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Modern Kitchen Ideas: 22 Real Spaces to Inspire Your Project

modern kitchen ideas from harvey jones
(Image credit: Harvey Jones)

If your search for the right modern kitchen idea has left empty handed so far, here we’ve curated some of our favourite examples of contemporary kitchen designs to (hopefully) sate your appetite. 

But first thing’s first, what defines a modern kitchen? Well, it very much depends on who you ask. In essence, a modern kitchen is one that’s designed for modern living, however, the term has been coined for kitchen characterised by sleek lines and a minimalist approach to design. Do you agree? 

Whatever your feelings on what defines a modern kitchen, our pick of the best modern kitchen ideas, all created for real homes, undeniably encapsulates contemporary style. 

a modern kitchen idea for built in floor-to-ceiling cabinetry

Using dark coloured cabinetry helps camouflage modern built-in appliances, creating an even sleeker design.  (Image credit: en masse bespoke)

This modern kitchen idea is a big trend in kitchen design right now, and for good reason. A bank of floor-to-ceiling kitchen cabinetry, often with integrated appliances, is the perfect way to pack plenty of usable units into your kitchen while preserving a sleek look. It's functional too as it means no cleaning of the top of your kitchen units is required — a spot where dust and grime can easily collect. 

2. Handleless Designs Aren't the Only Option for a Modern Kitchen

a modern kitchen idea including doors with handles

This beautiful kitchen by Blakes London features a modern slab door with contemporary brass handles.  (Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Handleless kitchens are a great choice for a modern home, as they offer a clean, minimal aesthetic, but they're not the only option available. Flat, slab doors look just as contemporary with the right handle. 

3. Add a Kitchen Island for Modern Living 

a modern kitchen idea with slatted kitchen doors

A kitchen island in a well-proportioned space, such as this property re-designed by De Rosee Sa architects, will become the new hub of the family home.  (Image credit: Alex James Photography)

A kitchen island is a key component of a modern kitchen, which can also be defined in its use as well as it's style. Kitchen islands help create a space that flows well, and provides space for casual dining, doing homework and entertaining when they include bar stool seating. 

In a modern kitchen, consider a contrast for the kitchen island to the rest of the cabinetry to ensure it's the focal point of your space.

(MORE: Kitchen Island Ideas)

4. Use Contemporary Glazing as a Feature in Your Modern Kitchen 

this picture window in a modern kitchen adds a connection to the outdoor space

A sleek and subtle modern kitchen designed by The Myers Touch avoids pulling too much focus from the view via the large picture window.  (Image credit: Phil Cutland Green)

Advances in technology means that now larger expanses of glazing are available than ever before. Whether you choose patio doors with slim frames or large picture windows to frame the view to outside, a modern kitchen design should create a strong connection with your outdoor space. 

(MORE: Ways to Bring the Outside In)

5. Industrial Style is a Great Idea for a Modern Kitchen

Contemporary kitchen-diner with shuttered concrete walls

In this self build by Edgley Architects, board marked concrete has been left exposed throughout. An eclectic kitchen design feeds into the industrial vibe.  (Image credit: Jack Hobhouse c/o Edgley Architects)

If simplicity is at the heart of a modern kitchen, builds that retain and make a feature of raw building materials give an instant contemporary edge to the space. From exposed concrete and brick to exposed steels, industrial elements offer a bold and eclectic way to create a modern kitchen. 

6. Vary Ceiling Heights and Expose Steels to Create a Loft-style Kitchen

Open-plan kitchen-diner in contemporary self build with high ceilings and exposed brick walls

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

Exposed brick, wood and dark colours —  complete with varied ceiling heights —  help to create a New York loft feel in this self build home. The lack of wall units in the kitchen also helps to keep this space from dominating the open plan arrangement.

