Modern kitchen ideas – contemporary designs for cooking and entertaining

Our modern kitchen ideas encompass every aspect of decor, from cabinets and countertops to storage and backsplashes

An example of modern kitchen ideas with dark green cabinetry and backsplash and gold leaf kitchen island.
(Image credit: Roundhouse)

Welcome to the world of contemporary kitchen design. Our modern kitchen ideas move beyond the pared-back boxy styles of old to explore the exciting range of materials and finishes now available for cabinetry, floors and walls.

Newer kitchen ideas focus on creating mood and recognise the time we spend in the space – so versatility, comfort, lighting and entertainment have become super important. 

The old cliché of ‘hub of the home’ is truer than ever – all life happens here, so even dedicated work stations are finding their way into modern kitchen layouts. Appliances are quieter, while new technology is super-connected so dinner can almost take care of itself. 

And because we don’t want to spend all day looking at the nuts and bolts of our kitchen, modern solutions hide it all away behind tall cupboard doors, using clever storage systems to make the most of the full height of space. 

The latest trends in kitchen design include to easy-clean surfaces, more storage – go ahead and prioritise that walk-in pantry – and hydroponics that will bring the herb and salad garden indoors.

Modern kitchen ideas

From the most advanced of appliances, to modern kitchen lighting and cutting edge cabinetry, we bring you the best contemporary kitchen ideas for design inspiration.

1. Extend a welcome

Modern kitchen ideas featuring a kitchen extension with crittall doors, wooden flooring and a vintage rug.

(Image credit: Sola)

The kitchen extension is by far the most popular home improvement project, and it’s no surprise. If we want to entertain in style and comfort, space is key. 

Consider your needs for all scenarios, from dinner with friends to lazy Sunday mornings and family multi-tasking throughout the week. The right kitchen extension ideas can offer all sorts of clever ways to stretch your space.

2. Go wild for tiles

Modern kitchen ideas with blue and white tiles in a backsplash below a pale gray shelf.

(Image credit: Tom Howley )

Vibrant kitchen backsplash ideas, and colorful tiles in general, have become increasingly popular over the past few years. They are a great way of incorporating color into a kitchen if you prefer keep core paint colors more neutral. 

3. Merge old with new

Modern kitchen ideas merging old with new, with modern cabinetry and white worktops in a tall room with exposed brick wall and beamed ceiling.

(Image credit: Tom Howley )

If you're lucky enough to have original features like wooden beams, exposed brick or fireplaces, there's every reason to incorporate them when designing a modern kitchen

The mix of old and new adds interest to the room and gives your home its own unique twist.

4. Play hide and seek

Contemporary kitchen ideas by Holloways, with white cabinetry, dark green accents and herringbone wood flooring.

(Image credit: Holloways of Ludlow)

The pantry and utility have long hit the top of the wish list for a country kitchen, and it’s turned out to be a contemporary kitchen dream too. 

It’s a practical set up for a sleek kitchen designed for entertaining, as it keeps the service areas out of sight. But, when you have pantry ideas this good, you might not be so keen to hide them away.

5. Light it right

A pale gray kitchen with dark gray cabinetry and white marble countertops.

(Image credit: Fritz Fryer)

A well-designed lighting scheme will take your kitchen from day to night, providing different light levels in different areas to suit all tasks. You will need bright light where you cook and prep, and softer ambient light over seating areas. 

Consider how the light fittings look lit and unlit – whether you prefer a statement piece, like in this modern luxe L-shaped kitchen, or something more discreet that is happy to blend during the day, coming into its own after hours. 

6. Make it easy on the eye

Modern kitchen ideas featuring brass accents and pale gray and blush pink cabinetry.

(Image credit: McCarron & Co)

Be playful in the design and detailing – it’s more restful for the eye. Flat-fronted doors don’t have to be uniform. Mix and match kitchen cabinet ideas with different colors and tones, and break the gridlock with unusual insets.

7. Work around a table

A contemporary white kitchen with poured concrete flooring and wooden handleless cabinetry.

(Image credit: Jack Trench)

A central kitchen table puts guests at the heart of your kitchen design. It’s a long-established layout that goes back to the farmhouse table, but you do need sufficient space. 

Plan for good clearance all round, and make sure there are clear pathways to any built-in appliances. 

8. Have multiple seating areas

A shaker style DeVol kitchen with pink patterned wallpaper and built-in seating.

