13 Top Kitchen Design Styles
From contemporary to cottage, today's most popular looks inspire beautiful kitchen designs.
Long gone are the days when kitchens were dreary workspaces, hidden behind closed doors.
Today's kitchens are central to everyday living and special-occasion entertaining, often doing double duty as family rooms, offices and media centers, as well.
"The kitchen is truly the focus of the home today," says New York-based interior designer Andrew Suvalsky. "A great kitchen design will give essential clues to how the rest of the home can and should develop."
To meet the growing demand for showstopping kitchens, manufacturers now offer cabinets, countertops and fixtures in all of today's most popular design styles, from Old World to modern, city chic to country cozy. And your options aren't limited to what you'll find in the kitchen showrooms, either. Andrew and many other designers also turn to antiques stores, high-end furniture makers and salvage resellers when sourcing kitchen projects.
Whether you're designing your kitchen to match the decor of other rooms, or planning your whole home's look around the kitchen, you can make it a beautiful reflection of your personal style.
1. Farmhouse Kitchens
Country Kitchen With Wood Countertops
Choosing butcher block countertops for the kitchen island helps break up all the white in this country kitchen. The two-toned pendants carry the warm wood tones up into the room.
Erika Bierman Photography
Open and inviting, country kitchens allow you to enjoy the feeling of a weekend getaway right in your own home — even if you're smack in the middle of suburbia. Farmhouse tables and furniture-like cabinetry are popular conventions, and an eclectic mix of finishes helps create a comfortable, lived-in look. Country colors range from primary red, yellow and blue to aged tones of cream and pale yellow; whatever hues you favor, mixing rather than matching is the country way to go.
Unpretentious and homey, farmhouse kitchens are filled with comforting warmth from their vintage-look apron-front sinks to their reclaimed wood, painted cabinets, open shelving, shiplap and design touches drawn from the past. Find ideas here for bringing farmhouse style to your kitchen.
2. Modern Kitchens
Marble Kitchen Island in Contemporary Kitchen
The key feature of this Santa Monica kitchen is a stunning marble monolithic island that acts as a modern sculptural piece. Marble continues in the countertops and backsplash over contemporary cabinets, while open shelves provide easy access to dishes.
Sleek, sexy and sophisticated, the modern kitchen is designed to keep clutter to a minimum. Reflective surfaces and high-tech materials are central to the most modern kitchen, and exotic woods add a touch of luxury without frills or fabric. Iconic midcentury seating, including Bertoia stools and chairs by Eames and Cherner, are often chosen for a classically modern look; seating made of Lucite and highly polished woods is often chosen for a more current interpretation of the style.
Sleek, clean lines and updated state-of-the-art appliances make modern kitchens a popular design choice. Get inspired with our favorite photos from some of the country's top designers.
3. Cottage Kitchens
Whether the space is large or tiny, cottage kitchens are designed to feel cozy and enveloping. With their homespun touches and imperfect finishes, cottage-style kitchens are always one of a kind and serve as the perfect backdrop for offbeat art and collectibles. If you're an avid flea marketer, this style will allow you to turn your weekend finds into everyday pleasures. To marry serious cooking with whimsical style, look for high-end appliances in white or retro colors.
4. Contemporary Kitchens
Open Plan Contemporary Mediterranean Kitchen With Exposed Beams
“The shape and location of the kitchen are challenging in that traffic needs to move through to access other spaces,” designer Tammy Randall Wood says. “The layout that worked best was to create two islands for best flow but to be perfectly honest, I have never liked the look of a kitchen with two islands. Sleight of hand served her well here. “Raising the bar on the second island allowed the kitchen to feel like it had only one island, and at the same time [it] created a subtle barrier between the family room and the kitchen. We entertain quite a bit, and guests love to sit at the bar and talk while we’re cooking and cleaning up — it’s ideal.”
Where function meets family friendliness, you'll find the contemporary kitchen. The look is a carefully curated mix of materials: new and old, casual and polished. And because cooking with company has replaced cooking for company as the entertaining ideal, today's kitchen has plenty of room for hosts and guests to work and interact. Add gourmet cooking equipment, comfortable, durable seating and lots of open space for a kitchen perfectly suited to 21st-century living.
See the latest and greatest in contemporary kitchen design, including kitchens that incorporate rustic, modern and traditional features while keeping everything definitively up to date.
5. Mediterranean Kitchens
The surfaces in a Mediterranean kitchen are elegantly timeworn, and the atmosphere is pure romance. Imagine a small hotel in the South of France, or a contessa's villa on the Amalfi Coast. The colors are sun-dappled. To replicate that Mediterranean ambiance anywhere, look for Provencal fabrics in rich tones of russet, cobalt and ochre, warm-toned wooden cabinetry, and handmade ceramic accessories. Rough-hewn textures, copper pots and rush seats add the final touches.
6. French Country Kitchens
French Country Kitchen With Honey-Stained Cabinets
This kitchen is beaming with classic French country details, from the honey-stained cabinets to the white and gold oven. A spice rack is built into the white overhead cabinets for convenient storage.
Janet Mesic Mackie
A classic French country kitchen is earthy but still very refined with details that might include a large farmhouse table, glass-front armoires for displaying collections of beautiful china, gorgeous vintage copper pans and rustic storage tins. Stately rangehoods, touches of gold, wooden beams and butcher blocks define the earthy-meets-elegant look.
French country-style kitchens can be rich and bright with colors like gold, deep red and olive, or neutral with granite countertops, furniture-like cabinetry and wood floors. Browse pictures of French country kitchens.
