Paneled or Exposed Kitchen Appliances - Which Do You Prefer?

Paneled or exposed kitchen appliances? It's not an easy question. If you haven't yet decided which of these options is right for you, you'll find some guidance here.
Paneled or Exposed Kitchen Appliances - Which Do You Prefer?

Last update: 03 April, 2021

If you’re thinking of renovating your kitchen, one of the big questions is whether you prefer paneled or exposed appliances. This depends on the space you have and the needs of your family, but also on what’s in fashion.

To help you make this decision, here are some tips along with the pros and cons of each option.

Paneled or exposed – different appliances

A kitchen with an exposed refrigerator.

When you go shopping for kitchen appliances, there are a lot of issues to consider. Some are purely aesthetic, such as color or design, and others are more practical, such as size or function.

However, beyond all this, there’s another element that must be taken into account; whether or not you want the appliance to be visible. In fact, your choices will depend on your answer to this question. With this in mind, there are three options.

Built-in appliances

This type of appliance has no front. They’re designed to be integrated into the kitchen furniture and accessed through doors.


  • This option means your kitchen will be much more uniform aesthetically.
  • If you have an open plan kitchen, it’s the best option, since the appliances are hidden behind doors that blend in with the rest of the furnishings.


  • There are fewer appliance models available for this option.
  • You lose some space by not being able to open the doors completely.
  • They require installation by a professional.

Independent appliances

These are also called freestanding appliances and are, as their name suggests, independent. You can find them in different colors, although stainless steel and white are the most common.

They’re usually installed under the countertop. The best thing about them is that more and more attractive designs are coming on the market, with no loss of functionality. If you choose appliances that are the same color as your furnishings they will blend with the whole kitchen.


  • They don’t require installation. You only have to connect them and fit them into the space, which makes them more economical.
  • There are more models available, and you can still play with the aesthetics in other ways.


  • There are gaps between the appliance and the furnishings and they’re sometimes difficult to clean.
  • If you like symmetrical spaces, this is not the option for you.

Panel-ready appliances

These fall between the two previously mentioned types and are not so popular anymore. Here, the appliances have a panel added or attached to the door, which leaves them partially hidden. In fact, this is very common with dishwashers and washing machines; only the controls, screens, and lights are left uncovered.

Paneled or exposed kitchen appliances – a complicated decision

A kitchen can have paneled and exposed appliances.

In the end, as you can see, your options will depend a lot on your taste and the style of kitchen you have. Both types of appliances offer very different solutions which you can use to create a unique environment.

For example, if you choose designer models, they’ll be part of the decoration of your kitchen. This is the case with Smeg brand appliances; they transform your kitchen into a room straight out of the ’50s. In this way, refrigerators and toasters become the focus of the room. For extra appliances, take a look at the citrus juicers they sell.

Something similar happens with stainless steel appliances, which are more typical of avant-garde homes and with those who love industrial finishes. They give the kitchen a professional feel, that’s immaculate and bright. And believe it or not, they combine wonderfully with other more classic finishes such as wood. Look at this refrigerator, it’s perfect.

However, if what you like is a more uniform aesthetic or if you have an open plan kitchen and prefer everything to be integrated, you’ll find a way to disguise even the extractor hood.

When paneling your kitchen, however, space is reduced and you may have a less visually light feeling, so it is not recommended in small spaces.

Have you made your decision? Hopefully you’ve been able to clear up some of your doubts but, as always, the question depends on your taste and your needs.

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