Guidelines for Creating: A Contemporary Kitchen

January 20, 2015   |   Guidelines, News

It’s no surprise that people use the terms “contemporary” and “modern” interchangeably when talking about kitchen design. If you look up the definition for the word “contemporary,” “modern” is used to describe it. The vise versa goes for defining “modern”. Essentially they mean the same thing according to Webster’s… So the big question is, why are contemporary and modern considered different styles of design? Talk about a head scratcher!

Thankfully our designers at our Grand Rapids location have developed a few guidelines to help you better understand contemporary kitchen design and how it differs from modern kitchens.

In general, modern refers to a specific design movement that arose in the mid 19th century. Today, it continues to allow for innovativeness, but follows stricter guidelines compared to contemporary styles. Modern is really a style all its own stemming from influence of Bauhaus, the most influential modernist art school of the 20th century who taught, “form follows function” and designs focused on open floor plans and clean lines.


So what is contemporary design? Here are a few guidelines for creating a contemporary kitchen:

1. Break the rules: Unlike modern design, contemporary kitchens tolerate some rule breaking. This style does not directly reference any historical design trends or periods. Instead, contemporary design reflects elements of other styles while maintaining strong focus on current trends. For example, a contemporary kitchen can have vintage mid century modern details or accents without being branded as such.

2. Cutting-edge technology: To achieve the look and feel of a contemporary kitchen it is very important that appliances are sleek, durable and have advanced features. These may include built-in coffee makers, high performance hoods and induction cooktops. Functionality of appliances is important to consider, because everything needs to look seamless and make sense.

3. Use a variety of materials: Most often in contemporary kitchens you will notice interesting pairings of wood and unique countertops such as solid glass surfaces, concrete and quartz. Contemporary designs allow for a lot of freedom when choosing materials. Everyone is familiar with concrete and glass, but not everyone has the opportunity to use it in their kitchens.

4. Project your personality: In modern kitchens there is little ornamentation, but in contemporary kitchens exciting décor that showcases your personality is a must. If you aren’t big into decorations try using a funky backsplash that makes you smile. Glass tiles are one of our favorites. (Check out our prediction for 2015 design trends to learn more about glass tiles.)


5. Light it up: Contemporary light fixtures are generally characterized by minimalism, but they still manage to stand out even with the lack of details. The size and shape can have a huge impact on a space, as well as texture and color. Light fixtures are important because they serve as both functional and decorative elements.

6. Add layers: We know its cold out, but we aren’t talking about adding an extra scarf to your outfit. One of the biggest signs that a kitchen is contemporary is the use of multiple, layered materials. Kitchens are getting updated and built all the time. Generally, the materials used remain the same. Talk about boring… At Woodways we love to introduce new materials or find new ways to use old ones. Creativity is extremely important when designing contemporary spaces. Plus it’s fun!

7. Hide the hardware: Or eliminate it all the way by installing magnetic latches to custom cabinetry. The less lines and bulk that you can add to the kitchen the better. If magnetic latches aren’t for you make sure to avoid ornate hardware that can be bulky and distracting.

Make sure to check out Guidelines for Creating a Traditional Kitchen too!