13 Tips for Exquisite Kitchen Designs

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Last updated: April 10, 2023

Have you ever considered where the heart of your home is? Some may feel this is the family entertainment room or some other place. We actually think the kitchen is the heart of your home.


The kitchen is the place where the family gets together to eat most of its daily meals and where the ultimate love is shared through prepared meals.

Think about the last Christmas party you were at? Whether you’re hosting and making the party fixings, or it’s a pot-luck, people are more likely to congregate in the kitchen to get their food before heading to the dining room table. An exquisite kitchen design will not only get your party guests talking, but this larger more functional space will give everyone more room to fill those hungry tummies. Well-designed, quality kitchens are a great place to share many memories with family, friends, and coworkers.

Is it any surprise that most major home renovation projects start within the kitchen? It may be a small remodeling project or a large renovation project with interior designers that work closely to help map out any personal style. Let’s look at some data.

Budget and Spending on Kitchen Renovations in the United States (2016)

We looked into this a bit further and although we couldn’t find more recent data, a 2016 Statista report indicated what we already knew. Thirty percent of American homeowners confirmed that they had spent between $25,001-$50,000 on a kitchen renovation project. Another 29% of American homeowners spent between $50,001 and more than $100,000 to build exquisite kitchens, made with the highest quality products, and likely using a design team to keep projects and budgets under control.

Statistic: Budget and spending on kitchen renovations in the United States in 2016 | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Table of Contents

  1. Budget and Spending on Kitchen Renovations in the United States (2016)
  2. Excellent Quality Kitchens
    1. Kitchen Island
    2. Ceiling Cabinets
      1. What is a ceiling cabinet?
    3. Custom Kitchen Cabinets
    4. Kitchen Table
  3. Kitchen Elements and Materials
    1. Brass Pull
    2. Stainless Steel
    3. Dark Wood
  4. Counter Designs
    1. Black Countertops
    2. White Marble Counters
  5. Exquisite Designs
    1. Contemporary Kitchen
    2. Modern Kitchen
    3. White Kitchen
  6. In Conclusion

Excellent Quality Kitchens

Any kitchen renovation project is driven by budget and space. Larger kitchens and renovation projects will consider many additions or enhancements.

Kitchen Island

Centering your kitchen workflow with a kitchen island is a god-send for many homeowners. It provides more storage with extra cabinet space, additional counter space that centers you between appliances and other cabinets. If you have kids or plan to have them, the kitchen island also provides additional seating and an eating area for little monsters who tend to make a mess of things. The island is like your information center or pivot point, giving you a great sense of control in the kitchen, between your cooking, cleaning, or preparation areas. Like your kitchen, the kitchen island becomes the central hub for activity.

Try to imagine how useful it could be for you in your own kitchen. Imagine it yourself. You’re at the island while your friends are sitting on bar stools on the other end. As you’re preparing the meal on appliances behind you, you could have easy access to the refrigerator and then can easily serve your guests with some snacks or drinks across the island. Easy peasy. The bonus is that you don’t have to dirty up the dining table and keep the conversation close while you conveniently work away.

Did you know among all home renovators, a built-in island is the most sought-after feature after pantry cabinets? Yep. Houzz did a trends survey with close to 3000 respondents. You also have to realize the home square footage has increased significantly in some U.S. states, and this has led to explosive growth for kitchen islands since the ’80s.

If you’re looking for a home with a built-in kitchen island or considering if a kitchen island is worth the investment, you bet is it. Just try to imagine how much easier it would be to prepare your food, with chopping, dicing, slicing, and washing. All in one central hub location.

Ceiling Cabinets

If your budget and design team blueprint for that exquisite kitchen design includes ceiling cabinets, you’re doing what every home remodeler is doing today.

What is a ceiling cabinet?

Exactly what you think it means. These are ceiling-installed cabinets that are usually made with high-quality products and materials but add a luxurious personal style that defines what your kitchen should look like. You’ve probably seen many photos of ceiling cabinets for white kitchen styles.

In a 2014 study from Statista, 15% of American homeowners invested in kitchen cabinets and countertops when buying online. See the data below.

