3/04/2023  •  ,

What is Contemporary Kitchen Design?

Estimated Read Time: 6 Minutes

The kitchen is often considered the heart of the home, where families and friends gather to cook, eat, and socialize. 


As the years change, so too does the world of kitchen design; transforming to reflect evolving lifestyles, style preferences, and technological advancements. 


One kitchen style that has kept up with the ever-changing world of design is contemporary


At Deslaurier, we have over 40 years of experience providing our clients with custom cabinets and kitchen design services. In that time, we’ve helped handcraft thousands of kitchens to cultivate the perfect design for our clients. 


With so many moving parts, it can be difficult to know where one design style ends and the other begins. 


In this article, we'll explore contemporary kitchen design, highlighting its influences and pinpointing key features to help you determine if it's the right style is right for your home.


Let’s get started! 

Table of Contents

Different Kitchen Design Styles

What does Contemporary Mean? 

The Difference Between Contemporary and Modern 

Contemporary Kitchen Layouts

Contemporary Kitchen Cabinets

Contemporary Kitchen Flooring

Contemporary Kitchen Countertops

Design with Deslaurier Custom Cabinets 


Different Kitchen Design Styles


Before we jump in, we should first touch on the wide world of kitchen design styles. 


While you can’t group every kitchen into a distinct design ethos, the three most popular styles are traditional, modern, and transitional. 


Traditional designs are filled with ornate, eye-grabbing millwork and detail. Traditional kitchens are elegant and sophisticated. Featuring natural elements, neutral colour palettes, classy light fixtures, and decorative millwork, a traditional kitchen gives off a warm and welcoming ambiance, perfect for family-centred lifestyles


Modern kitchen design is edgy, cool, and streamlined. Consisting of open spaces, minimalistic features, and a simple colour palette, a modern kitchen offers a clutter-free space to relax and entertain.


In a modern kitchen, you’ll find horizontal lines, frameless cabinetry, plenty of negative space, and sleek, industrial materials.


The transitional look takes the warm and welcoming nature of traditional kitchens and pairs it with the simplicity found in more modern designs. It’s clean and laid-back, and when done correctly, mixing and matching traditional and modern elements is one of the best ways to create a fashion-forward transitional kitchen design


While traditional, transitional, and modern are the most notable and consistently requested kitchen design styles in the field, they act as the foundation for other kitchen design trends to emerge!


There are plenty of other popular, more niche kitchen design styles, such as farmhouse, mid-century modern, and, of course, contemporary! 

Light and open

Contemporary Kitchen Design


Contemporary kitchen design refers to current and trendy design styles. The word contemporary means “current trends, in the now”. 


In a sense, contemporary design aims to bring warmth back to the kitchen; with bright and open spaces, upper walls accentuated with open storage like floating shelves, and an emphasis on natural wood elements. 


Contemporary kitchens don’t have the same structured characteristics and rules as traditional or modern design styles do; meaning two contemporary kitchen designs could be far more unique from one another than two modern kitchens might be. 


In terms of the three most popular kitchen design “styles” – traditional, transitional, and modern – contemporary kitchens would fall somewhere between transitional and modern


While some contemporary kitchens are designed to be sleek and modern, others incorporate more traditional elements, such as wood accents or decorative ornamentation. 


If you’re looking to have more variety and creativity in your kitchen design, opting for a contemporary style is the perfect method of achieving that. It allows you to bring more personality to your space, with added ornamentation and flexibility to the elements you include.


Modern vs. Contemporary Kitchen Design


While the terms “modern” and “contemporary” are often used interchangeably, there is a real distinction between modern kitchen style and contemporary kitchen style.


Modern design refers to an actual historical design movement (specifically the early to mid-20th century), and it follows a strict interpretation of elements.


While new-age kitchen materials and technologies are updated, the characteristics of modern design are firm and definitive. In that sense, modern design has a certain rigidity to it. There are tenets and guidelines that need to be followed in order to achieve a modern kitchen design. 


Conversely, contemporary kitchen design is always changing. As the decades pass, the connotation of contemporary design transforms as well, keeping with current and popular trends of the day. 


