CREATIVE REFRIGERATION IN LIGHT COMMERCIAL SPACES
While the most obvious use of undercounter refrigeration might be in the home, another increasingly popular use for these types of products is in light commercial spaces, like medical offices, gyms, salons, daycares, and more.
I recently worked on a dental office project that was an ideal candidate for Perlick products—the ability to refrigerate items such as medicine, creams and special medical devices is especially important in these types of facilities.
Construction of the dental office unit was already underway before my team was hired on to collaborate with the client and contractor, so we were charged with selecting all of the materials and finishes for the entire unit, as well as finalizing the furniture space plan and making the style selections for the reception area, offices and staff area.
Below is a floor plan for the entire office space:
Had our design team been involved in this project from the very beginning, we would have made the following recommendations on how to incorporate smart refrigeration solutions into three important zones in this space.
THE RECEPTION AREA
This client, a family dentist, was really focused on alleviating the inevitable anxiety that comes with the annual dental visit. She tasked us with choosing colors and furniture pieces that would make her patients feel more like they were in a home than in a sterile, impersonal office space.
You can see in the diagram below that architectural plans called for a built-in beverage area along one wall of the reception area. Naturally, this would be the ideal place for a coffee station and storage for other beverages.
A small refrigeration unit like the 24” Signature Series Refrigerator would have made storing creamers, bottles of water, and other items super convenient.
Alas, this detail was overlooked during the drafting process, so there is no unit in this area, meaning the office manager has to shuffle all the way to the back of the building for refrigerated items when necessary. This is an easy detail to overlook if you aren’t design-focused; but I’m guessing they are thinking twice about that oversight now.
THE LAB AREA
The second important zone in this dental office project deals with the actual procedural requirements for the facility. The plans for the space call for a generously sized space for the dentist and her lab technicians to store medication, sterilization equipment and other necessary apparatus.
Not only do some of these medications need to be cooled to lower temperatures, but also, because the office is located in Louisiana, we have to carefully monitor humidity levels to ensure they don’t create problems down the line.
Having a unit like the 24” Signature Series Dual-Zone Indoor Freezer/Refrigerator Drawers in that space would make it convenient for those items to be stored while taking up little space.
This particular application is where Perlick’s roots in the commercial and hospitality industry really shine. All of their products have a sleek, stainless steel interior and exterior, which ensures each unit is sanitary, while still looking beautiful. The two-inch thick, foamed-in-place insulated walls of the units provide industry-leading protection against humidity and outside vibration.
Unfortunately, this detail was also overlooked during the drafting process, so there is no refrigeration unit in the final lab area. That means, once again, office efficiency is compromised, and although the client may eventually decide to bring in a unit, the time and expense to retroactively solve this problem could have been avoided by a more design-focused approach during the drawing process.
THE EMPLOYEE LOUNGE
The final zone in which refrigeration could be well used in this space is the most obvious one: the employee lounge.
In this area, they were lucky enough to be able to fit in a full-size refrigerator that allows staff to store food, etc. While this dental office had enough room for a full-sized unit, most commercial spaces don’t have that type of square footage to spare.
Using a small undercounter unit, such as the Signature Series Sottile 18” Depth Indoor Refrigerator, might be a more realistic and effective solution in other small commercial spaces.
Although we would have made some different design decisions if we were involved in the project from the start, we thoroughly enjoyed working with this client during the final phase of her construction process—and we love how warm and inviting her space turned out.
That said, this is a great lesson in why good design matters and the power of considering the function of each space when selecting the appropriate elements. Quality, functional products like Perlick’s refrigerator units should be used as the starting point for the design process rather than the afterthought.
I’m often asked by clients, “What exactly does a designer do?”
My answer, “We solve the problems you don’t even know you have, and when we’re done we help you achieve a finished space that makes you say, ‘I never would have even thought of that!’”
If you’re a designer, keep in mind the powerful toolkit that Perlick provides. This arsenal of top-of-the-line products helps us look like rock stars to our clients and helps us achieve spaces that perfectly balance form with function.
If you’re a business owner considering a build-out for your new office space, consider bringing on an interior designer in the beginning stages. I promise this will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
For more creative ideas on how refrigeration can be incorporated into light commercial applications, take a look at this space my friend Sarah Walker, an interior designer based in Toronto, Canada, just designed.
She transformed a luxury spa space, incorporating Perlick’s two-drawer unit into her design to store some of the medications administered to clients.
Whatever the need for undercounter refrigeration—be it in the home or in a light commercial space—it’s important to consider both form and function to maximize performance while maintaining a beautiful aesthetic. Perlick offers the most expansive line of undercounter refrigerators in the industry, utilizing the same proven refrigeration systems across all units that it has used in bars and restaurants for the past 100 years. View Perlick’s line of refrigerators, all approved for light commercial applications, here.