Anyone who has tuned into even one episode of HGTV's House Hunters can tell you that most of our dream homes contain one important wish list item: a great big kitchen. Alas, if you aren't quite at the dream house stage, you probably know that a sprawling cook space isn't often on the docket in an apartment. That being said, you certainly don't have to sacrifice style in the name of square footage. In fact, we'd wager that getting creative with your small kitchen design can produce an even more impressive result in the long run.
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When it comes to choosing the style of your kitchen, consider a simple and modern approach to maximize space and create a stylish vibe that won't feel overwhelming in a spatially challenged floor plan. Focus on incorporating elements like open shelves or movable storage to make the most of a tiny space, while also creating opportunities for both style and function. Ready for some serious eye candy? Ahead, we've rounded up 25 apartment kitchen design ideas that flawlessly represent a simple and modern aesthetic, and prove that a dream cook space is far more achievable than you think.
1. Curate your color palette.
A neutral color palette still feels warm and inviting in this apartment kitchen, thanks to subtle variations in materials. Here, the light wood countertop and shelving adds just enough contrast and interest to this otherwise bright white space blessed with ample natural light. Consider this design direction if you love simple design with clean lines and masculine finishes like stainless steel and wood.
2. Add a movable cart for extra storage.
This tiny kitchen by Avenue Lifestyle gets an extended footprint thanks to a rolling kitchen cart, which adds more storage space for frequently used dishware and other kitchen necessities. Opting for a cart in a white finish allows it to tie into the overall design scheme, making it feel even more integrated. Anyone who lacks counter space will revel in this simple but effective upgrade.
3. Turn pots and pans into decor.
When it comes to styling a small kitchen, the more you can incorporate functional decor, the better. This minimalist cook space manages to turn hanging pots and pans over a vintage gas stove into sculptural art. It's an ideal solution for those on a budget (or those opposed to unnecessary clutter and accessories) who still want to add some visual interest to their space.
4. Swap the existing light fixture for a pendant.
This inviting cook space belonging to Chloe Rey features a single globe-style pendant light hanging from the ceiling, instead of the flush mount or fluorescent fixtures that are so often seen in rentals. The simple addition is proof that you don't need to make big expensive changes to add stylish flair and vintage charm to your cozy kitchen remodel.
5. Consider matte black hardware.
Less is more in this petite space, which features bright white cabinets that contrast with matte black hardware. Here, the lack of wall decor and accessories make a strong case for minimalism and simplicity in the kitchen. The whole space feels calming and clean — exactly the vibe you'd want from your culinary headquarters.
6. Make the most of an awkward space.
This converted attic spotted on These Four Walls becomes a charming, modern oasis for meal prep thanks to a soothing gray color palette. The real showstopper though are the open shelves that cater to the home's slanted roof lines. Keeping the decor minimal, and within a curated color scheme, aids the simple and modern design.
7. Infuse luxury with marble finishes.
It's hard to deny the luxury of natural stone, particularly when it comes to marble countertops, backsplash, and shelving in a simple and sleek kitchen. The herringbone floors add the perfect nod to classic architecture for balance, while the matte black hardware and lighting maintain a modern vibe in Danielle Moss's former Chicago condo.
When it comes to simple and modern style, neutrals aren't the only option on the design menu. This navy kitchen by Chairma Design Group is the portrait of balanced aesthetics thanks to light countertops and a clean, white backsplash. The wood pocket doors and metallic light fixture add just the right amount of warmth and contrast.
9. Style open shelving.
This serene kitchen design by Studio DB is proof that open shelving in kitchens is for more than just dishware. The addition of modern art creates juxtaposition against the traditional marble finishes, completing a space that feels simple and pared down, but still thoughtful and interesting.
10. Bring in warmth with an area rug.
You don't always need to incorporate contrast in textures through permanent fixtures. Instead, opt to bring in a vibrant area rug in an all-white cook space à la Elizabeth from The College Housewife for an added dose of warmth. This kitchen makeover is the perfect example of small design decisions leading to a big impact.
11. Incorporate a patterned backsplash.
If an all-neutral space doesn't feel quite up your alley but you're still craving streamlined and simple design, look no further than this kitchen by Sabbe Interior Design. The subtle herringbone backsplash adds movement and texture without distracting from the cheerful, yet subdued, blue cabinetry. Plus, the mix of hardware offers a layered look without feeling chaotic or busy.
12. Welcome symmetry.
You can't go wrong when you follow basic design principles, and symmetry is one of the most foolproof for a visually appealing cook space. Here, The Property Collective opted for two rows of open shelves flanking the range hood, in place of traditional upper cabinets, allowing the whole space to feel bright and airy. Style with pared down accessories and a curated selection of dishware for a simple and streamlined look.
