These are the most popular kitchen themes – bar none. More than any other space in the home, your kitchen is the one place where you want to beauty to marry well with function and practicality, but when it comes to kitchen themes, deciding which is the best for your home can often prove perplexing for many.
Having a theme for your kitchen helps to create a coherent look – and while it’s good to keep up with the latest kitchen trends, the most important thing is to make sure it’s one that’s true to your personal style and suited to your home.
All great looks start with beautiful and inspiring images, so indulge in a research session with our decorating section, then make a moodboard for your project.
Read on for all the good kitchen themes and inspiration you need to get your kitchen ideas off the ground in style. Every one of our kitchen pictures is different but most suit one of the six types of kitchen layouts.
What are the most popular kitchen themes?
‘Think carefully about how you wish to use the space and also your needs,’ says Smallbone’s Damian Wright. ‘Today’s modern kitchens are the core of the house, so we approach the design by thinking about the kitchen layout, kitchen colors and chosen materials.’
First, you need to decide on a theme for the kitchen; this can be inspired by many things – a particular color palette used in a favorite piece of artwork, a style of kitchen cabinetry from a certain era that you particularly like, or you can start from scratch by creating a virtual moodboard on Pinterest. Once you have identified your preferred color scheme, layout and kitchen style, you can use this to inform the rest of your kitchen design.
1. Relaxed kitchen
‘The kitchen should be a place where you can be with your friends and family without having to look at appliances,’ says designer Jake Arnold (opens in new tab). ‘I like a kitchen to feel like a living room – a space where you can hang out and feel comfortable – as well as being functional. Many of my clients have kids and busy lives, so they want relaxed, practical rooms; nothing too precious, but with high impact.’
‘The interior architecture is my starting point: how we can build in a range cooker in a chimney breast to become a focal point in the space, add arches or beams, or create specific openings around windows and doors. These are the things that lay the foundation and add soul to a space.’
‘I try to stay with the architectural style in the choice of cabinetry door so there is consistency. This way, it feels as though the kitchen was built with the house. Next, I dig deep into the stone selection for the kitchen countertops as this is usually where the high impact comes from. I like to know what we are focusing on. We might have a busy, intricate marble counter or kitchen backsplash, but then choose not to add pendant lighting to accentuate the drama of the marble.’
‘Hardware sets the tone of the relaxed kitchen, so it is worth investing in beautiful plumbing fixtures and cabinetry pulls and hinges. They are things you will touch every day.’
2. Bespoke kitchen
‘It’s a fact of life that we all want to feel special rather than one of many – and that applies to the way we approach our projects,’ says Charu Gandhi, director of Elicyon (opens in new tab). ‘We want to give our clients something tailored, in every detail, to their requirements. We begin by asking how they plan to use their home. Ask yourself the same: how do you like to cook? Do you want areas for family meals and hosting relaxed gatherings? Do you need lots of storage and for what? Do you enjoy cooking cuisines that need special equipment? Have you a wine collection to display?’
‘Bespoke can mean different things to different people. I make a distinction between bespoke kitchens with joinery made from scratch and those made to order from ranges offered by established, high-end brands. Most often, we make a hybrid of the purely bespoke and made to order, by personalizing a branded design with one-off elements.’
Bespoke doesn’t have to mean expensive. For example, you might choose standard cabinetry for the perimeter of the room but then pick an amazing marble for your island. Even simply changing cupboard handles can make a kitchen feel totally personal.
3. Imaginative kitchen
‘The best approach for designing a kitchen is to think about how you like to cook,’ says designer Hubert Zandberg (opens in new tab). ‘It seems obvious, but it is often forgotten. Everyone has favourite pots and pans and preferences in terms of appliances, so carefully consider the layout, the storage and practical needs. All the while, bear in mind that the kitchen is more than just for food preparation – it is the hub of the home, a media room, a family room, a dining room, a breakfast room, and there are different requirements for all these things.’
