Make a Standard Refrigerator Look Like a Built-in

Fridge Handles

It seems that kitchen design continues to trend in the upscale direction. People are looking for better cabinets, granite or solid surface countertops, and professional looking appliances. One of the icons of the upscale kitchen is the Sub Zero refrigerator. The name Sub Zero has come to symbolize not just a high end kitchen. Having that Sub Zero label on your refrigerator can influence a buyer’s opinion about the entire house. I’ve often joked that the label alone is worth tens of thousands of dollars in the resale value of the house. That’s how effective the brand identity campaign has been for the Sub Zero people.

And just what’s so appealing about a Sub Zero? Obviously it is a very good product. They have great features such as two individual compressors, one for the freezer side and one for the refrigerator side. Many of their super deluxe models have specialty features you probably didn’t even know you needed until they told you. But I think the single most valuable feature of a Sub Zero is the fact that it is “cabinet depth.” This means the front of the refrigerator sits even with the face of the lower cabinets and front edge of the countertop. It doesn’t stick out several inches like standard refrigerators and look like a big bulky box in the kitchen. With a cabinet panel installed on the doors of the Sub Zero, the bulkiest object in the kitchen, the refrigerator, can take a less intrusive position in your kitchen and give the entire kitchen a more unitized and cleaner look.

Sub Zero isn’t the only manufacturer of cabinet depth refrigerators. GE Monogram, Liebherr, LG, and a few other manufacturers now offer cabinet depth refrigerators. However, cabinet depth refrigerators are usually fairly expensive and many people feel they lack enough depth inside to be as useful to them as they might prefer.

Is there another solution? Fortunately there is. If the layout of the kitchen and the rooms the kitchen adjoins will allow it, a recess can be created in the wall behind the refrigerator to allow a standard depth refrigerator to be pushed back further than normal. A six inch deep recess in the wall (only behind the refrigerator and not behind the other cabinets) should allow you to tuck the unit back and keep the refrigerator door approximately even with the base cabinets. Choose a refrigerator that allows you to put cabinet panels on the front and install vertical cabinet panels on each side of the space for the refrigerator to create an alcove for the refrigerator. When you slide the fridge into place, it will be nearly identical in appearance to the expensive cabinet depth variety. You can get the good look of a built in while keeping the interior depth of a standard refrigerator and save a few thousand dollars in the process.

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I hope this information is helpful to you. You might want to get yourself a copy of my best-seller, Designing Your Perfect House. It is chockfull of valuable tips and advice that will save you many times the cost of the book on your house building or remodeling project. You might also like The Well-Centered Home: Simple Steps to Increase Mindfulness, Self-Awareness, and Happiness Where You Live. It will show you how to make your home a happy place.

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Bill Hirsch | Architect

Bill Hirsch

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