Built In Appliances Vs Freestanding Appliances. Which Is Best?

Posted by Lorraine on 20th Nov 2019

We often get asked about the differences between built in and freestanding appliances. Is one type better than the other? Below we answer this query in more detail and highlight the advantages and disadvantages of both models.

Built in appliances are often also referred to as fully integrated appliances. With the desire for neat, minimalist aesthetics, integrated appliances are now hugely popular as they provide a stylish, tidy finish.

When you choose a built in appliance it fits seamlessly within your kitchen as the appliance is mounted with a door that matches your kitchen furniture. This makes ‘built in’ a versatile choice as they look fantastic in both contemporary and traditional kitchen’s alike.

Built in appliances should be installed by a professional and securely fixed within the furniture.

You do need to factor in the additional cost for the furniture door, plinth and panels. Models designed to sit on the floor (dishwashers, washing machines) come with height adjustable feet which enables the fitter to reduce or increase the height so they fit perfectly within your kitchen units. They will also require a plinth to cover the base of the machine.

Freestanding appliances are easy to install and the fact they can be pulled out without interference to the furniture makes them easy to service too. It also means you have the potential to take the appliance with you if you plan to move house.

You’ll have greater flexibility over where you can place a freestanding appliance providing a power outlet, water outlet and required ventilation are close by. 

Choose freestanding, and you risk a mis-match of colours in your kitchen as the external finish can vary from one model to another. Slight variations in the shade of colour is especially common if you plan to mix brands.

Some people choose to combine freestanding and integrated appliances in their kitchen design in order to suit budget and layout. There are many appliances that are available as built in and freestanding model’s; 

  • Ovens
  • Dishwashers
  • Washing Machines/Tumble Dryers
  • Fridge Freezers
  • Wine Coolers
  • Coffee Machines

Below we discuss the differences between built in and freestanding appliances for each of the categories listed above.

Built In Ovens.

By far the most popular built in appliance is the built in single oven. Built in ovens are neatly housed within a kitchen unit allowing you to position the appliance at a height that is most convenient for you. They can be installed into a 600mm wide tall housing, mid height unit or under the worktop, beneath the hob.

Single, double, microwaves and steam ovens are all available in built in models. If you can fit a microwave into a tall housing you'll save valuable worktop space which is ideal if you have a compact kitchen. You’ll find some compact microwave models will fit in slightly smaller 500mm wide units. Always check the product dimensions before you commit to buy. 

Built in ovens generally offer more features and special functions to make your cooking experience easier than ever. A selection of top of the range built in ovens feature sensors and temperature probes. These built in ovens are capable of monitoring food during the cooking and will alert you when the food is done! Features like these will not be found in free standing models as there range of functions are generally more basic.

Caple Gunmetal Built In Ovens

Freestanding Ovens.

Freestanding ovens are easier to install as they can be pushed into a space between or at the side of kitchen base units. Freestanding ovens are a cheaper option but generally they are not as aesthetically pleasing nor as popular as built in models as your style options and features are more limited. 

Within the free-standing oven range you’ll also find range cookers. These are a popular choice in traditional farmhouse kitchens however, they are large and take up a lot of floor space. 

Semi Integrated & Fully Integrated Dishwashers.

The most popular dishwasher is the fully integrated model as they have a full door fascia mounted onto the front of the appliance that matches your kitchen furniture. This provides a discreet and stylish aesthetic as the appliance blends into the furniture. Controls are mounted across the top of the appliance, they remain out of view yet are still easy to control.

Advanced features including specialised wash cycles, multiple spray arms and quiet night time cycles are widely available within built in dishwasher ranges. Some fully integrated models are so quiet you'll barely know when they are working their magic! A selection of models project a light onto the floor which will change colour to indicate when the cycle is running or has finished.

Built in, fully integrated dishwashers are available as a standard 600mm or slimline, 450mm model. An integrated slimline dishwasher is the perfect option for people who struggle to fill a standard 600mm dishwasher or simply do not have the space to install a wider model. 

Due to unique basket and loading systems inside built in dishwashers you'll find many models offer a greater loading capacity compared to freestanding models. In some instances this can be as much as 16 place settings, ideal for large families or those who love to entertain.

Semi Integrated dishwashers are quite a discreet option, however the control panel remains visible. A door fascia is mounted onto the appliance with the control panel on show, above. 

Freestanding Dishwashers.

Freestanding Dishwashers are visually presentable from all sides so if you wanted to place a dishwasher in your kitchen at the end of your furniture run, this is possible.

