Must-Have Elements for a Modern Kitchen

It takes more than just a few sleek appliances to make a modern kitchen. As with most things, the secret to the style lies in the details. Having the requisite elements can move your kitchen from slightly modern to a really stunning multi-functional and modern space. Here are some of the must-have elements that will elevate the look of your modern kitchen.

Modernize Your Kitchen With These Awesome Elements

1. Install a Retractable Counter Hood

While the main appeal of a modern kitchen is its minimalist look, it still has to be functional. To keep the slick look means stowing things away when they are not in use, including your kitchen cooktop ventilation. Companies like Airforce have a variety of kitchen hoods that retract into the counter and out of sight. Some come with built-in task lighting.

Airforce in counter hood

Airforce glass retractable
Some models include a clear shield that adds another stylish element.

For those who prefer a gas cooktop or in a kitchen where a retractable hood is not an option, a wide variety of low-profile vertical range hoods are available. Colored minimalist hoods, stainless steel angled models and even round wall-mounted hoods are all modern and cutting edge designs. Zephyr offers a wide selection of these low-profile hoods s well as traditional style hoods that have a thinner, more modern profile.

2. Invest in A Low Profile Range Hood

Zephyr's red Horizon Arc hood and the stainless steel version of the Wave hood.
Zephyr’s red Horizon Arc hood and the stainless steel version of the Wave hood.

3. Spruce Up Your Sink With Sliding Panels

Generally, no matter what you do, the kitchen sink is still a hole in the countertop and the faucet protrudes from the surface. And, while no kitchen can go without one, there are ways to make the sink less obtrusive as well as even more functional. Here, Binova presents a sink with moveable drain panels that allow you to place them wherever they might be most useful, whether it is to the side of the sink or directly over it.

Binova sink sliding panels

Sometimes the kitchen faucet rising above the work surface can be a distracting element, so Valcucine created this retractable faucet that virtually disappears when you’re not using it.  It retracts into the sink and swings to the side, stowing neatly at the edge and eliminating the faucet’s usual vertical line.

Valcucine retractable sink design

Valcucine retractable sink

Valcucine retractable sink modern

4. Customize With a Smart Countertop Sink

Or perhaps it’s the sink itself that doesn’t appeal to you. Installing a smart countertop sink can add work and serving space to your counter.  Kick up the smooth look of your countertop with this technology that raises the bottom of the sink level with the counter when you don’t need to wash dishes.  This interpretation still allows you to have access to running water even when the sink is “closed.”

Offmat black kitchen island sink

Amazing Smart Touch Kitchen Sink

5. Upgrade to Organized, Accessible Drawers

Organization is paramount in the kitchen and this is especially true for modern styles. Today’s kitchen drawers are more than just a wide open box where you dump your utensils and tools. They are eminently organized with a place for everything and everything in it place, including designated slots for knives, which can include chef’s knives, eliminating the need for a countertop knife block.

pocelanosa organized drawer inside
Porcelanosa’s kitchen drawer has ample space for your cutlery and work knives.

Even large drawers are made more functional with a light strip that automatically illuminates when the drawer is opened. This great addition will end the days of rifling through a dark drawer in search of a particular item.

bauformat open drawer lighted
Bauformat’s sleek kitchens include illuminated drawers.

6. Create Countertop Storage

If you prefer to have your tools a little handier and not secreted away in a drawer, there are still options that work for a modern kitchen. This minimalist version not only has a countertop that slides over the sink, but it has a tidy, dedicated  space for often-used spices and chef’s knives.  The design keeps clutter to a minimum and still offers a great deal of workspace, especially when you close the lid over the storage. This leaves a wide expanse of countertop for working or serving guests.

Spice storage into countertop

Sliding countertop with extra storage for spices

7. Change Over To Stainless Steel

Even with all the new materials available, nothing says modern like stainless steel. Whether you choose to use the material as an accent or as the surface for the bulk your kitchen, it’s a popular — albeit higher maintenance — option. This kitchen features top to bottom stainless steel for the countertops, sink and cooktop, which gives the kitchen a commercial look.

Stainless steel countertops

This kitchen features stainless steel countertops and appliances but the look is tempered by the wall of gray cabinetry. While the absence of hardware on the cabinets and sleek, vertical range hood make it very modern, it feels a bit less commercial.