(Image credit: DeVol)

Where space allows, include a couple of different seating areas. Bar stool seating is fine for breakfast or pre-dinner drinks with guests, but it’s good to have a standard height table for meals and homework. 

Built-in banquette seating can be space-efficient, allowing more people able to pile in at convivial gatherings – in this case, it shares a beautiful backdrop from the relaxed living space beyond.

9. Love your separates

Modern kitchen ideas in dark gray, with an uplit kitchen island in marble.

(Image credit: Smallbone )

The open plan layout isn’t for all cooks, and not all homes have the space. 

There are advantages to having a separate kitchen: you can cook in peace and make as much mess as you please, plus the double galley kitchen layout is still one of the most efficient – all the more so if you take storage the full height of the room.

10. Put value in surfaces

Modern kitchen ideas in black veined marble, with panelled wooden cabinetry.

(Image credit: Dekton)

The smooth surfaces of the contemporary kitchen are easy to care for and a cinch to keep clean. Composite surfaces are super tough and naturally anti-bacterial, which is a bonus, and they are available in a wide range of colors as well as natural stone finishes. 

Silestone and Dekton both report a trend for slimline 20mm worksurfaces. ‘Looking ahead to the future of kitchen design, we’re expecting to see more earthy hues, with the introduction of dark brown or black surfaces in a textured finish,’ says Laura Davie, marketing manager for Cosentino UK. 

The new Khalo by Dekton is inspired by Patagonia Granite – one of the world’s most sought-after stones due to its unique pattern and tones. 

11. Go green

Modern kitchen ideas in a large kitchen with wall-to-wall windows and sea green cabinetry.

(Image credit: Schmidt)

More than ever we are looking to connect with nature, with more glass for garden views and calming shades of green kitchen cabinetry the growing trends. 

Planting indoors is also possible where there is light – even if it is just a sunny windowsill. Planters filled with herbs provide a cook with the freshest flavours at his or her fingertips, while hydroponics promise to be the future for indoor leaves.

12. Go dark

A modern kitchen by Lundhs with dark granite kitchen island and handleless cabinetry.

(Image credit: Lundhs)

Dark shades and natural stone create a grown up kitchen with a luxe feel. The sheen of polished stone tends to reflect light so there will still be a natural play of light across the surface. 

It looks smart by day and recedes by night, only coming to prominence when you choose to light it.

13. Clear the air

Modern kitchen ideas featuring a Bosch extractor in a white scheme.

Venting hob, Bosch

(Image credit: Bosch)

If the idea of island cooking appeals, choose a hob with built in down-draft extraction that tackles steam and cooking odours at source, before they can waft into the kitchen. 

The latest smart technology automatically responds to the volume of steam, and this induction hob from Bosch also features flexible cooking zones and a PerfectCook sensor that precisely controls the temperature of liquids inside the pan for perfect results.

14. Connect your cooker

Modern kitchen ideas by Smeg, with sea green cabinetry, brass handles and a painted brick wall.

(Image credit: Smeg)

The latest Vivosceen Max ovens from Smeg have a super-sized screen to help view and select its automatic cooking functions. 

With more than 100 customizable recipes to choose from and the facility to store 64 of your own, it takes the hassle out of dinner. Connectivity to the SmegConnect smart App means you can start cooking before you get home too. 

15. Embrace cafe culture

A contemporary white kitchen with sea views and a round glass dining table.

MilkPerfection Coffee Machines from Miele

(Image credit: Miele)

Whether it’s your get up and go or last course in entertaining, coffee has become a kitchen essential. ‘Coffee is now the most popular drink in the UK,’ says Neil Pooley, category manager for kitchens at Miele, ‘and a built-in coffee machine can be a stylish addition to a bank of integrated appliances.’ 

Look for professional features such as programmable profiles and a full range of hot drink capabilities. 

If you love this white kitchen's minimalist, clutter-free aesthetic then incorporating the right kitchen storage ideas is crucial. 

16. Lower the volume

Modern kitchen ideas in a long, sleek gray scheme with wood panelled ceiling, black table and wooden chairs.

(Image credit: Eggersmann)

If the kitchen has become a home study area or is doubling up as an office, whisper quiet appliances are a must. 

