Whether you're dressing up a rental, giving an '80s space a makeover, or doing a full renovation, modern kitchen decor can turn your space into the kitchen of your dreams. Sleek, clean kitchens pair best with contemporary decor. It doesn't have to be too simple, either: Touches of unique style can add personality to your space, from Scandanavian minimalism to Southern farmhouse charm.
If you're considering undertaking a kitchen remodel, now's your chance to gather inspiration. These modern kitchens run the gamut from midcentury to new traditional, to updated takes on now-trendy styles like modern farmhouse. And while they're all gorgeous and sure to send you into a design swoon, they're also highly functional and have some clever takeaway tips—so be sure to take notes.
Scroll ahead for our favorite inspiring modern kitchen designs.
Islands in the kitchen are getting bigger—and we're all for it. This ultra-wide option is as functional as it is statement-making, with space for four and a sophisticated design we'd characterize as "new traditional." But we're also taken with the light fixtures chosen for this space. Far from your run-of-the-mill pendant lamps, these oversized shades infuse a bit of whimsy into the space—without sacrificing the classic vibe.
This tile option isn't for wallflowers—but it's absolutely perfect for making sure your kitchen doesn't resemble everyone else's. The bright and cheery pairing of blue and yellow is echoed in the homeowner's accessories and appliances too, bringing a cohesive and intentional feel to this slightly off-the-wall look. The resulting space is packed with personality—and firepower, as that impressive range proves.
Cabinet-to Ceiling Marble
By contrast, this kitchen is as soothing as a spa. (In fact, we think we feel more well-rested already just by looking at it.) The focal point is undoubtedly the cabinet-to-ceiling marble slab, which truly takes the cake in this kitchen—but the artful mix of materials throughout the space is nothing short of brilliant. Various shades of wood and mixed metals lend just the right amount of contrast without overwhelming the space. In a word: dreamy.
One of the smartest ways to make use of space, in our opinion: double up your upper cabinets. Sure, extending cabinets up to the ceiling may not increase your storage for everyday items (nobody wants to scale a stepladder just to get a cereal bowl), but for seasonal items, they're perfect.
And let's be honest: a lot of kitchenware and small appliances fall under the heading "seasonal items"—from that slow-cooker or roasting pan you use once a year, to those holiday mugs that seem out-of-place as everyday coffee cups.
If you're blessed with a showstopping architectural feature like soaring beamed ceilings, you'd be remiss not to do everything in your power to accentuate it. While we've seen dark lower cabinets and light upper cabinets trending a lot in recent months, here it simply makes sense to go dark on the uppers as well—the weight of the darker color creates contrast with the impressive ceilings and lets your eye drift upward to the main event.
Cabinetry Meets Open Shelving
We're big fans of the *look* of open shelving—but logistically, this trend can pose some problems. (For instance, if you're someone who tends to acquire kitchen items easily, they can quickly become overcrowded and chaotic looking.) And nobody needs open shelving that scales the wall up toward the ceiling—where dust and grease are sure to accumulate, and it's a pain to clean.
The solution? Cabinets at the ceiling, and a sensible amount of open shelving beneath. This subtly shields some of your most display-able valuables and offers plenty of practical storage space for the things that look less than Insta-worthy (the novelty glassware from college you can't bear to part with, for instance).
Torn between a beautiful waterfall-edge island and a full-size dining table? Get the best of both worlds by adjoining them. Not only does this setup make it easy to expand the part when unexpected guests arrive, but it lends a very appealing aesthetic element to the space (especially when done in this beautiful marble countertop).
Square Breakfast Nook
When was the last time you really gathered in your breakfast nook, instead of eating at the island? If your family is one that seems almost magnetically pulled to the kitchen, then this is another smart way to make your island work for you. A large, squared-off footprint feels more like a family table and less like a bar, making it easier (and more comfortable) to designate it as the de facto dining space for everyday.
We've seen rattan light fixtures in just about every in-demand home design lately, but this is the first time we've seen ones that appear dip-dyed—and that might have to be our next weekend project. This look is a great way to echo your cabinet hues in a fresh and unexpected way, while also channeling an East-meets-West vibe that feels very current (just look to trends like wabi-sabi.)
We love incorporating natural wood tones into a kitchen—they're perfect for warning up the look of cool marble and bright whites, and they lend a hint of Scandi-inspired flair to any home space.
But butcher-block countertops can be a pain to maintain, especially if you live in a home where things are often splashed or spilled (hello, kids). So when we say this alternative use for our favorite timber, we were sold. Wrapping the hood in a (heat-safe) light-colored wood is a great way to inject all that visual warmth and rich character, without having to go overboard on maintenance.
We admit, the backsplash is one of our favorite arenas for introducing some pattern and personality in the kitchen. But picking just one material can be stressful—so what if we told you you didn't have to?
This handsome kitchen uses not one, not two, but three different materials to line the walls—from the head-turning organic pattern over the stove, to the clean white by the sink, to (our personal favorite) the wood slats at the far left. Sometimes, not making up your mind can be the best decision ever.
