The contemporary kitchen borrows high functionality and streamlined surfaces from the modernist design movement, but its style often incorporates traditional ideas as well for a sleek but livable feel.
“Clean and simple is the underlying philosophy for contemporary design,” says designer Cameron Austin of Beth Haley Design in Nashville, Tenn. “My approach differs from client to client, but I really love using simple white cabinetry with clean lines and then adding texture and warmth with things like interesting tiles or a dark hardwood floor.”
Unlike the term “modern,” which refers to an actual historical design movement and has a strict interpretation of what elements can and can’t be included, “contemporary” simply means “in the now.” Popular contemporary retailers such as Pottery Barn, West Elm and Crate & Barrel carry items that usually sport clean lines but are inspired by a host of design styles: Danish modern, Arts and Crafts, traditional, ’50s ranch and modern industrial, for example.
The list of details a contemporary kitchen can accommodate is endless; funky touches are welcome, and you’re practically unlimited in color choices. But the one thing that can wreck a contemporary look is clutter, whether visual (too many colors or textures) or physical (countertops covered in knickknacks). Stick to the 60-30-10 rule for colors: Sixty percent of the kitchen should be one dominant color, 30 percent a secondary color and 10 percent an accent color. Store gadgets in drawers or in sleek containers; relegate cooking ingredients to the pantry. You can achieve a contemporary look in your kitchen with small additions or major changes.