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How to Create a Built-In Fridge Using Prefab Kitchen Cabinets - Cheap & Easy Kitchen Design Upgrade

Double stacked cabinets, crown molding, and glass decorative doors are all very nice elements to upgrade your kitchen design. I've seen kitchens designed by experienced professionals and DIY weekend warriors alike; if you can imagine it, there are many ways to create your dream kitchen using prefab cabinets. Unfortunately, I have been seeing a recurring kitchen nightmare that truly breaks my heart... A Kitchen that is All Dressed Up with No Place for the Fridge to Go! If you're changing out cabinets in your rent house or you are on a squeaky tight budget, I get it! But if you're wanting to give your kitchen a little extra pizazz, there is no better bang for your buck than a kitchen design with a built-in refrigerator.

Prefab kitchen cabinets come in a variety of shapes, styles, and sizes, so it should be no surprise that there is more than one way to 'Skin a Fridge' (Sorry, I just couldn't pass that one up). From basic refrigerator end panels to built-in fridge, pantry, and oven cabinets, I'm going to give you some kitchen inspiration to help you envision your refrigerator really fitting in to your kitchen design. Hopefully, after reading this article, you'll get creative with your own kitchen layout. If you need a little help making all of the prefab parts and pieces fit together, that's what we're here for. PREFINISHED CABINETS offers a Free Kitchen Design Service and can help you create a beautiful and functional kitchen layout (with a built-in fridge if you choose). Keep reading to see some different built in fridge options.

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Planning Your Kitchen Layout and Design to Include a Built-In Fridge

You may be in the beginning planning stages of your kitchen remodel or possibly you are building a brand new house. Just because you can buy prefab kitchen cabinets and the coordinating accessories individually does not mean that planning your kitchen design is going to be easier than it would if you had a custom cabinet maker take care of everything. Many homeowners decide to use prefab cabinets to save time and money... and they absolutely will! Just make sure you take the necessary steps to make sure you are going to love your kitchen when you complete your project. It is much easier to plan ahead than to wish for changes after the fact.

With this in mind, I want to stress to individuals how important it is to have a professional help you with your prefab kitchen cabinet layout. Designing a Kitchen with prefab kitchen cabinets is a specialty area; there are thousands of different parts and pieces that are not always the same across different cabinet styles and manufacturers. Even seasoned contractors rely on cabinet specialists to ensure a kitchen design is correct and complete; don't create another example of a DIY kitchen design that can't quite cut it. We've seen homeowners and contractors make the same mistakes due to lack of knowledge and experience. These mistakes are costly, time-consuming, and oftentimes unknown until the installation date arrives and things just don't fit and function. Avoid these problems altogether with a FREE Kitchen Design. Our professionals have both design and installation experience and want to make sure your cabinet install is a complete success. No one expects you to know everything; we're here to help!


Basic Kitchen without a Built In Fridge

Now, let's get back to built-in fridge designs. I wanted to show you an example of a kitchen that does not have a built-in refrigerator, and would you believe I could not find a single example in all of my cabinet style sample pictures (I have hundreds!)?? This really made me think. From simple kitchen designs to more decorative and elaborate styles, every single kitchen had one thing in common... a built-in fridge. If there is only one upgrade you can make in your kitchen, it should absolutely be to build in your refrigerator. This simple design element has the ability to trick the eye and really give the illusion of a custom kitchen without breaking the bank. Many times, this design can be incorporated with features you were already planning to use. You just need to know how to make the most of your design options with the space and features that are available. I did manage to locate a stock image as an example for you (even that proved difficult). Check out this lonely refrigerator.

While there is technically nothing wrong with this kitchen design or layout, it could easily be so much more. By simply adding a deeper cabinet over the refrigerator and some refrigerator end panels to hide the sides, this small and simple kitchen would have instantly gained aesthetic appeal and a custom feel. A kitchen does not need to be large to feel high-end. Creating the feel of a high-end kitchen does not require expensive cabinets and accessories. Let's look at the following examples to see how to create an expensive feel without spending a fortune on expensive custom cabinets.

A kitchen does not need to be large to feel high-end. Creating the feel of a high-end kitchen does not require expensive cabinets and accessories.

Simple & Easy Built-In Refrigerator Designs

While this kitchen layout is not exactly the same as the example with the exposed refrigerator side, the fridge is in a very similar position. Many people are surprised when they realize how easy it is to create this look. The previous kitchen showed a 12" deep wall cabinet to match the depth of the adjacent wall cabinets to the right. This kitchen has a similar design near the refrigerator, but has instead used a deeper 24" cabinet with 2 refrigerator end panels on either side of the fridge. This layout creates an instant built-in look and cleaner overall design with a minimal cost difference. I'm telling you, it doesn't get much easier than this!

