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built in refrigerators - are they worth it

Posted by vieirab (My Page) on
Sun, Apr 15, 12 at 11:36

Currently doing a complete kitchen renovation and wanted to do a built in refrigerator. They seem to start at about $5,000 - $6,000 on the low end. We're looking at a 36" subzero at about $8,100. Are these systems worth it or are you better off with a counter depth stand alone at about $3,000?

Thoughts, experiences....


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

To me, this decision is driven by two main factors: space, and esthetic/design considerations.

For me the primary factor is the space available. If you have plenty of room, I think a counter depth stand alone or even a full depth can be designed around to minimize their relative bulk, and get a pleasing design.

I live in a neighborhood of some very small, narrow houses, and sometimes even a modest kitchen will have a Subzero or Liebherr in it, simply because the shallowest fridge available was warranted.

There are two aspects to a built in fridge in this regard too. If part of the kitchen design is relatively narrow, it may also be difficult to move the fridge out and clean around it. This is unnecessary with a built-in.

I currently have a Subzero because it was my only option design-wise at the time. In the house I just bought I may need to do built-in again (the kitchen is about 7-1/2" wide) but I am also looking at Liebherr, which is distinctly less expensive. The interior fit and finish of both companies is better than most freestanding I've seen as well.

So, if sleek esthetics are important, a built-in may be your best option, or if a shallow dimension is important, built-in may be your best option. But otherwise it may be completely reasonable to go with a conventional fridge, and they may not be worth the extra money in your kitchen.


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

I went back and forth on spending the money for a built in fridge too, all the way up until the last minute as the appliance place had loaded up the bosch fully integrated fridge onto the truck for delivery. I ended up paying a restocking fee and buying a standard fridge, french door with freezer on bottom, and while it is not as great at keeping even temps as the higher end fridges I do not regret spending less money.


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

It will depend on what you personally value as to whether or not it's "worth it". In some neighborhoods, it would be seen as cheaping out if you did anything else, and at resale people would begin to wonder about what else had been done cheaply that they couldn't see.

A built in can lend a lot of great style---or lack of---in a design. A fully integrated fridge---NOT synonymous with built it, BTW---can take a tiny space and make it look a lot larger because it "disappears".

Only you can answer if one is "worth it" to you. If the budget is tight, and you are someone who actually cooks rather than just reheats in the MW, put the money into your cooking appliances first and then let the refrigeration and dishwashing downgrade. If you don't cook, then cold storage and maybe multiple microwaves becomes more important than the cooking appliances.


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really???

oh good grief, cheaping out? and people cannot actually cook unless they have an awesome stove? come on, having a standard fridge does not mean cutting cornors. sometimes I feel like voices of reason are few and far between on this forum. if you have the money and want it then get it, worth is a very relative term.


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

athomeinva: the first part of that sentence says "in Some Neighborhoods"

My boss lives in a 10K square foot house with 6 Subzero units in it that I have counted. In that neighborhood anything less would be cheaping out. Most of us don't live like this, which is why the sentence started "in some neighborhoods"


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

I agree entirely with GreenDesigns' post. While Athomeinva is contemptuous of the idea that people in certain neighborhoods consider a standard fridge as cheaping out, that is the reality in today's world. If the OP is concerned about re-sale, which s/he hasn't mentioned, the fridge style should be a consideration in this decision. Given the current real estate market, buyers make decisions on all kinds of things, especially when choosing between two or three homes of relatively equal value.

But also, as Athomeinva points out, "worth it" is relative to an individual's circumstances and budget. I chose to get a standard counterdepth Kitchenaid fridge. It performs flawlessly. At times, I feel somewhat smug and righteous that my excellent refrigerator saved me about $4000-5000 over a Subzero. That's a big chunk o' change. Other times, I look at some of the kitchens on this Forum or in magazines, and I lust after their built-in Subzero or integrated Thermador columns.

Recently I was in an appliance store with a friend, and checked out the Miele integrated fridges with those awesome hinges. The Miele hinges alone are almost "worth the price of admisssion". I mean, I wanted that Miele fridge with every fiber of my being LOL! I came home to my serviceable Kitchenaid which has never given me one moment of trouble and keeps my food cold to the perfect temperature. You know, I want Louboutin shoes too, but I don't have them. So, what I am trying to say is that your decision depends on what is important to you, and it is hard for us to answer your question for you whether a built-in or integrated fridge is "worth it".


