Cooking à la Mode: Recipe for a Chic and Contemporary Kitchen
The kitchen is the heart of the home. It's the place where people gather, eat, work, and meet. Your kitchen should feel welcoming and spacious, while also being functional. No matter how big or small, or what shape, there are so many techniques for creating a practical but attractive space for cooking and eating: just follow our recipe for the ultimate well-designed kitchen.
1. A Dash of Color
Dark colors can make rooms appear smaller. But there are plenty of ways to incorporate both dark and light colors and still give your kitchen an open feel. Floors, backsplashes, and countertops are a good choice for darker colors. Walls and cabinets should be lighter and brighter. For a modern look, choose black or very dark countertops, paired with hardwood or dark flooring, and white or very light colored cabinets.
Unlike other rooms, the kitchen has an added dimension to its color scheme – the appliances. Depending on the materials of your oven, microwave, refrigerator, and dishwasher, certain colors may or may not work. Stainless steel is ideal because it goes well with most colors (especially modern designs), and it’s easy to find stainless steel appliances front.
2. Generous Lighting
Lighting is a key component when designing any room, but especially for the kitchen, where you need to be able to see what you’re doing. When installing lighting, be sure that the light will fall onto the counters in front of you, not from behind which will create a shadow and make it difficult to see. One easy way to do this is to install lights underneath overhanging cabinets or directly above counter space. Hanging lighting is ideal for islands and above tables, and lower hanging lights will direct the light where you want it while creating a more modern and sophisticated look. A lamp or hanging lighting also goes well above a dining space. In a kitchen especially, flat ceiling lighting should be avoided.
3. Just Enough Storage
Storage space is essential, especially in the kitchen which requires a lot of shelving, drawers, and furniture pieces for storing your cookware, tableware, and of course the food! Traditional closed shelving can take up a lot of space, though, and make your kitchen feel smaller. There are a number of ways you can avoid this while still creating ample storage space.
A wine rack suits both modern or classic kitchens as it gives you storage space and looks great too. Wine racks also go well in dining rooms where you can store glassware and wine, freeing up more space in the kitchen.
A great alternative to a traditional wine rack is a sideboard, which can be used to hold wine and glasses, but also has space for your dining ware. This is so stylish it could even be placed in an entryway, hallway, or living space.
Instead of traditional closed shelves or cabinets, invest in open or glass cabinets. These will make a room look less cramped, and open shelving allows for easier access. Glass cabinets are ideal for storing dining sets and china, which will open up drawer space and closed cabinets. Hanging racks are also a great alternative to traditional shelves and work perfectly with islands. They’ll hold most (if not all) of your pots and pans, which clears up a good deal of cabinet space.
Drawers usually hold more than shelving, so if you can, opt for more drawer space than cabinets. It's also best to maximize storage space lower to the ground, as high cabinets can make a kitchen feel more cramped.
4. Blend in the Essentials
Things like garbage bins, tea towels, paper towels, and a fire extinguisher are essential to the kitchen but don't do much for good design.
Try to blend bins in by using under sink cabinets to hold them, or choosing bins that match the rest of the room (like modern steel).
It’s the same for other essentials – either find ways to hide them or make them subtle. A steel paper towel holder near the sink or mono-color tea towels are much more appealing than simply setting paper towels out or having a plethora of different colors and items laying around.
5. Lots and Lots of Counter Space
If there's one thing you can never have enough of in a kitchen, it's counter space. Small appliances, sinks, and stoves tend to take up a lot of space, leaving you with less room to work.
An easy fix is to install an island, which can be used for both cooking and eating, if paired with a set of smart bar stools. Islands can also have stoves or sinks installed into them, which will open up more space on your side counters.
Another counter option is to put in a prep table. These take up less space than an island and usually provide storage space underneath. They also cost less and are easier to install as they’re not permanent. Most are easily removable, and some even come with wheels, so you can move your workbench to exactly where you need it.
You can also transform storage space into work space with a baker's rack. These are perfect for holding pots, pans, and other cooking utensils, but also have a cutting board top for working and prepping food. Pots and pans tend to take up the most space in drawers and cabinets, so if you do a lot of stove-top cooking, a baker's rack may be a smart storage option.
6. Dining Space (choose an amount to your liking)
The only thing more important than space to cook is space to eat. Many apartments and smaller homes have a kitchen diner so it's important to design your kitchen with where you’re going to eat in mind. Larger homes will have separate rooms or larger spaces for dining, but the dining area should match or complement the design and color scheme of the kitchen. For a modern look, opt for darker tables and chairs, or even leather-backed chairs (which also makes for easier cleaning).
For smaller kitchens, a high table and bar stools gives sleek-looking seating without taking up too much space. These can fit easily into the corner or center of a room and the bar stools can be pulled up to counters or an island. The added height also makes a cramped kitchen seem more open and spacious.
Another option for smaller kitchens is a three-piece dining set. These are designed to look as chic and modern as larger, full dining tables and chairs, but offer a smaller table and only two seats.
Kitchens with lots of open space in the center of the room are ideal for more traditional dining sets, like a round or square table and seating. These elegant sets can complement the design of any kitchen. For a modern look, try a dark leather seating set with a black or dark wood table. In general, darker dining sets tend to look more contemporary and are easier to clean.
If you have less space in the center of your kitchen, consider a corner dining set. These are perfect for more compact kitchens and can fit well in front of windows because they tend to be lower-set than traditional tables.
7. A Pinch of Accents
Many people leave out modern accents in their kitchens, but one or two choice pieces can lift a kitchen from dull and empty to stylish and tasteful. The area around the dining set is ideal for hanging a painting or other wall art.
The key with kitchen accents is to be sparse enough not to overcrowd (since the appliances and supplies will take up quite a bit of space) while still defining a style. If you have open wall space in the cooking area of your kitchen, a simple clock can add a modernist, trendy element.
There are so many elements to designing a kitchen that the options are endless. The key is to choose a theme and color scheme and stick to it. If in doubt, always stick to being as minimalist as possible, as the kitchen already has so many essential pieces to fit into it. By following this simple guide, you can create a modern, functional space for cooking and entertaining.
Enjoy transforming your kitchen!
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