Although a freestanding dishwasher is not a discreet option they are often available in a white or silver finish so will compliment most kitchen decor schemes. Freestanding dishwashers cater for between 12 - 14 place settings, although this capacity is smaller than the built in equivalent it is still adequate for average size families.

Freestanding Slimline Dishwashers are also available

Built In Washing Machines & Tumble Dryers

If you don’t want your washing machine or tumble dryer on show, a built in model is a great option as these machines are housed behind a door and blend into the rest of your furniture.

The drum size of a built in washing machine is often suitable for a 7kg load you’ll also find a small selection that go up to 8kg.

Freestanding Washing Machines & Tumble Dryers. 

Freestanding washing machines or tumble dryers can be pushed into an allocated space or stand alone within a kitchen or utility. Freestanding models are often selected for use in a utility where the need for minimalist aesthetic is less important!

You’ll find a greater number of freestanding models offer larger drum sizes. An 8 or 9kg capacity is standard, more expensive models can cater for up to 12kg of washing.

Built In Fridge Freezers.

Fridges, freezers or an appliance offering a combination of the two are available in integrated models. Built In Fridge Freezers can come in a tall or a built under configuration.

They are designed to be housed between furniture and therefore the depth of the appliance never exceeds 600mm as it must take into consideration the addition of the front fascia. The fridge freezer is hidden behind a door panel to provide a minimal, neat aesthetic that sits perfectly in line with the remaining furniture.

For those who have sufficient space, a side by side configuration is popular. By placing a fully integrated tall fridge and freezer (separate appliances) side by side you will have plenty of space for all your perishable items!

Freestanding Fridge Freezers.

If you want to make a feature of your fridge freezer or plan to move it then freestanding is a good option. They can be placed almost anywhere within your kitchen and look good from all sides.

Freestanding fridge freezers are generally available in white or stainless steel but for those wishing to add a splash of colour you’ll find some brands offer models in an array of wonderful bright colours.

Unlike built in fridge freezers, most freestanding models are deeper and do not sit perfectly flush with your kitchen furniture. Whilst this provides a slightly roomier interior inside the fridge, you forfeit the seamless aesthetic provided with built in.

American fridge freezers are also freestanding with many offering ice dispensers or a cold water dispenser and digital temperature controls. If you opt for an American Fridge Freezer you’ll find the freezer compartments are often quite small due to the additional parts required for the ice and water dispenser. 

Built In Wine Coolers.

Wine coolers are becoming really popular in modern kitchen design. Many wine cooler models are built in and look fantastic housed within the kitchen furniture.

You’ll find the majority of models feature a glass door with a stainless steel or black surround. New developments have seen the introduction of colour match, integrated wine coolers where it is possible to match your wine cooler surround with your existing kitchen furniture.

Wine coolers are often built into kitchen base units, however, you’ll find a small number are designed to be housed within a tall or mid height housing. These are also referred to as In-Column Wine Coolers.

Built in wine coolers come in a fantastic range of sizes. The smallest start as narrow as 15cm wide, these models hold up to 8 bottles of wine, ideal for small kitchens. As you increase to the roomier 60cm wine coolers you'll discover single and dual zone models, with the potential to store up to 38 bottles of wine. Dual zone are a very popular choice in new kitchens as they have two temperature controlled zones, one suitable for white and the other, red. This enables you to store red and white wine at the optimal temperature, all within one appliance.

Freestanding Wine Coolers. 

Freestanding wine coolers are designed to stand alone as they are presentable from all sides. They are available in various heights with some being suitable for fitting under counter tops, however, freestanding wine coolers are most commonly found as full sized, tall fridges.

Due to the height on the tall models, many offer three separate temperature controlled zones. This makes them ideal for storing an extensive collection of red and white wine varieties, with plenty of room for champagne too!

Built In Coffee Machines.

Built in coffee machines are a very desirable appliance for coffee lovers. They are housed within a tall or mid height unit and look so stylish, neatly installed within the kitchen unit.

The mechanics of the machine are hidden from view. To gain access to the water reservoir and other components you simply pull the front of the machine out and push back again when ready to prepare a lovely, fresh coffee.

Choosing freestanding or integrated appliances depends on the layout of your kitchen and your personal preference. Integrated appliances offer space saving benefits as they are designed to fit within a kitchen unit. If you have plenty of floor space and do not mind having your appliances ‘on show’ freestanding appliances are a good option. 

We stock a wide range of built in and freestanding appliances at Appliance House. For more information on any of the items featured above please contact one of our helpful team on 0330 002 0229, we will be more than happy to help.


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