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Making the Most (or Least) of your Appliances

by Patricia Poore on August 27, 2013

in Kitchens & Bathrooms

This Liehbherr refrigerator/freezer is designed to be integrated into cabinets. Photo: Blackstone Edge

This Liehbherr refrigerator/freezer is designed to be integrated into cabinets. Photo: Blackstone Edge

Manufacturers of kitchen appliances are busy accommodating those who want their kitchen appliances to disappear. Old-house restorers often seek to hide modern incursions, but the market also serves those with newer homes who prefer a built-in look for the room that’s become a family hangout. Options are numerous.

Take refrigerators. Never mind the technological advances that have made them energy efficient and far more versatile (and yes, expensive). Looks have changed, too. You can buy glass-front units that lend an aura of old-fashioned grocery store or restaurant; shallow-depth units that take customized cladding and doors, enamel and nickel fridges that that recall Victorian-era stoves, retro 50s refrigerators in popsicle colors. Or you can opt for refrigerator and freezer drawers that disappear into cabinets. (Perhaps the large fridge can be banished to the pantry or back hall.)

Dishwashers have been standardized, quiet, and easy to hide for a while. Even those in the middle price ranges have flat fronts with hidden controls, and almost every maker offers a panelizing kit. Like refrigeration units, dishwashers, too, can, be hidden in pull-out drawers, an attractive option for a second unit or for households of one or two people.

When it comes to stoves, it’s hard to decide: antique or reproduction, English or French, commercial or frankly modern? The stove can be the focal point of the kitchen. Then again, an unobtrusive range top and wall oven can take a back seat to a room furnished in hardwood and tile. Modern conveniences are nice—many people find it hard to say no to a self-cleaning oven, so if you want modern convenience with old-fashioned styling, consider reproduction. Many companies today also refurbish antique originals.

The dishwasher’s panel front looks like cabinet doors.

The dishwasher’s panel front looks like cabinet doors.

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