Kitchen Design Elements: Tools for Designing Your Kitchen

CliqStudios inset cabinetry in painted white and tea leaf

Understanding basic interior design elements will help you create a kitchen that is both functional and beautiful. Design elements are the basic concepts and tools that you can utilize while designing interior space. Guidelines for the effective use of these tools can be found in design principles.

These are the fundamental elements of design: space, line, form, color and texture. Learning about these concepts and their applications will help you make your kitchen look good and feel good for all that enter your space!

Design Element #1: Space

Modern open concept living room design

Open concept designs require negative space to create pathways around different functional areas.

Space is the area provided for a particular purpose. Space can be divided into two categories: positive space, and negative space. Positive space is space that contains objects, while negative space is open or empty space.

The balance between positive and negative space will determine the feeling of your space. A large open space may give a room an airy, relaxed feeling, or it can cause the room to feel unwelcoming and stark. Similarly, a small room can be comfortable and cozy, or may feel crowded, hectic and chaotic.

Design Element #2: Line

Modern white shaker style kitchen with curved stainless steel range hood, fruit, and wine

A single curved line among horizontal lines creates an elegant focal point.

Line is a basic unit of form and shape. This element guides the eye as it moves along a surface. Each object or piece of furnishing in your space, as well as the architectural shape itself (your walls and ceilings) contributes to harmony, unity, and contrast of line. Your use to line will largely contribute to the emotional effect of your space.

A few points about the effect of line in kitchen design and layout:

  • Repeated vertical lines transmit a dignified and formal feeling and cause the eye to move upward, adding visual height.
  • Horizontal lines are restful, calm and the most stable of all line forms.
  • The eye travels side-to-side along a horizontal line, widening the area or object being viewed.
  • Large curved lines with long waves are relaxing, gentle and suggest joy.
  • Small curved lines with very short waves suggest excitement and energy.
  • Diagonal or dynamic lines relay a feeling of drama, tension, and movement to a room

Design Element #3: Form

Cli1Studios Painted White inset cabinets featuring butcher block countertop, under cabinet mount range hood, beadboard island and decorative island leg

Utilizing both straight and curved forms makes this kitchen feel inviting and approachable.

Everything has a form, or a physical shape. Form can be measured from top to bottom (height), side to side (width) and back to front (depth). There are two types of form: man-made and organic. In relationship to their surroundings, forms can be boring or interesting. It is important to use form creatively to make sure it complements the mood and design of the space.

  • Man-made forms are often geometric and tend toward symmetry
  • Organic forms are found naturally and are often more asymmetrical

Design Element #4: Color

Modern two-toned shaker style kitchen in white and navy. Features open shelves, an oriental runner and stainless steel range hood.

The combination of navy and red adds a royal, sophisticated look to this kitchen.

Color, seen either on the surface of an object or in colored light sources, appeals directly to the emotions and sets the mood for a space. “Hue” is the technical name given to a color as it is reflected. Neutral hues are calming and comfortable, whereas bright and bold colors can either make a room exciting or provoke a feeling of restlessness.

White has long been the most popular color in kitchen design. Since white reflects more light than other colors, it’s associated with “airy,” “bright,” and “open” spaces. This can make a space look larger and cleaner.

Design Element #5: Texture

Transforming patterned backsplash, wood range hood and open shelf with lamp.

A visual treat of color, line, and texture. 

There are two types of texture: tactile and implied. Tactile texture is what is felt when an object is physically touched. Implied texture is the visual quality of an object interpreted by the eye.

Like all other elements of design, different textures can elicit different emotional responses. Rough, coarse textures suggest rugged, sturdy qualities, while, fine, smooth texture suggest formality and elegance. Everything has texture and its use can add flair, personality, and variety to any design.

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Design Your Room
Resources for designing your kitchen.

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Don’t choose the cheapest bid.

How do I design an open kitchen?
An open space is ideal for interaction and entertaining.