7. Coastal Kitchens
Robert Peterson, Rustic White
Whether you live at the beach or just wish you did, you can count on cool shades of blue, green, white and sand to create a vacation-time mood in a coastal kitchen. Seagrass and wicker seating are casual, comfortable and coastal. Fabrics and flooring designed to stand up to wet bathing suits make coastal-style kitchens easy to care for, and window treatments that allow for maximum sunlight will have everyone in let’s-get-to-the-beach mode bright and early.
Bringing coastal design into your kitchen and dining space will add a relaxed, laid-back feel to your home. Get inspired by these coastal-inspired rooms to integrate the design into your home.
8. Old World Kitchens
If you yearn for a time when materials were solid and craftsmanship was king, Old World design will embrace you in history and luxury. Look for dark mahogany finishes with lots of carving and detail, countertops with ogee or bullnosed edges, and stone or wooden floors. Add historical accessories and heavy fabrics, and enjoy time travel comfortably in your own home. The Old World kitchen is often the design of choice for homeowners who appreciate intricate moldings, hand-carved details, dark wood floors and rustic charm. The hallmark of a European-influenced style is a touch of elegance balanced by a fresh mix of various design elements.
Make a grand statement by designing an Old World kitchen that pairs worn, distressed cream-white cabinetry with dark wood floors and slate-gray granite countertops. Design an island made from worn light-blue wood to stand as the centerpiece of the kitchen. Accent it with a fancy chandelier that has electric lighting made to look like candles.
Another design concept is the pairing of medium-toned wood cabinets with creamy granite countertops and a kitchen island made from a wood that matches the cabinets. Try matching this design with a neutral-toned checkerboard marble flooring.
While various elements of an Old World kitchen are heavy and dark, modern pops of yellows and greens will blend with the overall design while keeping the room bright and appealing. The ultimate key to achieving this kitchen design is in the details—each Old World kitchen design is distinct because of the attention paid to every nook and cranny in the space.
9. Traditional Kitchens
A traditional kitchen is the perfect backdrop for a life that centers on family, friends and holidays — but its clean, comfortable look is welcoming 365 days a year.
Turkey on Thanksgiving, ham on Christmas Eve and chocolate chip cookies after school. Paneled or glass doors on cupboards contribute timeless style, and latched or icebox hardware is often added for period detail. White tiles add a clean look and help reflect light, and artisanal or vintage-look light fixtures add special touches.
10. Boho Kitchens
Boho kitchens are infused with personality and idiosyncratic style, often feature vintage elements and collections, plants, and patterns in wallpaper and tile. There may be open shelving, natural materials like wood and tile, global touches and eclectic design that is dictated more by personal taste than trends. See some of our favorite bohemian kitchens, and read our tips and pointers for creating a boho look in your space.
11. Midcentury Modern Kitchens
Wood Floating Shelves in a Midcentury Modern Kitchen
This recently renovated kitchen houses its original wood cabinetry on the bottom but swaps the upper cabinets for floating shelves above the sink. The midcentury modern kitchen features a warm wood stain on the cabinets and shelves contrasted by a bright white hue on the walls.
With their wood details, clean lines and geometric features, midcentury modern kitchens combine the best of the past and the sleek, minimalist present.
Kitchen designs circa 1960 were all about light-colored walls, pastel design accents, flat paneled cabinets, and appliances with rounded corners and shiny metal handles. Of course, slipping entirely back into these midcentury designs is not necessarily the way to style your kitchen, but it might be fun to incorporate a few elements from a bygone era into your modern kitchen.
One of the best places to start with a midcentury kitchen design is the wall color. Think pale yellow and green when choosing your color; or a neutral palette. Pale colors will pair well with white or light wood cabinetry as well as a backsplash made from light-blue or white tiles.
If you decide instead to incorporate color on the cabinets, then you may want to opt for white or cream-colored walls. Popular painted cabinet colors in the midcentury would have been pale blue, green and yellow but more modern midcentury cabinets are often made of wood and feature minimalist lines. These cabinets are best accented by a muted backsplash and wood floors in order to keep the design unique rather than overdone.
Of course, your space might also be better suited for a more understated take on this kitchen design, incorporating sleek white and dark wood surfaces paired with kitchen seating and light fixtures that have a midcentury vibe. Choose retro-inspired lighting to complement a kitchen island or pub-style stools that have the rounded, smooth design common to 1950s and 1960s furniture.
Are you a fan of the midcentury style? With its wood details, clean lines and geometric features, we are loving the look of these midcentury modern kitchens.
12. Scandinavian Kitchens
Contemporary Kitchen With Wooden Accents
Exposed wooden beams overhead create depth in this contemporary, neutral kitchen. Other wooden elements in the room feature black accents, like the cabinet hardware, black chairs, kitchen island and pendant lights. Shiny tiles create a beautiful backsplash that adds a luxe splash without overwhelming the calming design.
Sleek Scandinavian style emphasizes clean, neutral design with a focus on natural wood tones. Exposed beams and other wooden elements often embellished with black hardware and fixtures are often used to further that minimalist-but-warm Scandi style.
13. Industrial Kitchens
Jeff Swensen/Getty Images
Indebuted to the trend for urban lofts converted into living spaces, industrial kitchens often feature exposed ductwork and large, factory-style windows. Concrete or metal countertops, brick backsplashes, outdoor-style light fixtures and other utilitarian elements are key components of the industrial-style kitchen.