Must-Have Elements for a Modern Kitchen

It takes more than just a few sleek appliances to make a modern kitchen. As with most things, the secret to the style lies in the details. Having the requisite elements can move your kitchen from slightly modern to a really stunning multi-functional and modern space. Here are some of the must-have elements that will elevate the look of your modern kitchen.

Retractable counter hoods

While the main appeal of a modern kitchen is its minimalist look, it still has to be functional. To keep the slick look means stowing things away when they are not in use, including your kitchen cooktop ventilation. Companies like Airforce have a variety of kitchen hoods that retract into the counter and out of sight. Some come with built-in task lighting.

Airforce in counter hoodView in gallery

Airforce glass retractableView in gallery
Some models include a clear shield that adds another stylish element.

For those who prefer a gas cooktop or in a kitchen where a retractable hood is not an option, a wide variety of low-profile vertical range hoods are available. Colored minimalist hoods, stainless steel angled models and even round wall-mounted hoods are all modern and cutting edge designs. Zephyr offers a wide selection of these low-profile hoods s well as traditional style hoods that have a thinner, more modern profile.

Low profile range hoods

Zephyr's red Horizon Arc hood and the stainless steel version of the Wave hood.View in gallery
Zephyr’s red Horizon Arc hood and the stainless steel version of the Wave hood.

Sinks with sliding panels

Generally, no matter what you do, the kitchen sink is still a hole in the countertop and the faucet protrudes from the surface. And, while no kitchen can go without one, there are ways to make the sink less obtrusive as well as even more functional. Here, Binova presents a sink with moveable drain panels that allow you to place them wherever they might be most useful, whether it is to the side of the sink or directly over it.

Binova sink sliding panelsView in gallery

Sometimes the kitchen faucet rising above the work surface can be a distracting element, so Valcucine created this retractable faucet that virtually disappears when you’re not using it.  It retracts into the sink and swings to the side, stowing neatly at the edge and eliminating the faucet’s usual vertical line.

Valcucine retractable sink designView in gallery

Valcucine retractable sinkView in gallery

Valcucine retractable sink modernView in gallery

Smart countertop sink

Or perhaps it’s the sink itself that doesn’t appeal to you. Installing a smart countertop sink can add work and serving space to your counter.  Kick up the smooth look of your countertop with this technology that raises the bottom of the sink level with the counter when you don’t need to wash dishes.  This interpretation still allows you to have access to running water even when the sink is “closed.”

Offmat black kitchen island sinkView in gallery

Amazing Smart Touch Kitchen SinkView in gallery

Organized, accessible drawers

Organization is paramount in the kitchen and this is especially true for modern styles. Today’s kitchen drawers are more than just a wide open box where you dump your utensils and tools. They are eminently organized with a place for everything and everything in it place, including designated slots for knives, which can include chef’s knives, eliminating the need for a countertop knife block.

pocelanosa organized drawer insideView in gallery
Porcelanosa’s kitchen drawer has ample space for your cutlery and work knives.

Even large drawers are made more functional with a light strip that automatically illuminates when the drawer is opened. This great addition will end the days of rifling through a dark drawer in search for a particular item.

bauformat open drawer lighted
Bauformat’s sleek kitchens include illuminated drawers.

Countertop storage

If you prefer to have your tools a little handier and not secreted away in a drawer, there are still options that work for a modern kitchen. This minimalist version not only has a countertop that slides over the sink, but it has a tidy, dedicated  space for often-used spices and chef’s knives.  The design keeps clutter to a minimum and still offers a great deal of workspace, especially when you close the lid over the storage. This leaves a wide expanse of countertop for working or serving guests.

Spice storage into countertopView in gallery

Sliding countertop with extra storage for spicesView in gallery

Stainless Steel

Even with all the new materials available, nothing says modern like stainless steel. Whether you choose to use the material as an accent or as the surface for the bulk your kitchen, it’s a popular — albeit higher maintenance — option. This kitchen features top to bottom stainless steel for the countertops, sink and cooktop, which gives the kitchen a commercial look.

Stainless steel countertopsView in gallery

This kitchen features stainless steel countertops and appliances but the look is tempered by the wall of gray cabinetry. While the absence of hardware on the cabinets and sleek, vertical range hood make it very modern, it feels a bit less commercial.

Kitchen with stainless steel countertopView in gallery

Specialized countertop storage

Keeping cooking kitchen corralled and organized can be a challenge and a standard knife block can add undated clutter. Here, designated knife storage along the back wall of the counter is a genius solution of soaring knives in a modern way within easy reach. Having then along the all makes good use of space that’s often less useful.

Countertop knife storage ideasView in gallery

Adding a storage rod along the backsplash behind the cooktop is also a great way to store often-used tools. It keeps them off of the counter and still within reach.  They can also easily be cleared away if it’s time for entertaining and you want a cleaner look.

