21 Modern Kitchen Ideas To Spruce Up Your Space

modern kitchen

Design: Studio William Hefner

Undertaking a kitchen remodel is definitely one of the most ambitious home projects there is. But it can also be the most rewarding. Because the kitchen is truly the heart of the home, so much time is spent there—whether for functional reasons, like cooking and meal-planning those workweek dinners, or for more emotional ones, like gathering to chat with a glass of wine in hand. So when your kitchen is up-to-date, well designed, and truly a reflection of your lifestyle and aesthetics, it can kind of feel like the planets are all in alignment—you cook better, socialize better, and maybe even eat better.

If you're considering undertaking a kitchen remodel in the new year, 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 for a happier, healthier, and more functional year ahead.

01 of 21

Go Wide

modern kitchen

Design: Studio William Hefner, Photo: Laura Hull

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.

02 of 21

Express Yourself

modern kitchen

Design: Home Front Build, Photo: Cris Nolasco

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.

03 of 21

Zen Out

modern kitchen

Design: Studio William Hefner

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.

04 of 21

Double Up

modern kitchens

Design: Southern Studio Interior Design

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.

05 of 21

Follow Your Gaze

modern kitchen

Design: Southern Studio Interior Design

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.

06 of 21

Show Off

modern kitchen

Design: Laura Brophy, Photo: Hugo Landa Photography

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).

07 of 21

Level Up

modern kitchen

Design: Lindye Galloway, Photo: Chad Mellon

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).

08 of 21

Square Off

modern kitchen

Design: Design Works

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.

09 of 21

Dip In

modern kitchen

Design: Lindye Galloway, Photo: Chad Mellon

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.)

10 of 21

Go Natural

modern kitchen

Design: Lindye Galloway, Photo: Chad Mellon

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.

11 of 21

Mix It Up

modern kitchen

Design: Christopher Peacock, Photo: Nickolas Sargent

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.

12 of 21

Fly High

modern kitchens

Design: Chad Dorsey

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.

13 of 21

Add Depth

modern kitchen

Design: ALLPRACE, Photo: Jenna Peffley

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.

14 of 21

Dial Up the Contrast

modern kitchen

Design: Cambria

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.

15 of 21

Expand Your Influence

modern kitchen

Design: Brexton Cole Interiors

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.

16 of 21

Go Mobile

modern kitchen

Design: Karen Emile/Milk & Honey Life

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.)

17 of 21

Raise An Arch

modern kitchen

Design: Ashley Webb Interiors

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.

18 of 21

Line It Up

modern kitchen

Design: Studio KT, Photo: Tristan Thompson

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.

19 of 21

Do The Unexpected

modern kitchen

Design: Devon Grace Interiors

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?

20 of 21

Top It Off

modern kitchen

Design: Alvin Wayne

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).

21 of 21

Hook It Up

modern kitchen

Design: The Grit & Polish

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.

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