The Keys to Modern Kitchen Design

by Sam Ferris
Don?t be fooled by the title: designing a modern kitchen isn?t a turnkey process. Like nearly every other kitchen remodeling project, there?s a lot of planning involved. Perhaps it requires even more planning ? modern design is like a time capsule, after all, where every piece you place in your kitchen is carefully selected to reflect a specific moment in human design history. Here?s how you can unearth modern aesthetics for your kitchen design, from floors and backsplashes to cabinets and general layout.
A Focus on Function
Before you grab a napkin and start drawing out your dream kitchen, you have to know the centerpiece of modern kitchen design: function.

True, every type of kitchen design is functional, be it traditional or contemporary. Kitchens have to be user-friendly because they?re the main hub of the home.

Where modern kitchen design departs from other design styles is its emphasis on function: function trumps frills and aesthetics. It?s why modern kitchens usually have the bare necessities and not much else.

There are a couple of sure-fire ways to get a functional layout and stay true to modern design:
A Galley-style Layout
Galley Kitchen Design
Photo courtesy of Cambria USA.
Simple and straightforward, galley layouts let homeowners navigate their kitchens more easily and without any twists, turns, or corners. Present-day galley kitchens typically feature one main wall of cabinets with a large, centered island opposite of the wall.

Galley layouts also keep kitchen spaces open, which ensures that tasks like clean up and food prep are efficient.?
Work Zones Not Work Triangle
The traditional work triangle layout organizes three central areas of the kitchen into a near-perfect triangle: your sink, your stove, and your refrigerator.

The work triangle can turn into a matter of staying true to form instead of what?s functional, though, which can make your kitchen less efficient.

With the work zone layout, however, there?s less attention given to a perfect triangle formation. Organizing your kitchen into work zones, where cabinets and appliances are organized into zones (such as a food prep zone with your stove, oven, and spice racks, or a clean-up zone with your sink, wastebasket and recycling bin), keeps all the focus on function.

This diagram illustrates the basic differences between the two types of layout:
Flushed Floors
Whether you?re buying hardwood, tile or vinyl, it?s important to choose a clean flooring style with little to no variation. It?s almost always best to go neutral with your floors, too.

Larger porcelain tiles, especially newer tile sizes as large as 24x48, can open up your kitchen space and create that flushed look for your floors. Light wood look tile or hardwood can bring midcentury simplicity to your kitchen as well.?

Sleek Countertops
Eclectic countertop options aside, quartz should be the only countertop material on your wish list. The movement and variations that granite has just won?t cut it for a modern design. Stick to monochromatic countertops with little to no variation to capture seamless modern style.?

Uniform Backsplash
Of all the spaces in a modern kitchen, the backsplash can certainly make a statement, especially if it packs the only punch of color in the room.

You can also stick to neutrals. Either way, your goal should be a seamless, flushed backsplash.

Subway tiles are a popular choice, whether they?re neutral or contain color. But in reality, any type of shape will work so long as your backsplash looks uniformed. Remember, simplicity is key.
Photo courtesy of Wellborn Cabinet.
Not all modern backsplashes are cut and dry.?Graphic-style backsplashes, though a departure from clean visuals, can recreate the color and flare of 60s mod.
Slab Cabinet Door Fronts
When it comes to modern kitchen cabinets, the devil is in the detail ? or isn?t, rather.

Simply put, less is more. Slab door fronts should be your top choice, with shaker-style doors a distant second.

Avoid raised panel cabinet doors that have added detail. The more decorative the door style, the less modern the design.?
Slab cabinet door fronts
Photo courtesy of Cambria USA.
This kitchen opts for slab door fronts with greyish brown grains.? Pairing slab door fronts with a wood finish is an authentic midcentury look. Glazed, monochromatic slab door fronts, on the other hand, are a contemporary twist on modern design.??

Stainless Steel Appliances
A modern kitchen is equipped with all stainless steel appliances, from the dishwasher and sink to the stove and refrigerator. Cap off your latest-and-greatest appliances with a sleek stainless steel chimney hood for style points ? just don?t sacrifice style for function.?

Minimal, Geometric Furniture
Low-to-the-ground midcentury sofas are probably your first thought when you think of modern furniture, but you?re not going to need a sofa in your kitchen (or are you?).

Pod-style bar stools and a clean-cut kitchen table should do the trick. Don?t be afraid to work color into the mix, especially if it complements your neutrals. A pop of color here and there can tie a modern design together.?

Monochromatic Color Schemes
Unless you?re aiming for 60s psychedelic or 70s sass, most modern kitchen designs will incorporate monochromatic color schemes, be it greys, whites, beiges, or oranges. Using a bright color is acceptable, but neutrals stay true to the cold, unaffected nature of modern design.?

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