Do you ever dream of the simple uncluttered look of a modern kitchen? Honestly, when I see a photo like the pictures below I secretly think they look like they actually clean themselves! The allure makes sense.  

Modern kitchens move away from ornate details and traditional elements and materials and bring in a simpler aesthetic. Streamlined, industrial and austere are the hallmarks, but they don’t need to leave out warmth. It is all about how you use materials and make selections. Modern kitchens can be crisp and white, or can have a moody artisanal feel taking craftsmanship cues from mid-century design.

Design Elements of a Modern Kitchen

Where to use them? We like to design a modern kitchen in many of the condos we work on. The architecture generally lends itself toward a crisp man-made aesthetic. But that’s not the only place they do well. The tension between a very traditional structure with ornamentation of a Victorian, Elizabethan, or even Georgian period home can be a striking setting for a very modern kitchen. The tension between old and new elements can be very successful. The key to success in this approach is keeping the elements clearly modern against a traditional structure.

Here’s a great example:


A truly modern kitchen boasts crisp clean lines and minimal details. Angles tend to reign over curves, or if curves are introduced they are strictly geometric and disciplined. These counter stools say it all! A machine-made aesthetic can help but natural materials are often used as well.


Wood can go a long way to adding warmth to a modern kitchen. The industrial edge to the faucet, sink, hood, and range anchor this kitchen in a modern look. Notice the minimal door hardware. If you want a super modern kitchen, skip the fussy knobs and handles altogether or look for something sleek and simple.


Clean Lines

In this kitchen, the client wanted clean lines and 90 degree angles. We love it when a client knows exactly what they like and don’t like. We don’t usually expect it to be this specific, but it helps! Integrated appliances gave the result a seamless look. An overhead fan is concealed neatly under the upper cabinets to whisk away fumes when cooking but hide out of sight when not in use. White flat panel cabinetry uppers were warmed up with quarter sawn oak lowers to blend in with the original oak floors we refinished. The result is modern but welcoming. The split-faced marble backsplash adds texture and sparkle to provide a bit of glamour.

Source: Judith Taylor Designs

Not just wood colour, but wood grain adds warmth and character to this kitchen. We just love the smokey glass pendants here. They pick up the grey note in the stone backsplash nicely.


A monochromatic palette creates a seamless result, which can be a great strategy for a small space. This kitchen sits quietly and unobtrusively in the homes décor providing function without commanding attention. What a great choice to opt for a sleek slim countertop edge detail on this island.


Here is a photo from the other side and you can see how well it ties in with the home’s décor. The Tom Dixon pendants are perfectly complemented along with the molded polypropylene Eiffel chairs.


Some elements to give your kitchen a modern edge:   

  1. Countertop: man-made stone – often quartz composite but poured concrete, stainless steel, or anything that can give a clean uncluttered look.
  2. Cabinetry: simple flat panels are the hallmark of a modern kitchen – wood or veneer, lacquer or paint finish.
  3. Lighting: simplified geometric shapes – glass, metal, or a combination of glass and metal.
  4. Hardware: may have minimal details, but typically have simple geometric form.
  5. Colour: white, black, or natural wood-tones are commonly used.
  6. Metal: brushed stainless, brass, or copper.
  7. Backsplash: there are all kinds of decorative options to offer dimension to contrast with flat panel cabinetry. A stacked pattern of subway tiles fits this style well, but a bricked installation works too. Natural stone options are available in many formats to bring interest, patterning, and texture.
  8. Fixtures: look for clean lines, geometric forms and streamlined styling. A pro or chef’s style faucet, or a simple gooseneck works well but there are many angular choices to consider.