How to Design for Flush Inset Appliances

Everyone wants a custom, fitted look in their kitchen design.  Installing appliances with a flush inset method is a great way to get there to achieve this sleek look in just about any space.  Personally, it is my favorite way to give my designs a much more “finished” feeling.

The application can sound complicated, even intimidating, but it does not have to be at all!  It only takes some practice, while keeping a few things in mind.

So, what is flush inset?

Some appliance manufactures offer installation choices of Standard or Flush Inset.  Here is the difference:

(Gold) Craftsman with Reverse Raised Panel in White Icing Classic, and Eagle Rock Sable Glaze & Highlight on cherry
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Standard installation method

You would start with a tall cabinet with an opening cut to the appliance specs.  Using a framed cabinet, the appliance would fit up against the outside frame.  Pretty simple.   However, there may be exposed cabinet frame or the appliance may project out into the room- especially when using inset cabinets.

Here is an example of side-by-side wall ovens installed with the flush inset method with framed cabinets.  Notice how the face of the oven is flush with the face of the cabinet doors and end panels.  There are minimal gaps between the top and bottom of the oven and the cabinet doors.  That is the goal.

The way the end panel is used offers the opportunity to fully capture the end of the appliance- so all edges of it are concealed.

Along with getting a tighter fit, flush inset allows better control over the height you place the appliance at compared to an oven cabinet.  Who doesn’t love designing cabinets to perfectly align with each other!  A single oven at counter height is a very popular European look.

This kitchen has both the fridge and the wall oven installed using the flush inset method.

Both the face of the fridge panels and the face of the wall oven are flush with the face of the cabinet doors.  A refrigerator paneled and installed in this manner is truly integrated into the cabinets surrounding it.


This side-by-side comparison of line drawings illustrates that ‘finished’ feeling flush appliances can create.

Standard Install line drawing
Flush inset line drawing r

Key points for standard installation:

  • Wide gaps above and below the appliance
  • A specific cut-out needs to be specified or trimmed on site
  • Limited flexibility for placement of appliance
  • Appliance has to sit against cabinet box frame
  • Edges of appliance are exposed

Key points for Flush Installation:

  • Minimal gaps above and below the appliance
  • No cut-out needed
  • Flexibility for placement of appliance
  • Appliance can be pushed back or pulled forward as needed for perfect fit
  • Edges of appliance are concealed
  • Can easily plan for linear alignment with other cabinets


How to flush inset when designing in Gold:

Here are the basics- you don’t use an appliance cabinet with a cut-out, you will ‘sandwich’ the appliance between cabinets and panels.

Like this:

In this example, the oven is resting on top of a drawer base, under a wall cabinet with panels capturing the ends.  Fillers are used as cleats to attach the appliance to.  We prefer to have the tall panels deeper than the cabinets so the front edge of the panels are flush with the face of the doors- creating an encapsulated appearance.  This also ensures that the countertop end is fully against the panel.  No one likes a countertop hanging out with a cut end visible!

Best practice is to finish the bottom of your upper cabinet and the top of the base so there is no unfinished cabinet peeking out when opening the appliance!

The space you would plan for is the manufacture’s requirements for the height and opening for flush inset install.  You will see that the opening requirement for flush inset is larger than standard install because you will be capturing the full appliance front.

This same method can be used for inset cabinets, as seen in our “Scandinavian Simplicity” kitchen design:

However, a Custom Quoted cabinet built with specific sized and placed openings may work better.  In our “Loxley and Bayside” kitchen design, the opening dimensions required by the appliance vendor’s specifications for flush inset were considered when the cabinet was built:

And that’s all there is to it! I hope this how-to will make creating that sleek flush inset look a little easier.

Happy designing!  Please share your comments below, or better yet, paste a link to show us your flush inset designs!!


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