Open Kitchen Design
Modern Kitchens are almost always going to be open kitchens. Open floorplans make the space feel larger and allow greater connectivity between the space and the people within. An open kitchen can be a centerpiece to a well-designed home. If you are going to build an open kitchen, you want to think about how the kitchen will function within the entire open area, whether it be the living or dining room.
Modern White Kitchen Design
A lot of people love white kitchens, especially when they are aiming for a modern kitchen, but not everyone does. It all comes down to your personal taste!
We have another blog post you can read on White Apartment Design Ideas.
Pass Through Kitchen
If you are not going to build a fully open kitchen, you may consider a pass through kitchen. This is a kitchen that is partially open, with a window-like opening in the wall and a countertop connection the kitchen to an adjacent room. It is not fully open nor is it fully closed. It allows convenience, counter seating, and a visual connection.
Kitchen islands are convenient, but also look great. They are a real great addition to a modern kitchen. There are a few decisions that need to be made when choosing a kitchen island:
- Appliances in the Island or not?
- Sink in the island, primary or secondary?
- Do you want seating at the island?
- Is the island one height or different elevations?
- Do you want a waterfall?
- Should the island match the rest of the kitchen or stand out?
- What size, depth, and length do you want your island to be? How much clearance do you want around the island?
- Cabinets open to both sides or just one?
An alternative to a kitchen island is a kitchen peninsula. You will have some of the same questions and concerns for a peninsula as you would for a kitchen island. You will want to start by figuring out which one you prefer. There will be many different reasons why you would go with one or the other. If you are renovating an existing kitchen, the space may make that choice for you. Not every option works in every space.
The picture below depicts a modern kitchen in a 4,000 square foot Tribeca Loft. Large kitchens are a more high end option, as the kitchen is typically the most expensive room in a home. You can read more in another post we wrote about High End Renovation Planning.
Modern Backsplash Ideas
The backsplash is meant to protect your walls from water splashing from the sink or oil splattering from a frying pan. That is why we tend to use durable materials for the backsplash, rather than just sticking with what the rest of the walls are made of. The backsplash can also double as a real design feature. You want to decide if your backsplash should blend in or stand out. It can be a feature, or it can fade away. Sometimes people make the backsplash out of the exact same countertop material to match.
Below is an image of a kitchen where we used shiny black subway tile as the backsplash. Subway tile is a very popular backsplash. It comes in many different finishes, colors, and textures, so you are likely to find something you love. We have another blog post you can reference if you want to read more about Backsplash Design.
A backsplash can be used to stand out against an otherwise monotone kitchen. In this photo we have an all-white kitchen with stainless steel appliances and a contrasting tile backsplash. Remember that a backsplash is not just a decorative element, but also acts as a protective surface! In another post I explain Why You Need a Backsplash in Your Kitchen.
Kitchen Counter Seating
A great place for seating in your modern kitchen is at an island. The countertop can overhang and create a great area to place stools. You want to consider the height of the countertop. Sometimes people make a countertop a lower height, similarly to a table, or a higher height, so that it functions like a bar. The countertop surface is typically about 36″ above the floor.
Modern kitchens often have an island or a peninsula. On the side of a kitchen island or peninsula, you will see the side of the cabinet (unless you choose to cover it with something). When a slab material matches the countertop down the side it is called a countertop waterfall. This can often be done with a continuous or bookmatch stone, so the veining (if there is any) can be continuous.
A countertop waterfall is miter cut. This means the slabs are cut at 45 degree angles and then matched up to make a 90 degree corner. Modern Interior Details are critical for a modern kitchen.
Panel Ready Appliances
Another important decision to make is whether you want panel ready appliances or you would rather leave the appliance material exposed. Dishwashers and refrigerators often come with the option to install a panel matching the cabinets so that everything blends together. Some people love this look, while some people prefer to have the stainless steel appliances exposed. Either option is good for a modern apartment.
The apartment below has panel ready appliances with doors matching the kitchen. The walls were painted to match the cabinets for a more simple continuous look.
Stainless Steel Appliances
If you do not want to use panels on your appliances to match the cabinets, you can leave the stainless steel exposed. In the photo below you can see a stainless steel Sub Zero refrigerator and stainless steel Viking range. I personally love to see stainless steel, but not everyone feels the same way. A lot of my clients want to have panel ready cabinets and have the entire kitchen match.
Unique Finishes That Stand Out
Modern kitchens are often stark. There is nothing wrong with adding a little flare or contrast. Unique finishes can be a great addition to a modern kitchen design.
The picture below is of a white kitchen with white cabinets, white subway tile backsplash, and a white countertop, but it is offset with a vibrant gold gooseneck faucet.
Unique Modern Fixtures
Fixtures have a great impact on the overall design of a kitchen. You want to coordinate all the fixtures and make sure they work together. The function is definitely very important, but so is the fixture design. Do not let selecting fixtures be an afterthought.
The picture below is of a very modern and industrial sink faucet by Kohler. This is an incredibly high end articulating faucet, great for a more Industrial Loft Design or ultra modern home.
You can choose between a range or a cooktop and wall oven. A range is a one piece unit with an oven and burners built in. A cooktop is a separate appliance that only has burners, and the oven can go in the wall. Some people prefer a cooktop and a wall oven being two separate components, while some prefer to combine them with a range. You can install a cooktop directly above a wall oven if you prefer that look. In that case, the wall oven would be directly under the cooktop in the base cabinet.
When designing a kitchen the starting point is to assess the existing conditions. The second step is to plan your appliances. You will want to figure out what type of appliances you want and their size. Wall ovens are a great idea for kitchen designs because they do not require you to bend over to use them. Wall ovens are very convenient, and deciding between a wall oven or a range is an important decision.
The picture below is of a kitchen with Miele wall ovens and a separate Thermadore Cooktop.
If you have children, or even if you don’t, and you like posting things to your wall, then magnetic paint may be something to consider for your kitchen.
The picture below is of a kitchen in a Brooklyn apartment with a black magnetic paint wall. The owner of this apartment calls it her “Pride Wall,” as she is a proud mom filling her wall with her children’s posts.
Bells and Whistles
There are all kinds of bells and whistles you can have in your kitchen. In this video we have a kitchen counter with a telescopic downdraft hood. The hood is push-button operated and comes up from the countertop, and then retracts down into the cabinet below. This is convenient in that it disappears when not in use, but it’s also pretty cool.
Under Cabinet Lighting
Under cabinet lighting is really important. It will help you see better for your working surfaces as task lighting, and it can really add mood and design elegance.
Second Row of Upper Kitchen Cabinets
If you have a high enough ceiling, 9 feet or more, you can have a second row of wall cabinets. This is a really great way to get extra storage space in a kitchen. The upper cabinets are a bit less convenient, so you should probably use them for the items not used every day.
Pendant lighting can be a good option for an island or peninsula. You may not want to have a light hanging down, though, so if that is the case, go for something like recessed lighting. If you like a more decorative light, however, you can find a nice pendant that hangs down and lights up your surface, while also being part of the overall design.
Modern Kitchen Design Ideas and Tips
As an architect, I study design and construction, but these are complicated and quite involved issues. In this article, we reviewed some tips and ideas for modern kitchen designs, but there are many others to consider. Every project is unique and must be assessed on its own unique characteristics. This post does not assume to cover every possible issue or condition, but rather to provide a general overview of the topic.
Thank you for reading our blog post on Modern Kitchen Design Ideas.
I hope this was helpful. If you would like to speak with an architect, you can contact us at Fontan Architecture directly.
This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 15 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.