Picture smooth stone countertops devoid of small appliances and whatever else accumulates in the kitchen atop cabinets without any fussy, dated detailing and appliances so sleek they almost disappear. These days, nothing sounds dreamier than a modern kitchen with streamlined design and absolutely no clutter.
But for some, the term “modern kitchen” conjures visions of a personality-less space that can come across as cold or sterile, even austere. Happily, we’re here to poke holes in that perception with these designer modern kitchens that prove minimalist design can be warm and inviting, especially depending on surface material and finish selections for kitchen countertops, backsplashes, and flooring. Minimalist lighting can also go along way towards streamlining the look and feel of a kitchen. In fact, thoughtful design of modern kitchens can allow more homeowner personality to shine—even in small kitchens—as kitchen elements take a backseat to personal ones like art and other collections.
Whether you prefer a white kitchen or a kitchen with color, you’ll find kitchen decor ideas here for every aspect of designing the ideal cookspace for you, from kitchen lighting ideas and cabinet ideas to barstools and kitchen island ideas.
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Exquisite porcelain-front cabinetry with brass and steel strapping elevate the kitchen in this glamourous Naples, Florida retreat. Architect Bobby McAlpine repeated fluted detailing throughout the cook space to connect it to the rest of the home.
For this quaint cottage in Napa Valley, designer Dan Fink created custom furnishings that emphasize modern comfort. He paired the kitchen’s cerused-oak cabinetry with slate-hued soapstone countertops and a backsplash of earthy brown tiles for a modern, masculine look.
At the 2020 Kips Bay Decorator Show House Dallas, designer Chad Dorsey outfitted the hard-working prep kitchen with all the comforts needed for the ultimate WFH space: a beautiful desk and a sunny breakfast table complete with a plush sofa that tucks into a scultural arched alcove.
The island, finished in brushed brass panels, features an undermount sink for a more streamlined design. The room is finished with a Trove wallcovering on the ceiling to serve as a faux skylight.
Modern doesn’t have to mean color or austere, as proven by this Lake Toxaway, NC, kitchen, designed by Platt Architecture and designer Cliff Fong. Although its lines are more streamlined in style, the cookspace evokes a warm and inviting vibe thanks to a rustic-inspired palette that reflects the mountain lake landscape, with a custom-green center island fitted with Juno limestone counters, which also form the backsplash, and natural wood-hued cabinetry.
The focal point of this Dallas kitchen designed by Chad Dorsey is a cased opening with a Cambria stone inset and a chinoiserie-painted antique mirror by artist James Mobley on industry glass. The countertops, trim, and shelving by Cambria and rustic Cantera floor from Materials Marketing all reflect Dorsey’s “European elegance meets industrial edge” aesthetic for this ultra-chic cookspace.
Waterfall Countertop Edge
For his own kitchen, Birmingham, AL–based architect Jeffrey Dungan fashioned a waterfall countertop edge on the island where the counters make a ninety-degree angle and continue to the floor instead of simply ending with a finished edge. The streamlined design stands in provocative contrast to the graceful kitchen alcove arch.
Designer James Michael Howard anchored this modern, all-white kitchen in Westchester, New York, by extending the Breccia Imperiale marble countertop and backsplash up to the ceiling on the wall behind the range. The stone’s organic pattern provides a focal point within the open-plan space. The refrigerator is Sub-Zero, the range is Wolf, the globe pendants are The Urban Electric Co., and the barstools are Suzanne Kasler for Hickory Chair.
Geometric Stone Floors
In this Washington, DC, home, designer Thomas Pheasant grounded the lofty modern, white kitchen with rich tones in the base cabinetry, stone flooring, and the island’s waterfall countertop (by Waterworks). The range is by Wolf, the wall ovens are Miele, the pendant lights are from Holly Hunt, and the stools are from Design Within Reach.
At Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s Paradise Valley, AZ, home, streamlined design and top-notch functionality combine in the ultimate modern kitchen. Luxury home builder Regal American Homes worked with interior designer Lindsay Kadlick to create a cookspace that connects seamlessly to the rest of the home and Kingsbury’s amazing backyard. Here, the Bulthaup kitchen features Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances along with a teppanyaki grill and a built-in coffee maker.
Forgoing upper cabinetry can make a small cook space feel larger. In this Paris apartment, designers Raphaël Le Berre and Thomas Vevaud installed a large piece of art in place of shelves or cabinetry along one wall. Tractor stools from BassamFellows maintain a low profile while simple cabinetry crafted of black melamine wood reinforces the streamlined style. A cluster pendant light with smokey glass globes picks up on the cookspace’s charcoal and black tones.
Not every statement comes in the form of a shout. In this Alys Beach, Florida, kitchen designed by local architects Khoury & Vogt and Atlanta-based designer Shirlene Brooks, a sculptural chandelier made of black electrical cable from Vibia graces the white oak and marble island with more like a whisper. A custom concrete dining table is paired with chairs from R Hughes.
In her Connecticut kitchen, Waterworks cofounder Barbara Sallick clad every wall surface with 4-by-8-inch (rather than the more typical 3-by-6-inch) subway tiles, creating a “tile envelope” for the space. “I love the grid they create, I love the materials, and I love the scale of the larger tile,” says Sallick.
In the kitchen of this Bahamas retreat, designer Miles Redd shifted storage to a small anteroom and used the space that would have held upper cabinetry to decorate the walls with 1970s Italian photographs from 1stdibs. “Hanging art here makes the kitchen feel like an extension of the living room,” says Redd. Large-scale pendant lighting and barstools with a polished chrome finish add just a hint of glint.
For this small kitchen in a Palm Beach apartment, designer Campion Platt took color cues from the setting: white tile backsplash, light sand-colored cabinetry, and bleached wood-toned floor tiles from Daltile. The minimalist open shelves makes it easy for guests to serve themselves. The vent hood and refrigerator are from KitchenAid, and the sink fittings are Dornbracht.
The state-of-the-art kitchen inside an Aspen, CO, cottage designed by Victoria Hagan features custom cabinetry mostly comprised of drawers and no hardware for an ultra-minimalist look that keeps the focus on the stunning mountain views. The countertops are Glassos, the stove is Wolf, and the drum pendants are by The Urban Electric Co.
Designer Fawn Galli proves modern kitchens do not have to be neutral with this cookspace brightened by sunflower-yellow cabinetry. Black stone countertops and a pressed tin ceiling lend dark contrast to the sunny shade.
For a clean look with a European sensibility in this modern white Palm Beach kitchen, designer Vasi Ypsilantis eschewed a vent hood over the Dacor range for a powerful external blower and skipped upper cabinetry to make the small space seem larger. The sinks are by Kohler, and the countertops are by Cambria. A rounded island softens the space.
In this open-plan kitchen designed by Dawson Design Group, peacock-blue accents—a stripe on upper cabinets and the inside of the island seating area—make for a graphic application of saturated color in an otherwise white-and-wood cookspace.
One of the easiest ways to add modern style to any kitchen is to pull up a set of barstools designed by an iconic furniture designer. Here, a set of four chrome wire Bertoia barstools recall the modern-industrial style of Italian-American artist and designer Harry Bertoia.
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