A reader sent me a message last weekend asking if I had any blog posts that explain or share information on “panel ready” appliances in regards to kitchen design. I immediately went to look for links to share and couldn’t believe I’ve never talked about this subject on the blog before… especially given the popularity of panel ready appliances these days! How do I not have a blog post solely devoted to this topic? Since this is a common question, I wanted to put together a helpful resource for you. If you’re planning to design a kitchen in the future, this post is a good one to pin and save! Because I’ve lived with panel ready appliances for years and have designed my fair share of kitchens (for both myself and clients), I think I can help answer some of your appliance questions. I’m often asked why we don’t have a dishwasher, or where our fridge is located. Of course we have both of these modern day appliances in our kitchen, but they do blend nicely with our cabinetry and can be difficult to spy- especially if you’re new to learning about panel ready appliances. I’m breaking down everything you need to know about designing, specifying, and installing panel ready appliances in this post. I’m also shedding light on cost, custom cabinetry, and when to use these types of appliances- plus, I’ve got a Q&A for you. Click through!
Before we dive in… the dishwasher in our current kitchen is the cabinet with the tea towel hanging from it, pictured above. It’s to the right of our sink, is really functional, and I love that it blends seamlessly with our lower cabinets.
Why choose panel ready in the first place?
It’s really a higher-end, custom look when it comes to kitchen design. Disguising appliances to look like cabinetry or blend seamlessly is definitely an aesthetic preference, but at the end of the day- the appliance functions in the same way. Many higher end brands have panel ready options, while most of the lower end appliance brands do not offer them, which brings me to the next question…
What is the price difference for panel ready, in comparison to a standard appliance?
They’re definitely more. Most panel ready appliances come with an overall higher price tag, in comparison to their non paneled counterparts. You also incur the cost of the custom cabinetry to complete the finished look. The majority of panel ready appliances are manufactured by higher-end brands, which come with higher prices.
How do you spec or order a panel ready appliance?
When designing your space, you’ll want to allow for whatever size of appliance you’ll need. Just like specifying other appliances, you’ll do the exact same thing- using terms like panel ready, built-in, or fully integrated appliances should help your search. Once you land on the right model for you, you’ll need to download the appliance specs and relay the information to your cabinetry manufacturer, so they’re able to create a panel that perfectly fits and attaches to your appliance.
Is custom cabinetry the only way to get a panel ready appliance?
No- if you buy a standard size appliance, you could definitely source a pre-made cabinetry panel for it. Another option is to retrofit or DIY a panel.
How do you install a panel ready appliance?
Honestly- it’s pretty easy! Most of them snap onto the frame, screw in, or have specific instructions on how to attach the cabinet panel. We’ve never had an issue getting the panel attached… it’s pretty self explanatory!
What does a panel ready appliance look like without the panel… do people ever leave it like that?
I dug through my archives and the only image I could find of one of our appliances without the attached cabinetry panel was our previous dishwasher before it was installed (see below). They’re really nothing to look at and are meant to have an attached panel. I haven’t seen anyone intentionally leave the panel off for aesthetic purposes.
Since you’re looking at our previous kitchen (while under construction), I’ll show you that paneled dishwasher WITH the panel below…
Did you find it? The dishwasher is to the left of the sink in this kitchen. I’m going to drop some panel ready dishwashers in a slider below, so you can see what they look like, check out the vocabulary, and get a feel for price points (which should appear when you hover)…
How do you choose hardware for panel ready appliances?
Typically you’ll want to search for an “appliance pull”, which generally matches your cabinetry hardware, but at a larger scale.
I’ll be the first to tell you, not all panel ready appliances are created equally, in terms of aesthetic. Some look more integrated than others! That was something I wasn’t really prepared for when designing our current kitchen. I was used to having larger client budgets and we always sourced the same high-end Viking, Wolf, or Subzero refrigerators. With our kitchen, we didn’t have an unlimited budget, so I went with the only panel-ready option available from Lowe’s, which was KitchenAid brand. It looked great on their website and while I hadn’t used it before, it good decent reviews and we loved our previous KitchenAid (non paneled) fridge. When it showed up, I expected it to look fully integrated, and while it is built-in and panel-ready, it looks a bit more bulky than others. There are two stainless frames the panels snap onto and they are visible when the doors are shut. It kind of bothers me, but not enough to want to swap our fridge. I may try painting them our cabinetry color someday… just something to be aware of! Do you see the metal strip I’m talking about, in the below image?
With panel ready refrigerators, you often have to buy the left wing, right wing- or freezer separately. Our refrigerator is one of the few that includes the “all-in-one” look, or the french door style fridge & freezer combo as a paneled option. It’s also less expensive than most, which is why it’s probably not as low profile. If you want to peek inside of it, check out this post. I’ll drop some panel ready fridge options below…
If I have the option and the budget, I’ll always choose a panel ready option over a standard finish appliance (stainless steel, etc). I love the integrated look and it feels more decorative to me. In my brain, it’s just like disguising technology. Have I grown to enjoy Emmett’s coveted surround sound? Yes (but don’t tell him that)! Do I still want to hide his speakers behind curtains, baskets, and books? You better believe it. Haha! Modern day technology (and appliances) look exactly as they’re meant to- like technology or machines used to cook or do our dishes. An appliance here or there feels more balanced to me- the two noticeable appliances in our kitchen are the range and the espresso machine. When you begin to see more, like a dishwasher, a range, a coffee maker, a fridge, etc. It begins to feel more industrialized… after all- it’s filled with modern technology that we use and love. If you have an industrial aesthetic, that can work well, but if you prefer a more traditional aesthetic, that’s when panel ready appliances can really provide balance.
I feel like I have a zillion helpful kitchen posts, and I’m happy to add this one to the repertoire. I’ll link some others below, in case you’ve got kitchen things on the brain…
Helpful Resource Blog Posts:
- Kitchen Cabinetry Video Tour
- 5 Things Every Kitchen Needs (That You May Not Think Of)
- Guide for Properly Lighting a Kitchen
- Breaking Down My Kitchen Cabinetry Hardware
- Our Soapstone Countertops
- Tips for Designing a Functional Kitchen
- How to Mix Metals & Plumbing Hardware in The Kitchen
- Design Discussion : Hardwood Flooring in the Kitchen
- Kitchen Countertop Lamps
- Color Matching Our Kitchen Cabinets
- Refrigerator Organization
- Amazon Finds for the Kitchen
- Kitchen Must-Haves for Hosting
- How to Choose a Kitchen Sink
- Replacing Our Kitchen Windows
- Tips for Surviving a Live In Kitchen Reno
- Our Kitchen Look for Less
- My Kitchen Cart
- My Dishes & Glassware
- The Kitchen Budget
Renovations & Kitchen Reveal Blog Posts:
- Our Current Kitchen Reveal
- Our Current Kitchen – One Year Later
- Surprise Kitchen & Dining Remodel
- Kitchenette Makeover
- Our Previous Kitchen Renovation
- A Tiny Kitchen Reveal
- A Modern Kitchen Tour
- Classic White Kitchen Reveal
As always, let me know if you have any questions or thoughts in the comment section. I hope you all have a great day, and I hope this appliance post proves helpful!