There's a lot to love about this space—but of course, we have to talk about the flock of friendly birds lining the ceiling. This playful touch is one of the best design details we've seen in a kitchen in a long time—and while it's whimsical, it doesn't look out of place, in part because it subtly mimics the pattern of the flooring below. We're also head-over-heels for the glam brass cabinet fronts—mellowed by the subtly veined quartz countertops—and the cozy archway banquette, so in short, we'll be stealing a lot of ideas from this particular kitchen.
Warm Wall Treatments
Picking a wall color is a big decision, but increasingly we're drawn to spaces that have more depth than just a single flat shade. Wall treatments like lime wash or even plaster applications add so much dimension and character to a space, and can even offer a warmer, more welcoming feeling than plain paint. If you're already working with a kitchen that prizes character and weathered finishes, opting for a similar look on the walls feels like an easy fit—and you're sure to find that the compliments just pour in.
Bold black and white have never steered us wrong before—but that doesn't mean this classic color combination has to be quotidian or expected. Just one showstopping element (like this striking veined island) can transform a kitchen into something truly special. The rest of the space is kept simple and sparse to let the island show off to its full effect, proving that a little restraint can really be the most powerful design decision of all.
Pops of Brass
Even an overwhelmingly white kitchen can have tons of personality—and this space is a prime example. To channel a minimalist vibe without sacrificing character, draw from a wider sphere of influence—for instance, this space uses traditional toile wallpaper along with French-inspired bistro stools, then adds in high-shine brass light fixtures and an Asian-inspired ginger jar for a more worldly flair. The result is a space that's high on style, even while it's low on color.
We're a big fan of open floor plans, but sometimes even those can feel a little "locked in" when it comes to the kitchen. Solution: a full-size island that rolls on heavy-duty casters. This DIY project is best suited for those with some experience, but just imagine being able to sweep the entire island out of the way when guests need to traverse the space (or if you decide to take on an oversized art project with the kids). The flexibility to really make a kitchen space work for you is something that feels so fresh and modern to us—and we're pretty sure that, if recent trends are any indication, that type of on-the-fly customizability will continue to be in-demand in the coming years. (A kitchen that changes with your whims is, truly, the ultimate luxury.)
This kitchen seriously one-ups the open shelving situation, creating small arched inlets for each little vignette (with targeted lighting included). While we might miss the extra cabinet space that's lost in a design like this, it's pretty hard to argue with the unique architectural detail and surplus style provided by these adorable arches.
Double islands? Believe it. We've been seeing this trend emerge lately and while it felt like a head-scratcher at first glance, the more we see it, the more we're on board. This unconventional layout allows space for guests to sit apart from a dedicated "prep island" which is outfitted with a sink so it's easy to chop, wash and prep meals—without accidentally pelting your houseguests with bits of celery.
Cabinets Lined With Artwork
Lining the top of your cabinets with framed artwork is already pretty unexpected (and pretty brilliant, if you ask us), but what really sells this space for us is the way the woodgrain detail hops from the top of the cabinets to the bottom of the hood when it reaches the stove. It's a little detail, but one that just feels fresh and playful—and really, what kitchen couldn't use a little pick-me-up like that?
A Woodgrain Surround
This is another unique way to make use of those hard-to-reach spaces above your upper cabinets. We love how custom it looks to add a woodgrain surround to the fridge, extending up toward these shadowbox-like spaces for displaying treasured objects or corralling cookbooks. While these open shelves don't offer the level of dust-and-grime protection that closed (or clear-front) cabinets would, they do provide a bit more shelter than a traditional open shelf (and they look much more stylish, too).
It's been a while since we waxed poetic about pegboard and the ilk, so consider this a reminder—one of our favorite ways to double the functionality of your kitchen (and add just a hint of old-world charm) is to install a few sturdy lines of pegboard or freestanding peg hooks around the perimeter of the space. While it may seem odd to call out such a commonplace invention as game-changing, it's really impossible to overstate how handy a few extra hooks can be—from holding onto ever-changing decor (sans nail holes) to standing in for the "spare set of hands" we all wish we had when undertaking a tricky recipe, there's pretty much nothing they can't do.
A staple of modern design is its use of clean, simple architectural lines. Naked Kitchens mastered the art of using lines for a sleek look in this space. By painting the cabinetry's hardware the same color as each door, tones blend together to keep the space as bold and tonal as possible.
To get that fresh, open-concept feeling, blend the space between kitchen and dining areas. In this kitchen by designer Julian Porcino, the rooms effortlessly flow together for a cohesive look that makes the area feel large. Oversized pendant lights and custom wood beams add a unique natural style, while keeping the design simple with darker accents and white Scandinavian-inspired chairs.
Going dark on the bottom half of the room creates a contrast between lower cabinetry and bright walls. In this space by Naked Kitchens, the designers chose a bold color to coat the kitchen island and main cabinets, then paired it with white wall and ceiling paint. Globe pendant lights exaggerate the room's height, and draws the eye up to these stunning skylights.
Decorating in odd numbers is a classic designer trick—like these three globe lights that hang perfectly above the island.
