There are plenty of design trends that are gorgeous, modern, and memorable — but do they actually meet your everyday needs? In our opinion, if you’re going to renovate and redecorate, the finished result should suit you aesthetically and practically, especially when you’re talking about the heart of the home. That’s why we think the best kitchen design ideas prioritize functionality above all else.
Keep in mind: That doesn’t mean you have to put style on the back burner (no pun intended). It just means that whatever you decide to do, you should do it with consideration to your lifestyle. Do you have a big family that always ends up gathering in the kitchen? Do you like to spread out your tools and ingredients and cook in a wide-open space? Are you generally pretty clean and organized, or could you use some help in that department? These questions will help you plan accordingly at the beginning so you’re much more likely to end up with the kitchen of your dreams.
A few tips that apply to just about everyone? Whether you go with cabinets or open shelving, ensure that your kitchenware is accessible. Opt for patterns and colors that make your life easier — not harder — and maximize storage wherever you can, especially if your home is on the smaller side. When choosing your materials, check that they’re durable, not just pretty. Most importantly, make sure your kitchen is conducive to peace, creativity, and (of course) the cooking of good food.
Keep in mind that not all of these concepts will work for everyone; you’ll need to take your own style and space restrictions into consideration — but if you’re looking for plenty of inspiration to get the creative juices flowing, you can find 40 of our favorite kitchen design ideas below.
1. Brass Fixtures
Brass finishes have recently made a comeback in the interior design world and show no signs of slowing, and in our opinion, it looks chic in just about any room — but the kitchen is perhaps the most rewarding spot. Adorn your fixtures, lights, and cabinet hardware in this elegant metal to immediately elevate the room. It’s also durable and rust-resistant for practicality.
2. Display Pantry Items
You don’t have to hide your spices away in a cabinet. Showcase your culinary prowess by building an exposed pantry, then display your top picks in transparent decorative mason jars — we’re all for the Blisshaus treatment. The best news? When you’re looking for a particular ingredient, you can just pluck it off the shelf as opposed to causing the dreaded Lazy Susan avalanche.
3. Curved Islands
Most islands are a straight line or built into an L-Shape, but this curved island adds visual appeal and practicality. Yes, it’s much more eye-catching than your average eating spot, but it also makes the space appear bigger by streamlining the footprint. You can even add a few more chairs thanks to the angled countertop.
4. Free-Standing Shelves
Not everything needs to be built-in and permanent. If you’re in need of extra storage, add some. If kept neat, free-standing shelves can look just as charming as open shelving or added cabinetry — plus, they’re a great place to store your colorful bakeware, cookbooks, and mugs.
5. Patterned Peninsulas
It’s possible to add some color and fun to your kitchen in a subtler, less overwhelming way. Instead of committing to the entire floor or backsplash, lay some patterned tiles on your peninsula. The chairs will break up the visual so it’s not too loud but it’ll still be the first thing you notice in an all-white kitchen.
6. Wall-To-Ceiling Cabinetry
If your kitchen already has adequate counter space, consider foregoing the counter-and-overhead combo in lieu of floor-to-ceiling cabinets. (You might even be able to hide your fridge among them, like this homeowner did.) This look gives the kitchen a more traditional appeal and it’ll make for great storage.
7. A Larger Stove
Imagine cooking your entree and all your side dishes without having to play Musical Chairs on your burners. If you love to entertain, a roomy stove should be non-negotiable on your kitchen renovation list. Some best-in-class options offer built-in griddles, warmers, and ample extra burners.
8. A Permanent Ladder
Here’s one for the shorter chefs out there: A built-in ladder helps you reach all those inaccessible cabinets up top (without having to get the step-stool) and it adds some old-world charm to an otherwise modern kitchen. This one features gorgeous light wood on a brass track, and we couldn’t love it more.
9. A Kitchen Fireplace
Most people agree that a fireplace makes rooms infinitely more hygge, but unfortunately, they’re not too common in or by the kitchen. Let’s change that. A kitchen fireplace means that your morning coffee is cozier, your dinner parties are more welcoming, and your nightcaps are more sophisticated.
10. Moody Cabinetry
When it comes to color schemes, light, bright, and airy are inescapable right now. That said, if you’re looking to ground a kitchen, moody-colored cabinets are the way to do it. Dark, unlikely colors (like black, navy blue, and forest green) break up all of the white and light-colored woods for a cooking space that’s inspiring but balanced. They’re also more resistant to stains.
