Many people are drawn to the cool colors, clean lines and minimalist shapes that characterize a modern decor style. And some of these same people want their kitchen to feel like a cozy and inviting gathering space. So what do you do when you desire the cool vibes of modern style but also crave warmth? You plan a warm contemporary kitchen. Here’s our guide. “The first thing you think of in contemporary kitchens is clean lines and not a lot of adornment or overly decorative features,” says Ginger Curtis of Urbanology Designs, in Fort Worth, Texas. Color schemes can vary, but classic choices include white, cream, tan, beige, gray and black, and sometimes a mix of these colors. Palettes tend toward “slightly more monochromatic designs,” Curtis adds, while patterns tend to be more minimal or uniform. For more insight, read our guide to contemporary style. Choose Contemporary Shapes The secret to getting a warm contemporary kitchen is building a foundation of shapes that embodies contemporary style. From there, you can add features — in the form of color or material — that bring warmth to a kitchen. “Achieving a contemporary look that is also warm requires attention to balance, proportion and combinations of finishes, colors, textures that bring the space to life,” says Megan Padilla, senior designer at Aidan Design, in Silver Springs, Maryland. To get started, let’s look at the basic shapes and elements that set the stage.
Cabinets: “The easiest way to make a kitchen contemporary is to have a contemporary cabinet. If you have a slab door, that is a contemporary kitchen,” says Liza Riguerra of Riguerra Design in Redwood Shores, California. A slab door or drawer is flat, in one piece, without trims or frills. Often it lays over the cabinet, as in this photo, but sometimes it is set into the cabinet frame (see next photo) in a construction method known as inset. In terms of colors and finishes, these cabinets may be white and glossy, as shown here, or matte and flat, and made from wood or a variety of laminates. Many finishes can work. Note: Some people also characterize Shaker-style doors as an option for contemporary kitchens, but all the designers I spoke with for this story said that style was a better fit for transitional or traditional kitchens. Cabinet pulls: Contemporary kitchens often lack cabinet knobs or pulls, as in the first photo in this story. Designers can use press-touch technology or channel pulls to maintain a clean look without adding hardware. Or simple streamlined bar pulls can work in harmony with the other crisp elements of the kitchen. “If you want a decorative look, you can get stainless steel or matte black,” says Hellen Hsieh of Design Loft Co., in Palo Alto, California. “Not too fussy.” You also might see white or chrome pulls. Horizontal orientation makes for a contemporary look and allows for uniformity, whether the cabinet opens to the left or the right, says Michael Rasky of Los Angeles-based Modern Nest. Oversizing also creates a contemporary look. “Eight to 12 inches feels a little more modern than 4 to 5 inches,” Rasky says.