Contemporary kitchens are all about clean lines, minimalist design, and sleek functionality. The cabinets set the tone for the whole kitchen, so choosing contemporary kitchen cabinets is an important decision. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know – from styles and materials to configuration and beyond. Let’s explore the world of contemporary kitchen cabinets!

What Defines Contemporary Kitchen Cabinets?

Contemporary kitchen cabinets are characterized by:

Simple, Clean Lines

The hallmark of contemporary design is simplicity. Contemporary cabinets feature clean lines and a minimalist aesthetic devoid of intricate detailing or ornamentation. Door styles are sleek and understated.

Variety of Materials

While wood remains popular, contemporary kitchen cabinets also utilize materials like metal, glass, laminate, and thermoplastics for an ultra-modern look. Mixing up material types adds visual interest.

Neutral Color Palettes

Stark whites, warm wood tones, and matte blacks or grays make up classic contemporary color schemes. Pops of color can be introduced through accents and appliances.

Lack of Ornamentation

Contemporary cabinetry steers clear of elaborate crown moldings, carved accents, and ornate hardware. The focus is on beautiful, functional simplicity.

Creative Storage Solutions

Deep drawers, slide-out trays, and other creative elements maximize storage space efficiently in the minimalist contemporary kitchen.

Sleek Hardware

Hardware is minimal, integrated, or entirely absent on contemporary cabinet doors. Subtle handles and hinges preserve a streamlined look.

Popular Contemporary Kitchen Cabinet Door Styles

Clean, minimalist door styles are an essential element of the contemporary kitchen cabinet aesthetic. Here are some of the most popular options:

Slab Cabinet Doors

Slab cabinet doors present a simple flat panel in a frameless design. The lack of definition delivers a polished, integrated look. Slab doors work beautifully in contemporary kitchens.

Shaker Cabinet Doors

A twist on classic shaker style, contemporary shaker cabinet doors remove ornamental elements for a pared-down look. Subtle recessed centers and clean lines maintain the minimalist aesthetic.

Flat Panel Cabinet Doors

Featuring a center panel bordered by a simple frame, flat panel doors convey an updated, contemporary look. The flat plane creates seamless lines.

Thermoplastic Doors

Doors constructed from materials like acrylic, ABS, and polycarbonate have a sleek, futuristic look. Thermoplastics can be molded into creative door styles.

Handleless Doors

For a super streamlined look, handleless cabinet doors hide or integrate openings into the design. Touch latches preserve the smooth facade.

Glass Cabinet Doors

Glass inserts create see-through displays to show off contents or lighting. Frosted, smoked, and patterned glass offer privacy.

Materials for Contemporary Kitchen Cabinets

Modern materials really allow contemporary cabinetry to shine. Here are some top options:

Wood Veneer

Thin layers of premium wood veneers like oak, maple, and walnut provide beautiful grain patterns. Finishes display the natural beauty.


Durable, affordable laminate resists scratches and stands up to heavy use. Glossy options mimic lacquer for a contemporary look.


A thermoplastic coating applied to medium-density fiberboard (MDF), thermofoil resists chipping, impact, moisture, and more.


Stainless steel, aluminum, and powder-coated steel exude an industrial, contemporary vibe. Great for surfaces and accents.


Glass cabinet doors, shelves, and inserts create displays and introduce light. Options like frosted, smoked, and patterned glass provide privacy.

Polymer Resins

Engineered polymer resins like acrylic, ABS, and polycarbonate can be molded into contemporary doors and handles.


The raw, industrial aesthetic of concrete lends well to contemporary spaces. Concrete adds interesting texture.


Vibrant tile as full cabinet fronts or inlays generates visual intrigue with shape, color, and pattern.

Popular Color Schemes

While contemporary kitchen cabinets often sport a neutral color palette, thoughtful pops of color can make things more interesting. Here are some pleasing pairings:

Crisp White

Stark bright white cabinets set the stage for any color accents and materials to shine. A popular contemporary choice.

Soft Gray

Warm grays work beautifully for contemporary cabinets, especially paired with wood tones and stainless steel.

Rich Wood Tones

The natural beauty of wood grain takes the spotlight on cabinets in walnut, maple, oak, and driftwood tones.

Glossy Black

Glossy black cabinets make a dramatic contemporary statement, especially when offset with lighter wall and countertop hues.

Matte Black

For a slightly softer take on black cabinets, matte black provides a modern palette that lets other materials shine.

Navy Blue

Deep navy blue cabinetry brings lovely dimension to a contemporary space, drawing out brass and gold accents.

Configuration Tips for Contemporary Kitchens

How you configure and lay out your contemporary kitchen cabinets impacts aesthetic and functionality. Keep these tips in mind:

Mix up Heights

Vary upper and lower cabinet heights for visual interest. Try taller cabinets near a window or low open shelving.

Maximize Storage

Keep clutter at bay with deep drawers, pull-outs, and other hidden storage elements built into cabinetry.

Consider Open Shelving

Open shelving introduces lovely tableaus of accent pieces, glassware, or cookbooks while enhancing openness.