13. Opt for flat-panel cabinets.
Flat-panel kitchen cabinets make a subdued statement in this simple and modern kitchen by Abi of These Four Walls. Keeping the walls and floors bare helps drive home a minimalist vibe, but a butcher block countertop creates contrast and depth. Add a touch of greenery for color and texture, and consider your cook space ready for its close-up.
14. Create contrast.
There are few things more traditional than white cabinets, but they become more intriguing when paired with a bold backsplash. Follow the lead of this eat-in kitchen and match the grout color to the tile — it keeps the pattern subdued, allowing the bold hue to be the star of the show.
15. Try brass hardware.
Brass hardware manages to feel effortlessly timeless, working well with just about every design style from modern to traditional to vintage. This kitchen by Signature Designs NY is a perfect example of simple and modern, thanks to wooden and chrome barstools and a clean, neutral color palette.
16. Go for a patterned Roman shade.
Contrary to popular belief, textiles don't have to be neglected in the kitchen. In fact, a bold, patterned Roman shade by Karuilu can still feel simple and approachable by sticking to a classic color palette and keeping accessories neutral and pared down. It's the perfect way to infuse some personality into a small space without having to commit to an expensive or permanent fixture.
17. Add a little greenery.
Another great, low-cost way to bring visual interest into your kitchen? Greenery! A climbing plant adds an incredible sculptural element to Lori Dail's laid-back, modern cook space. If you're looking to achieve a hint of boho without fully committing, consider this tip your call-to-action.
18. Feature two-toned cabinets.
This kitchen by Orlando Soria shows us how to bring interest to a modern kitchen with two-toned cabinets instead of excessive countertop space filled with decor and accessories. What's more, the cool blue tones of the window treatment play off of the warmer cabinet hue, creating a look and feel that's visually appealing and balanced. Don't forget some fresh blooms while you're at it.
19. Add an eating nook.
Take a note from Elaine Burn's eat-in kitchen spotted on The Everygirl and carve out a tiny dining area in your apartment kitchen. The black and white color palette is timeless and simple, while the silhouettes of the round table and chairs give off a modern vibe. Plus, the arrangement makes the whole room feel more spacious by adding a functional corner to (what would otherwise be) dead space.
20. Invest in a swanky new faucet.
Add a little extra pizzazz to your apartment kitchen by swapping out the faucet. The brass gooseneck option seen here adds a hint of glamour that pairs so well with the light and playful wallpaper backdrop. Complete the look with brass cabinet hardware and verdant foliage.
21. Add a pop of color.
Follow the lead of this small kitchen and add a fun pop of color to your otherwise neutral space. The candy-coated pink Smeg refrigerator and matching small appliances definitely take center stage in this setup, but the vibrant hue is tempered by warm wood accents throughout, resulting in a playful yet grown-up space.
22. Showcase a statement piece of art.
We've never met an all-white kitchen we didn't like, and this design is no exception, thanks to a statement piece of art hanging on the wall. The colorful canvas brings in just enough color and warmth to keep things interesting without being distracting. It's the perfect solution for those who want a simple yet classic kitchen that feels anything but boring.
23. Add industrial flair.
A loft calls for industrial details mixed into an overall simple and modern design, as demonstrated perfectly by this galley kitchen. The sleek black finish of the pendant lights, bar stools, and faucet beautifully punctuates the space and complements the raw architectural elements — such as the exposed ceiling, HVAC ductwork, and concrete flooring — seen throughout.
24. Paint the cabinets black.
There's a good reason that black kitchen cabinets have evolved into a hot trend these last few years, and Alaina Kaczmarki's former cook space is proof. Though it's a striking and bold hue, black kitchen cabinets are much like the LBD in our closet: simple, easy to dress up or down, and perfect for every occasion. Here, a modern kitchen feels clean and effortless when paired with chrome hardware and a few key accessories like a copper tea kettle, potted plants, and a wooden cutting board.
25. Match your cabinets with your hardware.
In the same vein, Marian opted for a color-blocked look, with black cabinets paired with black hardware, a white backsplash, and a golden hue for the walls. The clean lines and fuss-free finishes keep this kitchen feeling simple, despite the more colorful palette — ideal for those who like modern, clean design that still packs a punch.
Caitlin is the former social media manager and staff writer of TheEverygirl.com in Chicago, now working as a freelance writer from her laptop in New Zealand. She loves soulful, collected interior design that feels like a warm hug, English Breakfast tea, and trips to the theatre.