Many homeowners find themselves stuck with a dated or outdated kitchen that is in need of a serious makeover. Kitchens can easily become trapped in a specific era, making the space feel tired and undesirable. Appliances, cabinets, countertops, flooring, lighting – everything eventually shows its age. Even if the cabinets or countertops are structurally sound, they can appear unfashionable and undesirable over time.

Upgrading to a contemporary kitchen design can breathe new life into the space, increasing function, aesthetics and often home value. It allows homeowners to take advantage of modern conveniences and the latest trends. The process does not have to be intimidating. With careful planning, decision making and design selections, you can transform your dated kitchen into a fresh, contemporary space.

Assessing Your Existing Kitchen

Before diving into a kitchen remodel, it is important to thoroughly assess your existing space. Consider the aspects you like along with those you want to change.

  • What is the current layout? Does it support ideal work triangle between sink, stove and refrigerator?
  • Are there any structural constraints, such as load-bearing walls, that limit layout changes?
  • What is the condition of the existing cabinets and countertops? Do they need to be replaced or can they be refinished?
  • What is the state of existing appliances? Would you prefer new, modern appliances?
  • How is the current lighting? Does it provide sufficient illumination for all kitchen tasks?
  • Is storage and organizational space lacking? Can more be added with new cabinetry/design?
  • Does the flooring appear significantly outdated? Can it be replaced affordably?
  • What about functionality? Does the existing design maximize efficiency?

Carefully considering what you would like to change vs keep will help guide design plans and budget for the remodel. Be realistic about costs for desired upgrades.

Planning the New Contemporary Kitchen

Once you determine goals for the remodel, proper planning is crucial for pulling off a seamless, cohesive design. Key steps in the planning process include:

Establishing a Budget

Budget realistically based on the scope of the remodel and what upgrades you hope to make. Get contractor quotes to determine approximate costs if doing a full renovation. Create room in the budget for unexpected expenses that can arise during construction. Have a clear budget before finalizing designs.

Hiring a Designer

Consider hiring a kitchen designer, architect or interior designer to maximize functionality and aesthetics. Experienced professionals can help blend your style preferences with practical space planning. Take advantage of their expertise in spatial layouts, traffic flow, storage solutions, lighting design and product selection.

Focusing on Workflow

A contemporary kitchen should streamline cooking and meal prep tasks. Carefully think through your process and daily routines. Incorporate design elements like islands, peninsulas, ample counter space and quality lighting to support workflow. Create dedicated prep zones if possible.

Selecting Finishes and Materials

The materials and finishes you select will bring the contemporary design to life while standing up to heavy use. Spend time exploring your options. Think about the overall look you hope to achieve. Mixing materials can add visual interest. Be sure to choose durable, low-maintenance options that align with the kitchen’s purpose.

Incorporating Storage Solutions

Lack of storage is a common kitchen complaint. Aim to maximize every inch by incorporating clever storage solutions into the new design. Consider pull-out drawers, blind corner cabinets, slide-out shelving, pantry cabinets and other space-saving elements that keep items organized and accessible.

Key Elements of a Contemporary Kitchen

The most important elements to focus on when renovating a dated kitchen into a fresh, contemporary space include:

Clean Lines

Contemporary kitchen design is often defined by clean, simple lines. Blocky shapes replace ornate details and carvings. Drawers and cabinets typically have plain fronts, lacking decorative moldings. The overall look is unfussy, sleek and minimalistic. Stick with crisp, basic silhouettes for a modern aesthetic.

Materials like Metal, Glass and Concrete

Traditional kitchens utilize materials like wood, stone and marble. Contemporary spaces incorporate man-made materials with sleek, modern appeal. Metals like stainless steel, copper and bronze feature heavily. Glass cabinet doors or accents add transparent elegance. Concrete is popular for countertops and islands. These materials cultivate a streamlined, unfussy look.

A Neutral Color Palette

Vibrant color is kept to a minimum in contemporary kitchens. Neutral palettes dominate the space, accented by natural materials and textures. Whites, grays, beiges and black provide a clean backdrop. Pops of color can be introduced through appliances, barstools or accent walls/tiles for a subtle, minimalist look. Keep colors light and muted for airy elegance.

State-of-the-Art Appliances and Fixtures

With their streamlined silhouettes and cutting-edge features, today’s appliances align perfectly with contemporary style. Stainless steel dominates, selected for both form and function. Induction cooktops, range hoods, refrigerators and ovens with modern tech offer sleek visuals with max convenience. Fixtures follow suit with minimalist, geometric forms that save space while adding visual interest.

LED Lighting

The latest in lighting makes a big impact in contemporary kitchens. LEDs provide superior brightness while using minimal energy. Strips hidden under cabinets create soft, ambient lighting. Unique pendants and fixtures in finish like matte black or polished nickel add striking style. Mixing task lighting with accent lighting creates both form and function.

Minimal Accessories

Ornate, traditional accessories give way to sparse, streamlined accents in a contemporary space. Less is more. Select a few key metallic or ceramic pieces to lend subtle personality. Floating shelves help reduce visual clutter. Open space takes center stage. Keep additional decor minimal and choose accessories with clean, simple shapes and silhouettes.

Modernizing Key Zones of the Kitchen

Each area of the kitchen requires special consideration when transitioning to a contemporary design. Focus on these key zones:


Dated cabinets get a total revamp with fresh finishes and simplified styling. Stick with flat panel, slab door fronts. Skip ornate carvings and moldings. Opt for a lacquered or matte look in a neutral tone. Add interest via mixed cabinet heights, invisible hinges and creative positioning. Consider open shelving to lighten visual weight.


