Photography by JESSICA ANTOLA PHOTOGRAPHY BY CODY GUILFOYLE

At the heart of every home, the kitchen stands in as the arguable hub of the family. It’s where we gather to cook our meals, entertain friends and family, or linger as we browse for snacks and treats. When it comes to the design of a kitchen, creating a warm and inviting area is key. Functionality goes without saying, especially for those working within a small space. At the core of it, it’s all about establishing a dynamic that nurtures the purpose of the space, regardless of what that may be. Ahead, the best kitchens we saw this year, and the design lessons we learned from each one.

If there is one thing we learned from Starrett Zenko Ringbom’s Upper East Side kitchen, it’s that there is no such thing as using too much color—vibrant wall tiles, included. In an otherwise whitewashed space, Gio Ponti–style blue tiles instill a graphic touch, transforming an ordinary scheme into a bold focal point.

Photography by ZIO AND SONS Photography by Yoshihiro Makino

Found within a 100-year-old Hudson, NY home, this dreamy kitchen boasts no shortage of eye-catching moments. The whitewashed space features just the right touch of color, letting textural details and a slew of vintage elements set the tone for the design.

Photography by NIKOLE RAMSAY
This Australian kitchen gave us serious life. From the insane color gradients to the sleek concrete backsplash and wooden surfaces, there is not a single decorative detail that was not meticulously planned out.
Photography by AARON BENGOCHEA Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

What’s a kitchen without a mood board? This year, we were lucky enough to get a rare peek inside this Gramercy apartment where a high-low mix of vintage-esque seats and a bargain Target table meld together in effortless harmony.

Photography by NICOLE FRANZEN
This supreme kitchen was hands-down a favorite. Located within a charming Williamsburg home, the streamlined qualities of the space led way for the bolder, patterned design elements to really shine. From the custom tile backsplash to the custom-fabricated metal hood, it taught us a lesson in mixing and matching decorative styles.
Photography by JOE FLETCHER

As far as two-tone kitchens go, this one definitely takes the cake for the more untraditional. Yet, we’re entirely captivated by the bold design choices ranging from the walnut cabinets and concrete countertops to the marble backsplash and sleek splash of

black paint

on top.

Photography by SKYE PARROTT

Rustic meets modern in this light-filled Nashville kitchen, where subtle pops of color and warm wooden details lend a unique and personal touch against the ordinary

subway tile

The well-curated nook follows a complementary color palette, allowing a handful of contrasting tones to impart a dynamic effect.

Photography by RIKKI SNYDER Courtesy of Airbnb

When designing this enormous 12,000-square-foot home,

tamara magel

wanted to emulate a cozy, farmhouse feel. She did this in the kitchen by incorporating an oak ceiling —reminiscent of European farmhouses— and adding small details like fluffy chair throws and industrial-chic light fixtures to create a quaint yet luxurious dining area.

Photography by SCOTT RICKELS

The “before” pictures of this 1920s kitchen are almost unrecognizable compared to the bright and sunny space it became! Adding a fresh coat of teal paint to the cabinetry instantly livened up the room with a pop of color.

Photography by REAGAN TAYLOR Photography courtesy of Nordstrom

Combining classic elegance with modern functionality, designer Jessica Davis turned this kitchen into a sleek living space which, thanks to the inviting bar section, is prime for get-togethers.

Photography by CALLIE HOBBS

This 1930s fixer-upper got a modern update that’s reflected perfectly in the sleek new kitchen. We love the contrast of the deep green cabinetry with the white backsplash and countertops.

Photography by RAQUEL LANGWORTHY

The abundance of greenery and the natural texture of the woven seats make for quite the fresh-feeling kitchen. The built-in bench both saves space and encourages big family dinners.

Photography by LAURE JOLIET

This kitchen is a lesson in decorating with black and white! The sleek black wood flooring paired with white marble countertops make the ultimate statement— even the pendant lights are chic.

Photography by VICTOR HARSHBARGER

This gorgeous Upper East Side kitchen is equal parts luxe and homey. The modern wooden cabinetry is a central part of the decor, reflected everywhere from the fruit bowl centerpiece to the neatly stacked cutting boards.

Photography by JEREMY LIEBMAN

When working with primary colors, it’s best to keep the rest to a minimalist neutral in order to really make the vibrant shades pop. Here, handmade black-and-white Moroccan tiles and a simple white tile backsplash section off the open kitchen from the rest of the home.

Photography byFARMHOUSE FRESH

FarmHouse Fresh founder Shannon McLinden spends most of her time working in the kitchen, so she opted for a clean and bright design. To incorporate a traditional ranch design —she lives in Texas, after all— she added in a farmhouse sink, vintage signs, and rustic gunmetal stools.

Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK

Everything about Dan Pelosi’s bold and vibrant Brooklyn apartment is colorful perfection, particularly the kitchen. We love his commitment to incorporating bright shades everywhere from the unique teal pendant light to his flawlessly color-coordinated cookbook collection.

Photography by AMY BARTLAM

This perfectly-executed two-toned kitchen seamlessly blends two unique design aesthetics with a large wooden island and natural decor. Designer

natalie myers

really nailed the California-cool motif she was aiming for in this home makeover.

Photography by JUHO HUTTUNEN

It should come as no surprise that Marimekko’s president and CEO Tiina Alahuhta-Kasko has a home reminiscent of the brand’s signature bold prints and colors. Her open concept kitchen, which is perfect for entertaining, relies on a few punchy prints to spice up the otherwise neutrally-colored area.

Photography by JULIA BRENNER

The kitchen was the biggest splurge for interior designer Alex Kaehler, and it definitely paid off. When renovating her Chicago townhouse, she invested in high-quality appliances and opted for custom-made cabinetry to create a space that will be enjoyed for years to come.

Originally published May 2016. Updated December 2017.

Read more about kitchens:

14 Budget-Friendly Kitchen Cabinet Makeovers10 Kitchens Where the Backsplash Is the Main Event11 Breathtaking Kitchens We Wish Were Ours