Kitchen with stainless steel countertop

8. Set Up Specialized Countertop Storage

Keeping cooking kitchen corralled and organized can be a challenge and a standard knife block can add undated clutter. Here, designated knife storage along the back wall of the counter is a genius solution of soaring knives in a modern way within easy reach. Having then along the all makes good use of space that’s often less useful.

Countertop knife storage ideas

Adding a storage rod along the backsplash behind the cooktop is also a great way to store often-used tools. It keeps them off of the counter and still within reach.  They can also easily be cleared away if it’s time for entertaining and you want a cleaner look.

Amazing idea to store knifes into the countertop

9. Explore Innovative Cooktop Options

Of course you can design a modern kitchen around standard appliances, but including the latest in cooking technology gives a kitchen the wow factor to make it spectacular. Not only do the latest kitchen technology innovations look more modern, they add a great deal of functionality to your cooking. Below is the sauce burner from Ilve. While you can certainly bring large pots to a boil, its concentric burner rings also allow cooks to simmer the most delicate sauce without burning.

ilve sauce burner

Even if you prefer a gas cook top, you can kick the design up a notch with a newer style like this one from Smeg. It features the latest in gas burner technology and has fin elements like the LED lighting and whimsical, customizable novelty pot risers.  These birds look a little like the nursery rhyme blackbirds that were baked into a pie, don’t they?

SMEG bird cooktop from iSaloni

Indoor grill tops have become commonplace in many kitchens, but modern kitchens now have even more specialized cooking elements. Now you can make the same hibachi dinners that your favorite local Japanese restaurant makes with a teppanyaki element. Obviously much smaller than the commercial version, it’s still a convenient  tool for making authentic hibachi food. Juggling of the knives is optional!

viking teppanyaki from EuroCucina

10. Design An Uncluttered Facade

The hallmarks of a modern kitchen are an uncluttered facade and a sleek overall look. Today’s ultramodern kitchens are often doing away with handles and hardware all together, and not just for cabinets. Even some of the newest appliances, like the dishwasher in this Miele kitchen, not not have handles. How does this work? Just knock twice on the dishwasher and the door pops open.  All of the digital controls are concealed in the door, or at least are minimally apparent.

Kitchen Miele handleless

Bauformat’s boldly colored modern kitchen module still has standard wall ovens but achieves a modern look with its glossy exterior, edgy floating island and LED light accent.

Bauformat bold kitchen

11. Put In Customized Food And Drink Storage

No longer home to a disjointed wine cooler and a refrigerator/freezer combo, modern kitchens increasingly feature a “food preservation system” that can include components of all kinds, depending upon your lifestyle and family preferences. Below is a Miele wine tower that features varied temperature storage for red and white wines, elegant chalk strips for labeling shelves, and a lovely serving stations with all the accoutrements you need.

miele wine tower fridge

This example from Thermador features a wall of various cooling and preservation units, including a wine tower, freezer and refrigerators. Some brands even have meat aging coolers for avid carnivores!

thermador kichen system

12. Consider Dramatically Modern Kitchen Lighting

All the shiny, minimalist surfaces of a modern kitchen make a perfect setting for some dramatic kitchen lighting. While the lighting has to be foremost functional, the coolest modern kitchen make the lighting a focal point of the room either through color, shape, size or repetition. The extra long, trumpet-shaped pendants below are neutral yet are a natural choice for kitchen with dramatic colors or geometric graphics on the walls, such as this Leicht kitchen.

Leicht white trunpet pendants

Individually, the long black pendants in this kitchen by Leicht are mildly interesting, but when repeated in a group of nine, the become dramatic lighting over the counter.

Leicht black stick pendants

Choosing fixtures made from unexpected materials are also a must for a modern kitchen. Each of these simple concrete pendants includes four bulbs, which gives them an interesting design. The geometric shape is a natural for a modern kitchen design, such as this one from Arrex.

Arrex concrete pendants for kitchen

13. Add Motion In The Kitchen

One quick way to make your kitchen a cutting-edge, modern space is to include a large motion component. Many design options now include moving elements that help your space do double duty by adding function, extending usable space or hiding the standard components of a kitchen.

A Sliding cooktop cover adds usable counter space for working by covering the elements of the cooktop. Since most parties end up in the kitchen anyway, it also give you a clean, wide expanse for serving food to guests from your countertop.

