How to master the modern kitchen look

Balance the sleek surfaces and seamless design of a contemporary kitchen with textures that are made for modern living.

Effortlessly open-plan

Contemporary kitchens have changed a lot in recent years, becoming visually softer, and a better match for the adjacent living spaces in an open-plan area. By incorporating textured surfaces, matt finishes and natural materials, you can make your modern kitchen a delight to be in.

Colour contrast

Adding organic materials and subtle pattern is a simple way to bring visual interest to a room. In this space, bright Kaboodle “Modern” cabinets in Gloss White bounce light around the room and, as homeowner Deidre has found, are a dream to clean.
“With two young kids it’s been such a practical finish as it doesn’t show marks and it’s such an easy surface to wipe,” she says.

The look of the slick white cabinets is softened by timber-look wall cabinets (for similar, try Kaboodle “Modern” cabinets in Spiced Oak) which introduce warmth, and by a hexagonal mosaic tiled splash back in a marble-look finish.

flat lay of materials and textures incuding a matt black sink mixer

Touchable texture

Mixing up finishes – matt and gloss, grainy timber and shiny metal – is another sure-fire way to create impact. Also look for tactile materials, like the concrete-look, composite stone bench in this kitchen. With its natural soft grey colour, matt finish and industrial patina, it injects another layer of texture and evokes the look of genuine concrete without the hassle and expense of the real thing.

“I read a lot of reviews on the finish and some people said it was a little harder to clean, but I’ve found it a fantastic surface. It looks great and is incredibly forgiving,” says Deidre.

Seamless integration

Sleek cabinetry is a hallmark of modern kitchen style. Choose plain doors over panelled ones, and opt for a handle-free design. Here, finger pulls are virtually invisible and the soft-close drawers are easy and safe for even small members of the family. Built-in and integrated appliances allow the bank of cabinets to continue without visual interruption.

view of kitchen and appliances

Open and airy

For kitchens destined to sit in an open-plan living and dining area, on-trend design borrows inspiration from freestanding furniture to create a lighter, airier feel – the opposite to a solid island bench, which can dominate an open-plan space.

The table-style design of this island is a great example of this, elevating it into a bespoke feature, breaking up the bulkiness of the bench and providing ample room for dining.

“I saw a similar island bench in a magazine and instantly knew I wanted to replicate the matt black metal leg frame,” explains Deidre. “My two daughters sit up at the bench all the time and we have extra stools we add on the side when all four of us want to sit there.”

The black bar stools and pull-out sink mixer match the leg frame – a great trick for creating a cohesive scheme.

Interested in a monochrome look?

Take inspiration from this single-colour kitchen and check out how to make an all-black scheme work.

Photo credit: John Downs and James Moffatt


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