Making a Standard Refrigerator Look Built In

Wood-look panels applied to a standard refrigerator fall short of providing the appearance or useability of a true built-in model. January 1, 2012

I have a customer who wants to take a standard refrigerator and make it look more built in. They have a pocket in the wall that allows it to go back far enough to match the counter depth so that is not the problem. What they want to do is put on an applied 1/4" panel on the front of the appliance to give it the same color and finish as the rest of the cabinetry (painted white finish). Has anyone done this with a standard refrigerator? Iím also wondering about the clearance of the doors.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor R:
I'd also be concerned about proper ventilation for the frig. They need a certain amount of clearance for air flow. I'd ask the manufacturer.

From the original questioner:
I'm not planning on covering anything but the face of the doors. There are no drink dispensers or anything else and we are only planning on using 1/4" material.

From contributor K:
There are companies that sell kits you can use.

From contributor W:
Use the kit, but make sure homeowner knows. Theses kits are far from a true built-in look so do not penetrate the fridge door or you will soon own it.

From contributor G:
True built-inís hinge in a fashion that allows the door to open/close to 180 degrees. A standard fridge needs to set out 2 to 3" to allow the door to open past 90 degrees. This means that you will see the sides of the fridge door. Your customer should be aware of this in advance so as not to be disappointed with the finished product.

From the original questioner:
I realize that you sacrifice some of the built-in look, however the customer doesn't want to spend the money for a true built in refrigerator. They are just looking to make it match a little better to the kitchen by using applied panels. I found some moldings that are magnetic so no screws or fasteners are needed. I think that by allowing approx. 3/8" space on each side we can move the refrigerator back flush with the other cabinet doors. The doors will not open much more than 90 degrees but I don't see that being an issue in this case.