If you have the budget, you can create a trim and elegant look in your kitchen by completely concealing your appliances. This is a bit like stowing the television in the entertainment center behind closed doors. The appliances are fronted with doors that look like the rest of your cabinetry and can be fitted with matching door pulls. It's true that this can be expensive, but it's a big design trend these days, and making the kitchen look more decorative and less utilitarian can have its advantages. Some more open concept home designs make the kitchen visible from other rooms in the house, and not everyone thinks their refrigerator is a worthy display piece.
This is usually a custom solution, but it doesn't necessarily have to be part of the original kitchen installation. You might be able to get a more integrated look by adding a custom panel to an insert-ready style refrigerator that can be modified to cover the trim pieces and look fully integrated. This is a way to get the look of an integrated appliance without spending as much money. It's a cheat, but built-in cabinets are one of the biggest expenses in your kitchen, and costs can start adding up fast.
The fully integrated look may be just what you're after, but as styles change, the customization you're paying for may limit you sooner than you expect. New technologies and innovations are constantly changing how we use our kitchens, and a built-in cabinet that's great for today's dishwasher may not work for the latest and greatest incarnation in kitchen design three to five years from now. Take a look at a few older model entertainment centers and imagine sticking a modern flat screen television in the small opening designed for the CRT TVs of a few years ago.
In the next section, we'll explore a quick an easy way to update appliances with peel-and-stick coverings.