Out of all kitchen styles, contemporary style kitchens are among the most popular, and it’s not random either, there’s good reasoning behind it.
The beauty in the contemporary kitchen style is found in their sleek, clean lines, their geometric forms, and their functionality.
In this short article, we’ll be looking at the meaning of contemporary and the difference between modern and contemporary. We’ll also be going into what a contemporary kitchen is, its design aspects and the elements of it.
So, keep reading for a complete topic breakdown before your next kitchen renovation.
What Does Contemporary mean?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary:
The word contemporary by itself means “belonging to or occurring in the present” or “living or occurring at the same time.” Modern is defined as “Relating to the present or recent times as opposed to the remote past.”
As you can see the standard definitions of both terms are similar and can cause confusion. This is why contemporary and modern style kitchens are often used interchangeably, yet there are noticeable differences. Let’s get right into it.
What’s the Difference Between a Modern Kitchen and a Contemporary Kitchen?
Both definitions of the adjectives seem to mean the same thing, except that the word contemporary implies that it’s going with the flow and staying up to date with the newest trends and designs.
It changes from one generation to the next. It’s current and is the “design of the day,” so it borrows elements from all styles.
However, modern design refers to “mid-century modern” which is from the 1920s – 1950s era. It’s clean, airy, and timeless. It was also based on mass production and the new materials that, at the time, were made widely available.
There’s no definitive “contemporary design.” What is considered to be contemporary now will quickly change and be a thing of the past, with the new thing taking its place. However, modern design is and always will be a distinct style.
Here’s an easy way to remember: modern is static, and contemporary is dynamic.
What is a Contemporary Style Kitchen?
A contemporary kitchen is a user-friendly and functional design that uses space efficiently and is ever-evolving. They’re usually minimalistic in design and often feature linear themes.
Contemporary kitchens often use manufactured materials like steel, plastic, linoleum, chrome, moulded plywood, laminate, acrylic, concrete, and glass and combine them with natural materials such as wood and stone which often add some warmth to the kitchen and make the space more inviting.
Next, let’s look at the design aspects of a contemporary kitchen.
One of the characteristics that define contemporary kitchen cabinets is that they use frameless, flat panel cabinets and simple hardware. Sometimes, you’ll find shaker cabinets used in a contemporary kitchen or on a kitchen island, but these are somewhat rare.
Door styles are a basic slab or horizontal lift, and if there’s glass, they’ll mostly be frosted panels.
Geometric angles and lines and flat surfaces are big features in contemporary kitchens, as well as lots of clean white or bold colours.
When it comes to lighting, it’ll be abundant and light fixtures are mostly track lighting or pot lights.
Often, metal components like stainless steel or chrome are also a big part of the design. Stones like granite or marble are often used, as well as wood with delicate grains like maple, birch, or ash to add warmth to the kitchen.
Elements That Make Up a Contemporary Kitchen
Now that we’ve gone over what contemporary means and some broad characteristics of a contemporary kitchen, let’s go deeper into some of the elements that make them what they are.
1. Built-In Appliances
Most contemporary kitchens have stainless steel appliances which give off that little bit of an industrial feel. Often appliances are built-in for contemporary kitchens, some of which include ovens, fridges, and freezers.
Often, you’ll also find that small appliances like microwaves and coffee machines are also built in for added luxury in the design.
2. New Uses for Old Materials
Because contemporary design is in a constant state of evolution, it also gives rise to new uses for materials used in older designs.
Wood accents were mostly used in farmhouse, rustic and traditional style kitchens with their raised panel doors, now they’re used on the flat front cabinetry of a contemporary kitchen.
Concrete, which was only seen as a material that was used for walls and floors in the past is now being used for kitchen countertops.
Homeowners now have more options than ever before by taking advantage of these innovative design ideas.
3. Backsplashes and Countertops
Stone countertops are a popular choice for contemporary kitchen designs. Granite and marble are still favourites, but quartz and glass are catching up.
Sometimes a kitchen island will have different countertops than the rest of the kitchen to add more flair.
Granite countertops are still often considered a luxury product, as well as marble, and they’re just as popular as they used to be in the ‘70s.
When it comes to backsplashes, a white tile backsplash is often used, but you can use glass mosaic tiles, tumbled stone, slate, and different ceramic tiles to get creative and create a stunning look.
Speaking of stunning looks…
4. Contrasting Accent Colours
A contemporary kitchen brings out its full potential beauty by using strong contrasting accent colours and often natural materials on custom cabinetry.
Often, you’ll see natural wood mixed in with white countertops and dark wood cabinetry, or white high gloss cabinets with marble countertops and matte black cabinetry hardware among many other popular choices.
5. Contemporary Kitchen Space & Lighting
Lighting in a contemporary kitchen is all about having the latest and best technology.
Puck lights are often used as task lighting, as well as track lighting. Strip lighting under cabinets and right above the toe-kick is used for ambiance lighting to brighten up the kitchen, as well as the mood.
So all of that is great, but what benefits are there to having a contemporary kitchen design instead of a modern, traditional, or transitional one?
There are many reasons why contemporary kitchens are so popular, but a few stick out above the rest.
First, one thing’s for sure with contemporary kitchens, and that’s that no space is wasted. Even small kitchens in tight spaces have enough room for all kitchen needs without compromise.
They also give the illusion of a larger kitchen, giving you the feeling of a spacious kitchen instead of a cluttered or boxed-in space. White cabinets help with this even more.
And lastly, there’s a set place for everything in a contemporary kitchen, so there’s no more misplacing anything and looking for it…unless you’re holding your whisk in one hand and looking for it with the other.