Modern Kitchen Design: A New Authenticity

Guest Post from Susan Serra of The Kitchen Designer

The modern kitchen is not so easy to define these days. I can think of a variety of kitchen themes which could have the word or concept "modern" attached to it: the new traditional, modern/rustic, eco-modern, vintage modern, minimalism, even mainstream modern.

Modern cannot be pigeon-holed into one particular aesthetic. Not like it used to be. Not now.

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It used to be, back in the day, oh, even 10 years ago, probably even 5 years ago, that kitchens were either, well, traditional, transitional, or modern. And modern meant sleek and usually cold to most people (except to those who liked that look). The modern kitchen design aesthetic was dominated by the Italian and German cabinet companies! Whatever the catalogs showed, the consumer would fall in line and follow...for the most part.

Today, it's "make your own modern" which I think is an incredibly creative and freeing time to be working as a designer and, I'll bet, to be thinking about planning your kitchen as a homeowner. Finally, my clients have courage! It's the best time ever for me, and for them. Why? Because of internet "homes" such as my own blog, The Kitchn, Apartment Therapy, and others who showed that anything goes. It's all about you.

What is modern to you? Whatever it is, that's the definition! That's one very significant way how and why modern kitchen design has become redefined.

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Express yourself and define your own modern philosophy. Color is one of the most perfect ways to do that.

In my experience, people have emotional reactions to color; they feel it, they move toward or away from it. They want it all enveloping or as an easy-to-live with supplement to the design. Most of all, today, it's a tool, an amusing element with which to experiment, whether it's an experiment in nuanced subtleties or the mixture of hues and shades, tints and tones. I would always advise consulting with a knowledgeable professional on the use of color in terms of balance and proportion. In addition, study up on the color wheel and color theory so you have a few tools to start your color journey with.

From my observations, I'm seeing color in two ways.

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• First, I'm seeing it used in a bold way, not overall, but in well planned blocks of significant volume to obviously make a statement.

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• Secondly, I'm seeing color used as well planned accents. I'm also seeing restraint, meaning, the use of color in a way that makes sense to the space so that the colors chosen, even in small areas, make a simple statement, often to support the bigger design elements.

As always, choose your colors carefully and choose the color concept carefully. Appliances with color are a huge story in today's kitchen design. As I stated previously, a colored appliance can be great as a singular or mixed color statement, but consider the volume/size of, say, the refrigerator, if you are so inclined to live with several colored appliances. It's biiiiiig!

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What I'm also seeing today is color mixed with a sort of eco theme. In fact, I think it's the freshest way that we are seeing color. Natural woods and strong colors are a wonderful juxtaposition. It's similar to mixing cool and warm shades...it's a contrast in an entire style philosophy (eco vs. modern) and certainly texture (smooth color vs. wood grain.) That is what is new. It's a "new authenticity" in modern kitchen design.

I would love to know how you define modern.

Thank you for sharing, Susan! We are looking forward to the rest of your posts on color in The Kitchn this week.

More posts on color from Susan Serra:
White Kitchens: The Absence of Color
Color in the Kitchen...On the Cheap
A Pinch of Sugar Color

Visit Susan Serra's weblog:
The Kitchen Designer

(Images: Rum; Bo Bedre; Bonytt; Elle Interior; Art & Decoration; Caesarstone)