Top 10 Modern Kitchen Design Trends

Bob Borson —  September 22, 2010 — 63 Comments

I have been getting asked about kitchens quite a bit lately – at least more than normal – and most of the questions are centered around what modern kitchen trends am I seeing. To be honest, I am not a trend follower, at least not intentionally. I’m not trying to issue myself as some sort of all-inspiring trend-maker and I have never held myself out as such but I do know what I like and I have been paying a little more attention to what specialized kitchen designers are doing. (I can promise no plastic plants or ceramic chickens will be found in any of the following kitchens)

Here’s what I think are the Top 10 Moderns Kitchen Design Trends:

1. Cabinetry | White Cabinetry and dark(er) natural woods like walnut and mahogany. Gone are hyper detailed and overwrought fussy looking cabinets, replaced by full overlay slab panel door and drawer fronts.




2. Counter tops | Light colored Quartz and marble counter tops – particularly Calcutta Gold marble. We are using less granite, especially multi-tonal heavily veined granites. If we do use granite, it has been honed or flamed and not polished.


3. Hardware | Decorative pulls are on their way out with finger pulls becoming the more popular choice. These can be pulls that are cut into the lip of the panel or small finger grabs that lay on top of the door. Either way, the goal is to produce less visual clutter.



4. Stainless Steel Appliances| Did these ever go away? Name brands are still the name of the game, Sub-Zero, Viking, Dacor, Miele, and GE Monogram. If you ever needed proof of these brand popularity, look at the real estate section of the newspaper and see how many homes list these brands by name as selling points. They are high quality, function extremly well and add long term value.



5. Integrated appliances | dishwasher drawers for small loads, and under-counter refrigerators (like the awesome Sub-Zero 700BR) for specialty work zones.



6. The Social Kitchen | Very large islands and the demise (or at least the very reduced capacity) of the table in the kitchen. Our kitchen designs are incorporating large island(s) that can accomodate cooking, prep work and dining. The area previously reserved for the breakfast table has been replaced with a sitting area in the kitchen. The large over-scaled island provides an area for your kids to spread out their homework and projects and still give mom and dad a place to prepare the meal in a social and spacious manner.



7. Stainless Steel Finishes | The request for easy to clean, industrial materials in the kitchen is on the rise – this means more stainless steel counter tops and back-splashes. It is becoming easier to incorporate stainless steel into a complete house finish package now that more and more faucet manufacturers offering up stainless as a option. Be aware, stainless steel does scratch – all metals do – but eventually the scratches become a finish within themselves. I do think that this is one of those materials that all interior designers stay away from and architects embrace. I don’t know why, it just seems that way.



8. Integrated sink tops | it seemed inevitable. As soon as stainless steel became a  counter top option, custom fabricating integral sinks into the counter was the logical next step. Available options, including the number of bowls, depths, sizes, built-in drain boards, etc. make this a fun and fluid material to work with.



9. Horizontally oriented grain | sometimes all it take is a slight adjustment to a well known material to introduce a fresh new look. Part of the reason this trend is starting to become more popular is the introduction of the open floor plan back into the modern kitchen. The grain extends the space visually and integrates what was previously just a utilitarian space with it’s own personality into the same finish palette as the the main living areas.



10. The removal of decorative pendant lighting| pendant lighting suspending down over the kitchen island is hopefully going away. At one time, decorative pendant lighting served as a visual cue to stop your eye, giving you something to focus on and contain the working kitchen area from the eating kitchen area. Now that we have multi-purpose rooms and kitchens no longer have to be tucked in between the Garage and the Dining room, we don’t want your eye to stop at the island.


Kitchen design trends change fairly rapidly but most of the items on this list have been developing and refining for years. Despite the hype, kitchen don’t come into favor or go out of style in a year – if they do, I think you have a bad design on your hands. Yes, I know that I called this list the Top10 Modern Kitchen Trends, but I hope that this list represents more than a trend. Trend … that makes it sound so irrelevant and transitory – two words that I strive to avoid using when describing my work.

Bob AIA signature

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

  • former_BBA_employee

    hi Bob, please give information / credit re the images you are posting. The first kitchen appearing after point #1 “Cabinetry” is by BBA Design of Vancouver BC.

    • Bob Borson

      I didn’t get it off their website so once I am able to find it, I will be happy to cite the source.