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yup

yeah, I realize that, do those people bother with gw? this forum usually has average people with budgets to consider, few with truly no financial constraints or in neighborhoods that require built in fridges. do you get the idea that the op in one of these neighborhoods? probably not if they are taking the cost savings into consideration and looking for experience on what makes a built in worth the extra money. therefore a response that states that "in some neighborhoods it would be seen as cheaping out" is of no help and comes across as disdainful towards regular fridges. as for my comment about cooking and awesome stoves, that is pretty out of whack with what greendesigns posted. i do agree that within a budget importance should be put towards the various appliances dependent on a persons lifestyle, but i cannot imagine too many people needing multiple microwaves.


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who posts here.

I dunno, I have seen more Subzeros, Wolfs, AGAs, marble, and $100K kitchens in these forums than I have seen in real life. (My one employer notwithstanding). I think that people who post in these forums have a particular interest in kitchens and may be willing to stretch the budget or give up something else in order to put something in their kitchens.

I agree that most people in here have pretty typical incomes, but I also think they are more likely to spend it on the kitchen than is typical, that is why they are here.

I know people who will spend large fractions of their incomes on car leases, vacations or clothes but would just as soon buy a scratch and dent fridge if they needed one, because that't not what they care about. They are the ones Not posting in here. Someone who asks about whether they are worth it or not are (1) considering it, and (2) have the means to purchase it--whether easily or through strict budgeting somewhere else. If they could only afford a typical fridge they wouldn't be bothering to ask.


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

I too agree with Greendesigns. Actually, I find there to be many GWers who have huge budgets and way larger and fancier kitchens than I have. Really, I have seen so many kitchens here with acres of marble, all-Gaggenau appliances and the like. So I think Athomeinva is incorrectly generalizing about this forum having "usually average people" (sorry, I truly don't mean that as a put-down, I am just trying to help in this thread). I think this forum has all budgets and ranges of spending, and we have definitely seen many posts from people saying "my neighborhood is only Subzeros and Miele appliances, what do I do?" As to the cost savings the OP is considering, she says she is "looking at a Subzero at $8100"; she would not even be looking at an $8100 fridge if it were out of her budget.

I think it important to know if the OP will be paneling the fridge? I think that question is crucial to this decision. If a panelled fridge is an important part of the kitchen design, then she should spend the money on the built-in or integrated fridge. A standard counterdepth fridge with paneling never looks right; it always looks like paneling is stuck on, rather than a seamless part of the cabinetry. So I hope the OP will come back and answer whether paneling the fridge is part of the plan or not.


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

Hey OP, I do not doubt that you have the means to buy a subzero so please do not take anything that I have written as that.

This forum does get some very expensive kitchens but it is not the majority, they are just the ones that can tend to stand out. I believe that most people that post or lurk here may at times get a little overwhelmed by what could be perceived as a focus on the high end. I am a bit tko but did not want to spend more, if anything I was looking for ways to reduce the amount I would spent when I found my way here.


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

If you are considering BI, I would do an integrated over a BI. Most of the homes that I go into have either a Subzero or another brand of BI or integrated. The trend is definitely integrated, away from SS Subzero. 36 inch bottom freezer SS subzero was about 10 years ago. Now the trends is integrated paneled.

About 20 years ago, it was paneled BI. (I see this in kitchens that are about 20 plus years old...)
Then it changed to SS Subzero about 10 to 15 years ago.


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

"Is it worth it?" does imply a cost/benefit analysis of the subjective value of the product, though not particularly based on dollars spent alone. "Worth" is not always just about the money spent. There is the value of not having a large appliance visibly dominate a design. There is the benefit of actual real cabinet depth rather than "cabinet depth" fridges. There is the benefit of increased storage life of the consumables. There is the benefit of the better visibility and organization of the interior space. Not everything is just about the dollars. There ARE other value judgements in play on the field besides the ability to afford such an appliance.


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

The OP question left much room for interpretation without a full explanation of her question. For me, I do not live in one of those neighborhoods, lol, actually I have few neighbors. Of the ones I do have, there is one house valued at 80k and next door a house at 450k.
We saved for years for our reno, which included an addition. Refrigeration choice was decided after hours of research, many of those hours right here. As others have said, design is a factor, space is a factor, money.
The difference in prices of stand alone and built in/integrated is thousands of dollars. Size is hardly the only reason.
I can offer this. I had a lovely 36" s/s Kitchenaid s/s. Free. It worked fine, actually it still lives in the garage. For me, the size, design, simple beauty of the Miele 36" full fridg, and Thermador 24" full freezer fit the bill. Our other appliances are all mid range GE Monogram. Would I have loved something else, hell ya, but the refrigeration meant the most to me. And I rate them fabulous!
More than looking great, yes they are paneled, spacious inside, and those hinges, akchicago, make my heart pitted patter too. But more than all of that, is how well these things actually work. And work they do. No refrigerator has every kept my food as fresh as long as this fridg. We live on produce, fresh, fresh, fresh, for weeks if need be. I love it. Buying lots of produce right before vacation, not too smart :-/, no problem for my Miele.
So, was I better off, absolutely. You, I do not know, only you can decide. I will say I did buy the Miele frig instead of a Thermador fridg simply because I wanted a 36" hole for future installations, if ever needed, because this is my forever kitchen. Do some research, and decide where you want to spend your money, what means most to you?


