Using Your Cabinets to Modernize Your Kitchen

Despite what many may claim, the kitchen continues to be the focal point of the home. It’s the area where your family congregates together the most, where guests’ attention is immediately drawn, and a majority of the major household functions originate. Thus, as you prepare to build a new home or renovate you current one, special attention should be paid to this most important of areas. If you’re like most looking to update a space, then your design preferences will no doubt be influenced by current popular trends. And with all to respect to your grandma’s farmhouse kitchen, modern design, complete with modern kitchen cabinets, countertops, appliance, and decorative features, is most definitely what is in.

If one wants to argue semantics, then he or she may claim that no matter what design elements you choose to incorporate into your kitchen, it will still be considered a “modern kitchen.” Yet the modern kitchen concept refers more to the style and layout of your kitchen areas than it does to the date of its construction. This idea has taken shape based upon the preferences and tendencies of traditional household cooks over the years.

Where Did the Idea for the Modern KitchenCome From?

The idea of the modern kitchen first began to take shape as early as the 1920’s. Cooks were beginning to develop patterns of use in the kitchen of transitioning back and forth from various tasks or stations during foods preparation. In-depth studies undertaken in the 1950’s developed the term “work triangle” in reference to the traditional transitioning from the refrigerator to the sink to the cooktop. The idea was that since this was the pattern most followed during meal prep, the kitchen should be designed to offer minimal interruption to workflow. Up to that point, kitchens were often given the same considerations as other areas of the home, with more attention being given to incorporating ornate design features rather than focusing on workflow. However, the new concept of the work triangle began to show its influence as designers and homebuilders began incorporating more minimalist concepts to accentuate the function of the kitchen over the form.

Even though kitchen cabinetry is not included in the work triangle concept, it still plays a vital role in the development of the modern kitchen design. This is perhaps seen in the move from traditional fitted cabinetry that incorporated crown molding or decorative carvings through both the upper and lower cabinets to unfitted cabinets that featured multiple design elements in a single space. This was all done to emphasize the cabinet’s role as storage spaces rather than décor. Yet even in utilizing different styles between your upper and lower cabinets, attention must still be paid to their style and design in order to pull off the look and feel of a sleek, modern kitchen.

Many Cabinet Types for Many Different Styles

It all begins with the style of cabinets you choose to use. Remember that modern design calls for flat surfaces and less ornamentation. Yet that doesn’t preclude you from being creative with the types of cabinetry that you use. Some of the more popular types to be incorporated into modern kitchens include:

  • Stainless steel: These days, stainless steel appliances are all the rage in kitchen design. From sinks to refrigerators to dishwashers to ovens, the sleeker and shinier it looks, the better. Some have even taken to continuing the stainless steel look throughout the rest of the kitchen by using stainless steel cabinetry. Not only does it give an updated, almost industrial feel to a kitchen, but using stainless steel cabinets can help lessen your impact on the environment, as it doesn’t require the use of wood. Plus, stainless steel cabinets are easier to clean and sanitize, and they’ll virtually last forever.
  • Distressed metal: If you’re looking for a real industrial look, you may want to go even further than stainless steel and use a distressed metal design. Not only can such cabinets provide the same durability and sanitary advantages of stainless steel, but they also incorporate a much more artistic element. If you’re truly wanting to convey a minimalist feel with your kitchen, than using distressed gun metal cabinets may be just what you’re searching for.
  • Glass: If you want to try and marry traditional and modern styles together, using glass in your cabinets allows for that. Incorporating frosted or semi-opaque panes of glass into cabinet and pantry doors is a relatively inexpensive design option, and it still gives a kitchen that modern look and feel that you’re going for.
  • Wood: Of course, there’s no going wrong with traditional wooden cabinetry. It’s cheaper than most of the aforementioned options, and can still be used to convey a modern design. Modern wooden cabinets will often incorporate a mixture of wood, lacquer, and glass. Others will have traditional wooden surfaces either painted white for a cleaner, more sanitary look, or incorporating bold colors or stains. Or, if you want to go really bold, consider two different wooden surface designs for your upper and lower cabinets, each featuring a different finish.

Looking Beyond the Type of Cabinet You Choose

Of course, the type of cabinetry used is not the only way that your choice of cabinets can affect your modern kitchen. How you use those cabinets is also something you can consider. More and more homeowners are choosing to use floating shelves rather than traditional enclosed cabinets. Others are using their cabinet surfaces to “hide” their appliances from view, making the entire kitchen seem larger. A select few designers have even gone so far as to suggest omitting an upper row of cabinets altogether.

Who wants to be back in time with their home’s interior? Even in houses brimming with old-time character and charm, a modern kitchen design is still a must. Given their importance to both the appearance and function of a kitchen, your cabinets should be one of the cornerstones of modern kitchen design layout. Placing extra attention on selecting the right cabinetry to go with your design scheme will go a long way in guaranteeing the overall success of your kitchen construction or remodeling project.