Laminate and ornate solid surface materials transition to fresh options like quartz, polished concrete and butcher block. Each bring visual interest through distinct veining, stains and texture. Crisp white and black quartz complement contemporary style. Butcher block warms up the space with natural wood tones. Concrete adds rawness. Choose materials that align with your overall vision.


Ceramic, metal and glass backsplashes take the place of wallpaper and painted backsplashes. Choose a sleek subway tile or ultra modern large format tile. Add interest with mosaic details, metallic accents or handmade ceramic tiles. Continue the backsplash up walls, around windows and along decorative focal points for contemporary flair.


Dated vinyl, worn carpets and ornate tile give way to large-format porcelain or ceramic tile, stained concrete, granite or marble. Dark-stained hardwood also works beautifully. Choose matte finishes and neutral tones. Luxury vinyl planks mimic wood minus the maintenance. Keep patterns and ornamentation simple for a seamless look.


Outdated appliances severely date a kitchen. Replace dated models with state-of-the-art convection ovens, induction cooktops, range hoods and refrigerators. Choose top quality manufacturers known for cutting-edge technology and long-term reliability. Coordinate finish across appliances. Integrate them seamlessly into cabinetry and surrounding surfaces.


Harsh fluorescents surrender to the glow of LEDs. Strategically place strips under cabinets and counters. Add interest with dangling metal and glass pendants, introducing sculptural elements. Install dimmers to control ambiance. Layer in recessed cans for general illumination. Spotlight key areas like islands for function and flair.


Contemporary furniture and decor take on simple, minimalist forms. Choose pieces in sleek metallics, glass, marble or wood. Opt for unembellished profiles and silhouettes. Add pops of brightness with colorful barstools or vivid art. Floating shelves display decor with open space still intact. Keep additional accents sparse. Let the room’s materials star.

Tips for Achieving a Cohesive Contemporary Design

With limitless design options and product selections, it can be tricky creating a holistic contemporary kitchen design. Keep these tips in mind:

Stick With 2-3 Primary Materials/Finishes

Limiting your primary materials to 2 or 3 choices helps cultivate cohesion. For example, white cabinetry, marble countertops and chrome fixtures. Or walnut cabinetry, black granite and stainless steel. Echoing the same finishes keeps the look curated.

Maintain Consistent Style Cues Throughout

Choose a few key style indicators and repeat them throughout the space. For example, if open shelving and brass hardware define the look, incorporate those elements everywhere possible. Repetition creates flow.

Transition Flooring Seamlessly Between Zones

Avoid abrupt transitions between tile, hardwood and other flooring types. Opt for cohesive flooring that flows smoothly throughout living zones. For more definition, change orientation of plank patterns or transition between differing tile sizes/finishes.

Ensure Proper Blending of Lighting

Layer general, task and accent lighting to illuminate the full space. Choose fixture finishes and lamp types that work together while providing both form and function. Dim and control lighting properly via switches and remotes.

Select an Artistic Focal Point

Anchoring the design with a striking work of art lends creativity. Choose a bold piece to display on a focal wall. Coordinate the color, material and style to complement the overall aesthetic. Allow it to inform the rest of the space.

Know When to Quit Adding Accessories

Stick with sparse styling. Resist the temptation to fill every nook with decorative knickknacks. Allow sleek surfaces and clean finishes to shine as the highlights. Thoughtfully choose just a few accessories to lend personality without clutter.


What are some ways to add color to a contemporary kitchen?

Splashes of color can be introduced thoughtfully. Vibrant mosaic tile makes a statement on the backsplash. Colored glass pendants inject pops of brightness. Paint the island a bold hue to anchor the space. Choose colorful barstools or accent chairs. Stick to one vibrant accent color to keep the palette crisp and minimalistic.

Should a contemporary kitchen have an island?

Islands work extremely well in contemporary kitchens. They expand workspace and congregating space while providing a place for additional storage. Opt for streamlined configuration without ornate corbels or detailing. Mix up cabinet colors or finishes to create definition while maintaining a minimalist look.

What type of sink suits a contemporary kitchen?

Undermount sinks typically complement contemporary style best. Their seamless installation beneath the countertop maintains a streamlined, unfussy look. Stainless steel is a popular choice. Composite granite sinks also blend with minimalist style. Choose a model without elaborate detailing or distressing.

What architectural details help create contemporary flair?

High ceilings cultivate an airy feel. Large doorways and open entryways connect to other living spaces. Frameless glass cabinetry maintains lightness. Exposed ductwork, piping and ventilation highlight raw industrial elements. Wide windows, interior glass walls and skylights welcome natural light.

How much does a contemporary kitchen remodel cost?

Costs vary based on size, upgrades and location. A minor update with new paint, fixtures and accessories may cost $5,000-10,000. A full remodel with structural changes, custom cabinetry and high-end finishes generally costs $50,000-75,000. Luxury contemporary renovations can exceed $100,000. Get quotes based on your specific wish list.


A contemporary kitchen remodel allows homeowners to transform a dated, stuck-in-time space into a showplace that takes advantage of the latest trends and technologies. With an up-to-date layout, modern materials and cutting-edge fixtures, the new kitchen will feel fresh, functional and flawless. Careful planning and design choices are needed to pull off a cohesive look. But the end results are well worth the investment, creating a family-friendly space you can enjoy for years to come. With a vision and the right team, your dated kitchen can go strikingly contemporary.