2012 Contemporary Kitchens Decorating Ideas

Think you know what a contemporary kitchen looks like? Think again. These days, well-chosen colors, materials, and personal objects take the chill out of modern work spaces.

Past Meets Present 

Vintage architecture can accommodate modern function. For example, century-old brick provides texture, color, and contrast in a kitchen with otherwise sleek and seamless surfaces. The black granite countertop climbs the wall to become a backsplash and display ledge for the homeowner's art.

In the Woods
    A central work table  not an island gives this kitchen a casual, almost nostalgic attitude. To warm up the white walls, the designer created wall panels and an under-soffit "bridge" of wood to match the cabinet finish.

Open Wide

Once claustrophobic, this Pacific Northwest kitchen now feels fresh and bright, thanks to major surgery. Most wall cabinets were removed, and the new windows are 6 inches taller than the ones they replaced. Aqua paint, a suspended range hood, and a custom zebrawood island with "stiletto heel" legs match the airy design.

Texture Message 

Earthy slate tile makes a mottled statement on this kitchen's floor and walls. The flat-front maple cabinets pick up the theme; most wear a natural stain, but a few doors and drawers sport a darker finish.

Family-Friendly Design 

Clean-lined but comfortable, this kitchen contains a balance of wood and metal, warm and cool. Guests seated at the island and matching dark-stained dining table can visit with the cook or watch the wall-mount TV. Upholstered dining chairs encourage relaxed entertaining. Sculptural objects line the stark white countertops.

    Sunny Outlook 

    A clever window/backsplash (with a Zen garden view) makes this a pleasant place to cook in the daytime. Soft yellow cabinet fronts and display shelves extend the welcome after dark. Gleaming stainless steel an iconic material in most contemporary kitchens  reflects light anytime.

      A Playful Palette 

      Sleek lines and neutral wood tones clear the way for fruit-basket shades of yellow, orange, and green in this kitchen's fun and functional decor. Mismatched chairs surround a lowered surface ideal for snacks or homework. Modern white pendants keep the mood  and atmosphere  bright.

      Sophisticated, Not Stark

      An Asian influence gives this kitchen its personality and informs its materials choices. Recycled glass mosaic tiles, grid-back stools, and cabinets faced with alder veneer show this is no cookie-cutter design scheme, despite the popular granite countertop and stainless-steel appliances.

      Colorful Condo

      In a small, open-plan living space, it's even more important that every view be pleasing. Space enhancers here include the glass island top and bamboo flooring laid on the diagonal. The palette pairs neutral gray with planes of butter yellow and tomato red.

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