7. Is it a Good Idea to Contrast Old and New in a Modern Kitchen? 

Contemporary white kitchen with rooflight and stone walls

In this modern extension designed by architect Stuart Archer, a contemporary handleless kitchen serves to highlight the natural stone wall of the existing building, rather than detract from it.  (Image credit: David Barbour)

When you're adding a new kitchen to a property with period features, you may be tempted to choose a kitchen which fits in with the style and age of the home, but choosing a modern kitchen can be an effective way of highlighting those features, especially in a contemporary kitchen extension

8. Modern Lighting Ideas for Kitchens 

a modern kitchen lighting idea using leds

In this kitchen design by Scenario Architecture, a LED strip has been recessed into the ceiling, giving a good spread of light without compromising the site lines through the space.  (Image credit: Matt Clayton)

Modern kitchen lighting ideas go beyond the basics of pendant lighting, spot lights and wall lights, employing LED strip lights as accent lighting to highlight materials and architectural features of a kitchen space. 

Build up a lighting design scheme that includes multiple sources of light for different tasks to ensure that your kitchen can strike the right balance between ambience and functionality. 

9. Balance a Cool Colour Palette for a Modern Look 

a modern kitchen idea using a cool colour palette

Parapan wall units from Mowlem & Co in Stone Grey compliment the stained oak veneer island to round out a cooler colour palette for this kitchen.  (Image credit: Mowlem & Co)

There's something about colder colour palettes of white, grey and blue that instantly give a kitchen a modern edge. To strike a balance and keep the space feeling warm, add touches of natural materials such as wood and stone to your scheme too.

10. Bold Ideas Lend Themselves to Modern Kitchens

Colourful modern kitchen with large island

The striking combination of orange and aubergine brings vivid colour to the open plan Effeti kitchen for a playful design, while a curved ceiling effect adds interest in this renovation project in Bath. (Image credit: Simon Maxwell)

Got a bold idea you want to include in your modern kitchen? The benefit of a kitchen that is largely simple and sleek in design is that it provides a calm backdrop for one out-there focal point, whether that be colourful elements, patterned tiles, or a bold architectural intervention. 

11. Try Monochrome for a Subtle Modern Finish

White kitchen-diner in extension

This new open plan rear extension, designed by AR Design, oozes minimalist style with its monochrome Siematic kitchen from Myers Touch (Image credit: Martin Gardner c/o AR Design Studio)

Black, white and grey is both modern and timeless, making it a great choice for a kitchen that transcends trends. To ensure your design has the appropriate 'texture' to not feel flat, include other material finishes such as glass and metal to complete it's contemporary look. 

12. Embrace Natural Materials for a Modern, Yet Timeless, Kitchen Idea

Kitchen-diner in contemporary glass, timber and stone extension

Natural materials like American white oak and stone lend texture to the handleless white units in this kitchen extension, designed by David Maguire, to a converted mill.  (Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

If you have concerns over a modern kitchen feeling cold and clinical, adding natural elements such as timber is the perfect solution to add warmth and ground your design in nature. For more ideas to bring nature into your scheme, take a look at our biophilic design ideas

13. Material Ideas for Modern Kitchens 

a modern kitchen with raw materials

Birch plywood is a popular choice for modern kitchens. Pendant lights from Astro Lighting emphasise the double height ceilings in this space.  (Image credit: Astro Lighting)

When you think of a modern kitchen, you may think only of an overly sleek, gloss, handleless design, however, some of the most popular styles of recent times couldn't be different. Materials such as high grade birch ply have become a huge trend, both in styles which retain the natural grain and with veneers that just leave the tell-tale layered profile of plywood on show. 

14. Create Discreet Storage with a Modern 'Hidden' Kitchen

a hidden kitchen design

Life’s Hidden Kitchen provides kitchen essentials such as a fridge-freezer, oven and dishwasher in a slim profile kitchen and with sliding bi-fold doors, you can seamlessly close it all away, leaving behind a statement panelled wall feature. (Image credit: Life Kitchens)

Favoured in modern open plan spaces, hidden or invisible kitchens conceal everything behind a wall of (often pocket) doors. When in use, there's no reduced functionality of the kitchen as the doors are tucked away, but when closed, your kitchen is completely hidden from view. 

This idea can be used on a smaller scale with concepts such as breakfast stations, often hidden away behind pocket doors too. 