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

I agree with Alwaysfixin. I have never seen anyone IRL with a built-in or even CD fridge. I have seen dozens and dozens here in the two plus years since I joined. I should also say that I also don't know anyone with a MW drawer, double wall ovens or even a stone counter--all of which are practically de rigueur here on GW. (Most of my kitchen choices are well above what goes on in my neighborhood.)

I ended up buying a built-in fridge after planning for a standard depth KA. I made some serious errors when directing my framing crew and ran short of enough space to carry off a SD. Since I was forced to spend more on for a CD fridge, I went a bit extra and picked up a new 36" KA built-in on eBay for $3500. An $8K fridge (more for integrated) was fathoms from my budget. I much prefer the look of the built-in for my kitchen, and kitchens in general. As a consumer, I have been brainwashed to think they look more high-end.

Its very easy to find items in my shallow fridge. It is extremely quiet, and fresh produce lasts longer than in any other fridge I've owned. I'm extremely pleased I sprang for a bargain built-in. It was worth $3500. Would I have spent $8K or more on one? Definitively no.


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

In my old kitchen space there are 5 doorways, thus, not a lot of space for large box refrigerators. The only way to make this new kitchen look nice, imho, was to go built in or counter depth. But the price was way out of my budget.

I perused Craigslist for months, and e-bay, for the best deals I could find. I finally found a built in, 36 inch bottom freezer that I liked, fully paneled that I could paint and modify a bit to match my cabinets. The BI fridge allowed me to have a large island/peninsula in the middle of the kitchen, thus more cabinet/storage space and the prep space I sorely needed and so desired.

That one purchase (and granted for me it wasn't a huge expense since I bought it off Craigslist), allowed me to have the closest thing to a dream kitchen for this particular old house, by giving me space, storage, and a great look. If I had to do it again, I would hope I would make that same decision. The fridge has been in place for over a year now. Absolutely LOVE it!


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

This was a tough decision for me, but I decided it wasn't worth it. In my new kitchen, the fridge placement was a big decision. I had a choice between making my fridge dominant in the line of sight for the room and easiest access to dining area, or place it in a less dominant and slightly less convient spot. I opted for the later and then decided my 36" standard depth fridge that I already owned would allow me to splurge on some other things I need / desire.

That being said, had I placed the fridge in the dominant spot in my Kitchen design, I would have went for the built in unit. My final layout was the driving force in the fridge decision. I decided I just didn't want to walk into the room and look at a huge box, paneled or not.


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

Would not venture to say whether it is "worth it" but aesthetically whether it is important has a lot to do with the location of the refrigerator and the overall style of the kitchen. From an aesthetic standpoint I will say, IMHO, that I think it would be more bang for the buck to get a fully integrated panel'ed dishwasher. Somehow the interruption of the metal door on a dishwasher in a line of cabinetry (and it is often an off-center element when the sink is centered) is more of a visual problem than a SS refrigerator.


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

athomeinva, please. Have you seen these "average" kitchens the folks here have? "Regular" folks? Huh? But I also found the "cheaping out" thing as offensive as I found the "low-end" kitchen thread.

Well, I'll tell 'ya. In my neighborhood "cheaping out" would be throwing your old fridge in the gully rather than letting your cousin/brother/in-law (all in the same) take it for their front porch where everyone should have one.

Oh - and I'll let you guys know what I find at the reuse center. The next time they have Viking, Wolf, SubZero or anything of the sort available? I still won't be able to afford it!

I think I am the base upon which all kitchens are built. I have nothing. Nada. Zip. Squat. Not even lint. I offer everyone something to be glad they're not.

However, I work and work and save to get exactly what I want. I am very much function over form, but given what I have, form is very important. I doubt I'd find a built-in necessary at that price, but I am eyeing a CD fridge. I'm thinking of even moving the one I have into the mud room to make more space! I'm eyeing an LG DW I've cut out of a magazine.

These eye-tems are worth it to me because they speak to me. If that fridge speaks to the OP, it's worth it. Don't settle. Even if you have to pay someone for 18 months in advance to get the marble MBR countertop you want. Or the gutters your home needs (20 months). Or your multi-purpose man for the rest of your life to get drywall, plugs, siding, you name it. Don't settle.