11. A Farmhouse Sink
Farmhouse sinks have plenty of benefits: They’re wide, deep, ergonomic, and can be made out of a huge range of materials. They also add charm to any kitchen but are especially effective if you’re going for a rustic or old-world aesthetic.
12. Window Shelves
This is a brilliant hack for those whose houses are generally too dark to keep their plants alive: Install shelving units right across your windows. Yes, they’re great for housing your herb gardens, but they also add some privacy without blocking out all that natural light.
13. Mixed-And-Matched Patterns
It’s risky, but hear us out. Most kitchens have busy tile on the floor or the backsplash, but who says you can’t do both? Don’t be afraid to experiment with patterns, especially if they share similar color schemes. This homeowner chose a geometric tile by Fireclay for the floor and a hexagon tile for the wall, but since they’re both black and white, they just work.
14. Open Shelving
This trend hit its peak around 2018, but as far as we can tell, it’s not going anywhere. If you’re especially neat and you have display-worthy kitchenware, you can convert your entire kitchen to open-shelving. If not, you can just add a few over the sink, coffee machine, or bar — after all, they’re much easier to install than traditional overhead cabinetry.
15. Widespread Wood
For a while, it was all about white cabinets, but mid-century modern and Scandinavian influences have made their way back into the kitchen. Light wood cabinets throughout give this space a clean (but still homey and accessible) atmosphere. Since the floor, overhead shelves, exposed beams, and stairs also match, it feels like a comprehensive part of the whole.
16. A Solid Slab Backsplash
A slab backsplash is a backsplash that’s made out of one continuous material, like marble or quartz. It often matches the countertop for a clean look, and it has plenty of benefits. In addition to adding a high-end feel, it’s easy to clean (unlike grouted tile, which traps stains and moisture) and it stays in style much longer. After all, dramatic backsplash trends are quick to come and quick to go so they date a kitchen faster than anything else.
17. Under-Shelf Storage
Running out of space on your shelves with no more room to add more? Maximize your storage by utilizing the undersides of your surfaces. Add a track and some hooks so you can hang mugs, pans, or cooking utensils. Bonus: It’s a great place to dry your dish towels so your kitchen stays fresh and hygienic.
18. Vintage Touches
If done correctly, certain vintage elements can actually make a kitchen look more modern — not less. Take this Smeg refrigerator, for example. Its curved angles and streamlined exterior look like they belong in a 1950s home, but the fridge actually contains the latest technology for food preservation. It also offers a minimalist appearance that so many buyers and designers prefer these days.
19. Exposed Brick
Leave it as-is or paint it the color of your choice. Either way, exposed brick can have a homey, industrial, or vintage appearance when added to (or excavated from) your walls. In this instance, it brightens up a galley kitchen while simultaneously contributing to its European aesthetic.
20. A Double-Sided Island
The vast majority of kitchen islands have cabinets on one side and chairs on the other — but if it’s your only eating space, you can maximize the seating by adding chairs to both sides. It’ll function more like a traditional table, though you can still use it for storage as long as you don’t mind pulling the chairs out when you need something.
21. A Tiered Countertop
Halfway between a counter and a shelf, this tiered design keeps your small appliances accessible and ready to use without taking up precious prep space. Just install your countertop material of choice on the lower-most section of a shelf and add a few outlets.
22. Top-Of-The-Fridge Storage
Even if you don’t have any cabinets above your refrigerator, you can use the top of this appliance for storage. The trick? Disguising your clutter as decor; it’s a great spot for cookbooks and ingredients kept in charming jars — plus, certain kitchen-friendly plants will love the solitude and indirect light.
23. Built-In Seating
Breakfast nook, anyone? Built-in seating helps you differentiate your formal dining area from your casual eating space, even if they’re in the same general vicinity. It’ll also act as a means of storage if you use flip-top benches, seats with added drawers, or built-ins with exposed cubbies.
24. Space-Saving Solutions
A small kitchen can still be a stylish kitchen. Maximize the space with unexpected pieces, like a utility sink, a free-standing cabinet structure, and a shorter refrigerator. Windowsills, DIY shelves, and the tops of appliances can all act as unlikely (yet undeniably useful) storage spots.
25. Woodblock Counters
Wooden countertops are often more affordable and sustainable than stone alternatives, and while they’re not as durable, some people actually prefer the aged look. This one has a chevron pattern, which (when compared to the standard butcher-block design) looks a bit more high-end while still providing a rustic touch.
