Modern decor is popular because of its minimalist design and clean lines. Some people also want their kitchens to feel cozy and welcoming. What do you do if you want modern style but still crave warmth? A warm, contemporary kitchen is what you do. This is our guide.
Ginger Curtis of Urbanology Designs says that the first thing you see in modern kitchens is clean lines. There is no need for adornment and no overly decorative features. Although colour schemes are subject to change, the most common choices for kitchens include white, cream and tan, and grey, black and beige. Sometimes, you may even mix these colours. Curtis says that palettes tend to be “a little more monochromatic”, while patterns tend to be less uniform or minimal.
Select contemporary shapes
A foundation of contemporary shapes is the key to creating a modern kitchen. You can then add colour and material features to bring warmth into a kitchen. Megan Padilla is a senior designer at Aidan Design. “To achieve a modern look that is both warm and contemporary, you need to pay attention to balance, proportion, and combinations of finishes colours, textures, and finishes that bring the space alive,” she says. Let’s start by looking at the elements and basic shapes that create the space.
A contemporary cabinet is the best way to modernize a kitchen. Liza Riguerra, of Riguerra Design, says that a slab door is a contemporary style kitchen. A slab door, or drawer, is flat and in one piece. There are no trims or frills. It is often laid over the cabinet, as shown in the photo. However, it can also be set into the cabinet frame (see the next photo), using a technique called inset. These cabinets can be made of wood or laminates and come in a range of finishes and colors. You can choose from many different finishes.
Note While some people consider Shaker-style doors a good option for modern kitchens, all of the designers I interviewed for this story felt that they were better suited for traditional or transitional kitchens.
The slab doors in this photo are made with an inset construction. You can see the frame of the cabinet boxes in the above photo. This is how you will know that it is an inset construction. Contrary to this, the cabinet doors of the previous photo completely cover the cabinets boxes, so you can only see the slab fronts.
As shown in the first photo, contemporary kitchens are often lacking cabinet knobs and pull. To keep a clean appearance, designers can use channel pulls or press-touch technology. Bar pulls that are simple and sleek can be used in harmony with other elements of the kitchen. Hellen Hsieh, Design Loft Co., says that stainless steel and matte black are options if you are looking for a more decorative look. However, they can also be found in white or chrome pulls.
Modern Nest’s Michael Rasky says horizontal orientation creates a modern look and uniformity regardless of whether the cabinet opens to one side or the other. A contemporary look can also be achieved by oversizing. Rasky states that 8-12 inches feel more modern than 4-5 inches.
An island with a waterfall edge is a popular design in modern kitchens. This is where the counter material runs along the island’s edge like a waterfall falling off a cliff. This is an example.
Concrete or materials that look similar to the concrete are great for modern kitchens. However, many other floor options work. It is important to avoid looking too rustic (such as knotty or raw wood grains) or too patterned (such as Spanish or Moroccan tiles). Contemporary floors are often minimalist or nonexistent in the pattern. Concrete and porcelain tiles that are too large can be used, but hardwoods can also work.
Countertops & Backsplash
Contemporary kitchens often have backsplash and countertops made from the same material. This is usually an artificial option like engineered quartz or solid surfaces. Too much pattern in a natural stone can cause the kitchen to take a different direction. Rasky says that most granite can’t be contemporary in feel.
Curtis states that countertop finishes will be either shiny or matte. There will be less in-between.
However, the backsplash does not always need to match the countertop. Riguerra states that there are many materials available. She says that glass tiles with straight lines can create a modern look. However, more modern ceramic tiles and stones can also be used if “more uniform-looking.”
Fixtures and Appliances
Both range hoods and appliances are sleeker with minimal lines. Faucets are often sleek and clean, in either matte black or stainless steel. Get warm with those cool lines.
Option 1 – Introduce wood for natural warmth
After you have created the basic shapes of your modern kitchen, it might be worth adding wood to your kitchen. This photo is strikingly different from the other three because of the wood used in the islands and cabinets.
There are many options for wood colours, as all wood is inherently warm. However, it would help if you chose a grain that isn’t too rustic. Curtis states, “Nothing knotty like a pine.” A contemporary kitchen can use wood with straight grain lines.
Quarter-sawn oak is a nice material. Figueroa states that it is cut so that the lines appear very clean. Figueroa says that the grain lines are very vertical and look modern, clean, and contemporary. Rift-cut wood can also be used in contemporary kitchens. A wood floor is an alternative to wood for warming up your kitchen. The floor is the most important feature of the kitchen after the cabinets.