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

Christine- Amen! Love your DIY spirit!


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

I will tell you why it was worth it for me. We have lived in a very old non function home for many years. We knew we were going build so we lived with 25 year old appliances that don't function and lack of storage. We love this old house but there is so much wrong with structurally that building made sense hence we didn't spend a dime on changing anything. My old refrigerator drives me crazy. My vegetables last 3-5 days top in it, sometimes it freezes them and sometimes it is too warm. The space it provides with a family is an issue. We bought a 36" subzero all fridge with a cabinet door and I can't wait to use it. I always have tones of vegetables and fruit and now they will be crisp. I will no longer have to dig for something. The fridge was my splurge item and totally worth it to me. It really depends on what you want.


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average

Christine- as I said:

"This forum does get some very expensive kitchens but it is not the majority, they are just the ones that can tend to stand out"

The average cost of a major kitchen remodel is $58k, I would say that the MAJORITY of the people seeking advise on this forum will spend at or below this. And that is why the response Greendsigns gave seems out of place.


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

I'm struggling with the same type of question and I have found fridges pose the hardest choice in this regard. There is a large gap between 'regular' fridges in the $1000-2000 range and built in/high end fridges at $6000-12000 for a 36" french door (for example). For all other appliances, there is a continuum from low to high price, with additional features and 'style' adding price incrementally. In fridges however, you go from dozens of similar fridges, with minimal price differences to a $5000 jump to a Liebherr (the "cheapest" high end fridge) and then on up...
I'm surprised the market has not 'filled in' with options to provide "the look" without the huge price jump. Although I'm sure the top end fridges keep food better, my old Kenmore keeps things fresh and consistely cold, with out issue as do the vast majority of 'regular' fridges. Unless you live miles from a produce shop, how long do you need to keep a head of lettuce?

The "best" I've come up with is the Kenmore/Electrolux 32" counter depth all fridge 'built in' look for 'regular' fridge price, and a 24" freezer drawer set (KA, panelled) elsewhere in the kitchen. The price for this is about $3000 and gets me a large integrated fridge, decent freezer space and a close approximation of the "look" without spending $8000.
Caspian


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

I decided I didn't want to pay more than $2K for a fridge. I ended up with a KA stainless side-by-side for $1500. It's not even counter-depth, sticking out about 5" into my small kitchen, yet it's easily the most high-end fridge in my neighborhood.

Of course, my cats appreciate the space on top for sitting and lording over all in the kitchen.


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

Oh good grief! I put in the qualifier of "in some areas" and yet everyone still jumped onto the the "she must be a snob" bandwagon simply because most of the kitchens in America don't contain a built in fridge. Yeah, I already know that, and I fit in that category myself. I'm not saying that any kitchen without a built in is substandard, just than in some areas, yes, it would be considered extremely odd to not have one. Yes, that would create issues in any buyer's mind the same way that an all carpeted house in a suburb containing homes with nothing but hardwood or stone floors would raise questions.

Would I be "insulting" people if I commented to a poster in an older home who was doing a DW that it could be considered cheaping out if they didn't configure the kitchen to have a DW? DW's were once considered luxury appliances only, not as a standard part of a kitchen.

What about a poster in a rural developing country who is doing a vacation cottage there and is considering the cost of having city water run versus keeping the existing hand pump in the kitchen? Would you consider it insulting for anyone to say that running water when you turn on a tap is gonna be a necessity and to not connect to the city water would be considered cheaping out at resale time?

There is such a thing as CONTEXT, for anything. So get over the idea that I called you a cheapskate because YOU chose not to go with a built in. That only shows insecurity or envy on you part to keep harping on it.


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

In support of GD...In my neighborhoods it would be considered "cheaping out". Much like when you go into a mansion and see a marble tile counter verses a slab. It's a lovely counter and probably works great, but in some neighborhoods that would be inexpensive in comparison to the neighbors. It's not about keeping up with the Jones, it's just about resale and comparables.

OP, I have had two built in's and both were "worth it". One was the kitchenaid 36" side by side (can't remember model number but it was top of the line) and the other is a sub zero. Both noticably kept food fresher longer than any refridgerator I've owned. I also like the tucked in looks more than seeing a box that juts out (and yes my cats probably hate me for this LOL) Because we actually installed both fridges at the same time we were able to do a side by side comparison and I can tell you that the Sub Z kept food fresher longer (varied by item). That said, do you need to keep lettuce for a month? For us, that's actually an issue since we're not in the one house at any regular frequency and I enjoy not having to toss the contents with each visit. For 99% of people..that's not likely a big deal. The KA kept food better than a lesser KA we have at this house.

