What are integrated kitchen appliances and what are the advantages and disadvantages of buying them?

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Answered by: Molly, An Expert in the Housewares and Appliances - General Category
Shopping for kitchen appliances can be an overwhelming experience, with so many different brands and options on the market. As you begin searching for the right appliances for your kitchen, one term you may come across is "integrated" kitchen appliances. Integrated kitchen appliances are often featured in upscale kitchens and can provide a cohesive and finished look to your space.

What are Integrated Appliances?

Integrated kitchen appliances are appliances with fronts that match the look of your cabinetry. In other words, instead of the refrigerator or dishwasher having a stainless steel, white or black front, it will have a door that is the same type of door that you have on all of your other cabinets. When integrated appliances are installed correctly, it can be impossible to tell which cabinet actually contains the refrigerator or what cabinet the dishwasher is in- these appliances will blend in seamlessly.

Types of Integrated Appliances

Integrated appliances can be broadly grouped into two different categories: fully integrated and partially integrated. Fully integrated appliances are those that completely disappear into your millwork. There are no toe kicks, air vents or other indicators on the front of the appliance to suggest in any way that it is an appliance at all.

Partially integrated appliances, on the other hand, provide more clues as to their presence. When you select a partially integrated appliance, the front of the appliance will have a panel that matches your other cabinet doors in the kitchen. However, the toe kick may be visible, the vent on the top of the fridge might be seen, and the metal edges of fridge and freezer drawers may even show.

Fully integrated appliances tend to be the most expensive option for those shopping for appliances. Partially integrated models are less costly than their fully-integrated counterparts, but are still more expensive than other types of appliances such as stainless steel or white appliances.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Integrated Appliances

There are both advantages and disadvantages to having integrated appliances. Aesthetics is the major advantage, as integrated appliances can help you to achieve a furniture-style look in your kitchen. This can be especially important when you have an open floor plan and you can see your kitchen from other rooms of your home such as your family room.

Those who dislike the other alternatives in appliance colors will also benefit from integrated appliance models.

Many people who remodel their home shy away from white and black appliances because these colors are often considered "lower-end" or outdated. Stainless steel has become the accepted appliance type for high end kitchen remodels, but stainless can be prone to fingerprints and it can be out-of-place in a kitchen that is trying to evoke a warm and cozy feel. Integrated appliances provide an alternative that may be easier to keep clean and that may better represent the style you are hoping for in your kitchen.

The biggest disadvantage, of course, is price. The purchase of integrated appliances is always going to cost more than other alternatives, and the functionality is typically not improved in any way. You are, therefore, paying a premium cost for what is purely an aesthetic improvement.

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