‘Check decibel levels before you buy to ensure you won’t need to talk over the noise of the extractor, and hide the washing machine and dishwasher out of sight in a utility area,’ suggests Daniel Bowler, Director of Eggersmann UK.

This kitchen by Eggersmann makes use of sleek, handleless cabinetry for a streamline design.

17. Celebrate cocktail hour

An example of modern kitchen ideas with dark green cabinetry and backsplash and gold leaf kitchen island.

Kitchen, Roundhouse

(Image credit: Roundhouse)

The joy of a bespoke kitchen is that your design will make the most of the space and truly reflect your lifestyle. 

A kitchen bar area is a wonderful addition for entertainers. Line it with a luxe material for some old school glamor and add a wine fridge and chiller drawers for ice, beer and soft drinks to make it an all-round party station. 

A brass faucet and blue fruit bowl on a white stone countertop.

(Image credit: Perrin & Rowe)

Longevity is an important trend across home and fashion, and investing in quality cuts down on waste. 

Perrin & Rowe has looked to the industrial past for its Armstrong Mixer tap. It employs the same production skills used to build locomotives for the Great Western Railway, and is available as a single lever or bridge mixer in a choice of eight finishes, optional pulldown rinse and the choice of a knurled grip handle for an industrial look. 

19. Incorporate a breakfast bar

Modern kitchen ideas illustrated by an exposed brick space with handleless wooden cabinetry and metal worktops and breakfast bar.

(Image credit: Future)

Breakfast bar ideas are a brilliant use of space, offering seating without the need for a clunky dining room table. 

Many kitchens are now designed so their islands incorporate a breakfast bar, either with an overhanging lip or with space for stools to be added.

20. Create contrast with a kitchen island

Modern kitchen ideas with a black kitchen island in a white room, with dark gray pendant lights.

(Image credit: Future/Jonathan Gooch)

If you want to inject a bit of color into your kitchen without going for anything too bold, why not make a statement with a standout island?

A trend that's cropping up more and more is having the kitchen island a different color to the rest of the room - which is perfect if you want it to be the social hub of the space.

This one uses a black island to contrast with the white cabinets and walls - but the modern kitchen island ideas and possibilities are endless.

21. Mix up materials

Contemporary kitchen ideas in a dark gray scheme with metal topped breakfast bar and wooden seating.

(Image credit: Future/Darren Chung)

If you've got a stainless steel kitchen surface then mix things up with some wooden bar stools and use a different type of wood for the table, like in this contemporary kitchen.

Mixing and matching materials will give texture to the space and bring it to life. 

22. Embrace your space

A large open plan kitchen diner with pale gray walls and a blue painted kitchen island.

(Image credit: Tom Howley )

If you have the floor space, why not opt for a full-on open plan kitchen, creating a three-in-one space with a kitchen, dining room and a lounge. This is the ultimate set-up for entertaining, after all, and works well for larger families.

23. Make a statement by mismatching

Modern kitchen ideas in a colorful kitchen with blue cabinetry, tiles and wallpaper.

(Image credit: Future/Simon Bevan)

A kitchen is likely to be the room in the house that you're spending most of your time in, so there's every reason to go all out with the decoration.

When it comes to kitchen color ideas, why not go for an unconventional scheme such as blue and pink, or something even brighter like a turquoise? 

Don't forget to play with tiles, as well as kitchen wall decor ideas such as wallpaper and paint mural options, to really make the room pop.

24. Get creative with windows

A modern kitchen with large sky lights, black cabinetry and pops of color.

(Image credit: Future/Jonathan Gooch)

Whether it's with an impressive skylight or floor to ceiling double doors, there are so many ways to bring a little more light into your kitchen. 

And, remember, a lighter space is a brighter space – so this clever design trick will make a room look bigger to the eye, perfect when planning small kitchen ideas.

25. Play with industrial accents

Patterned navy, white and blush pink tiles in a contemporary kitchen with industrial tap.

(Image credit: Future/Polly Wreford)

An industrial edge is fast-becoming the hallmark of modern kitchen ideas, as it's a trend that's been evolving over the past few years. 

Whether it's through cabinet handles, light fittings or a portable trolley-style island, there are a number of ways to incorporate these urban touches. 

Also there's no reason you can't have color alongside these industrial flourishes. The above kitchen is a great example of how playful pops of color work well through the use of mismatched yet coordinated kitchen tile ideas, with an industrial style light fitting and tap.

What should a modern kitchen look like?

