Modern design started around World War I and generally featured flat surfaces, geometric forms, and little or no ornamentation or adornments. Modern kitchen cabinets, for example, are often defined by a sleek, angular and simple design, featuring little or no hardware, flush doors and flat surfaces. In the current era, modern kitchen design is part of a larger trend which has embraced midcentury modern design and furniture, which introduced bold angles and curves to the design landscape. Midcentury modern design—generally recognized as originating in the Nordic countries in the mid 20th century—has now been incorporated into many modern kitchen designs.
Whereas traditional kitchen styles often focus more of their design on natural materials for cabinets, countertops, floors and furniture, modern kitchen designs depart from this aesthetic fairly frequently, often featuring man-made materials like laminate, ceramics and molded plastics. That’s not to say that modern kitchens can’t, shouldn’t or don’t feature man-made materials—they almost always do, and often to great effect. Granite countertops, sleek hardwood floors and expertly designed wooden furniture featuring the signature curves and angles of modern design can often be found in modern kitchens.
Accessories and other design flourishes can build on a modern kitchen theme. Cabinet doors may be replaced with frosted glass or a sleek laminate or wood veneer to create a modern look. Mixers, blenders, coffee makers and other accessories are available in bold colors and unique designs that seem positively science fictional. Cookware, utensils and flatware are all available with a modern twist, both in terms of design aesthetic and bold, up-to-date colors.
Flooring and tile work in modern kitchens tend to follow the overall aesthetic, adhering to the clean lines and relative simplicity recognizable in the broader design. Tile floors or backsplashes of slate or granite in geometric patterns are common, as are subway tiles used for simple, elegant backsplashes.
Finally, furniture choices can contribute greatly to any modern kitchen design. Tables, stools, chairs and benches are available in an array of angular and flowing designs. Materials like wood, plastic and metal are employed in a modern or industrial style, often featuring bold and bright colors that can add great visual interest to any elegant and efficient modern kitchen design.