When selecting built-in appliances for your Kitchen design projects, there is a lot to consider.
First is how the unit functions and second is how it looks.
Once you and your client have narrowed in on all the features they want in a specific appliance, you will then turn to how it looks within their design.
In today’s VESTA Blog post I will focus on how the appliance looks, specifically how it is installed into the cabinetry.
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When designing a Kitchen for a client I always start with how it will function.
My mantra is
Form Follows FunctionArchitect, Louis Sullivan
So, when choosing appliances we would start with the features desired, and narrow our choices based on that.
Next I would recommend that we stick with one to two manufacturers to ensure the overall design of the space is cohesive.
Finally, we would decide how the built-in appliance should be installed.
- Standard mounted or
- Flush mounted
How a built-in appliance is installed may not be top of mind for the designer, but it is something that needs to be addressed prior to cabinetry being ordered.
Let’s look a the difference between the two different types of installation methods for built-in appliances.
Built-in Wall Ovens
The above examples show two different ways to install wall ovens into cabinetry.
- Standard installation or “proud” mount installation and
- Flush mount installation
Proud mount means the ovens sit proud of the cabinetry with the side of the appliance frame and door exposed.
Flush mount means the front of the oven is flush with the surrounding cabinetry with only the appliance handle protruding.
In both of these examples, the wall ovens were installed in a cabinet that was wider than the appliance.
There was also extra space provided above and below the unit.
This look evolved from the first generation of built-in wall ovens needing a lot of air circulation around them.
Extra space inside the cabinet on the sides, top and bottom, would allow air to circulate around the oven and not have it overheat.
European manufacturers were the first to engineer and introduce wall ovens that did not need extra air space within the cabinet cavity.
This allowed Kitchen designers to get a very clean modern look with the installation of wall ovens.
Now the cabinet doors and drawers could be specified on the same plane as the appliance, integrating them even more into the design.
This design aesthetic could also be adopted to more traditional framed cabinetry, with ovens being inset into the cabinetry for a transitional look.
This new way of installing ovens began to give Kitchen Designers some options.
The above two installations are projects I designed several years ago where I experimented with proud mount and flush mount installations of stacked ovens.
The first example included installing a 30″ oven stack in a 42″ wide oven cabinet.
This wide oven cabinet was chosen to balance the 42″ wide built-in refrigerator beside it and to provide more space between the hot oven and the cold refrigerator.
The second example is the same appliance manufacturer but this time the units have been flush mounted.
Do notice that the curved outer edges of these North American units don’t produce a perfect flush mount that the European wall ovens have with their sharp edges.
The two different approaches to the installation of the ovens does produce a different look and needs to be considered when finalizing the Kitchen design.
Another appliance that can be installed both standard (proud) mount and flush mount is the microwave.
Traditionally, microwaves were built into cabinetry using a trim kit.
The original trim kits were designed with air circulation vents and attached to the face of the cabinetry producing a proud mount application.
Generally, microwaves produce a lot of heat on the outside of the unit, and this heat needs to have a place to escape, so a large space was needed to build them into cabinetry.
It became popular about 10 years ago to install microwaves under counter in base cabinets.
Additional innovations that occurred at that time, was that trim kits became sleeker, microwave drawers were introduced, and microwave venting improved.
This resulted in sleek designs that allowed some microwaves to be flushed mounted.
Flush mounting the microwave when installing it under counter looks great and functions well by avoiding it protruding too far beyond the countertop depth.
Most cooktops are top mounted (proud mounted) on to the countertop, but recently flush mounted installations have been popping up in Kitchen design.
Flat top electric or induction cooktops were the first cooktops to be installed this way.
The sleek lines of this type of cooktop lends itself well to a flush installation where the unit is inset into a solid countertop.
Most gas cooktop are still top mounted, but a few manufactures have introduced models that can be flush mounted.
Please note not every cooktop, or every appliance can be flush mounted. More about that in the conclusion of this post!
The majority of built-in refrigerators will sit proud of the cabinetry.
The hinge systems on most refrigerators require the doors to be deeper than the adjacent cabinetry to allow them to open fully without binding on the millwork.
There are however manufactures that have engineered their refrigerator hinges to articulate in a way that allows them to be flush mounted.
This brings me to this next section:
Kitchen Designer Beware!
Not every appliance can be flush mounted into cabinetry or countertops.
An appliance needs to be engineered to be flush mounted.
Before suggesting an appliances be flush mounted, you need to check the appliance specifications.
If you cannot find specifications for a flush mount installation, do not flush mount it!Jan Rutgers
Ignoring the specifications and flush mounting an appliance that has not been engineered to do so can put your client in danger.
In a worst case scenario heat can build up around the appliance and start a fire.
Other issues that can occur include heat damage to cabinetry or countertops, heat related failure of the appliances and a voided warranty on the appliance.
Unfortunately, appliance manufactures can mislead the Kitchen Designer with their marketing departments wanting to represent current trends.
The above two images were taken from an appliance manufacturer’s website.
The first image shows a standard mount (proud mount) installation and the second image shows a flush mount installation.
Looking at the installation specifications for this microwave there are no specs for flush mounting it.
The specifications actually point out that 2″ of air space is needed above the unit and there is a drawing specifically showing the appliance needs to be installed proud of the cabinetry.
There is also a note on the install specs stating “For proper installation, the following minimum clearance must exist above and below the cutout opening.”
I was working with a Kitchen designer last year that had a client that wanted this KitchenAid microwave flush mounted.
After looking at the specs and not being able to find any for flush mount, I phoned the manufacturer to get clarification due to the image featured on their website.
After multiple phone transfers from person to person, I was finally told that if the appliance was flush mounted the warranty would be void and it is not recommended. The appliance had not been engineered for flush mounting.
I was never able to get an explanation for why their marketing department was promoting this installation and was disappointed to see that the image still is featured on their website when I checked it just before posting.
Again, my recommendation is:
If you cannot find specifications for a flush mount installation, do not flush mount it!Jan Rutgers.
Both flush mount and standard mount are acceptable options for built-in installing appliances in your Kitchen designs.
Consider both and make the installation decision based on the appliance itself and the look you are trying to achieve.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on standard vs flush appliance installation.
Please leave me a comment below.
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.
I related to your story of contacting the manufacturer. I have also noticed discrepancies between marketing images and installation instructions (and not just with appliances). Other times, instructions are incomplete or unclear. Sometimes, a little extra investigation is required, which is annoying when you’re trying to get something completed in a set timeline, but worth it down the road at installation time!
Thank you for sharing good tips e recommendations.
Thanks for the comment Ana!