When you’re looking to build a modern kitchen, you want to create a space that has balanced minimalism with practicality for a multi-functional kitchen.

Junk and clutter is tucked away in quality kitchen cabinets to help achieve that minimalist effect.

A variety of materials work for modern cabinets, including but hardly limited to stone, wood, Corian, and stainless steel. You want modern kitchen cabinets that looks sharp, but not stark and lifeless. The finish on cabinets is also important, you want the best finish for kitchen cabinets that you can find. It really ties the room together when the cabinets are looking nice and sleek.

When you’re decorating a kitchen, it can be all too easy to forget the room’s purpose and functionality.

A lot of modern kitchens, with their state-of-art appliances and materials, as well as their focus on hi-tech innovations, are drawn from professional kitchens, which do not rate aesthetics highly in their design principles.

A home kitchen becomes much more personal once individual distinctive touches, such as accessories and furniture, which helps make it more warm and welcoming than a modernist décor scheme lends itself to.

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You’ll need to finalize the layout of the kitchen before you secede on fixtures, fittings, or materials. If you have the budget for it, you can remove walls to create a more open floor plan, whether hat means a kitchen/dining area or an open-plan living space.

You may not be able to do this, and you should think about creating a modernistic galley kitchen for a narrow space. Consider removing a chimney breast to give yourself more room to work with.

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A lot of modern kitchen designs start with a classical ‘wrap around’ layout that follows the perimeter of the room. These days that often takes an L or U shape.

There’s usually an island unit in the central portion as well. A galley kitchen, however, works better in narrow areas with its own distinct shape, usually with two parallel counters and a lot of storage space.

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Where you place your major appliances—fridge hob, and sink—change how the kitchen works. There should be a logical flow. The idea is to make it easy to use the kitchen for cooking and avoid frustration.

You want to create a ‘working triangle’ between food storage (fridge), preparation (counter or fridge), and cooking (oven and stove). You want to minimize the distance between these zones so you can increase efficiency. You’ll probably want to stick your trash can in this working triangle.

Islands are great options for entertaining in your kitchen. You can prepare a meal while chatting with guests and family members. Including a breakfast bar is a nice touch, as they can be used not only for work but for housing an appliance as well.

The most important thing is to make sure that your kitchen’s design is based around your lifestyle. Some planning and a bit of thought can give you a space that is both practical and beautiful.

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There are some key elements to keep in mind as you put together your modern kitchen cabinets ideas. Modern design began around World War I. This design style features minimal ornaments, flat surfaces, and geometric forms.

Its most updated form tends to feature midcentury furniture with bold angles and curves. These design elements work very well with modern style kitchen cabinets. This kind of modern cupboard design can also fit very well in an island as both a décor feature and practical storage space.

There are a lot of options for material design with modern cupboard design. Plastic, metal, concrete, and glass all fit modern cabinetry. Frosted or semi-opaque glass can look very good, and offer a nice way to create modern and affordable kitchen cabinets.

All you need to do is replace the fronts of your existing cabinets. Make sure you get the kitchen cabinet dimensions correct if you intend to do this. You can also face your cabinets with wood veneer or plastic laminate to update them for a modern look.

You can also mix materials, which is an increasingly common design element seen in modern kitchens. This mixing and matching can give a kitchen a more unique appearance.

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There are a lot of color options usable in a modern kitchen.

If you look at the modern kitchen design trends, you’ll see a natural colors of wood veneer, but you can also find modern high-end kitchen cabinets in unconventional and bold colors.

It might surprise you to find fluorescent yellows, oranges and greens in modern kitchens—as well as deep rich reds and blues. You’re not stuck with a dull color palette for the best kitchen cabinets for a modern kitchen.

Shape and form will make or break the modern appearance of kitchen cabinets. A modern quality kitchen cabinet door is a flat slab without excessive ornamentation or detail. You won’t find decorative carvings, raised panels, or crown molding on these cabinets. The designs are deliberately sleek and flat.

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This sort of simplicity helps contribute to the feel of an airy and spacious kitchen.

It can work well with kitchen that have a lot of windows or those with few windows, or even no windows at all.

Anyone who is trying to redesign a small and angular space will find the modern look helps the space out a lot.

When buying cabinets, make sure they are quality. You used to be able to tell by checking for drawers with dovetail joints, but now manufacturers offer premium feature son even lower end cabinets.

Consumer reports does tests on cabinets, and they have proven that even cabinets with all these features can still have poor construction.

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Do your research before you buy. Take a look at both retail and manufacturer websites. Go to store displays to see how the cabinets move and look at the finer details of their construction.

You can tell what quality looks like once you know what to look at. Last but not least, trust in your own tastes. It’s your home, so you should pick out cabinets you really like.

Watch Your Budget

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When looking at buying kitchen cabinets, you will notice there are three types: stock, semi-custom, and custom. Stock cabinets tend to be sold pre-assembled, though some stores like Ikea require you to assemble them yourself at home.