Use Directional Changes

Create distinct zones and direct flow with L-shaped runs of cabinets or changes in direction.

Highlight Architectural Details

Allow architectural elements like beams or pretty windows to shine through strategic placement of cabinetry.

Include Display Lighting

Show off beautiful materials, open shelving vignettes, and more with built-in LED lighting.

Minimize Upper Cabinets

Limiting upper cabinets enhances visual spaciousness in a contemporary kitchen. Accent with shelving or glass cabinetry.

Float for Continuity

Floating cabinets with hidden brackets expand sightlines and maintain a light, minimalist look.

Mixing Materials

One trendy technique is combining different cabinetry materials throughout the kitchen’s design. Here are some winning combinations:

Wood Base Cabinets + White Upper Cabinets

This classic approach grounds the space with warm wood tones while light upper cabinets open up sightlines.

Wood + Matte Black Accents

Matte black island bases, shelves, hardware, or appliance garages pop against wood cabinetry.

Glossy Lacquered + Wood

Sleek lacquered cabinet fronts in areas like around the range make a statement against wood perimeter cabinetry.

Metal + Wood

Stainless steel or powder coated metal bases, accent shelves, and hardware add an edgy vibe to wood cabinetry.

Glass + Solid Wood

frameless glass cabinet doors allow lovely displays while solid wood provides warmth and texture.

Special Design Elements

Unique accents and design details give contemporary kitchens character and enhance functionality:

Angled Cabinets

Angled cabinet shapes break up linear looks in creative ways. Great for spotlighting an accent wall or prized artwork.

Under-Cabinet Lighting

LED strip lighting illuminates task areas beautifully. Choose color-changing options for even more flair.

Integrated Appliances

Build sleek appliances like refrigerators, ovens, and dishwashers directly into surrounding cabinetry for a unified aesthetic.

Waterfall Countertops

Extending countertop material down the cabinet front maintains clean lines for a high-end contemporary style.

Floating Shelves

Cantilevered shelves made of glass, wood, or metal seem to hover in place for an light, ethereal look.

Concealed Waste Bins

Keep clutter tucked away while maintaining easy access with cabinet-concealed bins. A must for streamlined contemporary kitchens.

Final Thoughts

The possibilities are truly endless when designing your dream contemporary kitchen. By starting with contemporary-styled cabinets showcasing clean lines, minimalist forms, and modern materials, you establish the foundation for a gorgeous, functional space. Take inspiration from the suggestions here, collaborate with kitchen designers, and most importantly, enjoy the creative process!

FAQs About Contemporary Kitchen Cabinets

What colors work best for contemporary kitchen cabinets?

Neutrals like white, gray, black, and wood tones are best for contemporary kitchens. Pops of color can be introduced through accent cabinets, tile, or appliances.

What type of cabinet doors work in a contemporary kitchen?

Slab, flat panel, recessed shaker, and handleless styles keep lines clean. Materials like thermoplastics, glass, and metal generate modern appeal.

How much do contemporary-style kitchen cabinets cost?

Like most cabinetry, cost depends on materials, quality, and design intricacy. Expect to invest $5,000 to $20,000+ for a full contemporary kitchen cabinetry package.

Should you mix cabinet door styles in a contemporary kitchen?

Yes, mixing clean-lined slab, flat panel, frameless, and handleless door styles creates interest. Just keep the overall vibe minimalist.

What kind of cabinet hardware works best for a contemporary look?

Contemporary cabinets feature minimal hardware. Opt for integrated pulls, touch latches, or subtle brushed metal bar handles to preserve clean sightlines.

Should you use crown molding on contemporary kitchen cabinets?

Most contemporary designs do without ornate crown molding. However, subtle, narrow molding lines can frame cabinetry in a clean, integrated way.

How can you incorporate color into a contemporary kitchen?

Use colorful contemporary appliances like retro-style stand mixers or sleek green/blue refrigerators. Backsplashes, stools, and accent cabinetry also allow pops of color.

What countertop materials complement contemporary cabinets?

Quartz, marble, granite, concrete, laminate, and Corian are all good countertop options. Go for neutral, matte tones.

Should you install upper cabinets in a contemporary kitchen?

Limiting upper cabinets enhances the contemporary aesthetic. When included, glass doors maintain lightness. Floating uppers expand views.

How do you create defined spaces with contemporary cabinetry?

Change cabinet directions, add accent islands, utilize tall storage units as space dividers, and play with cabinet configurations.


Contemporary kitchen cabinets represent the essence of modern elegance and functionality. With an array of clean-lined styles, innovative materials, and creative configurations to choose from, designing a contemporary kitchen that perfectly suits your needs and aesthetic is an exciting endeavor. Keep the key design tenets of simplicity, neutral colors, and minimal ornamentation in mind as you put together your ideal mix of cabinetry. Don’t be afraid to combine materials or break out unique details like open shelving or waterfall edges as well. The beauty lies in the process of personalization. Approach your contemporary kitchen cabinetry with an open mind, and be prepared to enjoy the sleek, stylish hub of your home for years to come.