Contemporary Kitchens vs. Modern Kitchens

You’ll often hear the terms “contemporary” and “modern” tossed about interchangeably, but they’re not exactly the same thing. Gone are the days of closing the kitchen door while shooing the guests into the living room. Like its occupants, the kitchen is about multitasking, inviting family and friends to eat, work and relax. Its style just sets the tone.

Contemporary Kitchen Remodel by Classic Home Improvements
Contemporary Kitchen Remodel by Classic Home Improvements

Contemporary kitchens are the epitome of the sleek, minimalist layout. Characterized by dark wood or black cabinetry, fresh white countertops and smooth stainless steel appliances, the contemporary kitchen is functional and sometimes artistic in nature.

Modern refers to a specific design movement that arose in the early 20th century and follows stricter guidelines; contemporary, by definition, is more fluid and tolerates a bit of rule-breaking.

Contemporary is a dynamic, changing term. Contemporary styles allow for more freedom and trends. Contemporary kitchens can be modern as well, but they can also have elements of other styles. When I think of what makes a kitchen contemporary, it most often includes cutting-edge design and technology and use of new trends and materials.

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 “current trends, in the now.”

Contemporary kitchens are clean, effortless and minimalist. The contemporary style celebrates bold, bright and unexpected uses of color and materials. The contemporary kitchen is uncluttered and unadorned. It appeals to people who like “clean and sleek”.

Appliances are disguised as cabinets so the kitchen does not look “kitchen-y.” Cabinets are flat-front wooden, steel or lacquered. Countertops are square-edged, often metal or under lighted glass. Light fixtures are works of art. Accessories are minimal.

Modern Kitchen Remodel by Classic Home Improvements
Modern Kitchen Remodel by Classic Home Improvements

In a pure modern kitchen you might see a full-height marble or concrete backsplash with little ornamentation, but in contemporary kitchens there’s often a lot of pattern. Glass tiles are a favorite, as are mosaic, stone and ceramic. Contemporary kitchens often exude personality and let homeowners really express themselves through the use of different materials, and the backsplash is a great place to do that.

Contemporary kitchen window treatments offer a solution of balancing a kitchen’s hard edges with a soft approach. Window treatments made from a variety of materials in a range of colors and styles create versatility among contemporary window treatment ideas. Considering there are endless possibilities for contemporary window treatments, the shape and style of window along with a budget will help you determine the scope of the project.

A contemporary kitchen’s island will often mimic the design of the countertops and cabinets. Consider, however, lining one side of the island with pub-style seating, using stools made from chrome or other metal.

Clean, simple and uncluttered, the contemporary kitchen remains livable with touches of the modern kitchen. The contemporary kitchen borrows high functionality and streamlined surfaces from the modern kitchen design movement, but its style often incorporates traditional ideas as well for a sleek but livable feel. For the most personalized effect in your contemporary kitchen, choose resources that express your lifestyle: materials, texture, colors and design.

You can achieve a contemporary look in your kitchen with either small additions or major changes. Modern kitchens generally involve a major remodel. Both “contemporary” and “modern” are great kitchen designs that are current, comfortable and functional. The choice between the two is ultimately yours. Go with whatever suits your needs and personal style best. Or perhaps the first one that makes your heart leap when you see it.

If you need more information about contemporary kitchen and modern kitchen design, or maybe you want some guidance going over options and details for your kitchen remodel, then give us a call. We’re happy to help! Call (888) 763-3376.