Amazing idea to store knifes into the countertopView in gallery

Innovative cooktops

Of course you can design a modern kitchen around standard appliances, but including the latest in cooking technology gives a kitchen the wow factor to make it spectacular. Not only do the latest kitchen technology innovations look more modern, they add a great deal of functionality to your cooking. Below is the sauce burner from Ilve. While you can certainly bring large pots to a boil, its concentric burner rings also allow cooks to simmer the most delicate sauce without burning.

ilve sauce burnerView in gallery

Even if you prefer a gas cook top, you can kick the design up a notch with a newer style like this one from Smeg. It features the latest in gas burner technology and has fin elements like the LED lighting and whimsical, customizable novelty pot risers.  These birds look a little like the nursery rhyme blackbirds that were baked into a pie, don’t they?

SMEG bird cooktop from iSaloniView in gallery

Indoor grill tops have become commonplace in many kitchens, but modern kitchens now have even more specialized cooking elements. Now you can make the same hibachi dinners that your favorite local Japanese restaurant makes with a teppanyaki element. Obviously much smaller than the commercial version, it’s still a convenient  tool for making authentic hibachi food. Juggling of the knives is optional!

viking teppanyaki from EuroCucinaView in gallery

An uncluttered facade

The hallmarks of a modern kitchen are an uncluttered facade and a sleek overall look. Today’s ultramodern kitchens are often doing away with handles and hardware all together, and not just for cabinets. Even some of the newest appliances, like the dishwasher in this Miele kitchen, not not have handles. How does this work? Just knock twice on the dishwasher and the door pops open.  All of the digital controls are concealed in the door, or at least are minimally apparent.

Kitchen Miele handlelessView in gallery

Bauformat’s boldly colored modern kitchen module still has standard wall ovens but achieves a modern look with its glossy exterior, edgy floating island and LED light accent.

Bauformat bold kitchenView in gallery

Customized food and drink storage

No longer home to a disjointed wine cooler and a refrigerator/freezer combo, modern kitchens increasingly feature a “food preservation system” that can include components of all kinds, depending upon your lifestyle and family preferences. Below is a Miele wine tower that features varied temperature storage for red and white wines, elegant chalk strips for labeling shelves, and a lovely serving stations with all the accoutrements you need.

miele wine tower fridgeView in gallery

This example from Thermador features a wall of various cooling and preservation units, including a wine tower, freezer and refrigerators. Some brands even have meat aging coolers for avid carnivores!

thermador kichen systemView in gallery

Dramatically Modern Kitchen Lighting

All the shiny, minimalist surfaces of a modern kitchen make a perfect setting for some dramatic kitchen lighting. While the lighting has to be foremost functional, the coolest modern kitchen make the lighting a focal point of the room either through color, shape, size or repetition. The extra long, trumpet-shaped pendants below are neutral yet are a natural choice for kitchen with dramatic colors or geometric graphics on the walls, such as this Leicht kitchen.

Leicht white trunpet pendantsView in gallery

Individually, the long black pendants in this kitchen by Leicht are mildly interesting, but when repeated in a group of nine, the become dramatic lighting over the counter.

Leicht black stick pendantsView in gallery

Choosing fixtures made from unexpected materials are also a must for a modern kitchen. Each of these simple concrete pendants includes four bulbs, which gives them an interesting design. The geometric shape is a natural for a modern kitchen design, such as this one from Arrex.

Arrex concrete pendants for kitchenView in gallery

Motion in the kitchen

One quick way to make your kitchen a cutting-edge, modern space is to include a large motion component. Many design options now include moving elements that help your space do double duty by adding function, extending usable space or hiding the standard components of a kitchen.

A Sliding cooktop cover adds usable counter space for working by covering the elements of the cooktop. Since most parties end up in the kitchen anyway, it also give you a clean, wide expanse for serving food to guests from your countertop.

Taking the concept a step further, Laboratorio Mattoni produces stunning sliding countertop islands that cover all the elements of your kitchen — cooktop, sink and faucet — at the touch of a button.  You can cook up a storm for your guests, push the button the slide the cover over the top, and use the island as a serving and entertaining space. It’s another genius concept to make the most of a smaller modern kitchen.

An extendable faucet like this one from Leicht adds function to the sink by allowing you to move the water flow where you need it.

Kitchen in Motion from Del Curto offers a wonderful option if you have a small area and you will want a modern kitchen. This dining table spans the kitchen and dining area, and moves through the wall. When extended on the kitchen side, it’s a kitchen table or workspace, and the dining area is clear and open. Pull it to the living area and you have an instant dining room table.

A retractible hood doesn’t have to be low profile. A dramatic kitchen hood can be a showstopper in a modern kitchen, especially when it makes an entrance from a structure like this one!

A sink workstation makes the most of a modern kitchen whether it’s large or small. This kitchen concept by The Galley lets you choose components like an inset bowl, colander or drying rack.

Induction hood cooktops are a definite must.  You need the ventilation but you don’t want a permanent obstruction on your counter, so retractible styles are the perfect solution.