26. Modern Seating Options
Unlike built-in seating, which can seem a bit traditional, dining chairs or countertop stools give you the opportunity to experiment with modernity. Go with something that sets your kitchen apart — it’s a practical addition that, if you let it, could act as a statement piece, too.
27. Colorful Backsplashes
A backsplash is perhaps the easiest way to customize a kitchen and make it all your own. Take, for instance, the kitchen pictured above. The cabinets are white and the countertops are black, but the colorful, patterned tile on the backsplash gives this space a Mediterranean-boho flair you won’t find in most other spaces. Also, good luck seeing any rogue tomato sauce splatters on that design.
28. Vaulted Ceilings
High-end appliances and sleek, roomy cabinets are definitely gorgeous on their own — but add a vaulted ceiling and your kitchen will be an absolute showstopper. This one features long wooden planks that are painted off-white, but you can also leave the beams as-is or paint them a contrasting color to draw the eye upwards.
29. Hammered Copper Pendant Lights
If you’ve ever ordered a Moscow Mule, you’re probably familiar with hammered copper — but who would’ve thought the pattern on those mugs would look so great in your kitchen? These pendant lights are sleek enough to fit in with the rest of your modern decor but daring enough to catch your dinner guests’ attention.
30. Mid-Century Modern Vibes
Mid-century modern influences are everywhere when you’re shopping for sofas, bed frames, and tables, but this style is a little more unique when used in the kitchen. If you want to achieve it yourself, combine geometric tiles, stacking appliances, and darker wood (especially if the grain is emphasized).
31. Kitchen Rugs
We’re of the belief that rugs in the kitchen are a great idea. They not only add color and comfort, but when lined correctly, they also prevent accidents by absorbing spills and moisture. Just be sure to choose one that’s durable, washable, and suitable for high-traffic areas.
32. Statement Light Fixtures
A statement piece doesn’t need to overwhelm the room to qualify as a statement piece. In fact, chances are that the ruffled light fixture wasn’t even the first thing you noticed about this kitchen. If you’re worried about going overboard with your lighting, pick one quality to experiment with: shape, color, or texture.
33. Well-Placed Wallpaper
Some people still think wallpaper is antiquated, but there are plenty of patterns that complement a contemporary room. If you’re concerned about over-doing it, pick a modern design and choose a single wall or area. This designer used a black floral wallpaper over the breakfast nook and it makes the space cozy and noticeable without setting the entire kitchen back a few decades.
34. Monochromatic Color Schemes
It’s undeniably easy to match everything when you stick to whites, grays, and blacks. Still, a monochromatic kitchen is elegant, sophisticated, clean, chic, stylish — anything but boring. If you want to mix things up, go with black cabinets and white counters instead of the obvious opposite.
35. Daring Paint Shades
On the other hand, if you’re trying to break up a monotonous color scheme, paint is the easiest (and most impermanent) way to do it. Choose a bold color to counteract a boring backsplash and bring new life to outdated fixtures. And, if you change your mind a couple of years down the line, it only takes a few cans of paint and a few hours to change things up.
36. Hanging Shelves
Small kitchen with limited cabinets? No problem. Maximize your storage space by adding hanging shelves to the area above your peninsula or island. This design style isn’t necessarily new (people did it decades ago), but instead of heavy, dark woods, designers are now using sleek metal and clear glass. That way, the shelves are less noticeable while remaining just as functional.
37. Open-Concept Kitchens
There’s a reason open-concept layouts haven’t gone anywhere — several reasons, actually. Hosts and hostesses can interact with their guests, cooking parents can keep an eye on their playing children, and lovers of natural light can enjoy window views no matter where they’re standing. Last but not least, open-concept spaces often seem larger due to the maximization of useable space.
38. Floating Knives
Whether you’re short on countertop space or you prefer your tools readily accessible, a floating knife strip is a stylish and practical addition to your kitchen. (It’s not just for knives, either; most metal tools should stick to the magnets inside the block.) You can buy one online or make your own from the wood of your choice — just be sure to mount it far away from children and pets.
39. An All-White Color Scheme
If you’re particularly afraid of clashing color schemes or busy patterns, do yourself a favor and opt for plain and bright. You can’t go wrong with off-white shaker cabinets, a single-color countertop, and stark subway tiles with matching grout. Any color you do add (like wall-hangings, appliances, or cabinet hardware) will instantly pop.
40. Eye-Catching Dinnerware
If your tableware is particularly unique, colorful, or eye-catching, leave it out. Display it on open shelves or in exposed cubbies. After all, if you’re decorating a room with things you actually use on a daily basis, it’s not clutter — it’s functionality.