When setting out to design a Kitchen I always start with the Refrigerator/Freezer, the cornerstone of your kitchen. The refrigerator is usually the largest and most intrusive appliance in your kitchen when looking at layouts, esthetics and flow patterns in your design. It is also probably the most important appliance today’s modern kitchen
Modern refrigeration consisting of an insulated box with its own refrigeration unit began entering home in the early 1900’s. With this invention perishable food was able to be stored at its optimal temperature (37°-41° Fahrenheit) in order to lower the reproduction rate of bacteria. When freezing foods below (0° Fahrenheit) they can be kept safe indefinitely. Today refrigerators and freezers come in a large variety of sizes, shapes and configurations.
The Common Refrigerator: These units are usually a combination freestanding refrigerator/freezer approximately 30”-36” wide, 65”-72” tall, 20”-30”deep, the most common size being 36”x72”. These come in many configurations including; side-by-side, top-freezer, bottom-freezer and French door. A counter-depth model is built to fit into the cabinetry using a 24” or less, unit without the door. They offer models that can be paneled but the functioning components of the unit will be very visible.
The Built In Refrigerator: These units are usually wider and taller than the common refrigerator, are mounted/secured to the cabinetry and built to fit into a 24” depth. They usually are closer to 84” tall and up to 48” wide. They also come as combinations in similar configurations the “Common Refrigerator” but they also offer individual refrigerator and/or freezer so they can be combined to even offer larger than 48” units. They offer models that can be paneled with cabinetry but you can see some of the functioning components of the unit.
The Intergraded Refrigerator: These units offered are very similar to the “Built In Refrigerator” except they offer the ability to integrate the cabinetry in a way that you will no longer see any of the functioning components of the unit. Special articulating hinges, bottom or remote venting are just a few of the parts that help these units to completely disappear into the cabinetry.
Other Refrigeration: There are many other types of units that have now worked their way into or modern kitchens. Some these include, refrigerator and freezer drawers, under counter units and that include beverage and wine models and even a unit for you Beer Keg!
So when planning your new kitchen the Refrigeration being the most important place to start I would look at these things first. Your traffic patterns in the room, how your family lives and where you are loading/unloading your refrigerator.
Traffic Patterns: Are you placing by an entrance? Do you have to go through the cooking zone to get to the refrigerator?
Today if possible I like to situate the refrigerator centrally between the cooking and eating areas, this way traffic to the refrigerator is not interfering with the cooking, especially with children.
The Family: 2 adults, 2 boys and 1 girl all under 10, 1 medium dog? Retired Couple, grandkids visit?
All design not just the refrigerator is developed with the family and your usage in mind. You really should look at how much food storage is needed? Do you shop in bulk? Do you want the kids to have access to certain things? Sometimes we have used separate beverage refrigerators or drawers for child access. When looking at built-ins and integrated they are not as deep as some but maybe taller so the cubic foot size and interior configurations are really important when looking at these models.
Loading / Unloading: Make sure the refrigerator configuration and the kitchen design work together as a team. When taking item in and out of your refrigerator you need a place to put them down without traveling. As an example of this is when using a French door style you tend to load/unload behind you, the doors are in the way on the sides making it awkward to place things there. Side-by-side refrigerators load/unload to the left side or behind and the freezer to the right or behind. Also keep in mind door size is important, as an example; 36” single door on an articulating hinge can come out over 40” at 90 degrees and hit the island.
There are so many variables in the Refrigerator part of the design that I could probably write an entire book on “Designing Refrigeration in the Modern Kitchen”. My ultimate advise for anyone that is looking for their dream job not to turn into their nightmare….Hire a professional that has made his/her career doing this right! Happy Planning!