‘Consider also what will bring true enjoyment in the space. I believe that comes from the color, texture and aesthetic of the room – and from a sense of soul. It is important that a kitchen reminds you of a happy childhood memory or has a certain energy, even if it is subconscious. This might come from an antique kitchen cupboard, which becomes the starting point for the kitchen, or some vintage French factory lights that add history to a contemporary design.’
‘Juxtaposing materials and colors like this introduces lots of personality – I love creating conversations between materials because it can bring a dynamic sense of energy to a room. It is important to go with colors and materials that you love in your kitchen. Be brave, be authentic to yourself and be joyful. It will work because it speaks of you and if friends like you, they will like being in your space.’
4. Colorful kitchen
‘Room color ideas makes us happy, which is why I like to include it in my designs,’ says designer Kit Kemp (opens in new tab). ‘In my kitchen, I used Farrow & Ball’s Red Earth for the base units, with Sudbury Yellow for wall cabinets, because it instantly makes me feel brighter. Then I used a third color – Designers Guild’s Winter Morning, a crisp, clear blue – on the tall cupboard. This makes the cabinetry feel more like individual pieces of furniture, less modular and more crafted.’
‘Be bold, but not frantic, with your colorful kitchen ideas. For example, too much red is enervating and needs to be toned with, say, a custard cream. If you prefer less color, pick an emphasis shade. A hanging rack in bright Indian pink could look fabulous against silver or copper pans. It will add inviting warmth.’
‘Fabric is another way of adding an element of color. Experiment with fabric on upholstered dining chairs: you don’t have to slavishly use the same color and fabric on each one. I would stick to the same shape of chair, but use a variety of colors and fabrics.’
‘Work with the scale of the room and play with the design until the balance is right – you don’t want too many tricks in the room. Curate colors and patterns before you start so you can prioritize for maximum impact.’
5. Glamorous kitchen
‘As the heart of the home, the kitchen is one of my favorite rooms, but it is primarily a functional space,’ says American designer Kelly Wearstler (opens in new tab). ‘The design process is two-pronged – first, considering the layout and how one will move through the kitchen; then, how we want the room to feel – if it is to be an energizing or calm, reflective space. The layout and look definitely need to feed into one another.’
‘Kitchen lighting is important. It sets the mood and guides the eye around the room. When designing a kitchen, I always start by considering the natural light, asking myself what time of day it fills the room. This will determine the natural feel, which will then help to inform the choice of additional light sources. In the kitchen you can be cooking, sharing meals with friends and family or working from home. Accent lighting is a great way to set the scene for these different uses, such as dimmable overhead pendant lights for an ambient mood while dining, or table lamps near seating for task lighting.’
‘Although the kitchen is a functional space, this doesn’t mean it can’t have personality and style. Don’t be afraid of experimenting and taking risks – sometimes the most beautiful decor comes from the most unexpected pairings.’
Kelly Weartler: Evocative Style (opens in new tab) by Kelly Weartler and Rima Suqi ($55 / £45, Rizolli) is out now.
6. Chef’s kitchen
Chef’s kitchens are the ultimate in luxury for any cook or food enthusiast. Technological advances in kitchen design mean that creating a gourmet kitchen –once only reserved for the best restaurants in the world – at home is even easier to achieve than before.
The best chef’s kitchen will include a layout that focus on movement. A double galley layout with a long kitchen island running parallel is often the optimum choice for a chef. Every item in your chef’s kitchen should have a purpose to make the cooking and prep process as seamless – and fuss-free – as possible. Keep appliances at eye-level and make sure that you kitchen storage ideas are up to scratch, and the pantry fully-stocked with everything you need to host the perfect party or family dinner. Keeping a well-stocked food store is vital in busy restaurant kitchens and a generous larder cupboard or walk-in pantry is the perfect domestic equivalent.
‘A good chef will organize a kitchens contents rigidly, making sure everything is easy to see, at a glance, so that ingredients can be gathered quickly,’ says chef and author Peter Sidwell, brand ambassador for Symphony Kitchens (opens in new tab).
In the main kitchen, open shelves, wall-mounted knife blocks and ceiling-hung pan racks are similarly efficient in terms of speed and accessibility but do install a decent extractor to keep grease at bay.