Contemporary Design for Small Kitchens

Give your small kitchen contemporary flair with these interior design ideas.

Small Kitchen 1: Spicy Contemporary Design

Simmering with colors seemingly spilled from jars of paprika, saffron, and sage, this pint-size kitchen bubbles over with textural interest and contemporary convenience.

After closing off a back-hall entry into the kitchen to get more uninterrupted wall space, the homeowners seasoned the room with earthy tones and textures of luminous stainless steel, rippled glass, and slate. Because of the tight quarters, they kept the design simple, installing the same tiles on the floor as on the backsplash.

Small Kitchen 1: Textures and Finishes

The rust-and-gold veining in the slate is reflected in the budget-friendly maple cabinetry and laminate countertops. Using one color of laminate for the top and another for the trim created the subtle texture of a more expensive surface. Double-reeded glass adds polish to the upper cabinet doors.

Small Kitchen 2: Open Kitchen

A simplified approach yields an open-face kitchen with storage space galore and a step-saving floor plan.

As part of a generous, sun-drenched great-room, this kitchen has only two walls. Its range-and-refrigerator wall showcases open-shelf cabinets fashioned from plywood and maple veneer to match the stock maple cabinets in the rest of the kitchen. Cabinets under the island provide more storage space, suitable for larger items.

Small Kitchen 2: Storage Cubbies

The baskets store small kitchen accessories, such as measuring cups. The other cubbies are filled with china that serves as artwork in colorful contrast to the backsplash of white subway tile. The design offers flexibility so the homeowners can change the displays when they want a new look.

Small Kitchen 3: Streamlined Kitchen

A shortage of square footage didn't keep this homeowner from carrying out his vision for a sleek, contemporary kitchen.

At the top of the homeowner's to-do list was streamlining the major elements. He replaced dark cabinets with sleeker, lighter units. He originally wanted slate flooring but didn't want to introduce an additional material into the small space. Instead, he extended the oak flooring found in the rest of the condo into the kitchen.

Small Kitchen 3: Sleek Cabinets and Appliances

The homeowner opted to bring down his old cabinets and start over with minimalist cabinetry and understated hardware. The layout of the compact kitchen didn't change, but the U-shape configuration was smoothed with shallow appliances and countertops cut flush to the cabinetry.

Small Kitchen 3: Contemporary Dining Area

In the small condo, the dining area is part of the kitchen. The sleek, elegant design of the dining furniture complements the understated, contemporary kitchen. Its dark finish, however, sets it apart from the light-color cabinetry, making the dining area feel separate from kitchen work spaces.

Small Kitchen 4: Spacious Galley Kitchen

Fool the eye with space-stretching strategies that broaden a small kitchen without altering its dimensions.

A New York City apartment demonstrates that spaciousness is a matter of perception. What once felt like a long, narrow tunnel now seems so roomy the couple's neighbors swear the walls have been moved back. Rather than camouflage appliances behind cabinet-matching panels, the homeowners chose stainless-steel models that reflect light.

Small Kitchen 4: Banquette Dining

Despite the space constraints, they were able to create an eating area without impinging on the small kitchen's performance. A built-in storage bench combined with an egg-shape table and two chairs caters to a family of three.

Small Kitchen 4: Clever Cabinetry Details

Positioning the upper cabinets 3 inches higher than standard cabinets kept them from crowding the room. An opaque-glass backsplash has a translucent quality, as do the rippled-glass upper cabinet doors.

Small Kitchen 5: Maple Galley Kitchen

A songwriter's kitchen sings a happier tune, thanks to a new arrangement and harmonious surfaces.

The galley-style kitchen in this songwriter's Nashville condominium kept hitting a sour note. To keep the look of the kitchen as light as possible, the homeowner decided on clean-lined maple cabinets and paired them with stainless-steel accents for reflection and style.

Small Kitchen 5: Maximizing Space

Relocating the laundry to the master bath gave the narrow, galley-style kitchen room to grow. Placing appliances such as the dishwasher as far into the studs as they could go added inches to the center of the room.

Small Kitchen 5: Stainless-Steel Backsplash

Selected upper doors feature glass panels, while the rest are solid. A large stainless-steel backsplash behind the range stretches up toward ambient lighting under the cabinets, which creates a sense of depth for the narrow room.

Small Kitchen 5: Creating Contemporary Feel

A tambour door hides a perky morning surprise -- a coffee center. The granite countertops are a striking feature, a hardy surface distinguished by rivers of rusty red. Stainless-steel accents also fit with the kitchen's contemporary feel.

