Modern Design Blog

Modern kitchen with a light aesthetic

12 Design solutions to give your modern kitchen a lighter aesthetic

Modern kitchens are evolving into versatile spaces that look less and less like the old-fashioned “kitchen lab” concept. This calls for kitchen designs with a lighter aesthetic and there are many different ways to achieve it. It doesn’t mean you have to exclusively go with an all-white look. Here are some tricks to mix things up and get the desired result.

1. Choose a light color for the upper cabinets or opt for glass door fronts

A shade of white, a Feather (or other light) grey or a Beige are good colors to use for the upper cabinets to make the kitchen feel lighter. 

  • Whether you go for a matte or high gloss lacquer look, these colors are delicate and will lighten up even a kitchen with darker base cabinets.
  • If you don’t love the combination of wood and lacquer, you can choose a lighter wood for the upper half of your kitchen – like a White Larch or White Oak.
  • To make the cabinets even lighter, add some luminosity by selecting white or light grey glass doors.
  • Transparent glass fronts are also an option but if your cabinets are stuffed with items that will be visible through the glass, it will make the kitchen look cluttered. In this case, frosted glass doors are a better solution.

2. Avoid having upper cabinets that go all the way up to the ceiling

Even a white finish cannot compensate for a full row of tall upper cabinets or two rows stacked one on top of the other. Plus, it is a look that is becoming more and more outdated. If you need a lot of storage for your less used items, you can find other solutions that might even be more practical than having to pull up a stepladder to reach cabinets close to the ceiling.

Kitchen with upper cabinets up to the ceiling

3. Minimize the number of upper cabinets or remove them altogether

No matter their color and finish, upper cabinets inevitably make kitchens look “heavier” because they occupy our direct line of sight. Opening up that space is going to give your kitchen a much lighter look and a more elegant aesthetic:

  • If you have an open floor plan layout, the kitchen will blend better with the living room
  • If you have a closed kitchen, the room will feel bigger and less suffocating.

Using deeper base cabinets will help you compensate for the lost storage at the top. 

Kitchen with no upper cabinets

4. Use a mix of full and “empty” spaces

Alternate cabinets and open shelving systems, both on the walls and in the island:

  • The kitchen is going to have a more dynamic aesthetic
  • The shelves help the kitchen make a more seamless transition into the living area.

The trick to making the best use of open shelving systems in the kitchen?

  • Don’t overstuff them
  • Use them to display plants as well as your most expensive and interesting looking items and accessories.

Kitchen with open shelving systems

5. Pick a minimalist extractor hood

Whether it is placed against the wall or over the island, the extractor hood can be an imposing element of the kitchen design. However, there are hoods with a more minimalist design (or hoods that are integrated into the cabinetry) that will help keep the aesthetic on the lighter side and won’t demand so much attention. 

Kitchen with minimalist extractor hood

6. Use glass countertops and backsplashes

Just like for the cabinet doors, glass makes countertops and backsplashes more luminous and therefore, lighter.

7. Don’t clutter your backsplashes with utensil bars

Having a utensil bar on your backsplash can be very useful. Just try not to overdo it because it is an element that falls directly into the line of sight and can make the kitchen design appear busier than it is.

8. Choose a cabinetry line with a recessed or reflective toe kick

Either choice will make the kitchen look as if suspended in the air.

Kitchen with a recessed toe kick

9. Avoid a U-shaped layout

The U-shaped layout essentially means rows of cabinets on 3 consecutive walls. No matter which tricks you are going to use to lighten up the visual load, the space is still going to look pretty heavy.

10. Go handle-free

The fewer visual details the eye has to absorb, the lighter your kitchen is going to look. Choosing cabinetry with no handles can go a long way.

11. Pick a finish that is going to play with both natural and artificial light

A finish like Snaidero’s mica-based lacquer gives the cabinet surfaces a reflective quality that makes them shimmer and change shade depending on how they are hit by light.

Kitchen with mica-based lacquer finish

12. Mix cabinets with panels of LED lights

Snaidero’s LUX kitchen uses vertical panels of LED lights to visually divide the work area from the wall storage units and lighten up the kitchen. 

Kitchen cabinets with LED lights