When it comes to high-end kitchen appliance design, great performance is as important on the outside as it is on the inside.
Serious designers of both commercial and residential appliances want features that “feel” luxurious. Many of today’s top-end appliances include counterbalancing, soft-close motion control, and other features for the ultimate in safety and convenience.
A well-made hinge mechanism separates your kitchen appliance design from the crowd by delivering all of the above and more:
What Makes an Appliance Door Hinge Different?
The standard appliance door hinge has been around for a long time. It does its job by keeping appliance doors level and allowing them to swing out and in. Yawn.
Modern technology has improved upon this design significantly with motion control and soft-open and soft-close hinges. Motion control is made possible through the use of spring-loaded hinge solutions and counterbalancing.
Motion control hinges prevent excessive swinging and slamming of doors, and keep heavy lids from slamming and injuring the user.
These hinges can also lighten the load a user has to lift, push, or pull -- even the most heavy lids and doors can require 5 lbs. or less of force to lift.
Benefits of motion control hinges include:
- Easier lifting of lids: Counterbalancing can make heavy lids easy to lift and move, even for Grandma.
- Damping: As an opening or closing door or lid increases in speed, an added mechanism increases resistance so that it closes softly and smoothly.
- Positioning: You can use spring-loaded hinges to customize the way doors and lids are positioned in a variety of ways.
Options for positioning include:
- Detent: An operator can feel when the door or lid reaches the desired angle, or even multiple angles.
- Free stop: Doors or lids can be repositioned in small increments along their range of motion.
- Lock: Keeps a door or lid in place with sufficient force.
Examples of Motion Control Hinges in High-End Kitchens
Motion control has been the source of soft-closing mechanisms for cabinet doors and drawers for many years now. Now, what about the rest of the kitchen?
Here’s a hinge design guide to getting the most out of the rest of your commercial or high-end kitchen:
Wine Cooler Hinges:
A soft-close feature on wine storage fridges makes it easier to avoid disturbing valuable bottles of wine. Instead of a potentially disruptive slamming door, a soft close hinge mechanism ensures a gentle seal every time.
There are higher-end dishwasher hinges available now that feature motion control hinge designs. Among their features are soft-close motion control to avoid slamming and rattling glassware, both when the door is dropped open and when the door is closed.
Refrigerators keep rising in price as they add features, yet it hasn’t stopped people from buying them.
While not as exciting as integrated Wi-Fi, soft-close refrigerator hinges ensure that the fridge door never slams shut. Use motion control to dictate exactly where the door will open to and how quickly it will get there.
French door ovens and side-swing wall ovens use motion control to protect both appliance and user. You can also improve your pull-out oven design by adding:
- Soft-close hinge mechanisms
- Soft-open hinge mechanisms
- A mid-motion stop
As you know, all oven hinges must be able to withstand high temperatures. Mechanical spring hinges are the best design choice here because they don’t rupture in high heat like gas cylinders/springs do.
Your hinge manufacturer should be able to help you design an oven door system that opens predictably and safely.
Bar & Countertop Hinges
While not technically an appliance, large, heavy bars and countertops can be hinged to allow access in and out of a kitchen. This is common in bars and restaurants, but many of them lack the right kitchen countertop hinge to ensure safety and longevity.
Rather than making a waiter resort to DIY-ing a way to keep the flap up during a busy night, install a flip-up countertop hinge that will open and close easily. This way the staff won’t have to lift a 75-lb. granite countertop 50 times a night, and there’s no risk of their makeshift solution failing.
TV Monitor Lifts
Excessive? Maybe. But hey, why not?
Those familiar with ergonomic office design may be aware of monitor lifts and TV lifts. These products, also gaining popularity in high-end hotels, let consumers watch TV while cooking or eating. When they’re done watching, users can slide the TV back down into the counter and get more space back for cooking or holding dishes.
High-end commercial and residential kitchens wouldn't be complete without fancy cabinets. And while these aren't technically appliances either, who wants to deal with the noise and damage risk of slamming cabinet doors?
Spring assist and counterbalance hinges can take your kitchen storage to the next level by creating soft-close cabinet doors.
Whether your cabinets are wood, stainless steel, or other materials, heavy-duty hinges mitigate the weight of the door and stop you from slamming your finger in the cabinets.
Form + Function
The best high-end kitchen designs are a combination of form and function.
The appeal of motion control is that it can do both. The smooth feeling it lends a door or lid gives off a vibe of luxury. And its ability to move heavy loads in any way you want makes your kitchen safer and more convenient.
To learn more about how motion control and counterbalancing improves kitchen design, check out our resource page:
Editor's Note: This article was originally posted in January 2020 and was updated in May 2021 to reflect changes in insight and resources.