8 modern small kitchen ideas — nail an updated aesthetic

Try these modern small kitchen ideas to refresh yours in a flash

When looking for modern small kitchen ideas, this is a great example. The handleless drawers in smooth dark gray, marble island and lack of clutter are modern and sleek
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It may be time for some modern small kitchen ideas if your space is looking a little dated. While giving a tiny kitchen a modern makeover sounds straightforward, it actually takes deeper planning across multiple elements.

A modern aesthetic looks pared back, non-cluttered, and simple, but getting it to that point is all about curating the right materials, textures, colors, and styling in tandem, creating a layered look that isn't, well, boring.

Here, our experts from the interiors world weigh in on the best ways to give a small kitchen a modern look — from design-led lighting to super swish appliances you will love.

Modern small kitchen ideas

Could your kitchen do with a makeover? We're loving modern home decor right now and any excuse to refresh and declutter for the new year. Try out these ideas, from organization hacks to must-buy appliances, for a more modern aesthetic in the heart of the home.

1. Try statement lighting

Black small kitchen with marble countertops and a three-globe pendant statement light in white with black wiring over the island

(Image credit: Getty Images)

While a modern small kitchen leans more towards a minimalist aesthetic than a maximalist one, you don’t need to be shy when it comes to making a statement. In fact, bold, blocky designs can look really cool in an ultra-modern setting, and small kitchen lighting is a great way to explore this in your home.

Smirna Kulenovic is a design expert at Next Luxury, and here she explains which styles of lighting can create a modern look. She says, “Give your kitchen an instant facelift by introducing a statement lighting fitting. A sleek, striking pendant can be a cool way to go, or a modern take on the chandelier with hard lines and exposed bulbs?”

Smirna Kulenovic

Smirna Kulenovic is a designer, lecturer and writer across home decor site, Next Luxury.

2. Decorate with minimalist planters

Dining table with multiple green happy tall plants and black chairs

(Image credit: Getty Images)

While minimalism is a whole design trend on its own, there are definitely elements of these two aesthetics that overlap. The best plants for small spaces breathe life into any space, but the pot that you choose for your leafy friends is super important, too. 

Mike Rivers, founder and operational director at Fusion Office Design, agrees plants should be a big part of your modernized space, even if you're trying to pair back on other elements. He says, "I suggest always bringing a few potted plants or fresh herbs into your room's scheme as it instantly infuses a touch of nature. For a modern look, go for minimalist planters or hanging pots in dark colors and matte finishes."

Mike Rivers

Mike Rivers is the founder and operational director at corporate interior design specialists, Fusion Office Design. 

3. Invest in some new countertop appliances

Small modern white kitchen white countertop and black barstools

(Image credit: Getty Images)

While we're not suggesting you blow your rent money on a new, super-swish fridge, or splurge on a fancy oven you don't need, your small kitchen appliances might benefit from a refresh. 

Modern-looking toasters, kettles, smoothie makers, coffee machines — all the things you generally see on a daily basis — can really elevate your kitchen's aesthetic. If possible, opt for these kinds of gadgets in metallic silver or bronze. Matte black items with a sleek, less bulky design will give the whole space a more modern feel. 

There are plenty of options out there for all kinds of budgets, but this silver toaster from Williams Sonoma has a slim shape, minimal buttons, and a great price.

4. Give matte black finishes a go

Kitchen faucet in matte black, pictured in shadow against white ridged vertical splashback tiles and steel sink area

(Image credit: Taffy M Sipa)

While this might not suitable for those with a short lease, if you're staying in your apartment for a good long while, replacing hardware such as faucets can make a huge impact.

Milly Summer, influencer over at The House On Forest Hill, says, "Taffy's account is one of my favorites because she opts for clean-cut, simple aesthetics. This example of her kitchen counter is like heaven to me — sleek lines, no mess, and the black faucet makes such an impact.

This black faucet from Walmart is amazingly budget-friendly and looks great, too.

Milly adds, "While some older faucets are ornate brass, or silver but bulky and dated, this long, purposeful shape and matte finish packs a real punch and looks ultra-modern."