That said, money isn't always a determining factor on quality. My antique toilets flush 10x better than my toto's and my higher end KA far outpreforms my miele dishwasher. I prefered the viking trash compactor to my KA but didn't want to buy it because the bags aren't standard. You never know :)

In our new kitchen we'll go with a Sub Z again but larger. I found the 36" side by side sub z was not as well organized for storage as the 36" side by side KA was. FOrtunately I don't have to do side by side so that's not a worry.

If it's a question of looks...think about your market place and typical kitchens in houses like yours (comps if you were going to sell) and factor that in, but also factor in how much that built in look matters. If it's a question of "does cost equal preformance" I'd say in the realm of Sub Z and the built in KA I had, yes, they were worth what we paid for them.

This conversation is funny because I have seen so many just the opposite, complaining about too many higher end kitchens in GW :) I think if people put some thought into it that you'd see that there is a pretty big mix of different styles and budgets here and I can't say I've actually seen a "majority" of any of it.


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

Alwaysfixin,

What do you mean by

"If a panelled fridge is an important part of the kitchen design, then she should spend the money on the built-in or integrated fridge. A standard counterdepth fridge with paneling never looks right; it always looks like paneling is stuck on, rather than a seamless part of the cabinetry"?

I am not sure I am following the terminology. I have always thought that built-in meant "recessed between two panels (well, three, if you count the top)" vs. integarted when one cannot actually see the appliance. But what is "panelled" then?

OP,

Just FYI: We discussed a similar issue on one of my recent threads (see link).

Here is a link that might be useful: Stand alone vs. built-in


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

I find that the determining factor is your budget. The total kitchen renovation must be assigned a budget then the cabinets, appliances, lighting, counter-tops etc. must work within number you can spend. I would say that if you spend $60k on cabinets then the appliances should be in keeping with the quality of the kitchen. Most homeowners want a Sub Zero or Miele for integration and i suppose status. Do they work better than BI or stand alone who knows. In most cases they work as good and probably better. Unfortunately in todays market Sub Zero, granite counters,and other high end features are expected in certain areas. If you feel you need one and will always regret not getting a Sub Zero then do it. If it is totally out of you budget then move on.


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

eleena maybe this will help:

Paneled:

Integrated fridge (see how you see the toe kick on this one):

FULLY integrated fridge (nothing at all to suggest it is a fridge)

Fully integrated is the most expensive (Subzero, Thermador and Miele all make fully integrated and possibly a few others); integrated is next on the list (I believe, but am not certain, that Liebher is integrated but not fully b/c you can't cover the toe tick?) and then paneled (less expensive than integrated- I think Jenn-Air makes one).

For our kitchen, we absolutely had to have a fully integrated. I would have integrated the oven and microwave if I could have (why doesn't anyone make a paneled oven or micro?)


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

For our kitchen, we absolutely had to have a fully integrated. I would have integrated the oven and microwave if I could have (why doesn't anyone make a paneled oven or micro?)

Yeah, heaven forfend that anyone would get the idea that it is, you know, a kitchen. ;-)

Luv ya, beagles!!


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

LOL Angie_DIY. Heaven forbid indeed! It is not-so-much a kitchen and more of a room for eating ice cream in style, LOL :)

Could you have seen my kitchen w/ a non-paneled fridge? I think that it is clearly one of those examples of a kitchen where the design depends on full integration (and thus an example of a situation where full integration was worthwhile)


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

Could you have seen my kitchen w/ a non-paneled fridge? I think that it is clearly one of those examples of a kitchen where the design depends on full integration (and thus an example of a situation where full integration was worthwhile)

No, I agree: a fridge in your kitchen would have stuck out like a sore dewclaw!


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

Beagles, thanks for the illustrative pics. Full-integrated looks good, assuming you don't want to see the appliance. But those paneled fridges look a little silly, like when the Cowardly Lion was wearing the WW of the W's soldier uniform but his tail was sticking out. Somebody tell that fridge with the plant on stop that it looks like a fridge with panels glued on.


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

We went with a more integrated model precisely because of that plant-topped paneled fridge with the doors on either side of it! We have 2 archways and the fridge was supposed to go between them (I won't even share how the architect was going to do it, lets just say it was not pretty) - by doing a wall of built ins, it softened the look and helps to prevent the obvious question of "why is there a fridge in the den?" - working with an older house made this all the more challenging! It is not perfect by any means, but it is a ton better with the lower profile fridge. So, for us it was worth it the additional cost.

Photobucket


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

Thanks, Beagles!

Ok, I have decided I *hate* paneled and not fully integrated fridges. Checking those out off my list. LOL

Built-in, free-standing, and fully-integrated ones all have their place depending on the interiors.