(MORE: Kitchen Storage Ideas)

15. Used Curved Elements to Create a Modern Feel

White kitchen island

The high-spec Italian curvilinear kitchen island, with integrated appliances, has been angled to face the glazed wall and dramatic views beyond in this contemporary home in Scotland, designed by McInnes Gardner Architects. (Image credit: David Barbour)

Flowing lines and soft curves create spaces that are easier to navigate, with no sharp corners that the brain subconsciously looks to avoid. Consider curved cabinetry and work surfaces for a sleek, modern look. 

(MORE: How to Remodel a Kitchen)

16. A Double Island Will Make Your Kitchen a Sociable Space

Blue kitchen with two kitchen islands

The Bulthaup kitchen in this contemporary self build on the Cornish coast has a smart, twin-island layout with Gaggenau and Miele appliances, while an extension to the unit provides bar-style seating. A bank of built-in wall units further adds to the modern kitchen design. (Image credit: Nigel Rigden)

A double kitchen island is great design idea for large kitchens with room to spare, and can be used in a design in a way to replace wall hung cabinetry to provide enough work surface space for food prep and a breakfast bar when teamed with floor-to-ceiling wall cabinetry. 

Carefully consider the layout of the sink, hob and any integrated appliances on a double island to make the most of the space and create the best workflow when cooking and entertaining. 

17. Use Textured Cabinets for a Modern Look

a modern kitchen idea with fluted drawers

Fluted handleless fronts in this kitchen by architects De Rosee Sa create an overall panelled effect which disguises the individual doors. (Image credit: Alexander James )

Fluted textures are a big trend in contemporary kitchen design, adding a tactile nature to kitchen cabinets. This style is also effective at streamlining the look of your space, helping to disguise the natural breaks between cabinet doors and drawers. 

18. Raw Materials Help to Achieve a Minimalist Finish

Kitchen-diner in school conversion

(Image credit: Simon Maxwell)

A simple palette of raw materials helps to achieve the minimalist loft look in this conversion project (designed by architect homeowner James Davies).

Polished concrete floors, white walls, steel-framed Crittal-style windows and sections of spruce panelling sit in harmony within the open plan double-height kitchen/dining/living space.

(MORE: Window Styles)

19. Don’t be Afraid to Keep Your Kitchen Idea Simple

Contemporary kitchen in CLT extension

This modern kitchen design – supplied by Alresford Interiors – features a kitchen island that allows for views down the garden and to the stream at the bottom. MDF joinery also offers a pared-back finish. (Image credit: James Morris c/o Adam Knibb Architects)

When installing a kitchen, especially in a property that already has plenty of character, don't be afraid to keep it simple, allowing the architecture, the view or another impressive element to be the star of the show. 

20. Use a Ceiling Mounted Extractor for a Modern and Minimal Design

a modern kitchen with a ceiling mounted extractor

The hob on this double island design by Woodworks Brighton has a discreet ceiling mounted extractor fitted above.  (Image credit: WoodworksBrighton)

Traditional cooker hoods disrupt sight lines when used on islands, and in a modern kitchen are often an unnecessarily dominant feature when more discreet options exist. 

A ceiling mounted extractor, fitted flush, is the best choice for easy, efficient extraction. Downdraught extractors built into the hob are also discreet, but are more likely to offer air recirculation than true extraction. 

(MORE: 10 Essential Features for a New Kitchen)

21. Add Clerestory Windows to Bring in Extra Light

Minimalist white kitchen with large island

This light-filled modern kitchen design has been kept simple with sleek units. The island is the focus of day-to-day activity and helps zone this open plan space.  (Image credit: David Barbour)

Clerestory windows allow natural light to reach deeper into your space, but do not impact on privacy or contribute so heavily to overheating in south-facing spaces. These slim, high-level windows particularly suit modern homes and contemporary kitchen spaces.  

(MORE: What is Daylighting?)

22. Create an Eclectic Scheme for a Modern Kitchen 

an eclectic design idea for a modern kitchen

An eclectic mix of materials lends this modern kitchen extension an easy-going, welcoming vibe.  (Image credit: Rory Gardiner c/o Astro Lighting)

For a sophisticated modern kitchen, think about an eclectic mix of materials, colours and finishes, rather than every element matching. Differences in texture and style can be effective in creating a contemporary scheme with plenty of points of interest. 

(MORE: Small Kitchen Design Ideas)