25 modern kitchen ideas – contemporary looks to inspire a makeover

Love contemporary kitchens? These modern kitchen ideas were made for you...

an open plan modern kitchen idea in an extension of Victorian terrace house with island, metal frame windows and exposed brick
(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

We could scroll through modern kitchen ideas all day – there is just something about a contemporary kitchen that is so dreamy. The slimline, handle-less cupboards, marble worktops and funky appliances; who wouldn't want a clutter-free, inviting and seamlessly functional modern kitchen design?

Experts at kitchen supplier Howdens explain, 'With a focus on fuss-free features, ergonomic design, and clean aesthetics, modern kitchen ideas offer different ways to create a space that is human-centered and stylish.'

'From colors and finishes to cooking devices, there are many things to consider when it comes to creating a modern kitchen design.'

We, therefore, put our scrolling time to good use and bring you a gallery of stunning modern kitchens to get you inspired. Think elegant, minimalist cabinetry, carefully selected color schemes and a few select feature pieces, too.

So whether you are designing a kitchen from scratch or just looking for some swoon-worthy inspiration, here are our tips for creating a gorgeous contemporary kitchen design, and you'll find plenty of kitchen trends, handy tips and tricks in our feature.

1. Opt for all white in a contemporary kitchen

contemporary kitchen with white scheme and marble kitchen island by meir australia

(Image credit: Meir Australia)

Nothing says contemporary kitchen quite like a white kitchen scheme. Simple, yet effective, this stand-out scheme makes a real design statement (as long as you can keep it tidy).

If you're concerned about the space feeling a little too clinical, try working different textures into your space to break up the use of one color.

Experts at Howdens explain, 'Sticking to one hue can make a design stand out, and what better shade to choose than crisp white.'

'Known for maximizing light and making a room feel bigger, white is a staple in modern kitchen designs, as it provides homeowners the freedom to play with texture and pattern in other areas, like counters and floors.'

For this modern kitchen design, fine grey veining throughout the white marble kitchen island is just what's required to add interest to the space.

2. Or experiment with on-trend blue-grey pastels 

a grey kitchen with matt textured cabinets along one wall with a wood dining/breakfast table and chairs

(Image credit: Original BTC)

If an all white, super contemporary kitchen design is too much for your taste (or you can't trust yourself to keep it looking spotless) consider opting for cabinetry in an on-trend, blue-grey pastel shade, instead.

Grey tones are ideal in a contemporary kitchen, but with timeless appeal and have a slightly warmer, more homely feeling about them. 

Pair with copper accents – check out that kitchen tap – for an extra dose of contemporary style.

  • Grey kitchen ideas are a classic – stylish and sophisticated, it's no surprise it's the color of choice when it comes to kitchens.

a dark blue contemporary kitchen with shaker style cabinets and white metro tiles by brayers design

(Image credit: Brayer Design)

Shaker style kitchens have certainly stood the test of time; making them the perfect option if you want to design a contemporary kitchen with some longevity.

This classic style of cabinetry is particularly standout in modern kitchen designs when part of an on-trend dark and moody interiors scheme.

Experts at Howdens explain, 'Although five-piece, framed designs are traditionally used in heritage schemes, they can also be adapted for a contemporary look, by adding handle-free fixtures or pairing with on-trend hues.'

Style with (equally stylish) white metro tiles to create some contrast and brass accents, if you're going all out.

  • Shaker kitchens never date and look wonderful in both contemporary and traditional homes. Here is how to get your Shaker style kitchen right...

4. Invest in sleek matt cabinetry for contemporary kitchens 

Optiplan contemporary Stratford kitchen Light grey and Gun powder grey

(Image credit: Optiplan Kitchens)

Cabinetry with a matt-effect finish is making waves in the world of contemporary kitchen design (and we can see why). 

Effortlessly sleek and sophisticated – particularly in this grey tone – it makes the perfect addition to modern kitchen designs.

Pair with a statement mirrored splashback, which makes a stylish alternative to more traditional tiles.

5. Or opt for a gloss finish for a contemporary kitchen 

Roma Cashmere High Gloss kitchen with a kitchen island, bar stools and copper backplash, lighting and stone slab floor tiles by Optiplan Kitchens

(Image credit: Optiplan Kitchens)

Sleek, luxurious-looking surfaces are key to ultra-modern kitchens. This includes kitchen cabinets, which can work as part of a streamlined kitchen design if they match the other surfaces.

'Polished, mirror-like finishes reflect light, and are great for making smaller rooms feel bright and more spacious,' explain Howdens' experts. 'Glossy textures are also easy to clean too, making them a hygienic choice - great for busy households. Opting for high-shine door-fronts will help tie your design in with the clean aesthetic of contemporary interiors.'

This chic, minimalist kitchen benefits from having the same color and glossy finish throughout, including the cupboards and the kitchen island drawers. It features the Handleless Roma Range kitchen cupboards in Cashmere High Gloss by Optiplan Kitchens. 