Contemporary kitchen design has the added benefit of mixing elements and features of other styles; pairing current design trends with timeless qualities. While contemporary kitchens often utilize modern design features, they can also borrow from transitional, traditional, or any other design style!


They can even include staples of more niche design styles, as well! Like the warm allure of exposed wood beams, brick backsplash, or apron-front sinks found in farmhouse kitchens.


So, while both contemporary and modern kitchens feature sleek and minimalist layouts and share the characteristics of functionality, they differ in their fluidity. Modern kitchens can sometimes feel a bit “cold” and less comforting – they offer more of a design “statement” – contemporary kitchens are welcoming and organic.


In a nutshell, the modern design style follows stricter guidelines whereas the contemporary design style is more fluid and tolerates “rule-breaking”. That means contemporary designs are more dynamic and can change yearly to follow the newest trend! 


Contemporary Kitchen Layouts 


Contemporary kitchen layouts are all about function and efficiency. This minimalistic approach to layout is what achieves a simple and elegant look.


Large, multi-purpose central islands are a staple in contemporary kitchens. They bring a lot of versatility to a kitchen layout, as they afford more overall cabinet storage and can help spread out features in a kitchen. 

Contemporary kitchen design

Appliances like dishwashers, microwaves, and even cooktops can be incorporated into kitchen islands. Not to mention countertop overhang for island seating; the perfect feature to increase room for meals and entertaining. 


Contemporary Kitchen Design Features


As we’ve mentioned, contemporary kitchen designs aren’t cut and dry. They borrow a lot of transitional elements with an updated modern flair to them, and vice-versa.


Many timeless, classic elements like natural wood and stone are also used in a refurbished, new-and-improved manner to fit the more streamlined, contemporary kitchen style. 


Contemporary Kitchen Cabinets


Our “Lichfield” cabinet door is a good example of these combining styles. It’s a 5-piece shaker-style cabinet door – a staple of transitional kitchen design – that utilizes narrow stiles and rails to create a more modern aesthetic. 


Other prominent contemporary features include painted cabinets like grey and white, as well as bolder colours such as blues and greens. 


They also incorporate warm natural wood tones and grain patterns. In fact, combining painted and wood grain cabinets in a two-tone cabinetry design is a staple in contemporary kitchens. 

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Contemporary Kitchen Flooring 


Speaking of wood, hardwood flooring with trendy, wider planks offers a more updated aesthetic over the thinner hardwood of the past. 


Contemporary designs have become known for using light, gentle wood species like white oak for cabinets and flooring alike. 


They can also incorporate the durability of ceramic or stone tile floorings. A popular trend in recent years is using larger tiles, expanding the visual weight of the room and reducing fewer lines of grout. 


Contemporary Kitchen Countertops


The finishing touch on any kitchen is adorning your cabinets with the perfect countertop surface. 


Granite and marble will always be classic stones to work with. Their natural colour, veining, and patterns offer a unique countertop every time. 


With more contemporary kitchens, a new-age material is naturally a great fit, as well. Engineered quartz is arguably the most popular countertop material of the past decade, thanks to its varying price range and light, subtle appearance. 


In recent years, Dekton has burst onto the scene. A fully engineered material, Dekton countertops are made by combining natural minerals to create an incredibly durable surface with a flexible design that can replicate natural stones or come in solid colours. 


Design with Deslaurier Custom Cabinets


With so much flexibility and sampling from other design styles, it’s no wonder that contemporary kitchens are more popular than ever! 


Ultimately, choosing a kitchen design will always come down to your lifestyle, style preferences, and budget. Consider these accordingly and you’ll be able to craft the perfect kitchen design to fit your home!


If you’re looking to install the perfect custom cabinets in your dream kitchen, Deslaurier Custom Cabinets has everything you need! With over 40 years of experience in our name, we provide our clients with a fully customized design process with our talented team of designers


Book a consultation today with a Deslaurier design expert at our Ottawa Showroom or schedule a virtual meeting! 

Interested in becoming an authorized Deslaurier dealer? Visit our Become a Dealer page to learn more! Live outside the area? Visit our Find a Dealer page to connect with a Deslaurier dealer near you!

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