Style Spotlight: The Contemporary Kitchen 

Sophisticated and innovative, contemporary style reflects what’s cool today. Use this style guide to identify some hallmark characteristics of contemporary kitchen design.


If it's On-Trend, It's Contemporary

Contemporary style reflects design of the present day. Since culture, fashion and lifestyle influences evolve over time, so do the colors, forms and patterns of contemporary kitchen design. Today, you can spot a contemporary kitchen by its open and airy appearance, streamlined look, warm feel and cutting-edge technology. 

Is It Contemporary or Modern?

Many people use “contemporary” and “modern” interchangeably, but they’re not the same.

  • Modern is a period-specific style that peaked in the 1950s and ’60s with Mid-Century Modern design. It’s noted for having a streamlined, uncluttered appearance.
  • Contemporary design often shares traits with Modern because people still desire that same clean, minimalist look in their 21st century homes. But contemporary is fluid. It also draws on other global styles and eras, such as industrial, Art Deco and Scandinavian – interpreting, blending and distilling those influences into a look that reflects what’s currently fashionable.

Calming Colors

Today, homeowners want spaces that feel cozy, comfortable and inviting. For contemporary kitchens, that often means a soothing, monochromatic palette featuring colors with warmer undertones.

A painted finish is a popular present-day option for kitchen cabinetry – particularly in white or grey. Warm White, Linen and Pebble Grey are on-trend KraftMaid® paints to warm up a space.

Showcasing wood grain can also bring in some natural warmth. A contemporary kitchen with strong Scandinavian influences might use two-tone cabinetry with white paint and Natural stain on Maple, while an entire space featuring Baltic or Cannon Grey in a distressed finish technique will reflect more of a contemporary industrial vibe.

Touches of Texture

Texture can play a big role in making a space feel cozy too.

  • If you choose countertops with visible veining, consider carrying the look onto the backsplash by using the same material in a bookmatched slab.
  • Sculptural welded wire stools or chairs with caned seats can bring in texture.

Less is More

Like Modern, contemporary design favors a streamlined presence. Where contemporary differs is how you can achieve that uncluttered look.

  • With a broad blend of style influences, you can choose from a range of door styles in a contemporary kitchen. Shaker doors, recessed panel doors with simple profiles and slab doors all look right at home. Just be sure to choose a full overlay style to create a cleaner appearance.
  • Opt for fully integrated appliances with touch controls for a minimalist, high-tech vibe.
  • Take advantage of innovative materials (eco-friendly cork floors or recycled glass countertops).
  • Seating and lighting fixtures are great opportunities to include a few organic curves and sculptural shapes to soften the atmosphere.

Get Inspired

Visit our inspiration gallery to find more examples of contemporary kitchens and additional contemporary room scenes.