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  • Carmel Homes

How to Design the Perfect Modern Kitchen?

Updated: Oct 22, 2023

A great kitchen has become a cornerstone of good modern home design. More than just a space to prepare meals, kitchens are now areas for friends and family to congregate. They are also increasingly used to make a style statement, setting the tone for the rest of the property.
Modern Kitchen

This expanded role has made the already difficult task of designing a kitchen even more complicated. This is particularly true when you have a specific style, like a modern home design, in mind.

Thankfully, there are a few simple things you can do to make creating the perfect kitchen easier. Here we walk you through the process you should follow and the key factors you should pay special attention to. We also share some of the tricks custom home builders use to develop designs that are both beautiful and functional.

The basics of modern home design

Before we get started, it is worth taking a closer look at exactly what makes a kitchen design “modern”. While the term is often used interchangeably with “contemporary”, these are actually two distinctly different design styles. That said, these two styles currently share a lot of the same characteristics and often evoke a similar feeling.

Modern home design is an offshoot of the modernist art movement that rose to prominence in the early 1900s. Known for its stark simplicity, modern design is celebrated for its focus on functionality and commitment to minimalism. Influenced by Bauhaus and Scandinavian design, it represented a rejection of the ornamentation that was common in earlier, more traditional styles.

While modern architecture was at its peak during the first half of the last century, its legacy remains. And although the style has evolved somewhat, it still maintains many of the same defining features. This includes:


  • A monochromatic colour palette: Colour schemes are kept simple, and a home’s overarching palette usually features multiple shades of one colour. Whites, greys, and blacks are the most common choices, though pastels are popular with those seeking a softer feel. Contrasting shades are also often used to help define spaces, create texture, and add visual interest.

  • Clean lines: Modern designs tend to be quite architectural and generally feature straight lines that create a sense of crispness. This is further accentuated by a lack of ornamentation, including minimal use of plasterwork and moulding. Styling is also usually kept quite minimal, with furniture that is long and low and spaces that are clutter-free.

  • Open plan living spaces: As part of the focus on functionality, significant consideration is given to the flow between different areas. Generally, this results in larger living spaces and limited use of built barriers (i.e., walls) to define rooms. Instead, specific furnishings are often selected to help divide up the space – think sectional lounges and island benches.

  • Ample natural light: When modern design first became popular, new manufacturing techniques were making large-scale glass production cheaper and easier. Acknowledging this, much of the architecture of the time featured floor-to-ceiling windows and other large sections of glass. This choice is maintained in most newer modern designs, making the home feel lighter, brighter, and airer.

  • Natural materials: Steel and concrete were also becoming increasingly accessible at the time of the first modern designs. As such, these materials were widely used in these homes, often paired with other natural products like stone and wood. This continues to be a common choice in newer modern homes, adding softness and warmth to the design.

Modern Kitchen

Picking the perfect modern kitchen layout

As alluded to above, there is a real focus on functionality in modern home designs. This is particularly important in the kitchen, which is primarily a functional space. However, it is easy to lose sight of this and get caught up in the more aesthetic choices.

One way to avoid this is to make the layout the first thing you think about. This will allow you to set the structure of your new kitchen and make sure it supports your lifestyle. To do this, start by asking yourself questions like:

  • How often do you use your kitchen?

  • What kind of meals do you usually prepare?

  • How many cooks usually work in the space at the same time?

  • How often do you entertain?

  • How often do you do your grocery shopping?

  • Are there any specialised features or appliances you want to include?

You can also use your existing kitchen layout as a base and make changes to address any major pain points. This is especially effective for knockdown and rebuilds, as you can take a “whole of property” view of the design. That said, a knockdown and rebuild also gives you the freedom to reposition and completely re-conceptualise your kitchen space.

To help give your kitchen layout a distinctly modern feel, we recommend sticking to linear kitchen shapes. Galley and L-shaped kitchens, in particular, create clean lines and provide a sense of openness and space. Adding an island bench builds on this, increasing your preparation and storage area without closing off the kitchen space.

Finding the perfect location for your kitchen appliances

Once the overall size and shape of your new kitchen are set, you can think about some of the finer details. In particular, you can work out where you want to place the appliances and other key features. As this will have a major impact on the functionality of the space, it is worth giving this careful consideration.

Traditionally, kitchens were designed around the placement of three key appliances – the fridge, the cooktop, and the sink. It was said that the size of this “work triangle” reflected how easy the space was to use. This is because the further apart these appliances, the more a cook needs to move around when preparing a meal.

This approach is now seen as more of a rough guide than a hard and fast rule. That said, it can still help inform your thinking about appliance placement and is a good measure of functionality. It is also useful for assessing the flow of a kitchen and identifying potential issues moving through the space.

But ultimately, the perfect placement for your appliances is really a matter of personal preference. As such, when planning this, you should consider what the meal preparation process usually looks like for you. What appliances do you most regularly use, and in what order?

You will also need to decide on the size of your appliances. This should be matched to the size of your kitchen – and the rest of the home – and your lifestyle. You should also allow for additional bench space on either side of key appliances, like your cooktop and sink.

When planning a modern kitchen, you should also find ways to keep the lines clean and the design uncluttered. For example, opting for a hidden rangehood (e.g. one that is built into upper cabinetry) and handleless cabinetry. If you would like other suggestions for this, we recommend workshopping your plans with an experienced design and build specialist.

Modern classic kitchen

Choosing the perfect fixtures and finishes for your kitchen

With the functionality of your new kitchen fully thought through, you can now focus on the fun part – the styling choices. These decisions help bring your design to life and can have a significant impact on how working in the space feels. They are also the easiest way to incorporate modern design influences.

You will likely have many different options to pick from when deciding on your fixtures and finishes. As such, choosing the exact materials and fittings you want can be quite difficult. To make this decision a little easier, we recommend considering:


  • Your preferred colour and material palette: If you have a favourite colour, featuring it in your new kitchen design will help personalise the space. Similarly, if there is a material you love the look of, you can build your overall styling plan around it.

  • The style of your house: No matter how perfect it is, a distinctly modern kitchen will still look strange in a traditional French Provincial home. As such, it is important to have a consistent style throughout the property – e.g. a French Provincial kitchen in a French Provincial home.

  • The fixtures and fittings in other areas: Building on the previous point and having similar fixtures and finishes throughout the home can make the whole design feel more resolved. For example, you could use the same benchtop material and tapware finish in both your kitchen and bathroom.

  • Your budget: If you are working with a limited budget, you will need to be strategic with your finishing choices. For example, you may want to opt for more affordable tapware so you can splurge on your benchtops.

Modern French Provincial Kitchen

If you are after a more modern feel, whether its for a single home or a dual occupancy, we also recommend paying close attention to your cabinetry design. In particular, we suggest using handleless drawers to create long clean lines and optimise the functionality of your storage space.

Want to discuss this further?

If you would like more information on modern home design or need help creating your perfect kitchen contact Carmel Homes. As one of Melbourne’s leading custom home builders, we have significant experience working with a wide variety of design styles. And as design and build experts, we can help you take your new home plans from concept to completion.

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