ITA with GreenDesigns, couldn't have said better.


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

LOL Angie_DIY, a sore dewclaw!

linelle, I agree, that fridge looks silly. I recently toured a 1970's house that's for sale in our FL neighborhood and they had taken a regular dishwasher and glued a cabinet panel on its middle. It was quite bizarre!


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

Wow, i didn't mean to create such a fuss. To answer a few of the questions raised and provide a little more detail...

We are doing a complete renovation of the kitchen including approx. 1200 square feet of hard wood flooring (not just the kitchen). Our total budget is approx $80k - $90k. Kitchen is approx. 16' x 25. We figured appliances between $16k - $20k with the difference between the high and low being driven by a BI/I refrigerator and a stand alone. We like the look of the stainless but not opposed to integrated (paneled) as the cost is relatively the same.

Was curious to why there is such a big differential in cost relative to a stand alone of similar size. I understand that there a dual compressors and some other features but do they really add to the function. What about reliability and if service is needed how difficult and costly is it relative to a standalone. I purposely left the initial question vague as to get the broadest opinions possible. I didn't intend to create an argument.

Although we live in a neighborhood/town where home values are $500k + we definitely would be in the minority of homes with a BI/I, however we're not opposed to spending a little extra to get something of better quality, that adds wow factor and that offers better functionality.

The rest of our appliances will be Wolf 36" range top (or Jenn Air), Wolf Series E wall Oven (or Jenn Air V2 with Additional Speedcook oven), GE Advantium Speedcook (if we don't get the Jenn Air), Wolf or JennAir warming drawer, Miele DW, Marvel beverage center. The only decision left is to go with the 36" SZ BI, the Jenn Air 42" built in, a Liebherr or a 36" CD KA/Jenn Air stand alone. Can go with the Liebherr for about $5 - $6, The BI SZ or Jenn Air for About $8 or the stand alone for about $3.


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

It definitely may be worth going with the Liebherr at that price differential in the type of project you are doing.

Don't worry about the argument: there are arguments about appliances at different points along the spectrum all the time. I can't really do a comparison between a $3000 fridge and the SZ or Liebherr because I went from an apartment grade/sized fridge to a Subzero that was ten times the price. Of *course* it keeps food fresher longer, but I would hope so:) Ten times as long? Probably not. But it is really nicely put together. I have had 2 service calls on it but mine was one of the batches that got bad copper from a supplier. The service was extremely prompt (once on New Years Eve day).


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Another thing...

I am assuming from the way you said it, that $500K is a fairly pricey house in your locale. In my zip this is slightly below average (and a small house), and for the most part you would Never expect to see a S-Z routinely in such an "inexpensive" :) house, although you will occasionally , mostly because of the small size of kitchens.

By comparison, where I grew up the Most expensive house currently listed is under $500K and it is a grand 1920s Tudor Revival where you could certainly expect to see a S-Z.

So if you are toward a higher end of your local market, while it may be uncommon, people would not necessarily walk in and think you over-improved.


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

"If a panelled fridge is an important part of the kitchen design, then she should spend the money on the built-in or integrated fridge. A standard counterdepth fridge with paneling never looks right; it always looks like paneling is stuck on, rather than a seamless part of the cabinetry."

I did a relatively reasonable kitchen remodel; the entire project cost $39K for a gut job that included some fairly extensive plumbing and electrical updates. My house, now that So Fla real estate has tanked, is worth ~600K.

And, of that total I spent $7,000 on a Jennair panel-ready side by side refrigerator plus another $1100 on the panel to cover it. My appliance budget in total was $10,000 and believe it or not I managed to purchase my stove and microwave (GE Advantium) and dishwasher (Bosch) while coming in almost to the penny of that limit.

For me, it was a splurge that was worth Every. Single. Penny. I have a galley kitchen and for 20 years I dreamed of the look of a smooth line of cabinetry without a fridge sticking out. Every single person who has seen both the old and new kitchens has commented on how much larger the room looks now. It was hands down the right decision and I'd do it again.

As for utility, again totally worth it for me. As others have said (and I doubted it before I got one) there is a noticeable difference in the quality of the refrigeration. Fresh vegetables especially last amazingly long. It is completely quiet as well which is a major plus for me--hate hearing appliances grinding away in a quiet house. A somewhat unexpected bonus in our family is that the greater height works ergonomically for the 3/4 of us who are tall; my 6'5" husband, 6" son and 5'10" daughter all like being able to see things more easily. As for me, at 5'5" it is fine if a bit of a reach now to get the milk down :).