Taking the concept a step further, Laboratorio Mattoni produces stunning sliding countertop islands that cover all the elements of your kitchen — cooktop, sink and faucet — at the touch of a button.  You can cook up a storm for your guests, push the button the slide the cover over the top, and use the island as a serving and entertaining space. It’s another genius concept to make the most of a smaller modern kitchen.

An extendable faucet like this one from Leicht adds function to the sink by allowing you to move the water flow where you need it.

Kitchen in Motion from Del Curto offers a wonderful option if you have a small area and you will want a modern kitchen. This dining table spans the kitchen and dining area, and moves through the wall. When extended on the kitchen side, it’s a kitchen table or workspace, and the dining area is clear and open. Pull it to the living area and you have an instant dining room table.

A retractible hood doesn’t have to be low profile. A dramatic kitchen hood can be a showstopper in a modern kitchen, especially when it makes an entrance from a structure like this one!

A sink workstation makes the most of a modern kitchen whether it’s large or small. This kitchen concept by The Galley lets you choose components like an inset bowl, colander or drying rack.

Induction hood cooktops are a definite must.  You need the ventilation but you don’t want a permanent obstruction on your counter, so retractible styles are the perfect solution.

14. Redo Your Cabinets

If you’ve applied some of the items on this list and you are still feeling your kitchen has an aged look to it, it’s time to consider redoing your cabinets. This doesn’t mean that you have to switch to the handless varieties previously mentioned, as there are lots of modern cabinet designs that include a handle. Go for something with a thin, low profile handle with a metallic finish to make your kitchen look more modern like these sleek cabinets featured on Cabinetry Designs.

15. Use Open Shelving

Is all this talk about changing your cabinets giving you a headache? Then go for the modern open shelving look instead. The important thing to remember about open shelving is that the items displayed on the shelving will contribute to the overall appearance. So for modern looking open shelving, ensure that you place modern looking items on your shelves as they did in this example in Lonny.

16. Modernize Your Flooring

One aspect that is often overlooked when modernizing a kitchen is the flooring. Whether you like it or not, vinyl flooring is out. Instead you should invest in some beautiful tile or hard wood floors. Another style of floors that is commonly found in a modern kitchen is painted cement like this kitchen featured in Check A Trade. You could also invest in breathtaking stone tiling that can be made to look like marble. Just make sure you have either of these two projects conquered by a professional because they can be difficult to do properly if you don’t know what you are doing.

17. Make A Backsplash

Nothing will spruce up the walls above your countertops quite like a backsplash. And this is a feature that is really easy to fit in with any modern kitchen aesthetic. You could go for something edgy such as different colored tiles in an ombre mosaic pattern, like this kitchen featured in Mercury Mosaics, or you can go for something simpler like white or black tile. For those who think they are up to the challenge, mirrors can also be a beautiful backsplash idea—they are just a bit harder to keep clean.

18. Splurge On Marble Countertops

Putting in a gorgeous marble counter top will truly take your kitchen to an all-new modern level. Not only do these keep clean well, but they are also sturdy enough to withstand some of the toughest cooking abuse. You can also take marble even further like in this kitchen in Stone Market Granite, and have it installed waterfall style, where the marble extends over the edge of your countertop down towards the floor for a cohesive look.

19. Hide Your Appliances

If there isn’t money in your budget for all new smart appliances, you may consider choosing to hide your appliances instead. This will still make your kitchen more modern without having to replace all of your appliances. Follow the example of this kitchen in The Kitchen Company and build a large cabinet for your fridge, plus smaller ones to hide your coffee maker and other counter top appliances. Don’t forget that your microwave can be hidden too!

20. Connect Your Appliances To Your Smart Phone

Did you know that many smart appliances can be controlled by your iPhone? This means you can start pre-heating the oven while you are still upstairs! Some recipes can even be scanned and your oven will adjust to the proper settings like this one featured on Whirlpool. Take this a step further and purchase app-controlled bulbs to go in your new light fixtures that you can dim with a swipe of your finger. Sometimes even the house thermostat can be controlled by your phone. Either way, connect all of the appliances possible to your phone and you’ll feel like you’re living in a truly modern kitchen in no time at all!

The truth is, modernizing a kitchen goes far beyond just purchasing a new smart fridge. If you truly want to have a modern kitchen in your home, you will need to implement multiple items off of this list to achieve your goal. But once you do, you will fall so in love with the conveniences of your new kitchen that you will regret not spending the money to modernize it sooner!

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