A kitchen has to function well, and a good designer will make that happen but, if you’re going to spend time here, surround yourself with things you love. 

Night owls might like to immerse themselves in a rich dark scheme with plenty of texture and flexible kitchen lighting ideas that create mood. 

If your kitchen is the family hub and office, create a series of zones and add whisper-quiet appliances and bright functional finishes with a hint of color to keep the energy flowing.

Modern kitchen ideas in blue and white, with a long breakfast bar and pendant lighting.

(Image credit: Future / Veronica Rodriguez)

What kitchen styles are on trend in 2021?

If you're wondering what 2021's kitchen trends are, they are very much led by the need for the spaces to feel warm, welcoming and above all practical. 

Wood is back and is classically rich and elegant – think walnut paired with metal, texture or boldly-veined stone and hints of leather with the feel of an Art Deco bar or sumptuous home library.

In the brighter spectrum, we are seeing pared-back simplicity in plywood with candy-colored doors. It’s a playful look with cubby hole storage that is functional but treads the style-line well to feel more Scandi than schoolhouse. 

Open kitchen shelving ideas and storage with glass doors are here to stay, so prepare to tidy and curate a display. 

What should a modern kitchen have?

Now down to the functional requirements. What should all modern kitchen ideas have? At the minimum, a contemporary kitchen should contain the following things:

1. A pantry – this is a must-have for modern kitchens, where wall-to-wall cabinetry is less important than a streamlined look where the majority of the storage is hidden away.

2. Space for dining – while many of us have opted for open-plan living over the past few years, the pandemic made us rethink kitchen layouts, meaning that modern kitchens are often part of a broken-plan layout or separated entirely from living spaces. That means dining space is important in modern kitchen ideas, whether at a roomy kitchen island, with banquette seating around a generous table, or at a breakfast bar.

3. State of the art appliances – two ovens, a combi microwave/convection oven, a gas or induction hob (depending on preference) and a fridge-freezer built for modern living. Incorporate dishwashers in drawers with the quietest of running cycles. Interested in smart appliances? See more on those below. 

4. A double sink and a draining board notched into the kitchen worksurface material – or a ceramic or Corian-moulded sink and draining board in one.

5. A kitchen islandkitchen island ideas are perfect for sociable cooking, for snacking, and for children to work at while adults cook. If you have the space, plan an island in.

6. The best backsplashes – think natural materials or incredibly durable, good-looking composites that can mimic the look of natural materials but that are just about maintenance-free.

7. A well-planned kitchen lighting scheme – with separate circuits to control under-cabinet lighting, kitchen island lighting and worksurfaces, and the lighting over the dining area. Controllability is all.

What’s the latest technology in appliances?

If you're unsure about the latest technology in appliances, the thing to remember is that it's all about connectivity. 

Smart appliances have been sitting on the horizon for some time, focusing on great results for all cooking abilities. Ovens with pre-programmed cooking functions ensure success, and most allow you to add your own recipes too. Look for interactive control screens and interior cameras that let you keep an eye on the cake from your smartphone. 

Cooktops with integrated extraction give more flexibility on where you can place the hob, while separate extractors can also talk to compatible hobs, removing steam automatically.

Samsung’s Family Hub smart refrigerator streams music and television, and also has an interior camera so you can check the milk from the supermarket. Reducing food waste is top of the refrigeration agenda. 

‘Look for appliances with an effective fan to circulate the cool air. Separate fridge and freezer air circuits give better control,’ explains Richard Treffler, manager for refrigeration at Miele. He also recommends models with drawers that control humidity, to help keep food fresh, reduce waste and save money – ‘at Miele we call this PerfectFresh Pro,’ he adds. 

Smart technology is popular across smaller countertop gadgets from coffee machines to toasters. With these connected gadgets, you can get Alexa on to breakfast while you’re in the shower.

Amy Cutmore
Amy Cutmore

Amy Cutmore is Editor-in-Chief, Audience, across Future's Homes portfolio. A homes and interiors journalist of 20 years standing, she has spent much of that time writing about technology, appliances and kitchens. While other people count how many countries they've visited, Amy tots up how many countries' washing machine factories she's toured (it's eight by the way, from South Korea to Slovenia). She can't leave the house without a decent pair of noise-cancelling headphones, and is always ready to explain an acronym – be it QLED, DAB or HDMI.