Hidden Gems

Paneled refrigerators blend seamlessly with kitchens of every style, but are they here to stay as a staple in design? Local design professionals give us their opinion on the longevity of paneled refrigeration.

Edited by Moe Godat

Photography courtesy of Alspaugh Kitchen & Bath, Anne Matheis Photography


I like the sleek, seamless look of paneled refrigerators integrated into cabinetry. There are so many focal points a kitchen remodel can achieve without the interference of a stainless steel refrigerator taking center stage. To some, paneled refrigerators might appear to have a more traditional look, with a stainless refrigerator looking more contemporary. I think the sleek integrated look can take on whatever style you want to accomplish. By using hardware, lighting and countertop materials, you can create the personality of the kitchen and have a beautiful space. Yes, paneled refrigerators are classic! Georgine O’Donnell, O’DESIGNS.

Absolutely a classic, especially when inset cabinets are used. An integrated look gives the space uniformity in both the cabinet door style and finish as well as coordinating hardware. Mike Beck, Beck/Allen Cabinetry.

Panel-ready refrigerators have been around since the 1960s. Disguising the refrigerator to look like cabinetry elevates the design of the kitchen by creating a seamless flow for the eye, thus allowing you to create the focal point of your choosing. Appliances with cabinet fronts can be integrated into almost any style, making them a classic! Janice Bohn, Anne Marie Design Studio.

There are so many choices for finishes in appliances today. So why would you panel your appliances? When you look at the sight lines in your kitchen, it’s more about whether or not you want the appliances to stand out. In some kitchens, we panel the front of all the appliances, in others we may only put fronts on one or two to blend them into a row of cabinets. While color trends on appliances will come and go, applied cabinet fronts are here to stay. It’s a classic! CJ Knapp, Yours by Design.

I think they’re here to stay! They’re so customizable that you can make them work with any design style. I have used them in really modern designs to keep the space looking sleek and in more traditional designs where they can look more like a built-in piece of furniture. Janelle Helms, Karr Bick Kitchen & Bath.

I think they are a classic; we have always used refrigerator panels in many of our kitchen designs. In many cases, it is desirable to make the large refrigerators and freezers blend in with the surrounding kitchen. Some brands such as Sub Zero have done an excellent job in allowing the cabinet panels to have door gaps that equal those of the surrounding cabinetry.  They also allow us to adjust our appliance panel heights to coordinate or align with other elements in the room.  That is not to say stainless or other metal finishes are not a classic as well. They also have their place, and it really depends on the client, the style of the room and the desired end result. One thing worth mentioning is the flexibility of refrigerators and freezers widths. With the modular sizes of these units, it allows designers to break up the refrigeration so you don’t have to have all the “bulk” in one location. Keith Gegg, Gegg Design & Cabinetry.

Built-in refrigeration is a classic approach to concealing a large-scale appliance. It allows endless creativity. Paneled refrigerators will always be a desired design application in traditional, transitional and contemporary design. Chris Paul, Alspaugh Kitchen & Bath. 

This trend has gathered momentum for decades. Innovations in appliance design, increased numbers and sizes of appliances in residential kitchens, and the availability of panel-ready models has significantly increased over the past two decades as well. Additionally, open concept design in homes has increased the demand for aesthetic improvements across the board in kitchen design. Paneled appliances provide continuity and significantly improve the aesthetics. Paneling appliances will continue to become more common and likely will be considered the norm in the future. It’s definitely a classic! David Schneider, PURE Home Design

Classic for sure! As long as there are custom kitchens, there will be paneled fridges.Teddy Karl, The Great Cover-Up.