Updating a kitchen is one of the most popular ways of improving a house and adding value to it, whether you’re thinking of selling, or just want to refresh this pivotal room in your home.
As well as adding stylish features, you must factor in practicality to make your new kitchen function to the best of its ability. Your aims might be to help family life run smoothly or provide a welcoming dining space; either way, a new kitchen will revitalise your home.
However, modern kitchen options can seem overwhelming, so we’ll help you narrow them down. In this article, we identify which contemporary kitchen ideas will make a real difference and ask experts for their opinions.
Plan your kitchen project
Firstly, decide what you want from your kitchen; this will depend on whether your aim is to help sell your house by creating a kitchen with a wow factor, or whether you want a modern kitchen for your own use. You may have bought a fixer-up house as a project and need to revamp the kitchen quickly before selling the property. At the other extreme, a handmade kitchen will always stand out from mass-produced kitchen units. When you have focused on your requirements, you can work on the design process and budget.
Think about the kitchen layout to ensure the best use of every inch of space. A row of cabinets on one wall can open up the space, and tall units work well in a small kitchen. If you’re thinking of a kitchen island, make sure its dimensions are in scale with the room so that it doesn’t restrict movement. An island can be useful for providing clever storage solutions and seating space too.
Latest design trends
Modern kitchen trends include a minimalist approach to creating a calming space, achieved through clean lines, hidden integrated appliances, and clever storage solutions. Still popular are painted kitchens, with blues, greens, and neutrals creating a serene atmosphere and beautifully setting off handles made from metals such as brass and copper which are often recessed, adding a design detail without taking up space in a small kitchen.
In terms of worktops, natural materials such as slate and marble are popular and suit traditional and modern kitchens; as an alternative, composites are cheaper and non-porous.
A kitchen island and dining space can zone a kitchen while retaining open plan living. Open shelving is becoming popular as today’s kitchens are used for working and socialising as well as cooking, and homeowners want to display their possessions. We’re seeing greater use of metal, for example, metal framing works well for open shelving and table legs, in line with the on-trend industrial look, which can include polished concrete flooring. Matte aluminium is also becoming popular: it has a low environmental footprint and is recyclable.
Depending on the age of your house, you may consider a state-of-the-art range, a gas or electric hob, or a country-style Aga, depending on your priority. Your choice of fuel is essential in these eco-conscious times and there’s a host of new electric models on the market which aim to be energy efficient. A freestanding cooker will be space-saving and cost-effective as it can include an oven, grill, and hob. Most freestanding cookers are 60cm wide but there are also 50cm and 55cm models to suit a small space.
Options include an electric oven and an electric ceramic hob. You might want to consider a dual fuel cooker which would have an electric oven and gas hob, potentially providing the best of both worlds. All-electric models can feature either a ceramic or an induction hob, and most have fan-assisted ovens to help heat spread evenly. If you buy a cooker with a double oven, it will usually have one conventional oven and a fan oven.
Electric induction oven
This option may suit many requirements by having an electric oven and an electric induction hob, but they are more expensive. The hob will heat food quickly, and simmer pans gently, but you will need iron-based pans such as stainless steel.
These are the cheapest to use and a gas hob is more responsive to adjust than an electric hob. However, oven cooking can be less uniform than electric, and electric ovens heat up more quickly than gas.
How many ovens?
A cooker with one oven is spacious but offers no flexibility for cooking several items at once. With a two-oven cooker, the top oven usually doubles up as a grill. Some cookers have self-cleaning liners which absorb fat and burn it off, reducing the amount of cleaning needed. A multi-function oven will cost more but will give you the option of using a range of heat sources together.
A gas hob and electric oven may offer the best of both worlds in modern kitchens.
Depending on the size of your kitchen and your requirements, you need to decide between a double or single sink. In terms of materials, stainless steel is functional and stylish, while ceramic Belfast sinks sit well in a traditional kitchen. Other popular materials include granite, steel, and copper.
Don’t underestimate the importance of good lighting in your new kitchen, and try to maximise natural light. Recessed ceiling lights are commonly used to illuminate the whole kitchen, and they suit many kitchen styles. Track lighting, where individual lights are fitted to a ceiling track, enables light to be directed onto a specific work surface such as food preparation countertops. Hanging pendant lights can be effective over a kitchen island but beware of too many which can create a cluttered look. A simple pendant light can work well. Under-wall cabinet lighting shines directly onto work surfaces and has the advantage of being invisible. LED light fixtures give the best performance and they’re energy efficient. Also, consider wall lights to give softer, ambient lighting, dimmer switches, and mood-controlled lighting adds a sense of luxury, while chandeliers are currently fashionable.