They come in a limited number of styles and colors. Semi-custom cabinets have more configurations and options for style to work better in your kitchen.

Custom cabinets are built to your exact specifications, including kitchen cabinet sizes, style, and features, though they tend to be the most expensive option.

Choose the Best Style for You

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You can pick between framed or frameless kitchen cabinets. Framed cabinets are composed of a box and face frame that drawers and doors attach to. Frameless cabinets—also known as European-style cabinets—don’t have the face frame.

The drawers and door attach to the cabinet box. These cabinet styles are more modern looking and have easier interior access; however, because they lack a face frame, they can have issues with rigidity.

Some of the wiser manufacturers fix this by using a thicker box, using ¾ inch plywood rather than ½ inch particleboard, for instance. If you still want the European look on a framed cabinet, get full-overlay door that covers most or all of the frame.

Check the Construction Quality

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You’re looking for solid wood drawers with dovetail joints, full-extension drawer guides, and solid wood framed doors with solid panels.

Lower quality cabinets will have stapled particleboard, integrated rail drawer guides, and veneered particleboard or medium density fiberboard panels.

Remember to Focus on Features

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Some useful features you might want to include are a built-in charging station for your devices, a pullout trash can, or a lift cabinet. These can be incredibly useful features to have already installed in your kitchen, though cabinets with them can increase the cost by more than twenty percent.

Think About Refurbishing Your Old Cabinets

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A good cost saving measure can be simply revitalizing your current cabinets. If they are perfectly functional, simply out of style or old, you can easily give them new life.

Remove your doors and drawers, then clean them with a degreasing agent and sandpaper. From there, apply a primer and several top coats. You could also pay a professional about $50 per door to do the same.

Refacing cabinet doors is also a good choice that works well for framed units. You’ll end up replacing the doors and doors and applying new veneers to ends and face frames.

Think about adding in new functional elements like lazy Susans and pull-out shelving. Consider even adding under-cabinet LED task lights for truly modern touch.


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As you look at buying new kitchen cabinets, there are some aspects you need to look at before you make your final decision.

Overlays for Framed Cabinets


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Standard overlays leave a portion of the frame exposed. If done well, these types of cabinet overlays can look vintage or traditional. All too often, however, they look dated.


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Inset cabinet doors are attached within the cabinet box rather than covering it. This is similar to what you see with furniture. These often have a more traditional look and may not fit with a more modernist kitchen.

Full Overlay

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When looking at modern cabinets, full overlay doors are the kind you will see most often. They overlap the face frame, making it so that the doors of the cabinets seem to meet.

This is nice modern sleek and polished look. The surfaces look continuous.

You can also find these sorts of doors with a more traditional look, but they are one of the foundations of modern kitchen designs.

Door Fronts

Flat Fronts

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Flat front doors are the easiest way to make your cabinets look modern. They have a very sleek look, with smooth finishes that don’t have any additional trim.

These features (or lack of features, rather) draw attention to the crisp lines of the kitchen cabinets.

Shaker Fronts

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A basic Shaker front can also work for a modern kitchen. Just make sure you keep it clean and simple. You do not want very many decorative touches. Keep detailing to a minimum. Avoid rounded elements and deep contouring, as they give off a more traditional feel. You want sharp and sleek cabinet doors.



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The gloss and sheen of laminate makes it a good option for a modern kitchen. As a less traditional materials—like, for instance, wood—it can help you move the entire look of your kitchen away from the traditional and into the modern.


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Wood is still an option for modern kitchen cabinets. You need to make sure it fits in, however. You want a relatively smooth finish.

Salvaged wood can still look good in a modern kitchen, but it needs to be in the right design.

The smoother it looks, the better it will work. Make sure to avoid anything that looks too distressed.

Glass and Metal

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Glass and metal can look perfect in a modern kitchen. They can give it a very space age look and feel.

Just make sure there aren’t too many decorative flourishes, like etching or stamping.


Bold Colors with Natural Wood

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Painted cabinets are a rising trend in modern kitchen design, showing up in previously all-white kitchens.

These days you will find cabinets sold in every color. A two-tone paint job is very common, wood with a bolder color looking very different.

Yellow and red finishes on wood look very traditional. For a more modern look, pick natural wood tones or warm brown finishes.

Standard Kitchen Cabinet Sizes

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It can be a good idea to get an idea of standard kitchen cabinet sizes before you move forward.

No matter how nice a kitchen cabinet design looks in your modern kitchen, you can’t use it if it will not physically fit into your kitchen. What do you want do with your cabinets? What will they store?

How often will you need to access it? Will they have any features like a Lazy Susan or a shelf specifically for an appliance? These are just a few of the elements you need to think about when figuring out the sizing for your kitchen cabinets.

Below is a helpful guide for a base, wall, and tall cabinet sizes.

Base Cabinet Sizes

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Base cabinets are, as you might guess, the cabinets that serve as bases for counters, islands, and other surfaces. They sit on the floor and normally have one drawer with a set of shelves, or they could have a number of drawers on top of one another.