  • dialus

    it is good.Thank you

  • Paul

    we want to remodel our kitchen and want to move sink to out side wall and counter top stove to center island. Does anyone have this design? And do you have any problems with it ? thanks..

    • Bob Borson

      It happens all the time – just search for “cooktop island”

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  • E.F

    Great ideas
    thank you

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  • luxurious Kitchen Designs by C

    Trends keep us abreast with the most available materials in the market. Thanks for this post. I see that stainless steel has now dominated counter tops. Personally, I still prefer granite for durability and easy maintenance.

  • TaraConnors

    The last wood design is by far my favorite! It’s stunning to say the least.

  • Lillian

    Hi there… Just found this post today. I am trying to decide between two different tab pulls– one that hangs over the edge and is screwed down in the back, and one where the screws go on top of the edge. I noticed that with the first type, it leaves a gap due to the tab’s thickness. The second options looks nicer but I am not sure about seeing the screws each time you open a drawer… What are your thoughts? Thanks for your help in advance.

    • Bob Borson

      the screws in the back, while visible, aren’t really noticeable. You should make your decision based on how the drawer pull looks with the drawer closed – that’s how you’ll see it 99.9% of the time

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  • MH Kitchens&Bedrooms

    Simple, sophisticated, elegant and stunning! Gorgeous designs that just work. Amazing.

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  • Design Indoor

    your blog is amazing, can you please follow back my tweet? thank you

  • helical piers

    Awesome kitchen designed are posted here. I like the white kitchen design mostly. I doing renovation my house, so now I design my kitchen same as it is.

  • marcia barth

    Loved reading your blog! Live in Bucks County Pa. Modern style cannot be found.

    Wish you were here! Love your thoughts and ideas………..a man after my heart!

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  • Lisa

    This absolutely thrills me!  My husband and I are re-doing our kitchen and opening it to the great room and dining room, creating one large room.  We had chosen oak slab style full overlay cabinets with grain going horizontally (brown stain for lower and light paint for upper) and are deciding on the finger pulls now.  How nice to know my taste isn’t that far out to everyone…  :)

  • Tyko Seppälä

    Those are really a wonderful kitchen and i can’t wait to have a kitchen renovation in my home.Pretty amazing.

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  • Helenb999

    Bob….Your article was most informative….Exactly what we were looking for!!  Any chance you will be in the Boston Area 2012!!

  • Ken

     Bob, how would you install those finger pulls on the upper cabinets? Wouldn’t the curve on the pull be opposite of the ones on the drawers?

  • Anonymous

    Here every thing kitchen design is looking great and all looking great. These all kitchen deign is one of the best kitchen design. 

  • kitchens

    Good interesting article that touches on all aspects of designing kitchens, but the kitchen ventilation, which is important.

  • David

    Great article…. one question…. if you were right in the middle of ten years behind, or ten years ahead, does that mean you were right on with what they were saying??

  • David

    Great article…. one question…. if you were right in the middle of ten years behind, or ten years ahead, does that mean you were right on with what they were saying??

  • oiue bake

    Here these all kitchen designs are one of the best design also that Horizontally oriented grain is a best kitchen design. It looking so impressive and attractive. Debts

  • Info

    Thanks for the article, even though these trends are stunning they don’t appear to be too common in the American market place. I hope that some of the features you talk about make it into more and more homes in the U.S.  :)

  • Glb105

    Look around at magazines, the web etc. to realize that only architects prefer the style of kitchens featured here.  When people can choose (such as buying a house) the overwhelming preference is not for modern design.  Perhaps this is why so many architects are unemployed and have so little impact on the majority of residential design.  And, I say this as an architect!

    • Bob Borson

      I don’t like replying to comments where I think I will come off as a jerk but I don’t think your comment bears a lot of merit. Very, very few architects are doing kitchens like the ones I show here so to make the leap that this is the reason so many architects are out of work is a little silly. 

      You don’t have to like it, that’s okay with me. The work I do is mostly modern because that’s what people are hiring me for and I doubt very seriously that any of these kitchens went into speculation housing.

      I also wonder how much of what people buy is an indication of what is available rather than what the preference is. I don’t know what part of the country you live in but in Dallas, for every 1 modern style house, there are literally thousand’s of traditional houses for sale – and the modern ones don’t stay on the market very long. 