Statistic: Leading home improvement categories purchased online in the United States in 2014 | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Beyond the regular cabinets available with kitchen counters, the ceiling cabinets are usually extra tall upper cabinets, which provide far more shelving and room to store seasonal items, smaller to mid-sized appliances, and large platters for party hosting. All these items are used far less frequently so instead of creating clutter with boxes in the garage or basement, you can use ceiling cabinets to organize things for easy access in your modern kitchen.

There is one other important feature that people do not think about with ceiling cabinets. Dust! With kitchen cabinets that are mid-height, you have to deal with dust and regular cleaning. Also, the unused space is unappealing if you thought about it yourself. We’ve seen decorative elements placed above these cabinets. Really? Yuck.

Don’t believe us? What about some sports hockey collection? Or serving pieces like plates? Why? A cookbook display that is unreachable and requires a step-ladder. Wine storage? Um, seriously now. People have even tried to add other shelves (!) and even tried to grow small plants. All of this is inconvenient, clunky, and not representative of a modern kitchen with immaculate design elements.

Trust us. You’re never going to use the top flooring of a mid-height cabinet in a useful way. It will simply create added work with cleaning and dusting and is more of an eyesore with any of the crazy ideas we’ve listed above.

Custom Kitchen Cabinets

Exquisite kitchens may look absolutely beautiful in a glossy magazine or some home viewings during a sale. Some of these kitchens likely had custom kitchen cabinets added as part of the home design project. It’s a fact, a large portion of the budget for kitchen renovations is due to custom design. Older homes and even newer ones may have patterns or layouts that are not compatible with stock or semi-custom cabinets.

On our team, one of our writers had a brother who hired a custom design team to measure and install his ceiling height cabinets. They were definitely made with excellent quality materials. However, the project took longer than usual because the installation required custom cabinetry for an old semi-detached home due to some odd corners and poorly-leveled ceiling structural work!

Full custom kitchen cabinets are popular because they give the homeowner that exact look and feel they want for a kitchen remodel. Cabinets sometimes not only need to blend seamlessly with the kitchen walls and layout but with the surrounding furniture and appliances. Consider things like wood finish and types, dimensions, sizes, and unique but custom space-saving ideas that you are likely to come up with.

What about your basement? Basements weren’t made intentionally for kitchen designs but maybe you’d like to convert your basement into a unique space that includes a smaller kitchen and specialized storage concepts that allow you to feed your kids or rowdy friends with food over a football game? Makes more sense to have this in the basement versus having to go upstairs to make everything and bring it back down.

Custom builds consider unique spaces, unique floor plans, and roadblocks. Every decision and inch counts both in materials and time to build and integrate. Remember those less frequent seasonal items we talked about? Rather than fill your ceiling cabinets with these items, put them in your basement kitchen so that you have some cookware and appliances.

If you decide to consider a custom kitchen cabinet for the main floor or your sports/entertainment den, you will gain from a few key benefits. The quality of materials is much better and will last longer but the workmanship will also raise home values or the perception of value for new buyers in the future. Built-in features made by a quality design team with the highest quality products will be recognized by the real estate agent representing potential buyers.

Remember, this is one of the more expensive renovation projects in your home. Choose wisely, allocate a proper budget, and consider design choices that take advantage of space, your personal style, and make it a great place for everyone to enjoy.

Kitchen Table

The kitchen table is an important part of your design plan. You may be wondering what to consider. Did you know that dark wood with lighter upholstery is a hot trend nowadays? Yes, contrasting dining sets can make you uber-cool and modern.

We’ve seen amazing kitchen tables from retailers like Structube or similar which offer modern furniture with some hot, stylish designs at competitive prices. We’ve always loved the modern rustic style which allows you to mix materials but have seen some great success with all-neutral color giving a fresh and clean palette to space. Natural wood elements in chairs and bench-style tables are really popular with modern homes.

It’s okay to mix things up a bit. Depending on your layout, consider a modern pedestal dining table from Knoll which seats four and fits comfortably into a nook window area for a nice breakfast or light lunch with the family. If you’re into white kitchens, the pedestal table has a glass-top and white frame finish with matching, stylish white chairs.

Another idea would be to consider a rectangular elm table with beautiful dark, wooden chairs with matching beige upholster. Elm wood is beautiful but it is also unique because grain markings are visible and uniquely different from other elm trees. This wood also does not splinter and is perfect for dining/kitchen furniture.