It all depends on your preferences and needs. These cabinets do the heavy lifting in your kitchen, since they sit on the floors and support the sinks and counters installed on top of them.

They also are attached to ranges, dishwashers, and all your other large kitchen appliances. You cannot skip base cabinets, as they are the foundation of the entire kitchen.

They are the building blocks everything else rests upon, so you should make sure they are well-built and are made of quality materials.

Standard base cabinets measure 34.5″ H and 36″ H from the floor to the top of the countertop. The toe kick portion of the cabinet is 4.5″ H. Standard door height is 24″ H. The top-drawer height is 6″ H (34.5″ H total). Three-drawer base cabinets have 6″ H top drawer. Bottom/middle drawer styles are 12″ H with a 4.5″ H toe kick.

Full height base cabinets normally have doors approximately 30″ H each. Standard depth for base cabinets is 24″ D.

For spaces with where wall obstacles that prevent you from using full cabinet depth options, base cabinets are often reduced in 3″ intervals down to 12″ D as required. Standard widths for base cabinets start at 9″ W with 3″ intervals up to 36″ W

Wall Cabinet Sizes

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Wall cabinets are used to store food items as well as kitchen supplies. These cabinets have more diverse sizing option available.

When selecting your kitchen cabinet height, the right size will really depend on your kitchen ceiling height and what you want for your kitchen.

Wall cabinets are available in 30″, 36″ and 42″ in height. 30″ tall cabinets will top align at 84″ height. 36″ height cabinets will top align at 90″ H. 42″ H cabinets will top align at 96″ H.

Plan and install the cabinets 54” from the floor to the bottom of the wall cabinet for proper installation. This will leave 18″ of height when you subtract the 36″ height of a base cabinet (including the countertop).

Make sure you get the correct height for your space. Don’t forget to take into account crown molding when you take your measurements.

30″ H cabinets are usually used if the kitchen has an 8-foot ceiling with a 12″ height soffit remaining, or used with 8 foot ceiling kitchens that prefer the cabinets do not go to the ceiling.

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36″ H cabinets are used if you have an 8-foot ceiling and you would like to use crown molding that is finished to the ceiling. Remember that since 36″ H cabinets top align at 90″ H.

Often, a stacked molding is used to make up the additional 6″. There are also other traditional and atypical molding options that can be used for the same purpose.

42″ H cabinets are often used if the kitchen has a 9-foot ceiling. Remember, when using 42″ H cabinets with an 8-foot ceiling, there will be no room left for a crown molding. You will still be able to use a simple scribe molding.

You can use a small height crown molding and drop the cabinets 1.5-2″ H for the appearance of crown molding. If you do this, you will sacrifice backsplash height.

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Standard cabinet depth is 12″ deep. 24″ deep cabinets are often used for over the refrigerator to allow easier access.

If you’re looking for a staggered height cabinet look, you will need to make cabinets look taller, and also make them 3″ deeper to 15″ D.

This creates the necessary room for crown moldings of the shorter cabinets to finish nicely into the side of the cabinet while not blocking the door opening of the taller cabinets.

For use above the range, make sure you include the height of the other wall cabinets in your measurements.

Standard widths for wall cabinets are the same as base cabinets, starting at 9″ W with 3″ intervals up to 36″ W. Wall cabinets can also be used as 12 “ D base cabinets, usually for installation on islands.

If you want to use a wall cabinet as a base cabinet, you’ll need to build a 4.5″ H toe kick platform and get an additional matching toe kick to finish it properly. For aligning at standard base cabinet height, use a 30″ H wall cabinet.

For the creation of a two tier island, use a 36″ H wall cabinet for the bar height level. The 36″ H wall cabinet with a 4.5″ H toe kick and countertop will have a total finished bar height of 42″ height.

Tall Cabinet Sizes

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Tall cabinets are usually used for pantry cabinets, with other options for storage and oven cabinets.

Tall cabinets are normally 84″ H, 90″ H, and 96″ H. Use 84″ H pantry with 30″ H wall cabinets, 90″ H pantry with 36″ H wall cabinets, and 96″ H pantry with 42″ H wall cabinets to select the correct pantry for your kitchen space.

Tall pantries are frequently 24″ deep, though you will find 12″ deep options designed for for tighter spaces. Pantry widths are typically limited to 18″ wide or 24″ wide with stock cabinet lines.

Semi-custom cabinet manufacturers pantry cabinets run from 9″ W in 3″ W intervals up to 36″ wide. Tall oven cabinets are usually 30″ W to 36″ W to fit most standard size single oven widths on the market.

A double oven or oven/microwave combo will require you to carefully check the cut-out dimensions when buying a wall oven cabinet. It is frequently necessary to remove two of the bottom drawers of a tall oven cabinet to give it the height it needs to fit the appliance correctly inside.

Ending thoughts on minimalist kitchen cabinets

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As you can see, there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing modern kitchen cabinets. Take your time to choose the right ones for you. Make sure they not only match the look of your kitchen, but also are completely functional for your needs.

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