10 Fresh & Modern Kitchen Cabinet Ideas

From surprising paint colors to rethinking open shelves, these kitchen cabinet ideas may jump-start a renovation

Joanna Linberg
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What Comes after White?

White kitchens will always be in style, but many tastemakers are now turning to vivid color to bring energy to slab-style kitchen cabinets. Emerald green, blush pink, and powdery slate blue are the most livable of the hues popping up these days. Whatever color you choose, try applying the color to both the uppers and the backsplash for more punch.

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Double-Take Open Shelves

Now a staple of kitchen design, open shelves are due for an evolution. Here’s a simple DIY to take your existing shelves to the next level: Paint the underside. From far away, it won’t show, but when you’re in the kitchen, the glimpse of color (or, to play it safe, a neutral approximating your countertop) is a sharp detail.

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Low-Rise Storage

Looking for a smidgen of extra room? Consider drawers above the countertop. That’s right, drawers, not cabinets. A mere four extra inches of height keeps essentials like hot pads, trivets, spoon rests, and tea towels where the action is without blocking views over the island.

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Stained Grain

This bar setup goes to show that a contemporary look can be yours even if you’ve inherited a dated kitchen. A rich paint color or deep stain makes paneling and a strong wood grain fresh again. And of course, brass hardware installed dead-center rather than near the top is a surefire way to make old new.

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No-Show Shelves

One of the reasons behind the popularity of open shelves is that they visually lighten a room, especially compared to heavy upper cabinets. Do that one better with glass open shelves. This look is both light and airy and a touch industrial, thanks to the piping that supports it.

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Reflective Quality

Glossy mag, high-gloss lip color…a whole lot of sheen just says “luxury.” That’s why we love the super-high shine levels coming to kitchen cabinetry. Whether aluminum, colored glass, or lacquer, the effect is sleek, like a kitchen James Bond might design for an Italian flat.

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International Sensation

A few years ago, Scandinavian designers started a resurgence of beaded and vertically paneled kitchen cabinetry. Designers stateside quickly adopted the style, giving it a relaxed, beach house-ready vibe by using blonde wood and stripping the surrounding surfaces of ornamentation.

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A Step up from Stainless

Thin steel veneer over wood cabinets isn’t just for those who are all in on industrial style. The matte finish is surprisingly low-key, and the natural texture in the steel contrasts subtly with the shinier surfaces in the kitchen such as the countertops and appliances.

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Simple Success

One way to achieve a modern kitchen is by tightly editing the materials palette and eliminating visual clutter. A sure trick? Sidestepping hardware altogether in favor of wide cut-outs for opening cabinets and drawers. Down the road, this ergonomic solution is also helpful for aging in place.

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Open the Box

It’s a look torn from the walls of hipster cafes: Cubbies offer the easy-grab convenience of open shelves with more natural organization. Mixing in cookbooks and ceramics pushes a kitchen to look less like a utility area and more like a living space.