How to make a "built-in" fridge look more built-in

trippknightlyJuly 27, 2013

I'm considering getting a built-in 42" KitchenAid refrigerator for a new kitchen. It will be panelled not stainless. Model is KBFO42FTX (see igerators-3/-[KBFO42FTX]-402070/KBFO42FTX/). So far I'm weighing the pros and cons and thinking I can't justify going higher end, all things considered. But I'm still torn. One thing that really annoys me is the trim for the thing seems only available in stainless -- see attached photo (I've seen white trim available on its sister fridge from Jenn-Air; the cabinetry will be white). The Jenn-Air is the JF42NXFXDW:

I know the hinge on this KA is non-articulating, so that right there further impedes how much of a truly-integrated look I can get but in the attached photo the stainless trim ain't doing it for me though I could live with it... eventually!

Maybe w/ white cabinetry the stainless trim would be less noticeable vs picture, or maybe I could paint the stainless trim on the sides white (never mind painting stainless is tough), or maybe the handles can be swapped w/ something more consistent w/ rest of cabinetry's hardware (likely antique bronze).

Any input?

This post was edited by trippknightly on Sat, Jul 27, 13 at 18:07

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Sophie Wheeler

If you want a fully integrated look, you need to buy a fully integrated refrigerator, like the SubZero. That would be my recommendation.

Or else change your aesthetics to not find the built in look lacking. It's a lot harder to change what you find attractive than it is to up your budget. On the other hand, it's a lot easier to ignore something that's a B- in looks in your eyes and use the $$ savings to buy something else that will be the undoubted center of attention for the kitchen. Like a great range, or hood. Or going from full overlay to inset cabinets.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 2:13PM
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It is similar to the monograms we have purchased regarding the trim. You either decide you can tolerate the hinge feature, or spend the money on Subz which are truly integrated. I would not be concerned with concealing it, as that might make it worse and more "attention-grabbing". Though the subz price was not a deal breaker for me, I felt like the monogram (a repeat purchase for us) was the "best buy". I think that the Kitchen Aid you posted is really pretty!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 3:04PM
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My Jenn-air, built in and paneled 48" installed in 2006.

At the time true integrated fridges had not arrived yet, alto I had (and still do not), have any desire for them.

Our goal was we liked the paneled look, and the ease of keeping the front of the fridge nice looking, (compared to the SS GE), we had in the old kitchen. That SS fridge, along with an SS KA dishwasher and all the scrubbing , polishing---etc etc, to keep them nice looking,----Well, we thought, "There must be a better way"!

And, to Us, The paneled fridge and paneled Miele DW,was the way to go. (The Miele DW is also not truly integrated), the control panel and the Miele Logo show and we "Like It Like That"!

We kind of do our "Own thing", we don't follow the Jones, as we are the Johnsons, and "JOH" comes before "JON" hence no following them!

The JA fridges , SXS and built ins have been the number one rated fridges for reliability by (respondents to Consumer Reports Surveys), and yesterday, while visiting Pacific Sales, (for another poster on GW), the saleman said JA is also rated #1 for reliability for the year 2013.

More than likely the KA uses the same compressor, as well as many of the other internal parts of the JA's and hence should be pretty reliable, and uses the "Latest Technology",(Variable Speed Compressor), which the "High end competitor" does not, and back in 2006 it showed its "gills" up on top, not a look that I wanted.

In fact if you peruse GW much and check posts about fridges, you will see far more complaints about the "High end Brand", than will you see for the KA fridges, (Most KA fridge reviews and comments positive).

Considering the price as well as many more sales outlets for the KA than the "Premium brand", one would think a lot more KA fridges are sold than the other brand, which adds even more emphasis to the ratio of positive reviews/comments vs negative reviews/comments betweeen the 2 brands. (IE there are probably a lot more KA and JA fridges out there to bust , but they don't.

Good luck with your pending decision.

I posted a picture of mine for you, alto I do not have white cabinets----another Jones xxx er I mean "Johnson Thing"!


    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 3:38PM
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Liebherr is a fully integrated option, at a couple grand less than the comparable size SZ. We love ours...

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 5:21PM
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Thx. Your Liebherr looks great; I know them.

The only reason I've ruled them out is they don't make a 42" French door. We can't do a 48" and we could probably make do w/ a 36" (Liebherr makes an integrated 36"). Though even then I'd probably be making the same tradeoff comparison vs the KitchenAid that I had/have w/ the Jenn-Air.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 6:12PM
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Question for Gary / Dodge59 or anybody - do you know: if you had wanted would yor KA have supported using a non-KA handle? (Would make things more consistent w/ other hardware in the kitchen when you have cabinet hardware.)

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 11:36AM
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If you panel the fridge, you can use any handle you want.

My Jenn-air has Electrolux fridge handles on it to match my Elux oven, speed oven and wine cooler.


    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 4:39PM
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fully integrated fridges came onto the market circa 1998-99 when SubZero debuted their 27" 700 series with three models plus drawer units.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 10:21PM
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Did all those have the "Gills" on top, xedos?

It's possible the SZ was a full integrated one when I looked at it back in 2006, but it had gills, was over 7 grand, ($4588 for the JA)
and it didn't have any of the features that the JA had.



    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 11:06PM
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Gary - no, the 700 series didn't doesn't have "gills" at all.

It's systems are down in the bottom of the unit and are completely covered by cabinetry toekick and / or the bottom drawer panel.

It was the first unit to be TOTALLY concealed ( no trim, no fins, no gaskets showing ) and is for the most part unchanged since it's rollout in the LATE 90's !!!! - which is its biggest drawback today.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 8:08PM
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Thanks for that xedos. Never diod run into one of those at the appliance stores back in the days when I as looking, just the one with the vents above...


    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 10:21PM
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My 2007 SZ 632 48-inch SXS has the refrigeration at the top. I chose to panel the area, although the gills option was available. The panel sits out from its frame about an inch, and it was easy to integrate that with the panels below and above.

SS trim is still visible, much like in Gary's photo in message 4.


    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 10:47AM
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The 600 series was an entirely different animal - and was not an "integrated" fridge , but rather a "built-in".

It was never designed to have the panels (in any of its configurations) flush with the adjacent cabinetry. Even with full coverage panels, some of the trim or mounting surfaces were always visible.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 9:37PM
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Thanks for the clarification.


    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 9:28AM
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