By way of illustration, here is my before kitchen:

Photobucket

And the same view with the integrated paneled refrigerator:

Photobucket


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

@ running in place - Wow, what a difference. Great transformation. Sounds like you really like the Jenn Air fridge. We are also considering a Jenn Air 42" BI. Did you look at others, why did you choose Jenn Air over SubZero or others?


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

Personally, if I had the square footage I would get two reg fridg's and forget the sub zero, or go regular. I would do one SxS and one with the pull out drawer. Best of both worlds and two ice makers! Much more cubic feet of storage. Plus refrigerators when they get old get a funk to them, I rather be able to get something new every 10-15 years, then spend a ton of money on parts. I also diagree with the comment about subs keeping food at even temps better. I have a never had that problem with any sxs fridge I have ever owned. I have a family member who has a sub0 and I personally don't like anything about that refrigerator. IOW get what's going to make you happy. ; )


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

I do think the expectations of your real estate market are an issue. If the neighborhood would expect it, you can hurt resale -- if that is or may be an issue. BI's are taller and don't need the breathing room on the side so cabinet modifications are usually needed to make the change.

I live in a neighborhood that MIGHT have 2 built-in fridges as far as I know. Mine is one. ;) They certainly aren't expected, but I would say we are in an area where a BI is a splurge but still appropriate in a remodel, maybe one notch below the tier where they would become desired to expected (possibly moving into that range as people remodel) and two price points below absolutely expected.

We planned a CD fridge to open up the aisle between the fridge and island - the traffic path for the side entry to the house -- the one we use most. I didn't want to spend the money on a BI and I really didn't like the vent panel above. Then we got offered a deal on the Thermador BI model that had the arched top but had been returned because it had the wrong handle. Somehow we went from 90% sure we were going to take that one to getting the Thermador columns (I paid less than $7k for the pair at the time). The lack of the panel, the raised interior and full extension drawers were made for me! I could never go back to a fridge where I had to dig in a produce drawer barely above the floor. Yes, it keeps produce fresher longer, meat stays fresher, I can easily see everything and science experiments lost in the back are no longer regular occurrences (can't say nothing has ever been forgotten). And my aisle space is improved.

For me, it has been worth it. If I weren't tall and didn't have neck problems that make bending a reaching an issue, I'd still enjoy them. DH doesn't have those issues and he loves them. Does that mean you need to spend 2-3 times as much? Probably not, especially if you are seeing the fridges and looking at the storage and use of space details and finding what you are happy with what you are finding in a CD model. It sounds like that is the case, so I would only steer towards a BI if you don't plan to stay in your home for the foreseeable future and are in a neighborhood where it would be expected or where it would be desired now but could be come expected as others remodel and upgrade. It may add a few thousand dollars to your resale (the fridge stays if BI), but it could also be that plus that makes your house sell faster even if not for more, and that alone can be worth thousands in carrying costs.


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

vieirab, I checked out every integrated/built in on the market. What you are considering is what you see in my picture, a Jennair 42" BI. As it turned out, the SZ was almost $2000 more expensive than the Jennair. I decided it wasn't worth it for the name, since nobody was going to see that it was/was not a Subzero once it was paneled. There is a Kitchenaid model that is very similar but the hinges on the JA were better for creating a fully built in look.

If you look carefully on the photo I posted, you might be able to see that the contractor installed a very thin molding strip along the vertical sides to really make the fridge disappear. I seem to recall him telling me that Subzero is the only model that can be plunked into a panel ready space without any mods and appear completely seamless, but it came out looking fine to me and I was glad to save the two grand :).


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RE: built in refrigerators-are they worth it

vieirab, I checked out every integrated/built in on the market. What you are considering is what you see in my picture, a Jennair 42" BI. As it turned out, the SZ was almost $2000 more expensive than the Jennair. I decided it wasn't worth it for the name, since nobody was going to see that it was/was not a Subzero once it was paneled. There is a Kitchenaid model that is very similar but the hinges on the JA were better for creating a fully built in look.

If you look carefully on the photo I posted, you might be able to see that the contractor installed a very thin molding strip along the vertical sides to really make the fridge disappear. I seem to recall him telling me that Subzero is the only model that can be placed into a panel ready space without any mods and appear completely seamless, but it came out looking fine to me and I was glad to save the two grand :).


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it (2nd response)

(Sorry gardenweb won't let me respond to same topic title)

vieirab, I checked out every integrated/built in on the market. What you are considering is what you see in my picture, a Jennair 42" BI. As it turned out, the SZ was almost $2000 more expensive than the Jennair. I decided it wasn't worth it for the name, since nobody was going to see that it was/was not a Subzero since it would be paneled. There is a Kitchenaid that is very similar but the hinges on the JA were better for doing a fully built in look. If you look carefully on the photo I posted, you might be able to see that the contractor installed a very thin molding strip along the vertical sides to really make the fridge disappear. I seem to recall him telling me that Subzero is the only model that can be plunked into a panel ready space without any mods and appear completely seamless, but it came out looking fine to me and I was glad to save the two grand :).