  • Anonymous

    awesome…. Seriously these all modern kitchens design looking fabulous. I am really very impressed by that all kitchen design. Every thing looking fantastic and amazing.  Really very thanks for sharing here such a great kitchen design.
    Complete kitches

  • Steve @ eRoomService

    Gorgeous stuff; the horizontal grain, in particular, is totally under-appreciated in modern design schools. I think if you were to mix it with stainless steel appliances and furnishings, you’d really have something bold on your hands. Am I the only one thinking along these lines?

  • Kitchens

    If i have enough money then i ensure that i surely renovated my kitchen as same as you have shown above. I thought that it is quite possible to renovate these kitchen as per our budget.

  • Anonymous

    They are able to quickly return to see what each kitchen design with more efficient, they do not have twenty. And me off of their own that I’m grateful for their input in the design tolerances leap.
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  • Double Glazing Warwick

    Those kitchen furniture looks simple but very stylish. Modern kitchens look at their best. Anyway, the beauty of the kitchen depends on how you enjoy cooking there.

  • Kitchen

    Great insights, these are useful considerations when choosing the ideal kitchen Ideen.Wenn better to follow like a contemporary style of the internal listed tips & work to have decorative kitchen.

  • Lawrence Cooks

    I love the kitchen designs! When we remodelers finish the remodeling for our house in Minneapolis, I hope that they’ve done things to make things look as awesome as one of the kitchens in those pictures. Thanks for sharing, by the way! Oh, and I kinda agree with what Ms. Sarah Lloyd pointed out in her comment about the island and the table. =D

  • Sarah Lloyd

    Great list – tho’ I think only the youngest children will comfortably share their homework space with food prep – wait until you are a parent of teens, and you’ll see! Ideally you need a surface for food prep, a surface for meal and snack consumption, and a surface for homework/projects, all within easy reach. Of course you could do it all at one island, but in an ideal world I’d opt for an island plus a table for families with kids. And I’d still like my food storage to be between the garage and the eating area, please – some things don’t ever change

    • Bob Borson

      You are right about the mix of uses on the same island. I love a really wide and long island and I would forego the kitchen table if I could.

      Thanks for chiming in Sarah, your opinion and expertise in this area counts a lot. I am lucky to have you swing by and leave a comment.


  • Sarah Lloyd

    Great list – tho’ I think only the youngest children will comfortably share their homework space with food prep – wait until you are a parent of teens, and you’ll see! Ideally you need a surface for food prep, a surface for meal and snack consumption, and a surface for homework/projects, all within easy reach. Of course you could do it all at one island, but in an ideal world I’d opt for an island plus a table for families with kids. And I’d still like my food storage to be between the garage and the eating area, please – some things don’t ever change.

  • plumbing

    Great insights,These are helpful considerations in choosing the perfect kitchen ideas.If you desire to have a modern style of interior then better follow the tips listed and work on to have decorative kitchen area.

  • David Simpson

    I agree with all of your points except counters. Granite is still very popular and I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon.

    • Anonymous


      I don’t think granite is going away either but we are using it less frequently and our clients are asking for other alternatives to granite. These things seem to run in cycles and right now, composite materials, stainless steel and marble seem to be at the top.

      Thanks for taking the time to share -

  • bruteforcecollaborative

    the mockett tab pull looks a lot better when it’s mortised into the face of cabinet.

    • Anonymous

      it does – absolutely. I’ll see about tracking down a photo and replacing it.


  • Kathy Adcock-Smith, RID, ASID

    Bob, you have covered every aspect of good kitchen design which I have incorporated in my own kitchen design work over the last decade.
    Also, in keeping with the “social” aspect of today’s kitchens and with the emphasis on horizontal line and an open flow, we rarely see the raised bar counter. All the photos you posted show counter height bar stools and that is also a really big “trend”.

    Your photos exhibited many galley style kitchens with an island which is highly functional and desirable layout. This layout allows for more work zones and the space flows so much nicer compared to the enclosed U shaped kitchens so popular 20-30 years ago. Much of my work involves remodeling kitchens and baths. I have removed many of those U shape jobs with their difficult corners and less functional spaces.

    In addition to all of the trends you mentioned, designers are very focused on universal design which allow the owner to age gracefully in place – that is part of all the focus on the pull outs and emphasis of drawers below counter over standard cabinet doors. movement.

