Kitchen trend favors hidden appliances


The goal of an integrated kitchen is that appliances are invisible elements, according to various designers on Here are some elements of integrated design:

  • Refrigerator. An integrated refrigerator has the same frame and panel face as the rest of the kitchen cabinets. It can be wood, custom veneer or lacquer.
  • Flush surfaces are used in an integrated kitchen. Appliances don't stick out or sit in recesses. They are in line with the cabinetry.
  • For sticklers of integrated design, integration means that the appliances are completely hidden and unidentifiable — even the small controls on a dishwasher.

  • Having an integrated kitchen is desirable in an open-floor-plan home, since the kitchen can be viewed from many rooms.

After living in their Dunwoody house for six years, Heidi and Randy Forth decided to renovate the kitchen.

“We wanted the kitchen to be more of a living and gathering space for our family and friends,” said Heidi, the mother of two children, ages 12 and 10. “We also wanted it to be traditional in style, not trendy, with quality finishes that blend with the decor of the rest of the house.”

Working with contractor Chuck Tice, they knocked down two walls to enlarge the kitchen. The project also included new, off-white cabinets, marble countertops and pro-style appliances, such as the stainless steel Dacor cooktop with a single oven and warming drawer.

With a kitchen that opens up to the family room, the Forths were keen on keeping many of their appliances under cover or out of sight.

The Kitchen Aid refrigerator and dishwasher were concealed with panels that matched the kitchen cabinetry in the sophisticated space. Adding a custom cabinet face to the appliances was also a cost-saver. Nearby, the coffee maker was stowed on a pull-out drawer in a built-in cabinet. When not in use, the coffee maker is hidden behind closed doors.

Many homeowners want their commercial-style appliances to be a focal point in their kitchen. Others do not. Like the Forths, they want their appliances — big and small — underneath countertops or behind cabinet doors.

The disappearing appliances are part of a move toward a simpler, sleeker kitchen design, according to trend reports from the 2013 International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas.

“Concealing most, if not all, of the appliances allows for a kitchen to have a more seamless look,” said Yvonne McFadden, an Atlanta-based interior designer. “Make a list of exactly what pieces you want to conceal. That way the design can be created according to the dimensions of each appliance.”

If you want your appliances to be less visible elements in the kitchen, there are many ways to hide, camouflage, blend or integrate them, according to General Electric, and Sub-Zero/Wolf. Here are ways to achieve a less cluttered, more streamlined look:

  • Camouflage larger appliances, such as the refrigerator, dishwasher or dishwasher drawers, by adding custom-fitted cabinet fronts that match the rest of your kitchen. The panels or fronts often make the refrigerator look like a piece of furniture. To achieve a truly integrated look for the dishwasher, choose a door that conceals the control panel, which is often on the upper door rim.

You can also give the range hood the same treatment as the cabinetry. A wood hood that matches the cabinetry can make a quiet and elegant statement.

  • Hide smaller appliances, like your toaster or blender, behind retractable cabinet doors. Some people call these appliance garages because your appliances sit in the place they'll stay. They are plugged into outlets inside the cabinets and ready to use when you need them. When you don't, they are out of sight.
  • Conceal your microwave or flat-screen TV behind a movable panel or cabinet doors, which fold out, flip or roll up to hide the kitchen TV when not in use. Also consider under-counter microwaves that fit seamlessly with your cabinets.
  • Install pull-out shelves that keep small appliances hidden away, but roll out easily when needed. This feature pairs storage and accessibility.
  • Store small appliances in your island cabinetry. Stored at the end of an island, equipment or seasonal items are accessible but not seen. Under-counter refrigerator drawers are also common in islands.
  • Build appliances into the custom cabinetry design rather than enclosing them. Built-ins can be trimmed with the same molding as the rest of your kitchen so your appliances become part of the design instead of obstructing the design flow. Some companies, such as Samsung, offer a new slide-in range that slides into standard countertops for an elegant built-in look.


  • Clean, uncluttered lines for a more cohesive look.
  • Side-by-side double ovens.
  • Built-in coffee maker.
  • Two dishwashers.
  • Obscured electrical outlets on countertops.
  • Multifunction ovens that can be a convection oven and microwave.
  • Beverage center with refrigerator drawers for wine, beer, sodas and water.
  • Mini bar used for preparing coffee in the morning and cocktails at night. Also houses cups, glasses and stemware.
  • A microwave drawer. The appliance is recessed into a base cabinet. It not only places the microwave at a convenient height for everyone's use, but also reduces counter clutter.