The appearance of your kitchen affects how you feel about the space. If you refrigerator juts out several inches beyond your cabinets then you may feel it looks awkward and out of place. There are several ways to improve the appearance of this situation. It is a good idea to compare your options based on how much value you are adding versus the cost of the solution. The best option is to include a modification in an overall kitchen upgrade when possible.
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Cabinet Depth Refrigerators
In older homes, cabinets are often less deep than more modern cabinets. In modern homes, cabinets are often less deep than standard refrigerators. This means that a standard refrigerator in a modern home will often protrude as much as 4-inches from the face of the cabinet. However, in an older home the same refrigerator may protrude as much as 6 to 8 inches. This is because a top sales feature of modern refrigerators is the inside capacity of the unit. To make a refrigerator hold more food, the manufacturers push the front of the fridge forward. The simplest solution is to measure the size of your space and purchase a refrigerator designed to fit into the space you have. To bring your refrigerator flush with your modern cabinetry purchase a cabinet depth refrigerator. If you don't want to change your refrigerator, there are other options.
Recessing the Refrigerator
Your second choice is to recess the wall behind the refrigerator. This is doable if the wall backs up to a room or closet with space you can borrow. Open the wall from the other side and reframe the wall, allowing for the depth of the refrigerator. You will need to have a plumber move the water line and an electrician move the electrical line, but these costs are less expensive than most large refrigerators. Installing the new drywall, paint and finishes are often within the capabilities of most DIY homeowners.
Pulling the Cabinets Forward
During a kitchen remodel you can build a second cabinet-height wall. This wall is built in front of the existing wall to create a new support for the base cabinets. You can build this new wall at counter top height or above counter top height to create a back splash shelf. This creates display space on the counter and can add drama to the kitchen counter. Because the cabinets are moved forward, the refrigerator will sit more in line with the face of the base cabinets. There are additional plumbing and electrical costs if fittings are moved to the new wall during the remodel.
Disguising the Refrigerator
The other option you have is to disguise the refrigerator. This is most often done by paneling the refrigerator to look like the cabinets and by surrounding the refrigerator in refrigerator depth custom cabinets. In this way the refrigerator looks like pantry cabinets and it will tend to blend in with the other cabinets in the kitchen. This option works with standard cabinets that are pulled forward using a double-wall construction technique. Once the refrigerator is also paneled, the contrast of stainless steel or a colored appliance goes away.