    And I have to add, you can’t say “all” designers shy away from stainless counter tops as that is incorrect, a number of us do actually use this material….

  • Kathy Adcock-Smith, RID, ASID

    One more “trend” – the latest evolution of LED strip lighting has good color rendition, provides energy savings and has minimal space requirements.

  • Scott Cunningham

    Interesting to see more integral stainless sinks and countertops. I had a 1912 house to remodel and the owner wanted to tear out original stainless sink, counter and backsplash. The walls were white subway tile up to 4′-6″ height.

    • Anonymous

      sometimes the clients just want new, yeah?

  • Alexandra Williams

    Wow, I am a trend-setter as I have a 48 inch Viking in my open plan kitchen. Paul Anater was supposed to get me those lovely Wolf red knobs, but noooooo. The house in Oregon has a Dacor, but the computer brain seizes up a lot. Grrrrr. I will never like walnut; maple for me all the way. Bamboo or pine. Did I mention that Santa Barbara has a misguided love affair with oak? Blech. I love Amish/Shaker stuff so that plain thing is for me. Now I just need lots of money to make myself a true trend-setter! And those knobs, Paul!

  • Becky Shankle

    Good post, Bob. In the modern kitchens I do, I’m seeing all of the items on the list – except possibly the island pendant lighting. That’s especially true for lower ceiling spaces.

    I’m a huge advocate of the social kitchen, stainless steel (appliances & finishes alike), &built in appliances. I incorporated all of those in my own kitchen & have never regretted it in the least.

    One thing that is missing from the list is green finish materials. (Except quartz countertops). Unless I overlooked it?

    Now, if we could just convert more of those raised panel addicts to slab doors….

    • Bob Borson

      Just missing the cut was cork floors, bamboo cabinets and paper counter tops. I haven’t work with these items (other than the cork) and I wanted to be able to defend my selections.

  • Susan Serra, CKD, CAPS

    Good points covered and a good collection of sources! It’s my thinking that once the walls are even further widened and removed, as is happening now, it will be hard to put Pandora back into the box (meaning, put the walls back up.) Interesting, as we watch the kitchen demand its rightful place and status in the home after countless decades of serving only one purpose. Free at last?? ;)

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for commenting Susan, what a treat. I actually read a lot of your articles when I was researching this post (didn’t want to embarrass myself so I wanted to check my list against the master).

      After I had finished my own list, I went back to change the title to include the word “Modern” because there is a big difference trending between modern/ contemporary and transitional + traditional. I do think you are right that the kitchen, the heart of the home (and typically the most expensive room in the home) is getting the attention it deserves. It used to be that the “open” kitchen might face into the secondary living space or play room. Now it is opening onto the formal living space and the finish out is following suit.

  • Amy Good

    Ok…can you answer a really stupid question? I was always under the impression that stainless steel was one of the hardest kitchen surfaces to keep clean and streak free. Have things changed?

    I do love the stove in #4…reminds me of my old farmhouse stove that I currently have. And…I love the idea of under the counter refrigerators.

    • Anonymous

      I suppose there is some effort to keeping stainless steel clean, but I am really okay with using a material that shows you when it’s dirty over one that hides the fact that it’s dirty. Stainless steel is very sanitary and can be cleaned with soap and water – new s.s. counter tops can be a little fussing because they show streaks but after they have been used for a while, the streaking issues will disappear.

      We use under-counter refrigerators quite often, particularly in rooms other than the kitchen.

  • Paul Anater

    Thanks for the shout out Bob, I’m glad to have been one of your expert witnesses. Great photography you have running alongside this post. The fifth photo you’re running, the Wolf oven surrounded by walnut cabinetry is so spot on it makes the hair on my arms stand up. The chunky counter, the short overhang, the finger routed anti-hardware –it’s about perfect.

    • Anonymous

      it is about perfect. I do wish that there was some sort of relief between the oven and the cabinet to the side. I would have flipped the drawer bank with the oven. As a matter of fact, pretty sure they went without door hardware because the protrusion would have created problems opening the oven door.

      • Keith Palma

        A range/oven jammed in the corner like that is just, well poor design. Nice post, I especially like ” If we does use granite”….just giving you a hard time.