Some elements in this kitchen design have to be just right, and integrating the paneled refrigerator is one. The kitchen will be open to the living room and dining room, and I didn’t want the look and feel of the rooms to be dominated by hulking appliances. Now that the fridge is in, you can see the paneled appliances make all the difference. This installation went fairly smoothly. At least, it did after the guys realized the Liebherr fridge vents in front! But if you’re considering a fully integrated refrigerator, here are just a few things I wish I’d known in advance about the Liebherr HC2080.
I can’t stress enough how important research, sourcing, and planning are when renovating your kitchen. I poured over a tall stack of appliance specs before settling on the Liebherr. The cost—at half the price of models like Sub-zero—couldn’t be beat, but it has a few hidden benefits you never hear about:
1. You Don’t Need a Refrigerator Cabinet with Liebherr
Some integrated models require a fridge cabinet. We’re using IKEA boxes and custom doors, and there is no refrigerator cabinet available through IKEA. When a “pro” on Houzz warned me that I would definitely need one (and that I was in over my head acting as my own kitchen designer), it did give me pause. But my research told me she was wrong, and she was. So here’s the definitive statement based on experience for anyone researching this: The Liebherr can be installed in a cavity created by two tall panels or—as in our case—between two tall pantries, or even in a recess surrounded by wall board. You don’t need a special fridge cabinet.
2. If Installing Between Two Pantries, You Don’t Even Need Fridge Panels
After watching a few installation videos, I was clear that it didn’t need a cabinet but unsure if we were going to need tall panels on each side of the fridge. It didn’t help that all the kitchen stores I visited showed it between panels. Because our panels and doors are custom, and there’s a long lead time on orders that include a painted finish, I couldn’t take the chance that I might need them, so I ordered them just in case. We ended up not using them for the fridge, and that’s fine. Having extra panels around actually saved the day on some other troubleshooting issues. (My takeaway: Always order at least one additional large panel; it will solve myriad unforeseen problems.)
3. The Liebherr Is Exactly 24″ Deep
This is great to know if you’re going for the fully integrated look, but it can be troublesome when field fitting. We had a moment where I almost had a nervous breakdown when the carpenter said the fridge might stick out an inch from the rest of the cabinetry. Say what? It turned out he thought he’d need to leave space in back for ventilation. But having read the specs backward and forward, I was able to inform him with assurance that it ventilates from the front and should be pushed back completely against the back wall. You have to know your appliance specs. These guys do a lot of work on kitchens, but your model may be unfamiliar to them.
4. You Will Very Likely Need to Trim the Cabinet Above the Fridge
The Liebherr comes with adjustable feet, and that’s a beautiful thing when you’re renovating in an old building like ours, where nothing is plumb. But if you’re like me, a crazy lover of symmetry, you’ll want the bottom freezer drawers to line up with the base cabinet drawers. To make this work, be prepared that you may have to cut down the over-the-fridge cabinet—as we ended up doing. When our old floors required that we adjust the feet up an inch, it put the freezer drawers out of alignment with the base cabinet drawers. In an integrated design, that’s not likely to work for anyone and it certainly didn’t work for me. My contractor had already foreseen the issue, however, and had warned me not to order the door yet. A second order was always inevitable, as the wall oven cabinet also required field-fitting. The guys were able to cut down the cabinet above, and then I ordered that cabinet door to fit.
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