Style Guide for a Contemporary Kitchen

Clean, simple and uncluttered, this look also remains livable with touches of the traditional.

Clean and Sleek

The contemporary kitchen borrows high functionality and streamlined surfaces from the modernist design movement, but its style often incorporates traditional ideas as well for a sleek but livable feel.

"Clean and simple is the underlying philosophy for contemporary design," says designer Cameron Austin of Beth Haley Design in Nashville, Tenn. "My approach differs from client to client, but I really love using simple white cabinetry with clean lines and then adding texture and warmth with things like interesting tiles or a dark hardwood floor."

Unlike the term "modern," which refers to an actual historical design movement and has a strict interpretation of what elements can and can't be included, "contemporary" simply means "in the now." Popular contemporary retailers such as Pottery Barn, West Elm and Crate & Barrel carry items that usually sport clean lines but are inspired by a host of design styles: Danish modern, Arts and Crafts, traditional, '50s ranch and modern industrial, for example.

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