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What is the Real Difference Between Modern & Contemporary Kitchens?

If you didn’t know any better, you might think that the terms “contemporary” and “modern” were just two different words used to describe the same style of kitchen. The truth is that while these sometimes get used interchangeably, they shouldn’t be.

When you’re about to start the process of remodeling your kitchen, it’s more important than ever to have an understanding of the different styles that are out there, and what best suits your personal taste. So, to help get you started on the right foot, we’re going to break down some of the key differences between modern and contemporary kitchen design.


Some of the confusion surrounding what a modern kitchen design is comes from the fact that the term “modern” in this context refers to a specific era in design that was popularized in the 1950s and 60s. In this period, ornate and overly decorative form was ditched for function, as efficiency, distinct lines, and sleekness was the goal.

When it comes to a modern kitchen, minimalism is the name of the game. Surfaces should be flat, colours should be fairly neutral and plain, and there should be clear borders that are outlined with straight lines. Instead of extravagant ornamentation and embellishments, the texture of the different materials that are used, as well as the colours – specifically greys and whites – should be what stands out.

When it comes to the function of the room, the main goal of a modern kitchen is to be designed in a way that makes it as easy to use as possible. While elements of the room may have to shift to fit the specifications of the design – as opposed to the elements seamlessly fitting into the pre-existing space – in the end, the room should be ergonomic and functional.

In the image above, you’ll notice straight lines and a minimalist approach that underlines a modern kitchen. The colour palette is fairly neutral, and the kitchen is designed for ease of use.
In this image, you’ll again notice the straight lines, neutral colours, and sleek look.

So, who is this type of kitchen really meant for? Well, if you like a sleek and minimalist approach to design and you want your kitchen to be as functional as possible, a modern kitchen might be the way to go. It’s great for any large, open space, but it can also be a good choice if you’re trying to make the most out of a smaller kitchen in an apartment unit or condo. In this sense, it’s an incredibly versatile style that will ensure that whatever amount of space you’re working with, your kitchen is elegant, sleek, and easy to use.


In a lot of ways, the contemporary style of kitchen design is an updated version of the modern kitchens that were popular in the 1950s and 60s. While there are a lot of design characteristics that contemporary designs borrow from modern styles, contemporary kitchens tend to be more flexible, organic, and reflective of style trends that are popular in the era you live in.

While some semblance of plainness and minimalism will still be present in a contemporary kitchen, there are some important ways that this style strays outside of the bounds of a typical modern kitchen. For starters, instead of sticking to the plain greys and whites that you’d find in a modern space, contemporary kitchens can often be accented by bright and bold colours. When it comes to materials, you can often find a combination of things like stone and wood, and generally a meshing of different styles.

So, what does this look like exactly? Well, you might find certain elements like disguised appliances. For example, maybe the fridge door is made to look like a cabinet. Or maybe the light fixtures are a little more ornate than what you’d find in a modern kitchen. Overall, some of the design elements should be blended into the pre-existing features of your kitchen. Let’s take a look at an example to outline a few of the things we’ve talked about.

In the image above, you’ll notice a lot of the clean edges and plain features that characterize a modern kitchen. But instead of leaving it at that, wood is used in certain areas to add some contrast. You’ll also notice the pop of colour in the corner.
In this image, you’ll again see a few distinguishing features like the colourful tiles and the off-white paint.

Overall, contemporary kitchens aim to be sleek and clean, but are more flexible than their modern counterparts. The design should be organic and blend in seamlessly with your idea of what your kitchen should look like. There shouldn’t be any extra clutter or extravagant design elements, and while it should be clean, it should still hold onto a semblance of elegance.

If you’re looking to design a kitchen for a space that you’re planning on occupying for a long time and you want to make sure the design is flexible enough to cater to your specific needs, a contemporary kitchen can be a great choice.


When it comes to choosing between a modern and contemporary kitchen design, there really is no right or wrong choice. Both styles are very functional, sleek, and current. In the end, it’s all about picking a design that matches up with your personal taste. Your kitchen can be one of the most important rooms in the house, as it’s where your family gathers, you entertain your loved ones, and spend time with those closest to you. It’s worth spending the time to zero in on what you like and turn that into a reality!

At Aria Kitchens, our aim is to help you build the kitchen of your dreams. Whether you’re looking for a modern or contemporary design, we have you covered. So, if you’re looking to build a kitchen that’s specified to your exact needs, don’t hesitate to reach out and see how we can help!

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