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

runninginplace there are others that can be plunked in. We have a Bosche (now discontinued) that was plunked in w/o any modifications and I believe the Bosch cousins (miele, thermador) can all be plunked in as well.

If I remember from when I was looking, which I might be wrong, the jenn-air has a separate top piece that has to be paneled (?) plus the toe kick at the bottom which cannot be paneled?

There are a few threads on this in the appliance forum too:
http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/appl/msg1109243015815.html

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/appl/msg1001231328919.html?16


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

It all depends on what's most important to the OP. For us, we were balancing energy efficiency, cost, size, and looks, in that order. For us, an energy-efficient SS (non-integrated) french-door, freezer-under, stand-alone fridge is the best choice. (At approximately $6,000 less than the OP's budget.) But in our plan, we brought the fridge surround, cabinets and counters out to 34" instead of standard 24" to make the unit more "built in" looking. We're not fooling anyone -- it's clearly a stand-alone fridge surrounded by cabinets, but it's functional and will look great. So, neither of us loves SS? No big whoop. It was a good compromise. If we did a 24" deep x 36X wide high-end built-in, it would be less efficient, out of our budget range, smaller than we want, and out of neighborhood's standards -- but may be prettier. But of course, our last fridge was held together with duct tape and it sealed with press-on weather-stripping, so happiness and function are all relative. Make your decision based on happiness! Ours was determined by efficiency, cost, and space. Looks, while important, were way down on the list.


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

beagles beat me to it:
Integrated frigs have hinges that allow the frigs to be flush with the side panels or cabinets next to it. This requires hinges designed with specs that can make it happen.

They also do not have compressor cover on the top of the frig. Jennair is not an integrated frig. It is still a built in model even though they advertise it as an integrated model. I think they are misleading people given how a typical designer uses the concep of 'fully integrated'.

Subzero calls the same type of installation a "flush inset" of built in refrigerators. you can install their Built In models so that they are flush with the things next to it.

For some people, these distinctions are important and they will spend the extra $2000 from JennAir 'integrated' to the SZ or Miele integrated to make sure that you don't have the compressor cover at the top. Suzero makes both Built in models AND integrated models. They have very differnt specs.

If you are spending the money, make sure you know what the differences are and that you are okay with what you are getting.

Here is a link that might be useful: subzero built in installation


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

We looked at all the built-in fridges Subzero, Miele, Thermador .. but ultimately decided to go with a standard depth Kenmore Elite (basically, rebranded LG). The reasons:

- This 36" standard depth (30" deep) model has 31 cubic feet of space, more space than the 42" built-ins have. We will just make one of the cabinet walls deeper (one that doesn't have counters).

- It has an external ice maker, which is convenient, but missing from most of the built-ins.

- It was hard to justify paying 4x more for a built-in, when the internal design of the built-ins seem inadequate compared to this ordinary consumer model (the way that the shelves adjust, the little details).

- I would like to be able to replace the fridge with a new model, without hesitaton, around every 10 years. If it was built-in, I'd probably feel bad to rip it out of the wall and end up using old technology with food particles embedded in the seams forever.

That being said, I still think that the built-ins look a lot nicer. I had a hard time deciding because of that one benefit of the built-ins.

There is a big market opportunity for manufacturers to take their nice regular consumer models and put the compressor on top, and make it easier to integrate aesthetically with cabinets. Why do they have to make a completely different design inside-out just to change the hinges and compressor location, and then make it over-priced? Doesn't make any sense.


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RE: built in refrigerators - are they worth it

Thermador and Miele 36" are nearly identical and I'm told they are produced at the same factory. The biggest difference is the interior layout. I prefered the Thermador, however, at 84" high, I couldn't get it into the kitchen. I had to "settle" for the Sub Zero that is 80" tall. The cost difference is fairly close.

I'm disappointed, but it works out better for me because I wanted to use a horizontal grain panel that wasn't going to work with the Thermador. We HATED spending the money, but we couldn't live with protruding door panels. This is our "forever" house and the only remodel we'll do so we bit the bullet. All I can say is this frig had better last 20+ years!

The Miele and Thermador can be "fully integrated" if the cabinet side panels are 25-26" deep. You'll then need to pull out adjacent cabinets an inch or two depending on if you have a base cabinet with countertop and think about how you want that countertop to terminate into the side of the frig. Pay careful attention to how upper cabinets open next to frig. You may have issues with your handles.


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