Define Modern and Contemporary Kitchen Styles

If you’re considering a kitchen renovation, you’ve probably thought about the style you want. If you’ve heard the terms ‘modern’ and ‘contemporary’, it’s reasonable to be a little confused. The terms are often used interchangeably to describe a new, modern style of interior design. However, you might be surprised to know that’s not quite accurate. So, what is the difference between modern and contemporary kitchen styles? Let’s find out.


It’s all in a name

If we pull out a dictionary, we’ll find the following definitions:

  • Contemporary: Belonging to or occurring in the present.
  • Modern: Relating to the present or recent times as opposed to the remote past.

Language enthusiasts would suggest there’s not much difference, but when it comes to design style, there certainly is.

In the world of kitchen design, the term ‘modern’ relates to a period in the early to mid 20th century. The style incorporated clean lines, and with steel and glass in abundance, there was plenty of that used in Modern style. Essentially, it was a big turning point for home design, with more risks being taken.

The term ‘contemporary’, however, refers to a style that’s very in vogue right now. As such, Contemporary design changes quite frequently as new technology and features become available. Interestingly enough, at the time of writing, clean lines are very much a part of Contemporary kitchen design too, just like the Modern style. However, finishes, surfaces, cabinetry, handles and certainly appliances are a lot different today than they were during the Modern design era.

Let’s look at some of the characteristics of each.


Contemporary kitchen designs

Because kitchen trends seem to change all the time, it’s difficult to pin down exactly what ‘contemporary’ means at any given time. However, some of the features of Contemporary kitchens include:


Clean lines

Contemporary kitchens tend to borrow a lot from styles of the past. That’s why we still see clean lines being used in contemporary kitchens. This is probably the biggest similarity between modern and contemporary kitchen designs.

This is partly because contemporary kitchens also borrow a lot from Minimalist design. Simplistic, clean, straight benchtops and cabinetry are a big feature of contemporary kitchens.


Natural colours

Because every home is different, there’s no specific colour choice in contemporary homes. However, current trends are leaning towards more earthy colours. Clean whites have been popular for a while, but contemporary kitchens typically feature blues, greens and sandy colours rather than plain white.

It’s worth mentioning though, that contemporary kitchens don’t feature a huge variety of colours. Two-tone kitchens are popular, or even using one neutral colour with blues or greens (for example) as your feature colour.


Material choices

Again, we’re seeing an overall push towards more natural materials, which suits the more natural colour schemes of contemporary kitchens. Timber is back in a big way, so you can expect to see this incorporated. Even when it comes to taps and handles, muted finishes such as copper, pewter and brushed brass are definitely in style.


Modern kitchen designs

Kitchens inspired by the Modern design period typically include the following features.


Straight lines

Much like contemporary kitchens, you can expect to see lots of straight lines. It’s quite a minimalist approach, so keeping everything neat and orderly is a big part of Modern design. Interestingly, a lot of focus goes on creating straight horizontal lines. This is often achieved with grains in cabinet doors, long handles that stretch the length of a drawer, or even longer tiles on walls rather than square ones.


Open layout

Before Modern kitchen designs came along, kitchens were often cramped. However, in Modern style, the emphasis is on creating more open space. This could include opening up the kitchen and dining into one room or using a kitchen island to create more flow.


Clever storage

In Modern kitchen design, because the focus is on keeping everything clean, organised and minimalist, some smarter storage solutions are required. Modern design is still quite free and expressive, despite the inherent ‘straightness’ of everything, but you can still expect to see some more unique storage options, such as a thin pantry, large drawers under benches and more.

If you’re renovating a kitchen and would like to talk about Modern or Contemporary design styles, we’d love to hear from you. Our expert team at Veejays Renovations can work with you to achieve any design style that suits your needs and preference. Contact us today and find out how we can help transform your kitchen.