Modern Kitchens: Of Form and Function

Topics: Design, Interior Design, Residential Projects, Sustainability

modern kitchen design with long rectangular island and open format leading to living room with large windows

When we think of the modern kitchen, we picture the aesthetics: clean lines, bold angles, contemporary lighting, sleek finishes. While those elements contribute to the look of modern kitchen designs, there’s more to a modern-style kitchen than just its appearance. When we approach designing a modern kitchen, we focus not only on its form, but also on its function. Given how much and how often a kitchen is used, it must perform well and do so in a way that is tailored to the needs of the people who will spend time in it. A modern kitchen design that is the heart and hub of a home will differ greatly from that of a home with a small galley kitchen where takeout or quick meals are often on the menu. And these days, truly modern kitchens are also designed with an eye toward sustainability, which makes them both efficient and eco-friendly.

Modern kitchen in design-built house with simple geometric block shapes and open format entrance to modern living room

Modern Kitchen Layout

Some kitchens are blank slates, some are in a skeletal state and others already have basic elements in place.. No matter what state a kitchen is in, the layout is always central to a modern kitchen. Whereas kitchen design used to be predicated largely on pre-existing elements—plumbing here, electric there—we are now able to be more flexible (within reason). A truly modern kitchen layout is purpose-built, with zones determined according to use. When we think in terms of workstations and workflow, the surrounding features then fall into place. 

modern kitchen with three-sided fireplace, high contrast colors, and geometric block design

Don’t be afraid to get granular when thinking about your kitchen use: Consider not just how you cook, but also how you clean, put away groceries, what kind of items you store and any kitchen-related priorities you have. If you’re a baker, your modern kitchen ideas might include a baking station with a dedicated outlet for your mixer and a marble countertop to roll out your cookies and knead your dough. If your kitchen is the gathering place for your household, perhaps a large island with ample seating is what will serve you best. Maybe you’ve got a kitchen with a view and do a lot of your dining outdoors, in which case a design that blurs the line between indoor and outdoor is a good fit. It’s possible you’d like to lean into tech and want a kitchen that incorporates cutting-edge smart home design elements. There’s no one way to map out a modern kitchen—indeed the best modern kitchen design is the one that works for you.

Sustainability and Modern Kitchen Designs

There’s nothing more modern than a kitchen that incorporates sustainability into the design of your new or renovated home. Of all the rooms in a home, the kitchen uses the most significant amount of energy—while also generating an equivalent amount of waste. Just because that’s the nature of the kitchen does not mean it has to be that way. With a little intentionality and some expert help, your kitchen can be as eco-friendly as you are. 

A truly contemporary kitchen features appliances that are not only sleek and sport the latest features, but they are also Energy Star certified. This saves you money and helps to save the planet at the same time. Countertops and flooring often come with an unseen cost to the environment due to mining and quarrying, however, options made from sustainable or recycled materials exist and are becoming more accessible as the demand for them grows. 

stove and counter in modern kitchen design with square motif

One of the most effective ways to design a modern kitchen that is both eco-friendly and acts as a showpiece for your home is simply to invest in durable materials that have long lives. Floors that are made from solid hardwood will last generations, becoming more beautiful with time and use. Stone flooring made from rocks quarried nearby incorporates a hyperlocal element into your modern kitchen design and can even absorb heat from the sun, bringing natural warmth to your kitchen during the winter months. Wood cabinetry made from sustainably managed, reclaimed or salvaged hardwoods is another way to marry beauty with an environmentally friendly design ethos.

Lastly, lighting is a simple and straightforward way to practice sustainable modern kitchen design. Whereas LED lighting used to be limited in size and style, and the light it cast was too cool for a room defined by its warmth and communal nature, that is no longer the case.. These days, the variety of LED lighting is vast.  Therefore, from your most gorgeous fixtures to recessed lighting, task lighting and everything in between, your lighting scheme can be appealing, eco-friendly, and long-lasting. Proper lighting is a crucial part of any modern kitchen design, and for every area that needs light treatment, there’s a sustainable option for it.

From layout to function to sustainability, creating a modern-style kitchen is an exercise in intentional design. At Coates Design, our customized, client-focused process can help bring your modern kitchen ideas to life!