Ideas for Designer Kitchens—Classic to Modern

  • 01 of 08

    What Is a Designer Kitchen?

    Luxury kitchen
    Hero Images / Getty Images

    You've probably heard the term designer kitchen, or maybe high-end kitchenbut what is this? Sometimes, it doesn't even exist; it's just a figment of the imagination, laid down temporarily in physical form as a concept kitchen at a bath and kitchen show. Sometimes, it does exist, but it's designed for commercial, not residential, spaces. Finally, it might be in a residence, but with a price-tag that makes your mouth drop.

    For most of us, a designer kitchen is certainly a kitchen that feels out of reach. But when you break it down and examine the components, you'll find that many elements and ideas used in designer kitchens can be transferred to an ordinary home—or at least they can serve as inspiration for similar ideas on a smaller (or less expensive) scale.

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  • 02 of 08

    Designer Contemporary Classic Kitchen

    Contemporary Classic Kitchen
    Designs By Human

    Created by New York-based Designs By Human, this kitchen is a perfect melding of modern with classic. The wood chairs, solid-hardwood floor, and beveled kitchen cabinets all say "classic and traditional."  Everything else—the sleek bar stools, the pendant lights, the predominantly white color scheme, the can lights—say "modern."

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  • 03 of 08

    Designer Kitchen With a Unique Island

    High-End Kitchen Remodel with Brick Wall
    Susan Serra / Flickr / CC By 2.0

    The first thing that catches your attention about this kitchen design is the unique kitchen island. The island is made out of reclaimed wood structure and features a smooth metal strip at the front for food prep.

    Certified Kitchen Designer Susan Serra took this photo at a kitchen and bath show. It's a concept kitchen that seems pretty doable: stainless steel appliances from General Electric, brick wall, natural Shaker-style cabinets, and the most unusual kitchen island you'll ever see.

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  • 04 of 08

    A Kitchen Designed Around the Client

    Hamptons House with Giant Kitchen Island
    Sabine Schoenberg

    This breath-of-fresh-air kitchen is designed by Sabine H. Schoenberg, founder of Sabine's Home, an interior designer of more than 15 years and author of Kitchen Magic: Secrets to Successful Kitchens.

    About this photo, Sabine says that she designed this kitchen with a super-sized island (5 feet by 9 feet) so that "all the grandchildren could be gathered around one single counter to make cookies during raining beach days."

    Talk about designing around a client!

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  • 05 of 08

    Designer Kitchen With Modern, yet Organic, Elements

    Incredible Modern Designer Kitchen with Arched Ceiling
    Sabine Schoenberg

    This kitchen fills visitors with awe. Where to begin? That ceiling, for one. Notice how the upper curve of the ceiling is mirrored just below by the brass curved ceiling canopy? This canopy has two functions: to house lighting fixtures and to visually make this large room feel less imposing.

    This kitchen certainly has its share of modern elements—stainless steel refrigerator, massive Wolf stove, sleek bar stools—but don't let that deter you from noticing the natural, organic features, such as the "chunky wood kitchen cabinets," as Ms. Schoenberg puts it; the huge wall of natural stone behind the stove; and the oversize windows, generously giving views of the eucalyptus and palms beyond.

    Similar ideas might work in any home: Add natural stone behind the stove; surrender a wall cabinet or two to make room for a new or larger window (and perhaps put a pantry elsewhere to make up for the "lost" cabinet room; or buy real wood cabinets instead of thermofoil. It's all do-able if you set your mind to it.

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  • 06 of 08

    Antique-Style Beams in a Contemporary Kitchen

    Designer Modern Barn Kitchen with Beamed Ceiling
    Sabine Schoenberg

    Neutral. Horizontal. Sleek. Restrained.  And then, "Wha--?" That ceiling. It's all about the play between the refined contemporary kitchen—with its concrete countertops, big kitchen island with cooktop, and double wall oven—and the "aged, historic barn wood" beams on the ceiling.

    Without that contrast between smooth and rough, gray and brown, shiny and dull, this designer kitchen would have been nice ... good ... maybe even great, but still something short of amazing. It's the marriage between the top and the bottom that propels this kitchen into amazing-ness.

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  • 07 of 08

    English-Style Designer Kitchen

    English Style Kitchen
    Sabine Schoenberg

    This kitchen island is so big that it can hardly be called an island; it's a continent. In her book Kitchen Magic, Designer Sabine Schoenberg notes that the owners like to travel Europe and wanted a "standout kitchen with Anglo and European sensibilities." Thus the ironwork canopy ceiling reminiscent of a Victorian-era train station and the black-and-brass stove and hood. As for the kitchen continent, it's big enough to prepare dinner for 25 guests.

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  • 08 of 08

    Designer Kitchen That Brings Provence to Manhattan

    A Taste of Provence in a New York Kitchen
    Sabine Schoenberg

    Here, Sabine Schoenberg creates a Provence-style kitchen in a Manhattan apartment building. She mentions an interesting aspect of kitchen designing: working around reality. In this case, "reality" is the weight limit that building owners must adhere to when remodeling their apartment. A limestone stove hood would have been ideal—but too heavy.

    She solved this by using lightweight volcanic lava stone, topped with a crackle glaze called Pyrolave to give it the limestone look.