A Natural Island
While the rest of this space by Julia Robbs is modern and sleek, the kitchen island is perfectly natural. This stone looks like it came straight from the earth—but with a polished finish. Neutral tones in the countertops complement warm wood shelving and gold hardware, while white walls complete the airy look.
The use of lines to draw the eyes around a room is a classic designer trick, but it's especially prevalent in this space by LA Designer Affair. Rather than the large beams used in farmhouse looks, this modern kitchen uses thin wood slats that lengthen the ceiling and continue down the wall. Matched to the same color as the wood, a unique chandelier serves as a focal point between the dining area and kitchen.
We're all about matching hardware across different accents in a room, but JK Interior Living takes the gold medal (literally) with this dreamy kitchen. Not only did the designer pick the same finish for plumbing, cabinet handles, and chair legs, but they took it a step further with golden outlines to frame each cabinet door. Paired with simple white textures and marbled backsplash, this kitchen is the chic design of our dreams.
When you're working with bold colors, it's helpful to start with the one you plan to focus on above the rest. In this kitchen by Charlie Coull Designs, matte black paint ties the room together. By matching cabinetry to light fixtures and window frames, the dark color draws the eye around the room while highlighting the kitchen's brighter areas.
Clean and Elegant
For a clean vibe with an elegant touch, take inspiration from designer Reena Sotropa. In this classy space, simple white cabinets create a smooth backdrop for bright finishes and unique accents—because when you're a fan of vintage pieces, your style will shine in even the most modern of spaces.
Contemporary kitchens are a modern design lover's dream, and this space by Tyler Karu is a great example. Natural textures complement sleek lines, while the shiplap walls add an element of depth. Café pendant lights bring a stylish look to the space with a brushed metal finish.
A Chalkboard Wall
Add a personal touch to a monochrome kitchen with chalkboard paint. This space by House 9 is as clean and simple as it gets, but the addition of handwritten messages and drawings gives it a personality that no paint color can achieve. Give everyone in your household a place to get creative (plus, think of all the recipe notes you could jot down with a wall like this).
This space by Reena Sotropa is bursting with personality. Modern cabinetry and appliances are contrasted by a beautifully-unique backsplash, complete with floral patterns and matching hardware. We can't get enough of this playful-but-contemporary design.
When choosing paint colors for your cabinetry, look to your backsplash: You might find that the perfect shade is already present.
Modern Meets Traditional
If you're excited about the modern look but don't want to change up your traditional furniture, this kitchen by Maite Granda is an inspiration for the in-between. Neutral tones in the tile floors blend with warm wallpaper and furniture textures, while smaller accents of blue appear in different corners of the room. A white island with modern-retro barstools and waterfall countertops adds a sleek look with wood tones underneath.
Scandinavian style is all about minimalist decorations with neutral tones. Katie Hodges Design mastered the look in this kitchen with white walls and natural wood accents. By mixing wood grain textures, the dining table stands out from hardwood floors and barstools while maintaining the overall use of color. To achieve the Scandinavian modern look in your kitchen, start with white walls and natural floors—then choose one or two neutral accent colors (and keep bright colors to your décor). Woven textures, black metal hardware, and plenty of natural light are key to this style.
Sleek cabinetry may be a staple of modern design, but open shelving—when it's done right—can blend the look perfectly. In this space by designer Katherine Carter, natural wood shelves showcase white dinnerware to match the subway tile backsplash. Since the space is mostly white, the use of different textures from dark grout to smooth bowls and countertops breaks up the uniform color.
Who says a modern kitchen can't have maximalist aspects? This design by House of Hanes proves that the two can work together for a beautiful result. Neutral-colored chevron backsplash complements a traditional woven rug, while the rest of the space is perfectly prim-and-proper with contemporary cabinet hardware.
While much of modern design lies in its clean lines, the choice of lighting makes an impact. In this kitchen by Gold A La Mode, a statement chandelier hovers above the room to create a warm, welcoming glow. By choosing white globes, the designer adds a flair of elegance in the lighting with gold accents to match the room's hardware.
Dreaming of a farmhouse vibe, but keep coming back to modern design? Get the best of both worlds by incorporating warm wood tones as Ashley Webb Interiors did in this space. Marbled backsplash and countertops tie the room together, and the use of different textures creates visual interest while maintaining a fresh, clean feeling.
We're living for the shapes of these cabinets by Whittney Parkinson Design. By incorporating geometric shapes into the kitchen's storage, the room is filled with texture and color alike. The choice of multiple paint colors creates both symmetry and focal points.
Colorful Accent Furniture
If your space is mostly themed in a modern monochrome design, accent furniture and décor can tie the room together without sacrificing the simple aesthetic. Chelius House of Design used woven barstools with blue accents to match a bold rug and softer accents in the island vase. Minimal warm tones create depth in the kitchen while blending whites throughout the space.
Modern Meets Elegant
For the maximalists that want to go modern, consider an elegant blend between the two. M. Wilcox Design found the intersection between these two styles in this kitchen, complete with classic design finishes and patterned backsplash. To keep the look modern without adding too many visual elements, pick an individual color to weave throughout the room.