Another sexy kitchen style considers a kitchen table that is clear-legged with plexiglass cylinders. With a white countertop and matching white upholstered chairs, with metal legs, this would be a perfect addition to a white kitchen with large windows. The light is maximized in this environment, giving a more spacious feel.

If you don’t have the experience, consider an experienced interior design team to help propose various styles that are meaningful to you. This will be dependent on budget, our kitchen layout and style, and personal taste. Kitchen/dining tables come in many shapes and sizes. They can be rectangular, square-shaped, round, or oval.

Kitchen Elements and Materials

Brass Pull

Brass Pulls are the secret design trend. Brass ebbs and flows with each generation but based on our general read of the broader renovation landscape, brass has popular again with modern residential design. Brass benefits from better finish options and new tones that provide better pairing with other metals. We’ve always liked brass has a softer finished, brushed gold look compared to that shiny surface we all can mentally picture.

When considering the use of brass, consider brass for your cabinets and drawers. Remember the ceiling cabinets? It makes more sense to use knobs to open cabinet doors above or at eye level. Brass pulls are far more effective and useful for lower cabinets users around kitchen countertops.

We’d be unreasonable if we didn’t mention the beautiful Kraus (KPF-2820BB) Oletto which comes in a beautiful brushed brass finish, and is a single handle pull-down kitchen faucet that could look very beautiful in your two-basin kitchen island or against a bricked white wall.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel can be a fantastic addition to elements or as an entire kitchen style. While some people might feel too much stainless steel reminds them of the butcher or the morgue (ugh, sorry), there are some exquisite kitchen styles we’ve seen that are eye-poppers! Stainless steel is a very popular element with some of the finest chefs and restaurants in the world. You may be a budding chef, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. 🙂

Besides the kitchen sinks, a stainless steel kitchen island can be an amazing addition to a modern home and kitchen layout. We’ve seen some beautiful designs where the kitchen had large ceiling height windows, or used a mix of country-style decorative elements, and patterned white and black brick. Heck, you can even get that industrial restaurant-inspired kitchen from some of IKEA’s own kitchen concepts, products, and materials.

This is a refined taste and we see budding chefs viewing this option as a favorite.

Dark Wood

There is dark wood and then there is dark wood. You know the kind we’re talking about. It’s usually a very dark finish with those prefabricated cabinets that give off a drab and depressing feel to the kitchen! That’s not something anyone wants for the kitchen – the activity hub of the home!

Dark wood kitchen cabinets are in style but are not necessarily the most popular design choice for the reasons already expressed. Since our focus remains on the highest quality, we do want to move away from the stained natural wood cabinet look that dominated kitchens for so long and find the happy middle ground where your kitchen cabinets and kitchen can benefit and indulge in some dark wood finishes that actually look impressive.

We’ve seen some amazing examples with kitchen island marble countertops and sleek dark wood lower cabinets with stainless steel or even brass pull.

In a contemporary kitchen, the dark wood finish could actually be a color gradient of darker and softer colors which blend nicely with ceiling cabinets and with a pattern match for everything under the kitchen island include cabinet drawers and wall finish.

For a contemporary kitchen style, you will see white used for flooring, kitchen walls, and countertops. The use of stainless steel for knobs and pulls, kitchen sinks, and appliances provide a contrast between all the colors and patterns for a spacious, contemporary look. A dark wood floor would not be suitable in this environment for these patterns.

Counter Designs

There are so many choices for counter-design styles, we will only focus on two popular extremes.

Black Countertops

Black countertops can make a kitchen appear smaller. They are extremely practical for hiding dirt and do not stain as well. A black countertop can look very nice with white cabinetry or natural, earthy tone color cabinets that are light brown or darker beige.

They can bring elegance and style within a kitchen setting that uses farmhouse, cottage, or rustic cabinet colors and styles. We don’t recommend black granite or quartz countertops and black cabinetry unless you plan to use darker gray finishes for the kitchen island, stainless steel appliances, trims, knobs, and chairs. Imagine copper finish sink basins with a black countertop. They can look great!

There are many examples of farmhouse/cottage style kitchens, which use white cabinetry, black granite or quartz countertops, black knobs and pulls, and large-framed white windows that provide enough natural light to balance the effects of black decorative elements with stainless steel appliances and other finishes.

White Marble Counters

Who doesn’t like white marble countertops? Almost no one. They’re likely the most popular look and finish for any kitchen island countertop or other kitchen counters. They are extremely heavy too!

