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Built In Refrigerator Differences

When it comes to built in refrigerators, it’s quite a bit more complicated than just choosing the refrigerator style. By definition, built in refrigerators are integrated into the cabinetry design. Not only does the space for the unit have to be considered, but the depth and panels. Are stainless steel panels going to be used or custom matching cabinet panels? If panels are going to be used, then the cabinet style has to be matched – overlay or inset? If inset doors are going to be used on the cabinets, then the cabinet depth for the refrigerator has to be adjusted to accommodate the setback needed to make the door flush. All the details need to be accounted for when the kitchen is designed. The cabinet designer, appliance vendor, installer, and contractor all have to work together and be on the same page when it comes to the design. Mistakes can cost thousands of dollars and result in significant project delays.



Stainless Steel Built In


This is what most people think of these days when they are talking about built in refrigerators. The current trend of stainless steel appliances many clients opt for this look. With this style, the refrigerator is supplied from the manufacturer with the stainless panels installed. The design of the cabinets (and utilities) only have to consider height and width of the refrigerator – but the manufacturer’s specifications need to be followed. This particular model is standard overlay panel style installed with inset style cabinets (Photos courtesy of SubZero).


Stainless Panels with Inset Installation


In this picture, the refrigerator is set back into the cabinetry to match the inset door style. To achieve this look, the refrigerator has to be ordered to be mounted with hinges that will allow the door to clear the cabinetry. Additionally, the cabinetry around the refrigerator has to be increased in depth to accommodate the deeper mounting depth. The result is a very clean look (Photos courtesy of SubZero).


Built In with Glass Door


A glass front door is a variation on the standard built in refrigerator. The advantage is that one can see what’s in the refrigerator without having to open it. The disadvantage is that one can see what’s inside – all the time. It’s truly a double edged sword. The styling of the glass door can have a large impact on the look and feel of the kitchen, but one needs to be aware that the contents are on display and there is no storage in the door. But if a commercial or professional kitchen style is desired, a glass door refrigerator can help create the desired effect (Photos courtesy of SubZero).


Inset Installation with Custom Cabinet Panels


This installation is the same as the one in the proceeding photo – except that matching cabinetry panels have been used instead of stainless steel. The look of the kitchen is change completely with this “minor” difference. All the design considerations for an inset refrigerator have to be considered: the extra cabinetry depth and refrigerator hinges – along with the custom cabinetry panels. With this installation, the refrigerator takes on the look of cabinetry (Photos courtesy of SubZero).


Overlay Style with Custom Cabinet Panels


Here, a standard built in refrigerator has been installed with custom matching cabinet panels. In this particular example, the cabinetry style and the door style for the refrigerator do not match (the cabinets are inset) and generally would not be done in practice. If this were shown with overlay cabinetry, the look would be much cleaner. See the extra example at the end of this post (Photos courtesy of SubZero).


Framed Door with Custom Cabinet Panels


Framed refrigerator doors have been used for decades and offer the advantage of making it fairly easy to change the look of the refrigerator. Just about any thin material can be slid into the door frame or custom cabinetry panels can be installed. For example, a black board panel can be installed while the children are growing up, and after they leave the nest, it can easily be changed to a stainless steel panel (Photos courtesy of SubZero).


Fully Integrated


Integrated refrigerators look very similar to built in refrigerators except that they can be fully concealed. Built in units need some minimal clearances to allow for cooling and air movement. Integrated refrigerators completely disappear into the cabinetry (although stainless panels can also be used). As with built in refrigerators, the cabinets have to be designed to the units and te manufacturers specifications must be adhered to (Photos courtesy of SubZero).


Some additional pictures …


A picture of the integrated refrigeration in the picture above with the drawers and doors open …
A refrigerator with overlay panels in a kitchen with overlay cabinetry – this hides the refrigerator much better than the example above …
Not all integrated refrigerators have to have contemporary styling …


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