Milly Summer

Milly Summer is an influencer and interiors enthusiast who posts about her home journey on Instagram. 

5. Form-led accessories

Marble kitchen countertop with two glass jar candles, one black wiggly tall one, and two wooden chopping boards

(Image credit: The House That Black Built)

Modern design is about smooth, sleek lines and form-led shapes, so displaying something like a wiggly candle stick holder immediately brings your home into the 21st century. 

Extra points for the color scheme here, too. You can't get more chic than black on black, both for the candle holder and the candle itself. 

This is the kind of piece that can be positioned anywhere — from the countertop, middle of the table, or on a kitchen shelf. Plus, it's a small touch so it's no problem if your kitchen is on the small side.

6. Stick to one color palette

Neutral kitchen with open window and shutters

(Image credit: The House On Forest Hill)

Sharing her experience of designing her own kitchen, homes influencer Milly continues, "For me, I can't stand fuss or frills, I like everything in my home to feel fresh and modern. So, when thinking about my own kitchen, I wanted the overall look to be super clean cut.@

Milly opted for a monochrome color palette, but stuck with white in most places, only using black for cabinet doors as an accent. Sticking with a neutral small kitchen colorway is an easy way to make the space look fresh and more cohesive.

"I know how hard it can be pouring over color charts and trying to work out the best combinations," Milly adds, but if you like the modern look, make things easy for yourself and choose an off-white for almost everything. Stark white can come off a little clinical, but a slightly off-white or stone white is perfect for wall paint, countertops, seating, and accessories."

7. Make simple changes with modern accessories

Minimal off-white tall slim jug with handle and black lid resting on kitchen radiator alongside matching mug with lid

(Image credit: WhackHome)

It's easy to forget the small stuff, but if you want your space to have a modern feel through and through, little touches such as the right kitchen essentials, can make all the difference.

Jessica Sims-Wilson, interior designer and founder of House of Dawn Interiors, explains, "Something as simple as a water jug, your morning coffee cup, or even kitchen textiles like tea towels are great ways to modernize your home. This jug example is perfect: the monochrome color combo, the chic design, and the sense of practicality and style coming together."

Jessica Sims-Wilson

Jessica Sims-Wilson is an interior designer with experience at brands like Soho Home and Neptune, as well as founder of House of Dawn Interiors. 

8. Try your own marble decals

Kitchen with marble countertops and splashbacks, with dark blue matte cabinets and gold metal hardware and taps

(Image credit: Notting.Hiller)

While marble is a classic material that's endured the test of time, it still gives off a modern look. Its smooth surface and hard lines make it a great option for a kitchen, but if it's a little out of your price range, don't worry.

These days, there are plenty of stick-on counter wraps, backsplashes, tiles and even flooring you can try for a DIY marble look. You can find an amazing range of self-adhesive marble effect wraps from Home Depot for every part of the room, and in every color!


How can I pinpoint exactly what modern design is in a small kitchen?

Modern design is rooted in clean lines, muted colors, and form-led design moments such as lighting, accessories, and chairs in unusual shapes. It's not quite futuristic, but is as far away from the ornate, over-detailed styles of the past, especially any time before the 1940s and celebrities like Kendall Jenner love it.

A good way to get a better grasp on modern interior design is to delve into minimalist looks, as well as mid-century modern design as this is when the world of interiors started moving towards more simple, practical styles that look to the future.

What's the easiest way to begin making my small kitchen feel more modern?

This is an obvious answer but declutter, declutter, declutter. Modern design is all about a fresh, clean, look so we want as little mess out on work surfaces, countertops, and tables as possible. 

Research kitchen organization hacks and how to declutter a small space, throw away anything you don't use, and get some in-drawer and cupboard dividers to make the most of the space you already have. 

There probably isn't a better space to get your modern decor flex on than the kitchen, a room that totally suits sleek interiors, monochrome color palettes, and statement lighting.

Still looking for modern small kitchen inspo? If you're a fan of earthy tones and natural interiors, we've also rounded up the best rustic small kitchen ideas to modernize your home and, we have to say, they're pretty gorgeous.