Now, I know the topic title isn’t that thrilling, but, I was at a continuing education meeting the other day for design and the topic was “Sophisticated Residential Refrigeration Appliances” presented by a representative from Sub Zero Wolf. Honestly, that topic title doesn’t sound much more interesting, but I took so many notes and learned a great deal. I thought I would share a few key points for those of you who may be in the market for kitchen refrigeration appliances.
I’ve had my eye on this refrigerator from SieMatic for a couple of years. I love how it looks like a piece of furniture.
The refrigerator in your kitchen is a huge focal point. It may be something you look at as purely functional, but I think it is time to take a step back and look at how we are really living today. American’s tend to design a kitchen and build a huge hole for the largest refrigerator we can get in the door.
You might be surprised to realize one of the biggest trends in ‘sophisticated residential refrigeration’ is the move away from the traditional refrigerator/freezer combo. So many people at the higher end of the market are moving toward consuming fresh foods, that they no longer need a large freezer. They are now building homes with a refrigerator only, then maybe a couple of freezer drawers with dedicated purposes, such as a meat drawer and a frozen fruit drawer.
I wasn’t all that surprised to hear this, but I am glad it is catching on. Things go into our freezer, never to be seen again until we clear everything out and restock. Then we find them, covered in frost and looking really unappealing, they tend to go straight into the trash can. This approach to freezing items has to be one of the least functional and least helpful household processes. I am so excited to see a change.
Not only a change from a functional design, but also a change to a better design. We all love the kitchens that look like they are beautifully integrated into the home, such as those with open shelves or ‘custom’ looking furniture elements. This picture below is one of my favorites. Wouldn’t it be great to have those extra 4 or 5 feet back to truly customize for the way we live?
Here are just a few other key tips I thought might come in handy for you:
There are essentially 3 options for door styles:
1) Stainless- still incredibly popular
Source: Heather Scott Home & Design
2) Framed panel- this is starting to be a ‘dated’ look. Custom panels are applied to the refrigerator front, but you can still see the unit frame. Here is an example from a house for sale which is in need of a little cosmetic update.
3) Overlay custom panel- these are given custom panel fronts and the entire unit is basically hidden behind custom cabinetry.
I would recommend requesting a refrigeration unit which is “fully integrated”, meaning the unit becomes completely seamless. These are not as deep, but they are more popular with those who spend more on higher end cabinets and hardware.
Pull out drawers are available as either freezer drawers or refrigerator drawers. They are not only good for children, but also good for those who may be in wheelchairs. This is something to keep in mind as we age.
One last point, the higher end appliances offer side by side options (fully separate fridge and fully separate freezer). I always thought this seemed a bit redundant, but there is a good rationale. In a single unit, the cold air from the freezer is sent over to the fridge in a cycle. That air lacks humidity (which can freeze your lettuce, for example) and then picks up odors before it circles back to your freezer. The end result is that your food does not last as long as it should. Two separate units sharing a box is a better solution than one unit that shares mechanics.
There are a load of other great points to learn, but the big take away is that as per usual, you get what you pay for in terms of quality when it comes to refrigeration.
The second big take away is that if you are building or remodeling a kitchen, I challenge you to think about how you really live and what your needs are versus just laying out a kitchen and filling in the components the way everyone else does. That is a lot of wasted space if you don’t design it for the way you live!