For many homeowners, the ideal refrigerator in recent years has been a side-by-side, perhaps a stylish stainless steel fridge freezer. However, of late the new trend in kitchen renovations has been the move towards the ‘integrated kitchen’. The basic concept behind this is rather than having appliances matching each other; integrated appliances are instead used to match with the kitchen cabinetry. The popularity of this trend has led to the rise of integrated fridges.
A standard American refrigerator no matter in white, black or stainless is very hard to miss. When you walk into a kitchen the fridge stands out like a sore thumb. Integrated refrigerators, on the other hand, are custom designed to disappear in the kitchen.
A fully integrated fridge is usually custom designed for a particular kitchen, unlike traditional fridge freezers. The usual technique is to form a panel to be affixed to the appliance door. This panel will be made of the same type and tint of wood used by the kitchen cabinets. If properly designed, at first glance the door of the integrated refrigerator will look just like another cabinet.
To fully achieve this look requires more than just a door. The fridge must be designed to fit into the wall so it does not stick out further than the cabinetry. This may require modification to the wall to create a niche for the appliance to be placed. Also, if the kitchens cabinetry is somewhat ornate, it may be necessary to add trim to the door panel to fully duplicate the look of the rest of the kitchen.
As with traditional American fridges, an integrated refrigerator can be had in a wide range of styles. They can be a basic fridge or freezer, a fridge over freezer combo unit, or the classic favorite a side by side unit. Also popular, often as second fridges, is the use of an integrated under counter fridge to provide supplemental refrigerated storage for well equipped kitchens.
Since these custom built fridges are designed to be able to split tightly between cabinets, they do not require the traditional buffer space of air around them that other fridges do. This feature – plus their high stealth factor – makes integrated fridge freezers ideal for rooms other than the kitchen. The idea of an integrated bar fridge that blends subtly into the background appeals to many.
All good things come at a price, and the integrated fridge freezer is not exempt. You will pay a significant premium in having one of these units customized for your kitchen. There may also be additional cost in preparing an area in your kitchen for the installation. However, if you are renovating already, then some of that money is going to be a wash.
Another possible negative factor to consider is that integrated fridges are usually significantly smaller than traditional models. This is due to the requirement for the refrigerator to blend with the cabinets, and not stick out into the kitchen.
If you have the funds, and can live without the extra fridge space, then creating an integrated kitchen may be for you. If so, then you will definitely find yourself needing to purchase one of these integrated fridges.
Originally posted. May 30, 2010