Small Kitchen 6: Warm, Modern Palette

A homeowner's plans for the dark, rich kitchen she thought she wanted turn to something completely different.

Initially, the homeowner considered a darker color scheme for her small kitchen, but an attraction to a mossy-green, mica-flecked granite led her to embrace a warmly modern mix of bottle-green glass tiles, creamy-yellow cabinetry, and a charcoal-color island base. The new palette brightens her modest kitchen and gives it an open, airy look.

Small Kitchen 6: Stainless-Steel Accents

A stainless-steel farmhouse sink melds old and new looks, while the slender stainless-steel pulls accentuate the clean-lined cabinetry. The light color of the granite countertops brightens the room without seeming cool or sterile.

Small Kitchen 6: Built-In Storage

Most of the storage wall is deceptively shallow -- only 12 inches deep. Ribbed-glass inserts in the cabinet doors add texture, partially obscure cabinet contents, and add to the contemporary look. The island in the center of the kitchen helps bridge the storage and appliance walls.

Small Kitchen 6: Efficient Work Spaces

The original floor plan lacked efficiency. Appliances were scattered on opposite walls. Without changing the footprint, the homeowner put all the working elements on one wall and all the storage on the other. Smaller storage cabinets around the appliances make the small kitchen functional and stylish.

Small Kitchen 7: Stylish Peninsula

A designing couple collaborate to produce dinner-theater intimacy and Broadway panache.

A bar-height peninsula is complete with a dishwasher and a chopping space for two cooks. The peninsula is also the couple's kitchen table, with seating on three sides to fit the casual way they entertain.

Small Kitchen 7: Wall-Mounted Storage

A storage system behind the sink houses utensils and ingredients. The glass-tile backsplash is a mix of light hues and dark shades that add texture to the room.

Small Kitchen 7: Mixed Elements

The homeowners blend old with new by mixing elements such as traditional marble countertops on the perimeter and funky concrete on the peninsula. Translucent blue-green laminated glass in the cabinets slightly obscures their contents while adding color to complement the tile backsplash.

Small Kitchen 8: Open, Airy Kitchen

Keeping the front rooms traditionally cozy, a couple turn to more contemporary looks in their back-of-the-home kitchen and family areas.

Tired of a dark, utilitarian kitchen and lack of family space, the couple opened the kitchen to their family room. They added an island, which serves double duty as a workstation and kitchen table.

Small Kitchen 8: Sleek Design

The range and refrigerator traded places to create a long cooking wall that can be easily shared by two or more chefs. The homeowners wanted the kitchen's color scheme to link the room with the rest of the house while giving it a contemporary twist.

Small Kitchen 8: Great Room

The island lets the contemporary kitchen segue smoothly into the light, airy family room, where an Asian-style screen serves as an informal boundary between eating and sitting areas.

Small Kitchen 9: Glass Walls

Walls of glass open a modest-size kitchen without shrinking its storage capacity.

Long frustrated by a small, closed-in kitchen that separated them from guests when entertaining, the homeowners opted for glass-and-steel-grid walls with floor-to-ceiling French doors that expanded the kitchen's horizons.

Small Kitchen 9: Hidden Appliances

Except for the range, appliances are confined to the sink wall. Mahogany panels make the refrigerator and a pair of freezer doors indistinguishable from the cabinets around them. The glass-paneled cabinets extend to the ceiling for extra storage.

Small Kitchen 9: Space-Savvy Cooking Area

Using every inch of available space, the island in this small kitchen houses a slide-in range and provides substantial work surfaces, storage, and a breakfast bar. A hanging pot rack offers a stylish storage option for large cookware.

Small Kitchen 10: Contemporary Style

A strong dose of contemporary style helps cure what ails a busy doctor's small kitchen.

The homeowner revamped the galley-style layout to accommodate the amenities of a much larger kitchen, including a well-disguised built-in refrigerator with freezer doors and a cooktop with a high-style hood.

Small Kitchen 10: Storage-Savvy Space

There's plenty of compartmentalized storage in this galley-style kitchen. A 15-inch-deep tambour-door garage hides smaller appliances. The minimalist oven is left exposed, while smaller appliances such as the microwave and coffeemaker are conveniently tucked away.

Small Kitchen 10: Light-Filled Room

This small kitchen feels brighter and more spacious, thanks to a bumped-out entry and a new patio door. A skylight and recessed fixtures provide extra light. Honed-granite countertops and wood accents warm the cool, contemporary look of the modest-size kitchen.

Share the gallery

All Topics in Small Kitchens

Better Homes & Gardens may receive compensation when you click through and purchase from links contained on this website.