When I was developing the concept for VESTABUL SCHOOL OF DESIGN, I interviewed multiple Designers to find out what they needed to excel as Kitchen Designers.

Time and time again I heard

Help me with Appliances!

With the variety of appliance brands and types available in the market constantly increasing, appliances are becoming a more and more important element in Kitchen Design.

Due to this chaos of choice, the Kitchen Designer needs to take the lead on appliances for a successful project.

Read on to see how VESTABUL SCHOOL OF DESIGN is committed to helping Designers do just that!

For many years, cabinetry was the star of a new Kitchen, demanding the majority of the budget, with appliances playing a supporting role.

There has been a shift in recent years with appliances taking center stage and some individual appliances costing more than all of the cabinetry combined.

Because of this, the Kitchen Designer needs to be more involved with appliances even if they do not sell them.

I always look at Kitchen Design through the ART, the SCIENCE and the BUSINESS of Design and will explore appliances under these headings.

Many designers are drawn to Kitchen Design as a profession because of the Art of Design.

They want to design beautiful Kitchens that are Magazine & Instagram worthy!

To accomplish this, the Kitchen Designer needs to understand appliances from all angles.

Let’s start by looking at appliances through the lens of the Art of Design.

The Art of Design & Appliances

To ensure the appliances work beautifully within the Kitchen Design, the Kitchen Designer needs to be confident in advising clients on appliance choices.

This begins with understanding the 4 major categories of appliances.

Free Standing Appliances

Stainless Steel appliances are a popular choice for Kitchen Design
Free Standing Appliances are a popular choice in Kitchen Design

Free Standing Appliances are the largest category of appliances and include refrigerators, ranges and microwaves that require some air space around them.

This category has the most choices and offers the widest price point variations for your clients.

If your client is budget conscious this would be the category to steer them towards.

Keep in mind that you can elevate the look of free standing appliances by specifying the same brand and matching details such as finishes and handle shape.

Built-In Appliances

White kitchen with built-in appliances
Built-in Appliances provide a streamline look to Kitchen Designs

Built-in Appliances will produce a more stream line look in your Kitchen Designs.

This is the category where you will find built-in wall ovens, cooktops, dishwashers and flush mount refrigerators.

Built-in appliances jump up in price from free-standing, so some designers will opt to mix and match these two categories of appliances to keep the budget in check.

The best rule of thumb here is to stay with the same manufacturer for continuity in your design.

Integrated Appliances

Modern kitchen with integrated appliances
Integrated Appliances match or contrast with surrounding cabinetry.

Integrated Appliances is a category that takes built-in appliances to the next level.

In this category, the refrigerator and dishwasher and sometimes the range hood, are paneled to match the cabinet millwork.

This allows these units to blend and sometimes disappear into the design.

As you can imagine, when these types of appliances are specified there needs to be much more attention spent on the installation details of the appliance.

More about this when we discuss Appliances & the Science of Design in a future post.

Pro-Styled Appliances

White kitchen with pro-styled appliances
Pro-Style Appliances produce a commercial look to residential kitchens

Pro-Style Appliances for residential use, first appeared on the market in the late 1980’s.

Since then they have become a very popular category.

Typically these appliances are over-sized and have a commercial look to them.

Your client’s Kitchen needs to be quite large to accommodate pro appliances throughout.

If your client’s space is small, you may want to suggest including a signature piece such as a pro-style range in the design, and surround it with appliances from another category.

Having an in-depth understanding of each of these appliance categories is the starting point for you guiding your client’s appliance choices.

As a professional Kitchen Designer you understand the space constraints, the budget, the function, and the layout for the room, so appliance specification should also be guided by you.

VESTABUL SCHOOL OF DESIGN will be taking a deeper dive into all things Appliances in an upcoming FREE work shop.

To get notified of dates & times for the workshop subscribe to our mailing list here:

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Choosing the right appliances for your kitchen designs will always elevate your designs.

With multiple options available, you will always be able to specify the best choice for you clients.

The key is to keep up with the trends and ensure you understand the Science of Design when specifying and integrating appliances into your designs.

The next VESTA Blog in this series will introduce the Science of Design for Appliances.

To get a head start you will want to check out our FREE course


This mini course introduces you to what to look for when researching appliance specifications.

As always I welcome your insights on this topic or any others presented on the VESTA Blog, so please leave me your comments below.

Jan Rutgers B.Sc. H.Ec.
Jan Rutgers B.Sc. H.Ec.

Jan Rutgers has been designing kitchens and products for over 25 years and is a recipient of Kitchen & Bath Design News’ Top Innovators in 2020 for the Kitchen & Bath Industry. She has designed more than 1000 kitchens learning valuable skills with each one! Her experience in Kitchen Design, Millwork Manufacturing and Product Development has led her to create VESTABUL SCHOOL OF DESIGN where she educates and mentors people passionate about the Kitchen Design Industry.

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