Sunday, March 10, 2013

Kitchen Makeover: DIY Refrigerator Cabinet

Most kitchen appliances and cabinets are standardized to fit with each other. Standard base cabinets are 34.5" high and 24" deep, and appliances such as dishwashers, ovens and ranges are sized appropriately so that they fit under or even with the counters and sit flush with the cabinets. Refrigerators, however, have been excluded from this standardization. In most kitchens, the fridge is like a Ford Expedition parked in a "compact car only" space.

Recently, cabinet-depth refrigerators have become available. These are great for two reasons - they sit flush with the cabinets, and they're not so deep that you need a search and rescue team to get to the leftovers that got pushed to the back. Alas, they are expensive - easily twice or three times the price of a regular fridge.

So most of us are left with an ill-fitting refrigerator. The fridge sticks out 8" or 10" past the cabinet fronts, but leaves a gap on the top and sides unless you buy a huge model. To add insult to injury, the fridge is topped with a little cabinet that could be useful... if only we could get to it. A 12" deep cabinet on top of a 32" deep refrigerator is not easy to reach.

Such was my situation. And while the gap provided a convenient place to store my Swiffer WetJet (an awesome invention, by the way), I wanted better access to the cabinet.

Building a cabinet around the fridge seemed like the best solution. I would just need a sheet of plywood to make the side of the cabinet; the hurdle was that the plywood would be too big to fit in my car. Brainstorming ideas in the shower one day, I suddenly remembered I had two doors sitting unused in my basement. I'd removed them while doing some demolition. Yay! There was my solution!

I brought one of the doors up, removed the doorknob, and attached it to the end of the counter. I covered it with beadboard wallpaper painted black to match the cabinets.


To support the trim on the other side, I attached a simple 1" x 2" board to the wall.

I pushed the fridge back in place and placed the cabinet on top.

Then I simply trimmed it with door casing and crown molding.

The top cabinet now sits only a few inches back from the front of the refrigerator, just enough to clear the fridge door hinge. I can access the cabinet contents easily. :)

And I think it looks nicer, too.

Total cost of this project was about $22, which was spent on the trim. I had the paint and wallpaper on hand. (If you didn't happen to have an unused door sitting in your basement, you'd probably pay about $35-40 for a sheet of 3/4" plywood.)

22 comments:

  1. Wow, that looks great!

    I always wondered why fridges had that gap on the side. Mine houses the mop and broom.

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    1. Thank you!
      Yeah, the gap seems made for broom storage. When I was considering building the new cabinet, I thought, "Not a bad idea, but where will I store the Swiffer?"

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  2. This looks great. Really love how resourceful you are, reusing the door was a stroke of genius. The kitchen is coming together nicely. I want a kitchen like this myself one day!

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    1. Thank you very much! :D I like to reuse whenever I can. There is more upcycling to come...

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  3. It blows me away how resourceful you are, Bane. And isn't it amazing what a little bit of crown molding can do! I think you should hire yourself out as a kitchen renovator as well as an organizer! :D

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    1. Thank you! I love crown molding. I wish my kitchen ceiling were a normal height so I could have wall cabinets with crown molding. Let me see if I survive my own kitchen renovation before I consider hiring myself out. ;) It's a lot of work!

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  4. Would you like to follow each other? Let me know! :)
    http://lizziapple.blogspot.com/

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    1. You are welcome to follow, subscribe or join. :)

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  5. Crafty! Who'da thunk those humble materials would have such a profound final result? Wonderful! =D

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    1. Thanks! Not bad for an old door... which, according to the price sticker, was purchased at Kmart for $38.88 (probably 30 years ago). :)

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  6. Oh wow, that turned out gorgeous! I'm totally impressed!

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  7. I have a broom with a metal handle. It's stuck to the side of my fridge with neodymium magnets. I'm a huge fan of magnets.

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    1. Magnets are awesome. My stove drawer is held on with a magnet. I use them to hang Halloween lights also. :)

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  8. Geez your refrigerators are deep! Is it the depth necessary for the turkey dinners? Standard depth of benches and floor cabinets are also 24" here with narrower top cabinets. But we have also 24" depth cabinets to buy to fit with the 24" deep refrigerators.
    You did an amazing job with the cabinet, it looks so professional. :)

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    1. I don't know why the refrigerators are so deep. But this is America, where bigger is always better... even if bigger is inconvenient and wasteful. :P
      Thank you!

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  9. In the UK, built-in cabinet-depth fridges have been around for decades. The fridge and freezer at my Dad's house look just like two more large storage cupboards. I remember helping pick the kitchen bits when I was 12 (Dad was keen to encourage me in DIY), so that was a long while back!

    I think you've done a good job of making that space more aesthetically pleasing, and I especially like how you have crown moulding so the top of the cabinet seems attached to the ceiling. I think having a space above cabinets can make the room look shorter, weirdly enough. I'm following your kitchen project avidly, and watching it progress into something quite snazzy indeed.

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    1. I don't know why the US is so behind the times with refrigerators. It's likely related to money - maybe an evil collusion between fridge manufacturers and cabinet makers - or to America's distorted idea of size.

      Thanks! In my opinion, space above the cabinets looks unfinished, and usually just acts as a dust collector.

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    2. You do get the really big fridges in the UK, but they get used as a sort of kitchen feature, and usually in large kitchens. Only larger houses in the countryside tend to have kitchens big enough for a large fridge, and as a lot of UK houses are small suburban houses or apartments ('flats') I think everything being compact and built in is quite popular. The kitchen in our apartment is tiny, but we do have a stand-alone fridge that takes over an entire corner of it. I've used the top of it as a storage space for my big glass jars of dry goods.

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    3. Oh, and I have MORE jars of dry goods on that annoying space above the wall cabinets in our kitchen. I have to fit as much larder usage as possible into a very tiny kitchen, so I use every available space.

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