Modern kitchen cabinets
There’s a trend for bold cabinet colours such as navy blue, forest green, coral, black and white. The classic Shaker style remains in vogue, but now with stronger colours. Also fashionable are large lower drawers which can store more inside and slide out, making them easier to access than cupboards. If the surface is suitable, existing kitchen units can be painted to save money on buying new ones. Cupboard doors can be given a distressed look, and paint glazes and stains can be effective. One trend is to blend two colours such as a deep dark paint with brighter shades, along with contrasting textures such as matt or laminate finishes.
Contemporary style worktops
Hard-working and stylish options include marble, granite, wood, quartz, and tile. Marble is versatile and suits all styles of kitchen, but bear in mind colour and pattern variation between slabs. Think about contrasting elements such as a quartz top with painted cabinets or having everything matching for a streamlined look. As an alternative to natural materials, which have microscopic pores making them liable to stain, composite kitchen worktops are non-porous, strong, and easy to clean. Composite is made by mixing materials together such as quartz and resin and can be coloured by adding glass or mirrored chips.
Contemporary kitchen flooring
Vinyl or linoleum flooring is being replaced by wood, slate, ceramic tile, and stone. Wooden tiles laid in a herringbone pattern create a sense of warmth and texture: wood connects us to the outside world, it’s timeless, and works well with hard surfaces such as marble.
More kitchen ideas to consider
A scullery, or butler’s pantry, is a very desirable feature now, providing handy extra kitchen space and somewhere to hide things out of sight. Large larder units are also popular and provide a great storage option. Another idea is to install a window seat or bench which creates a welcoming seating area without losing too much floor space.
Cutting edge design adds the wow factor
Melissa Klink, creative director of Harvey Jones said:
The minor kitchen upgrades you make can have a lasting effect on the home’s overall value. From kitchen cabinetry to fantastic features, the state of the kitchen can have a big impact on the overall value of the house. Whilst some upgrades can be an easy swap, others will require a little more money and time to complete, but the overall payoff will be well worth your efforts.
As a kitchen designer, these are the upgrades I would prioritise if you’re looking to add value to your home. A more overlooked aspect of the kitchen that can greatly contribute to the value of the kitchen is handmade cabinetry. Not only is handmade cabinetry far more elegant and appealing for your own home, but buyers will appreciate this thoughtful addition. This refined exterior creates a more considered and far more attractive space than mass-produced cabinetry.
Appliances are one of the most noticeable features of a kitchen and can instantly dictate how a potential homeowner feels about the space. Features like an impressive range cooker, a Quooker tap, and wine chillers are all great enhancements to the home and can sway a potential buyer from liking the kitchen to loving it.
Adding creative storage solutions is also a great way to add value to the home. Behind every cabinet and drawer should be a wonderful world of organisation. Designing a kitchen that has superior storage and functionality behind a beautiful exterior will not only add value to the home but value to your day-to-day living. And features like a hidden larder, or adjoining utility areas are all great for added value.
Think outside the box
While timeless, classic design is ever popular, you don’t have to follow the conventional route of wall cupboards and cabinets, according to Neil McDonald, design manager at kitchen manufacturer Moores who commented:
If you’re wanting to create a kitchen scheme without wall cabinets, opt for floor-to-ceiling units. These can incorporate large appliances such as the oven, but as they don’t accommodate for a worktop, it is also possible to integrate coffee machines, microwaves, and TVs into the cabinetry. This means you can leave other walls completely blank, creating the illusion of a larger kitchen.
Wall-to-floor cupboards are a great way to maximise storage, making the most of every inch of space. Alternatively, if you enjoy the practicality of wall units but want something more interesting that can be styled to reflect your personality, you could always add open shelving for an ultra-modern and versatile addition to any kitchen.
Neil added that the colour green can bring balance and harmony to a space which is particularly important in today’s modern kitchens. While strong jewel greens have been popular, he said there’s now a trend for a softer alternative, such as a muted sage green that works in a variety of designs from large traditional country kitchens through to small kitchens. Design experts at Moores have identified three key shades which will dominate kitchen schemes in 2023: dusky pink which creates a great atmosphere for entertaining, black, which may sound extreme, but can be a beautifully opulent option, and green, reflecting our desire to get closer to nature.
Contemporary kitchen ideas
Rebecca Snowden, interior style advisor with Furniture And Choice noted:
For a stylish yet streamlined kitchen-diner, go for a clean look with contemporary white hues. Keep it sleek and minimal with a white gloss and chrome dining set, matching countertops and handle-less cabinets. If your kitchen doubles as a workspace too, set up your smart home hub on an easy-access countertop to enable smart multi-tasking. Curate a space that works best for you, like adding an automated coffee maker that begins brewing when you wake up.
While following convention will result in a perfectly desirable kitchen, it is possible with some extra insight to design something unique that will result in your dream kitchen. Achieving this will require research and visiting lots of kitchen designers to see what’s out there.
Have I missed any tips about redesigning a modern kitchen?
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