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When designing a kitchen, or indeed any space in your average property, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choice on offer. This is not simply a matter of zeroing in on the most appropriate decor or furniture: in designing, decorating, furnishing and maximising the functionality of a space, there will often be dozens if not hundreds of options on the market.

For this reason, it can be a great help to select a style that appeals to you. Choosing a ‘genre’ of home design will narrow your field of vision, making it easier to choose complementary elements and create a beautiful and cohesive space. Selecting a contemporary style can also leave you with a far trendier room which will be more likely to appeal to potential buyers and renters.

Two schools of design which are often talked about when it comes to kitchens are the ‘Modern’ and ‘Scandinavian’ genres. While the former emphasises tip top appliances and metallic finishes alongside elements of individual creativity, the latter is about maximising the use of light using minimalist decor and a function-above-frills approach to design.

For help in choosing elements for your kitchen, your best bet will be to book a kitchen design consultation with a local interior designer or kitchen fitter. It should go without saying that the actually kitchen fitting work should be handled by a Pro for the best guarantee of top-quality work, while a local decorator will leave the space looking fantastic. When looking for Pros, be sure to ask about how many kitchens they have done in your chosen style; the more experienced they are, the more ideas they will be able to contribute to your design.

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What are the characteristics of modern kitchens?

While there are a few key characteristics of modern kitchens, what really sets the style apart is its fluidity. While modern kitchens have to ‘look’ modern, there are multiple ways to achieve this and the best examples often reflect the individual tastes of the designer. In other words, it will help to spend a good deal of time looking for inspiration before making any firm decisions. This is your kitchen, after all!

  • Modern appliances - For modern kitchens, shiny new appliances are an absolute must. That is not to say that you need to keep shelling out for new technology as soon as it comes out. You need to realise that in a modern kitchen the appliances form a large part of the decor, so shiny metal, clean plastic and digital displays are what really count! That said, it is always worth investing in high end technology which will last several years.
  • No-gap cabinets - Dead space in a modern kitchen can quickly become an eyesore, so make sure that there are no gaps separating your cabinets from the floor or ceiling. You can also turn storage into a feature by taking advantage of space saving home hacks like corner drawers or pull-out units. 
  • Colourful tiles - Hard-wearing and easy to clean, tiles are a practical staple of most kitchens regardless of their style. In a modern kitchen, however, good tiling is all about bold colours which will perk up the space and fill it with character. That said, if you prefer a more ‘industrial’ modern look, you may prefer to opt for silver or graphite.
  • Countertops - It seems that every school of kitchen design has its own preferences where countertops are concerned, and modern kitchens are no exception. However, you should keep the characteristics of each choice in mind, as these can reveal hidden costs. Marble, for example, is often called an ideal choice for designers who want a gorgeous and elegant modern look, but marble worktops are also high maintenance and vulnerable to damage. Instead, why not opt for colourful graphite or some hard-wearing, easy-to-clean stainless steel?
  • Open plan - Open plan kitchens are becoming increasingly popular in the UK, and why not? They are perfect for turning claustrophobic kitchens into attractive social spaces, usually combined with a dining area or lounge. Be sure to distinguish the different ‘zones’ using differing decor, along with furniture such as long shelving or kitchen islands. To really get the most out of the space, you will also want to utilise natural light as much as possible.

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What are the characteristics of Scandinavian kitchens?

If we could use two words to describe Scandinavian kitchen design they would be ‘clean’ and ‘cohesive’. Scandinavian designs are all about pure white spaces which make as much use of natural light as possible. No one feature should dominate the room and clutter will need to be banished completely.

  • White, white and more white - Scandinavian kitchens are predominantly minimalist in terms of decor. Interestingly enough, this is not merely a matter of style: Scandinavian countries get little light in the winter, so utilising and distributing light became a key component of home design. In practice, this means white walls which will help to bounce light around the room and give the impression of a clean, open space.
  • Wood - Something that you will rarely see in a Scandinavian kitchen, or any kitchen now that we think about it, is carpeting. Scandinavian homes emphasise wooden flooring instead, typically with lightly coloured options like pine or ash which will add to the blank-palette approach. This offers plenty of practical advantages for a kitchen: wooden floors are hard wearing and easy to clean, especially if you opt for hard wood or composite.
  • Accent colours - Ok, Scandinavian kitchens do not have to be completely devoid of colour. One of the advantages of having a lightly coloured room is that any colour you insert will make much more of an impact. In a Scandinavian kitchen, this is typically done with colourful appliances, furniture and plants. Just be sure not to go all out: any colour you add should be small enough to stand out, but not so large that it dominates the room or ruins the blank-palette you are going for with the walls. 
  • Zero clutter - A large part of creating a clean space is preventing the accumulation of contemptible cringe-inducing clutter. This is another characteristic that has classical routes, back when Scandinavian homes were built so small that any mess was guaranteed to get in the way. Good storage should always be a priority in any kitchen, so be sure to look for some space saving home hacks to get as much out of your space as possible.
  • Minimal decor - These days, with most rental properties banning residents from doing so much as hanging a single poster, it can be tempting to fill a home which you actually own with wall art. However, this can get in the way of the clean and clutter-free aesthetic of Scandinavian design. While wall art is certainly traditional, it should be small and unassuming, fitting in with the room rather than immediately drawing the eye.

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