This kitchen, for example, has a predominantly white color scheme with white cabinets, quartz countertops, and a ceramic tile backsplash. The wood floor and wooden bar stools add warmth to the space. Both wood floors, as well as wood cabinets, were used in this kitchen. The wood tones make it almost glow! Yet, the shapes are timeless and modern: Slab-front cabinets. This cabinet style is a combination of cabinetry with no hardware and simple pulls. It also features a sleek faucet. This wood is warming the space.
Another example is where the designer used a variety of wood tones. This kitchen has more grain than what we have discussed as being typical for contemporary kitchens. The countertops are pushed in an organic direction by the more rustic, reclaimed appearance of the shelves and back wall of the cabinets.
Option 2 – Bring warmth to your home with colour
This Rasky design combines the warmth of walnut (notice the vertical grain) and the warm colours of the tile backsplash. The warmer colours on the color spectrum are oranges, reds, and gold. This room shows how you can use them to warm up a space. You can make your kitchen feel more personal by choosing an accent colour for the backsplash or wall paint. Hsieh suggests that you could be bold with an orange wall. Hsieh suggests adding a bright lime-green accent color to the wall. This will give it some personality. The warm yellow-green accents in this photo raise the room’s temperature and the island and wood countertops. The shapes are modern slab-front cabinets that have minimal hardware. This photo shows a point. As in the previous photo, the elements of this kitchen, are modern: horizontal bar pulls, artificial flooring, slab-front cabinets. Florian Bochard, Atelier FB’s designer of this kitchen, said that it took seven coats of lacquer before the cabinets turned out shiny and dark.
The glossy cobalt blue has the opposite effect to the oranges and the reds in the previous photos. This makes the kitchen feel cooler. This is a stunning look for those who prefer cooler tones. Even if you don’t like wood or overtly warm colors, warmth can be brought into your kitchen. Hsieh states that grey is very in-demand right now. However, homeowners often paint the wrong color. “Usually, I would choose a warm gray that is closer to a brown tone than the cooler grey tones.”
Option 3. Add texture
Textured materials can also add warmth and richness to a kitchen space. The kitchen features a mixture of textures in a neutral palette. This includes the vertical grain of veneer on the cabinets, the shimmering backsplash, and the range hood’s organic drama. These all help soften the space, making it more welcoming.
The room’s temperature can be raised by using throw pillows with rust-colored designs in the dining area. Hsieh says that you can mix white laminate with another one that has a more greyish tone and texture. “That’s what laminate is all about: You can create textures that you can’t get from wood.” Padilla states, “We love a tone-on–tone look with lots texture.” This can be achieved using a rift-cut veneer on the cabinets and chunky, salvaged-wood floating shelves stained with wood. The texture countertops are layered with either a matte or leathered finish. Lighting and hardware are added to make them more eye-catching.
Chris Dauwe, Rosewood Custom Builders’ designer, created this kitchen. It is modern with an industrial twist. The kitchen features waterfall countertops, slab cabinets, and neutral colours. Textured materials are used to enhance the design.
The walnut waterfall counter in Dauwe’s kitchen and the rift-cut, white oak lower cabinets add warmth. The barn wood cladding the island’s back and ceiling feature adds warmth and the organic leather bar stools.
Option 4: Create depth in your design
This is a more complex strategy, and you may want to hire a kitchen designer for help. The idea behind this is that your kitchen’s design can add warmth. Rasky says that warmth isn’t always about colour. It can also be about the depth of a kitchen design. It will have depth if you take a brightly colored kitchen and put tile or stone on the backsplash and countertops.
Rasky’s kitchen is an example of one of these ideas. Minosa, a design firm, used large-format tiles to create interest and texture on the back wall. Sure, wood heats the kitchen, but the interplay between large-format tiles, subtly variegated flooring and the vertical grain of wood on the island also warms it up.
Rasky suggests that a countertop with glass or resin can bounce light off of a white counter. To keep the countertop from feeling too flat, you can choose a white with a subtle pattern like this photo. Rasky states that monochromatic countertops can feel cold, flat, and dead. “Things that aren’t completely solid but have different variations give more depth.”
This story’s eighth photo shows how design details can make a space feel warmer. It features a kitchen with red and orange backsplash tiles. Rasky used the ceiling as a starting point and then went on to the thirds. It’s more common to do it by halves.
The warmth of oranges and reds is evident in this kitchen, but it could also warm up neutral kitchens with the tile-spacing strategy. Rasky states that the eye moves randomly, rather than looking like a Starbucks. This same concept could make a modern kitchen seem less cool.