is larger, and is ideal for brightening up a room that lacks natural light. These tones adapt easily to all styles and are easy to accessorize with decor.

Some people will opt for a completely monochromatic kitchen, that is to say, tone on tone, but if you want to give a little warmth to a beige kitchen, make choices like hardwood instead of white tiles for the flooring, a visually interesting light fixture, or a textured backsplash.

4. Combine styles for an elevated modern look

Modern kitchens can also mean having an eclectic style. Have you been dreaming about having a rustic-looking kitchen, but also want it to have a contemporary design? Well, you can definitely have both.

Take the leap and combine styles! Nowadays, anything is possible. Pick one predominant style and add accents of the other. This will allow you to have a singular focus when putting together your kitchen’s design elements. An appropriate dose of both styles will help you bring out, for instance, an antique piece (like a chandelier) in a contemporary design. You can also integrate an old piece of furniture, which would otherwise have gone unnoticed, highlighting it with color. However, you must be sure to respect the proportions between the different styles so that the transitions are smooth. The emphasis is on the nuance of materials.

If you’re not too sure how to effectively combine both looks together, get the help of a kitchen designer. They’ll help you avoid some costly mistakes all while helping you put together the kitchen of your dreams.

5. Add unique room dividers

For those looking to limit noise in an open concept space, partial or complete dividers can be a great option. Black metal dividers with glass are a trendy choice, allowing for the openness of the room to still shine. Options with fluted glasses, accordion doors or solid wood structures are also interesting to consider.

By adding a sliding door or partial divisions, it is possible to create a segmented area, while keeping the possibility of opening the kitchen to the rest of the house when you want to communicate with guests or your family.

6. Highlight architectural details

When people hear “modern kitchen”, they often think of clean lines and minimalism, if not cold design elements. However, it is very easy for your kitchen to be both modern and warm! If your home has interesting architectural details, make them the focal point of your design. For example, if you live in a heritage home, you can choose to expose the beams, or to keep the original wood floors. Combined with more modern cabinets, the contrast will make your kitchen a unique take on a modern style.

Vintage elements, like penny tile, are coming back into style. Designers and architects are combining them with more contemporary elements to give them new life. The same goes for subway tiles, which have been making a strong comeback in homes. Another way to add a vintage touch is with gold finishes, like hardware or taps. Modern design is all about simplicity, so choose a matte finish for these gold accents rather than a high gloss one.

7. Integrate multipurpose accessories

In newly designed kitchens, you can find many built-in options, such as small appliances. These integrated options allow the linear design typically found in contemporary kitchens to keep its ‘clean’ appearance. Some kitchen elements are also becoming multi-functional. For instance, your kitchen sink can also incorporate an ice bucket and a pull-out cutting board. Your counter space can even have a built-in dish rack that leads to the sink. If you love technology, smart appliances are the thing for you. Appliance companies are designing models of smart refrigerators that tell you what’s missing in your fridge, so you can plan your grocery list accordingly. There are also smart coffee machines that can be programmed from your phone, or integrated into your smart voice assistant. Who knows what the kitchens of the future will hold!

8. Build a versatile island

The central point of any kitchen is the island. You prepare food on it, children do homework on it, you eat breakfast on it — it has endless uses! Because of it’s used so frequently, it has to be functional and well designed. Depending on the layout of your kitchen, the kitchen island can integrate a sink, a stovetop, and a dishwasher. You can also integrate seating, or choose to forego seating to allow for more storage. In the video presented above, our designer and Renovation Advisor, Marilena Tricarico, explains how to design an island perfect for your needs.

9. Think about maximizing lighting

Contemporary kitchen lighting trends fall into various categories, including recessed lighting, track lighting, suspended lighting, architectural lighting and under-cabinet lighting — each having a distinct function. The most common form of recessed kitchen lighting is ceiling can lighting. It’s relatively affordable and the bulbs can be changed effortlessly. Most modern kitchens have can lighting integrated with other contemporary lighting designs.

Many modern kitchens also have track lighting. This type of light fixture is quite handy as it is made up of multiple ‘spotlights’ – allowing homeowners to point them in strategic directions. Why not direct spotlights toward your kitchen island, the stove or other functional cooking areas to allow for more visibility when cooking? Not only is it functional, but with so many interesting designs to be found, a track lighting fixture can add some visual interest to an otherwise clean and simple modern design.

Those looking for a distinguished conversational element in their kitchen tend to go with suspended lighting. The options range from simple hanging lanterns to ornate chandeliers. Many people will plan their kitchen decor around the suspended light they choose. Pendant lights are perfect for above the kitchen table or island, or even above the kitchen sink.

No matter what kitchen lighting you choose, under-cabinet lighting will improve visibility for preparing and cooking your meals. While fluorescent light isn’t generally seen as “modern,” it works brilliantly for under-cabinet lighting when it comes to coverage and brightness. Some people are also using the same type of lighting for the inside of cabinets, making looking for food in the pantry, or plates in the cabinet, much easier.

10. Add a personal touch to a modern design

A modern kitchen is not synonymous with a boring kitchen! Following trends in modern kitchens is fine, but first and foremost, you have to love your kitchen. It has to speak to your needs and your personality, so don’t be shy to add personal decor touches. For example, you can choose to add color by painting the island. Green or blue monochrome kitchens have become quite trendy recently. Alternatively, you can choose a unique pattern for your tile backsplash or flooring. If you love art, add your favourite canvas to the walls. If you’re a traveler, accessorize with a rug or dishware from one of your trips. It’s important to be mindful of how much unique personality you add, however. If you are looking to sell your home one day, be sure these personalized touches can be removed or reversed easily, to avoid putting off potential buyers.

Kitchen ideas and their prices

Keep on looking for ideas for your contemporary kitchen by taking a look at actual renovations our contractors completed. You’ll even get to see the price tag for each project. Head to Reno-Inspiration to get additional kitchen ideas. You’ll find over 50 different kitchen designs to get inspired from. You might even end up combining multiple concepts for your kitchen!

If you’re looking for the latest kitchen trends, take a look at our top kitchen trends article.

How much does a kitchen renovation cost?

No matter the style you’re opting for your kitchen, costs tend to be similar. The size of your kitchen and the materials used are generally the reason pricing would be affected. Simply changing the cabinets or floors will, of course, cost less than a complete remodel. To get some ballpark figures for different tier kitchens, read our article: What does a kitchen renovation cost? Toronto vs. Montreal.

Ready to get started? Let our experts guide you

A kitchen renovation can boost home value if it’s aesthetically pleasing and on trend. Feel free to go modern, but avoid bold or unique trends that probably won’t stand the test of time or will turn potential buyers away.

If you’re still thinking about your kitchen renovation, check out these trends or our renovation checklist to get a feel for what you’ll need. When you’re ready to move forward, reach out to one of our Renovation Advisors – they’re here to guide you through every step of the process. They will find you up to three Verified Kitchen Contractors, all at no cost or obligation!

Call us or fill out our form today to get started!

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Updated 26 November 2019