How to hide a refrigerator in a period house kitchen

Integrated vs Freestanding Fridges

How to Hide a Refrigerator in a Period Kitchen

November. 2023

A question our clients often ask is “How do you hide a refrigerator in a period house kitchen?”  

A fridge is a big, bulky unit – one of the most important appliances in a kitchen, but you do not want it to dominate the overall design of the room.  Knowing how to incorporate it in the new kitchen will come in to question at some point, and the period of your home may dictate the approach that you take.  Period houses present their challenges in many ways; planning applications, listings, structural work may need consideration, so hiding a fridge may not be top on your list of priorities.  

How to Hide a Refrigerator in a Period Kitchen

Since its invention in the 1930s the format of the refrigeration unit has largely remained unchanged, but over the latter half of the 20th century manufacturers felt compelled to add colour to the external panels to “integrate” or blend the units with the kitchen cabinetry that surrounded it.

In the early 1950s most refrigerators were white, but during the late-1950s/early-1960s pastel colours like turquoise and pink became popular, and brushed chrome-plating (similar to a stainless steel finish) was available on some models. 

From the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, earth tone colours were introduced, including Harvest Gold, Avocado Green and Almond. Then in the 1980s, black became fashionable, with stainless steel coming into vogue in the 1990s.

In each decade these coloured panels gave kitchen designers the opportunity to hide a refrigerator in period house kitchen.

A large 900mm Miele Mastercool hidden behind fabric covered glazed doors in this period house kitchen

Our design team visits many houses to survey the space for a new bespoke kitchen, and they are often met with an existing kitchen that is both dated in style as well as in appliances.  Sometimes the existing free-standing fridge has been squirrelled away in an ingenious place in order to disguise or hide it.

We offer design approaches which enhance the building; incorporating appliances into the overall scheme that work with the cabinetry and blend with the room’s aesthetic.  Using our bespoke capabilities to be creative in how fridges are hidden across many of our projects is key to the success of our kitchen designs.  We consider ourselves experts in making domestic spaces work.

In our Sussex Project shown in this rendered image, we created a truly unique way to incorporate a refrigerator in a period house kitchen.  A large 900mm Miele Mastercool is hidden behind fabric backed glazed doors in this pretty pink cabinet.  Nick took inspiration for the free standing cabinet from an antique piece of furniture that incorporated a Dutch gable-style top.  This new cabinet was designed to feel as if it was an antique itself, painted in a deep soft pink with glazed front, its central section hides both the fridge and the freezer. You can read more about the Old Vicarage Kitchen in Sussex in our Portfolio.

Dutch Gable style top to this truly unique cabinet housing the fridge, freezer and pantry
The central section houses the Miele Mastercool fridge at the top with a freezer below
Either side of the central section are pantry shelves discreetly hidden behind fabric covered glazed doors

Technology has moved on enormously since the invention of the domestic free-standing fridge, as have the ways to incorporate refrigeration within the kitchen design

The freestanding vs built-in appliances debate will be part of any kitchen design concept, whether you are re-modelling a kitchen or starting a new project.  Both have their benefits and both have their places within a modern kitchen.

Rather than simply hiding a fridge within a period house kitchen, we consider the period of the room itself.  This will often dictate the style of the appliances that we specify and the way that we incorporate them in to the kitchen design.  We are far more concerned with making the space work practically and designing cabinetry that works with the aesthetic of the home.  It is then that the appliances can be integrated within the design in the most suitable way.

Miele Mastercool fridge is integrated into tall Georgian style cabinets for a period house kitchen

Perhaps the most common way to hide a refrigerator today is to integrate one.  Integrated appliances are specially created to be housed inside cabinetry, sitting completely flush with its surroundings and the worktop.

The door panels are then styled to match the doors on the remaining kitchen cabinetry, it differs from a regular fridge as the fridge doors are themselves often inset so that even the handles dont protrude, which makes that big metal box in the room almost disappear!

They are designed with enhanced ventilation and insulation, so the workings don’t overheat.

The storage capacity of most standard size (600mm) integrated refrigerators are often slightly more shallow than built-in or freestanding models.  By making them smaller the manufacturers make an allowance for the dimensions of a cabinet door to be attached and remain in-line with the rest of the cabinetry, creating a cohesive look.

Built-in fridge in a period house kitchen

As an alternative to a fully integrated model, a standard refrigerator is housed within an enclosure.  It is in theory “built-in”, but it may not sit flush with its enclosure or the counter and, depending on the size of the model, it can protrude outwards by approximately 500mm. 

While many brands offer a panel-ready option, the door handles are prominently visible so the refrigerator doesnt completely camouflage with its surroundings.

When contemplating enclosing a standard appliance into furniture it is vitally important that the furniture is designed correctly to allow proper ventilation for the fridge.  More specifically, you cannot put a fridge into a normal, unmodified cupboard – it will not work!

Choosing between freestanding or built-in appliances will be influenced by the period of your home and your personal preference - both options affect the finished aesthetic in their own way

Fisher Paykel CoolDrawer is a perfect appliance to hide a refrigerator in a period kitchen

If the kitchen design does not allow for tall tower-like fridge units then under counter options offer an alternative.

Fisher & Paykel, a New Zealand brand, has been around for over 80 years, believing technology should always begin with the people who use it.  Their brand vision is to be the most human-centred appliance brand in the world.  They have developed some unique products such as DishDrawers and CoolDrawers, and were the first to introduce an innovative wide fridge freezer with split refrigerator doors for easy access.

Once a cabinetry panel is applied to the front of their integrated CoolDrawers it creates an under counter fridge that is carefully concealed within a deep dresser style cabinet drawer.  It allows you to view everything inside the fridge from above, rather than getting down below the counter level to peer inside.

Miele Mastercool fridge integrated in to a wall of tall cabinetry that houses the oven and microwave as well as a large larder unit

Increasingly clients are looking to use larger appliances to accommodate a growing family, and while a freestanding “American style” unit may seem a less expensive option as it does not require a panel door attached, it does not give a totally streamlined appearance to the kitchen design.

Integrating a fridge within a kitchen design offers the perfect way to conceal it within a period home.  In Nick Anderson’s opinion Miele offer one of the best solutions in terms of size and integration. While most of their range conforms to a European standard size of 600mm, their Mastercool range follows the larger standard USA size that clients are favouring.

This USA format is also found in American brand Sub Zero Wolf; similarly a high-end brand; all their sizing differs to the standard European ones, so offers an alternative for those seeking larger appliances.

If you would like to discuss hiding a refrigerator in a period house kitchen design, please contact us


Request a free portfolio or speak with us.

Guild Anderson -


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