The good news is that white marble counters may increase your home value, as long as they are properly maintained. White marble can stain because it is porous and can chip, etch or scratch.

We did a rough scan and marble ranges in cost between $40 and $200 per square foot. They are expensive to purchase and require regular resealing (about four times per year) to avoid staining and if it does stain, it will be a costly repair.

Exquisite Designs

When considering kitchen projects, you should keep in mind that your design decisions are dependent on the home/condo you currently live in or plan to consider. Layouts and designs will complement your kitchen remodeling efforts.

We’ve identified three common themes that are popular with most American kitchens today.

Contemporary Kitchen

The contemporary kitchen is likely to have flat panel doors (there are no decorative or raised elements) that cover an entire frame which provides a clean, elegant appearance. As we have discussed, these kitchens usually have their appliances into wall panels and cabinets for an integrated, finished look. You will want to consider this if you’re undergoing a major project. Appliances that seamlessly fit into the frames will require custom work, use less floor space (making more room for kitchen islands), cost more but increase home values more.

A contemporary style reflects the current design and styling trends of most architects and home designers at the time of build or renovation projects. The rules are a bit more flexible with more fluid or changing styling patterns. The contemporary kitchen cabinets are generally more natural in color and tone, but fit the same mold with smooth, polished, and sleek surfaces.

If you are the type of individual that likes a clean, sparse, and minimalistic aesthetic, you will enjoy this style because you love flat-front cabinets, bold yet sophisticated color schemes, a mix of stone, granite, marble, and brick, stylish fixtures in brass or stainless steel, a mix of wood accents (dark or lighter tones) and stylish tiles.

Modern Kitchen

If you have a home in Palm Springs, Palm Desert, or an older home with Bauhaus-style design influences, you’re likely to be a proud owner of a mid-century modern home. The design movement started in the late ’30s (1938, lasting through the 1970s before surging against at the end of the 20th century) and has been a timeless design movement.

You may know about Frank Sinatra’s mid-century modern home. The modern style reflects a design from an earlier age. Contemporary style is a design movement that reflects similar features (clean, sleek, minimalist design) but includes design elements from today (the present) and considers future elements.

A modern kitchen will have geometric patterns, little ornamentation, flat surfaces, ceiling height windows, or dividing sliding doors (ceiling height – glass or wood) which provide easy access between spacious rooms or indoor/outdoor transitions. Modern kitchen cabinets will be sleek and simple, angular but be largely flat surfaces with floor doors and no extra design hardware.

The contemporary and modern exquisite kitchen designs available for homeowners today still retain their popular appeal.

White Kitchen

Why do you think white is popular for kitchens? We’ve seen white kitchens used in traditional farmhouse-style, french country, cottage, and modern or contemporary homes. White kitchens look cleaner, are more flexible with different home styles, and provide a bright appeal to the home’s activity hub. Add in some large windows, the natural light, and open, spacious look is hard to ignore.

White cabinets brighten darker spaces because the color reflects light. If your kitchen has less natural light (we’ve seen some dark kitchens!), you want to consider white cabinetry and finishes for kitchen islands to help brighten the space. If you consider a glossier finish for white kitchens, the added brightness from reflected light will also inflate the size and appearance of your kitchen.

White kitchens have stood the test of time. They’re time eternal in the coastal, beach, and Cape Cod homes or your typical bread and breakfast getaways with AirBNB. A fast and cheaper way to remodel the home is simply a white paint job. White mixed in with dark colors in the kitchen with either cabinet, wood accents, or wall colors provide additional context and balance to your kitchen.

It’s also no surprise that if white sells more, most manufacturers are likely to make more of that color. This means fewer custom colors and better prices for white cabinets, countertops, a darker tile or floor, and stainless steel appliances. While it is good to save money in your budget, you want to be careful that you do not make an all-white kitchen because they will require additional thought for design accents.

In Conclusion

Whether you’re considering a home remodeling project or the purchase of homes that have exquisite kitchens, this article provides a roadmap for the type of style you want to bring to your home, future home, or condo. Budget is an important part of your planning, especially if you decide to make significant custom design changes.

To being, have a look at Holiday Kitchens for products, finishes, videos, wood styles, projects, and budgeting. You can even access their planning workbook.

Good luck with your kitchen design project.

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