6. Maximize natural light in contemporary kitchen designs

contemporary kitchen with black metal doors and white internal doors by IQ Glass

(Image credit: IQ Glass)

The way we use our kitchens is evolving, with a desire to create open-plan living spaces designed for entertaining taking precedent.

Maximizing natural light is (arguably) the key to designing a contemporary kitchen that fits this new-found requirement. After all, light has the capacity to make a space feel brighter and more spacious – particularly when paired with an all-white scheme – which will make it a more pleasant place to spend time.

If you're designing a kitchen extension or your kitchen opens out onto a garden, consider investing in bi-fold, sliding or metal doors (or windows), which will instantly brighten your space, while giving it a distinct contemporary edge.

  • Kitchens on a budget can still have impact and be a success. For a high-end looking and functional finish, we can help.

7. Use modern kitchen designs to create a sociable space

contemporary kitchen with white scheme and marble splashback by meir australia

(Image credit: Meir Australia)

As mentioned, designing a contemporary kitchen is about more than the fixtures and fittings you choose (though these are important, too). 

What's at the core of a contemporary kitchen is a space that can function as the hub of the home with plenty of space for engaging and entertaining.

With this in mind, we love the idea of incorporating a kitchen island – complete with stylish bar stools – into your space. This provides the perfect spot for entertaining guests while you cook or catching up with a partner over a lazy weekend breakfast.

8. You can have a small but contemporary kitchen

a small, slim, white kitchen with contemporary scheme, with red window blinds, modern chair and a bar stool by english blinds

(Image credit: English Blinds)

Don't write off your dream of having a stylish, contemporary kitchen, just because you're working with a small kitchen

Almost all of the tips and tricks we've shared can be incorporated into a small kitchen with a little thought and design know-how, that includes these small kitchen ideas.

This modern kitchen design is a great example of how a small space can be used, with a stylish concrete poured floor and black, cast iron radiator making an understated design feature.

9. Mix industrial-inspired pieces into your modern kitchen scheme

kitchen with contemporary scheme and standout concrete kitchen island by english blinds

(Image credit: English Blinds)

Industrial-inspired features like concrete make a unique addition to a contemporary kitchen and can act as a striking, yet understated, focal point if paired with an otherwise white scheme.

Our Howdens experts say, 'Use decorative trims to accentuate architectural lines and add visual interest to your contemporary look.' 

'Opt for our concrete-effect kitchen doors for a new, industrialized look or add them to an existing design for a quick urban update.'

We love this statement concrete kitchen island, particularly when paired with more natural materials such as a solid wood floor and backsplash.

10. Work natural materials in to modern kitchen designs

kitchen with contemporary feel, breakfst bar stools and mix of concrete and wood by ligne roset

(Image credit: Ligne Roset)

Whether paired with – or without – stylish poured concrete, wood makes a warming addition to a contemporary kitchen. 

If you're looking to add depth to your space, consider opting for dark or red-toned woods or keep things a little lighter, brighter and more Scandi-inspired with beech and other light-colored woods.

Or future-proof your modern kitchen by incorporating eco-friendly building materials like bamboo.

11. Add the timelessness of midcentury into a modern kitchen space

Modern kitchen diner with open plan feel and blue interior by nest

(Image credit: Nest)

We're not sure we'll ever be tired of midcentury modern interiors, which makes them the perfect point of inspiration when designing a contemporary kitchen. 

We love the pairing of this stylish (and very midcentury-inspired) dining set with modern appliances and an otherwise sleek, minimalist interior. 

12. Work in concrete for a bespoke modern kitchen design 

A modern kitchen with concrete kitchen slab style cabinets and open shelving and a matching kitchen island

Concrete is the ultimate ultra-modern material – and it is more versatile than might seem. Go for a lacquered finish for contemporary kitchen designs that are both strong-looking and warm. 

Experts at Howdens recommend, 'Influenced by factory settings and construction warehouses, engineered schemes continue to dominate the modern design world, making concrete the texture of choice for many households.'

This Concrete-A kitchen by Leicht is made from lacquered concrete and has a rolled steel worktop. 

13. Create a multi-purpose space in your kitchen

A modern kitchen idea with black matt kitchen cabinets, wood kitchen island and breakfast bar with shelf storage in a large airy room

(Image credit: Hub Kitchens)

A stylish, modern kitchen that is clutter-free and sparkling clean has the potential to be used as more than just a kitchen. 

While a dining space is an obvious space, a mini home office or study would not be out of place in an ultra-modern, open-plan kitchen, especially if it has a large window with a view.

14. Zone your contemporary kitchen with a monochrome contrast

Black matt kitchen interior with wooden surfaces and houseplants on the shelf

(Image credit: Kasia Fiszer)

Thinking of ways to make a large, open-plan kitchen look more modern and defined? 

