Published in Utopia Kitchen and Bathroom magazineUtopia Kitchen and Bathroom cover

Dear Margaret… I am updating my kitchen, and would like to explore mixing old and new furniture together. I have an Aga that I would like to keep, as well as a butcher’s block that I’ve had for years. Contemporary style kitchen furniture appeals to me, as I feel that my kitchen needs updating to match the rest of the house. However, I am concerned as to how I can create the right balance of traditional and modern, and which materials I should be looking at using. Can you help me please?
Maria Bolton, Fareham

Contemporary kitchen design 1A monochrome palette for the furniture allows for greater freedom when choosing accessories, and enables the colour scheme of the room to be easily changed in years to come. Following this option is an excellent idea if you are unsure about which hues to go for, or if a dramatic cabinetry choice seems intimidating. It also gives a subtler look to the fixtures, with the furnishings adding the character.

Creating open plan area

The sliding door I have added to your layout will mean that you can separate the kitchen from the dining room when needed, allowing family interaction throughout the spacious open-plan area, while also providing the option to create an intimate dining space when entertaining, or when you don’t want the kitchen on show. The opaque glass sliding door still allows some light through when closed to retain an airy feel.

Wooden elements in contemporary kitchen design

The lovely wooden butcher’s block makes an attractive feature that adds a warming contrast to the modern design, and by framing it with a worktop, it feels more incorporated into this contemporary kitchen design. I’d definitely suggest mixing in a few well-positioned old wooden pieces when you have a modern design scheme to give a sense of permanence and homeliness. The balance of old and new can be a challenge. However the use of complementary colours and a sympathetic layout will tie in vintage pieces and add interest and originality.

Island in the centre of the kitchen

In your scheme, I have suggested placing an island in the centre of the kitchen to break up the open space and provide a prep area and sink. There is also a small seating area/breakfast bar and additional cupboard and drawer capacity.
Contemporary kitchen design 2The fridge is surrounded by tall cupboards to prevent it dominating the scheme. This set-up will enable most of your foodstuff to be conveniently stored in the same vicinity, too.

Simplicity in contemporary kitchen

Simplicity is particularly important in a contemporary kitchen design. Space will be well used and can easily attract clutter. I have used the same pendant lamps throughout for a calm and sleek look. This helps to give the two rooms consistency, so they are seen as one large room when the door is open, drawing the eye through to the other side.

All important lighting

While the dining area requires more diffused, ambient lighting, a kitchen should be lit from many separate light sources, to illuminate all the corners and workspaces adequately. The ability to create the perfect ambience in both zones – day or night, and with door open or door closed – is vital, so I would suggest that you invest in a layered lighting scheme, with each element independently controllable, and preferably dimmable, too. That way, your space will always be inviting to cook in and enjoy.

 Contemporary kitchen design tips:

  • It is good idea to maintain a fairly similar style for the areas that adjoin the kitchen, to give a sense of consistency and enable a better visual flow.
  • Don’t be afraid to be creative: the kitchen is an ideal place to start when moving towards a more modern and visually impressive style.

Contemporary kitchen design layout ideas


Margaret is a qualified architect and interior designer and the creative director of Inventive Interiors. She brings a holistic and modern approach to your design. Her wealth of diverse experience includes everything from small apartments, through hotels and restaurants to some of the most luxurious homes of exquisitely designed space worldwide.

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