If you refrigerator is positioned all the way to the end of your cabinet run against a wall, things get easier. Just upgrade your over the fridge bridge cabinet to a 24" deep cabinet and add just one refrigerator end panel to the side. Refrigerator end panels are finished panels that run from the floor to your upper cabinets. This particular end panel includes a 'return' trim piece that runs vertically with the panel to add thickness. If you liked the look of this thicker trim piece and wanted a matching look on the other side of the fridge, simply add a tall filler piece with the same dimensions against the wall.


Creating a Built-In Refrigerator with Utility & Pantry Cabinets

The modern grey kitchen above has used pantry cabinets on either side of the refrigerator connected by a 24" deep bridge cabinet centered above the fridge. Take a second look at the off-white Signature Crema cabinets to the right. One pantry cabinet to the right, one 24" deep bridge cabinet over the fridge, and one refrigerator end panel with return trim to the left. Top everything with an elegant crown molding to easily create this sophisticated look. Are you starting to see how easy this can be?


Creating a Functional Built-In Cabinet Wall with Your Refrigerator, Pantry, and Oven Cabinet

Here are two kitchens with the same layout, but in a different color and different angle. These are relatively small kitchens, but look at all of the features that have been included! These small kitchens have made use of a wall of deep cabinets incorporated with their built in fridge design. This layout keeps many large kitchen features together in a single cabinet run. This design results in a clean feel, high-end look, and maximum functionality with a relatively small footprint. From left to right, this layout was created using a tall wall oven cabinet (available for single ovens, double ovens, or even oven microwave combos), 24" deep bridge cabinet above the refrigerator, and pantry/utility cabinet to the right. I will take a moment here to mention another utilitarian purpose of a deep bridge cabinet. This deeper cabinet design doubles your storage capabilities compared to a 12" deep bridge cabinet and puts the cabinet in an easier to access location. Instead of filling your over the fridge cabinet with items that are out of reach and easily forgotten (don't worry, you can still put items like this in the back of the cabinet), you can more readily access the front of the cabinet for additional storage. AND... There is no longer a place to pile junk on top of your fridge - Talk about your win-win!


How To Upgrade Your Basic Built-In Refrigerator Kitchen Cabinet Layout

Ok, you've seen the basics. Now let's take a look at some options to take your kitchen design to the next level. Please keep in mind, when you're looking at kitchen pictures to get design and layout ideas, don't get too hung up on the style, color, size, or any single element in a kitchen. Prefab cabinets are incredibly easy to customize. You may find design elements from 3 different kitchens that you would like to incorporate into your own design. Be sure to show these pictures to your designer. Tell them what you like and why; communication is key and your designer will begin to develop a sense of your preferred style to help you create a dream kitchen that fits your space and budget. Take a look at the following kitchen examples for additional design inspiration. Be sure to notice how the concept of a built-in fridge can work with most any kitchen style, color, or layout.

A bold color choice, like dark blue cabinets, makes this large kitchen really pop. This layout utilizes a simple built-in fridge design using only a bridge cabinet and refrigerator end panels.

Using a more ornate raised panel door style, this kitchen has a stand-alone refrigerator that has been built in using a 24" deep bridge cabinet, 2 refrigerator end panels on either side, and faux decorative doors (also called decor doors or dummy doors) applied not only to the refrigerator area, but throughout the entire kitchen. While some love this detailed look, others may be looking for simpler details; this design works well with white shakers and everything in between.

White Shaker kitchen cabinets with double stacked kitchen cabinet design, glass cabinet doors, and large window above the farmsink with furniture base cabinet.
White Shaker Kitchen Cabinets with Double-Stacked Cabinet Layout

This beautiful white shaker kitchen (with built-in fridge, of course) has utilized a double-stacked cabinet design. Double stacking is literally an extra row of cabinets stacked on top of your standard wall cabinets. While this can be done with a variety of cabinet heights, the look is traditionally achieved by stacking shorter bridge cabinets on top. If this is a design feature you think you would like to incorporate, be sure to tell your designer in advance as many cabinet manufacturers have bridge cabinets that are only available in limited widths. While the limited widths may not be a problem and can be utilized, you wouldn't want your designer to have to start your design again from scratch to make sure cabinet doors properly line up.

A built-in refrigerator is almost a design requirement for ultra modern kitchens. Notice how finished and clean this built in fridge looks with super glossy grey Euro-style kitchen cabinets. Here's an extra tip when it comes to modern kitchen styles and hardware placement. A cabinet pull (not knob) running vertically will create a more traditional look while a cabinet pull run horizontally will create a modern effect. This works for modern shaker designs as well.


When it comes to prefabricated kitchen cabinets, your options are only limited by your creativity. I know this is just the tip of the iceberg, but I hope you were able to get some ideas and more easily understand how all of these parts and pieces can be used to create something bigger. If you would like to get some additional ideas, feel free to browse our website; we have several cabinet styles and images to look at. If you're ready to start designing your kitchen, be sure to take advantage of our FREE Kitchen Design (available to both homeowners and contractors... Yes, contractors absolutely use this and you should too) and our How to Measure Guide. Just let us know when you're ready to get started!