A contrasting monochrome color scheme is an easy way to visually divide the space into separate areas which is key to modern kitchen design.

Simply separate the room as you want, then color-coordinate each side. 

  • These room divider ideas are perfect for creating stylish zones in an open plan space, no matter what size room you are working with...

15. Create a focal point with a feature splashback

Life Kitchens Seamless Precision

(Image credit: Life Kitchens)

Think of your minimalist, modern kitchen as a blank canvas. Keep it as it is for the ultimate pure look, and introduce a playful design element with a graphic backsplash mural, like one of these mural ideas.

16. Add some color to a contemporary kitchen design

Modern kitchen with colourful chairs

(Image credit: Georgia Burns)

Contemporary kitchen designs don't all have to be monochrome, have fun with color too. We recommend keeping your cabinets nice and simple but then add in colorful furniture (how fun are these bar stools?!), prints and lighting.

You will find loads more kitchen color schemes over in our gallery – loads of them can be adapted for modern kitchens so check them out too.

17. Mix concrete and wood for a unique modern kitchen 

a kitchen with stripped back wood cabinetry and square glass bricks as splashback tiling

(Image credit: Lime Lace)

We love this modern kitchen – the concrete keeps it very contemporary and industrial but those pale wooden doors and the wooden shelves keep it soft and inviting.

The glass bricks are a great idea too, they work perfectly in smaller kitchens or open plan kitchens as light can flow them.

18. Bring natural textures into a minimalist kitchen

an all white kitchen with concrete accents, plants, metal frame windows and a kitchen island

(Image credit: Norsu)

Chic, streamlined kitchens while looking beautiful, can risk being a little flat and free of personality, so to avoid this make sure you mix in plenty of textures.

This kitchen keeps it subtle but there's plenty of textures going on – the wooden floor and shelves, the concrete plant pots, the plants themselves, even the stack of chopping boards work together to add depth to this space. 

19. Combine a modern kitchen with antique pieces

This is our fave way to do a modern kitchen – keep the cabinetry super sleek and minimalist but combine with more eclectic pieces to give the room character. 

You recreate this quirky look with unique freestanding kitchen pieces, chairs or even lighting.

Again, a super easy way to bring some color into a modern kitchen is with a gallery wall

Pick a color scheme and arrange your prints and photos over a wall to bring in some personality. Also, note the chalkboard wall in this kitchen – love it, and a practical addition to a family kitchen too. 

21. Paint your kitchen cabinets for a dramatic update

If you want to give your modern kitchen a dramatic update, painting your kitchen cabinets is something you can DIY and can totally change the look of your kitchen. 

We love these dark cupboards that look just so chic without any hardware – and even the worktops match the inky black.

22. Add in a floating kitchen island

A open plan kitchen and dining room with floating island in a house extension with lots of light and windows

(Image credit: Chris Snook © Future)

Everything about this modern kitchen is perfect, right down to the adorable dog.

The focal point has got to be that amazing floating island though. It's actually standing on a pedestal that's much smaller and sits underneath the island. It stops the island feeling too heavy and blocking light in the narrow space of the kitchen. 

If you love this kitchen be sure to check out the great of this gorgeous modern kitchen extension

23. Be bang on trend with herringbone flooring 

Kitchen extension with large kitchen island and herringbone wood flooring

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Mmmm, herringbone flooring is just so dreamy. It works so well in a more modern kitchen too as it brings in a touch of subtle pattern to a minimalist space. 

The cool tones of this flooring in this real home kitchen extension work so well with the blue cabinetry as it creates a contrast that's noticeable but not too extreme.

24. Match your walls to your cabinets

A dark grey kitchen with a background wall in the same color with open shelving, dining table and stainless steel cooking hood

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

A simple, stylish look, matching your matte cabinet color to your wall color creates a seamless feel that's synonymous with modern kitchens.

Give the space some depth with floating shelves and touches of décor on the countertop, but otherwise less is more with this look.

25. Have fun in a modern kitchen 

A small galley kitchen with wood flooring, dark cabinetry, wood countertops and lots of lightby Naked kitchens

(Image credit: Naked Kitchens)

This cool, contemporary kitchen by Naked Kitchens proves that modern doesn't always have to mean monochrome and you can still be really creative. 

The cabinets are really simple, so you have your modern feel there, but the vibrant colors make it a playful space and that flooring. 

It's actually reclaimed boards from a school gymnasium so you just get the odd pops of color from the markings – genius. Wonder how they found these reclaimed boards? We'll show you how to find reclaimed materials for your home.

Hebe Hatton

Hebe joined the Real Homes team in early 2018 as Staff Writer before moving to the Livingetc team in 2021 where she took on a role as Digital Editor. She loves boho and 70's style and is a big fan of Instagram as a source of interiors inspiration. When she isn't writing about interiors, she is renovating her own spaces – be it wallpapering a hallway, painting kitchen cupboards or converting a van.