Choosing a built-in, panel-ready refrigerator.
My original criteria for a refrigerator was to minimize it as MUCH as possible.
In some kind of vortex of frugal-impossibility, the fridge I had settled on was $1,300 AND had a larger interior than our current fridge, despite having a smaller exterior footprint.
I was VERY pleased with myself.
But, like much of life, my self-congratulations were based entirely on my own stupidity; that’s what happens when you are raised by people who have a freezer-on-top-appliance, and the audacity to keep on living.
My blissful ignorance corrected itself IMMEDIATELY, once I saw my frugal choice of standard-fridge; in comparison with tall-and-fancy-and-built-in… Self was like, one of these is not like the other. One of these is SAD.
I reeled from the weight of this new awareness: the full extent of my own sadness… SO SO SO MUCH SADNESS.
I realized two things:
1- minimizing something you hate is not the same as a solution to something you hate.
2- anything not bigly sad comes with a snob-tax.
If you can’t afford the snob tax, you have to go to Sears scratch and dent.
But then it turned out that the original tall/short/SADNESS/visual-issue became a total non-issue… crushed by a larger problem.
Seeing the fridge I THOUGHT was our solution, forced me to visualize EXACTLY THAT in the kitchen.
And THAT made me visualize ANY refrigerator in that space… and I definitely hated all of them… and revisiting this post where we WERE putting the fridge–> ERMAHGAWD, WHAT WAS I THINKING?
No matter what, we are putting a cube of metal in ONE corner… AND NOT IN THE OTHER.
The symmetry czar was deeply displeased.
Zeese eeze not korrrrreccct.
I hated all of it.
I hated it more every single day.
To be fair, I hate everything that is not totally useless, (or made of kittens)… so it’s good that I am so full of HELPFUL SUGGESTIONS.
I said— let’s just move the refrigerator to the basement!
But Paul was like— no. I do not want a kitchen SO INCONVENIENT IT HAS NO REFRIGERATOR.
I was like— I hear you, Paul… I don’t want to get out of bed every day. It’s called being an adult. Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to.
So I had to wait him out.
Now we are all on the same page.
Sadly, this new page did not come with $10,000 to fund our improved plan.
For a while, we considered a fridge-only column… I could get the HEIGHT I wanted, it would be half the cost, and we’d just use our chest freezer in the basement.
Liebherr’s just-fridge was the least expensive, at $3,500, (but only 76” tall)… a Thermador fridge column at 83.75” tall was like… BE STILL MY HEART.
VEB+ TalL FRidGE = TruLv.
Paul and I talked about DIY-ing some kind of built-in, with
a door to match our house’s interior doors THE FANCIEST DOORS I COULD FIND.
Then the fridge-space would appear fancy but conceal a shorter/less expensive brand.
But ultimately I decided I would be unhappy with a faux-fancy-front that opened to reveal a squatter… being confronted DAILY by my own fraud would be demoralizing.
For a while, I was enamored with the idea of doing a glass-front pharmaceutical/industrial refrigerator… (that fridge linked, is the same as the photo below,) they are WAY more affordable (and bigger) than the glass-front “real” refrigerators on the market.
It seemed like I could SOMEHOW trim out the front of it… I was totally obsessed with the double brass doors towards the end of my post about all the pricey panel-ready refrigerators I cannot afford.(and I actually found a similar pair at a Philadelphia salvage yard!)
But whenever I incorporated that into the big kitchen picture, it fell apart.
EVERYTHING fell apart, and I think in this space, the best thing I can do is KEEP IT SIMPLE.
Contrary to appearances, I AM familiar with the concept of simplicity.
We are just going to have to suck it up and spend the money.
Subzero, built-in, panel ready, over/under fridge/freezer… at 84” tall, it squeaks past Thermador by a quarter of an inch… we can get a floor model (brand new, not refurbished, but also not the newest model) around $7,000.
Also, to clarify, it’s not JUST the height… this panel ready by Dacor is half the cost of the Subzero, and it looks good! BUT while the exterior dimensions are nearly the same, the interior cubic feet is NOT!!! You lose over 2 cubic feet on the Dacor, just in the fridge section… not a big deal IF you are doing two side-by-side units, which we are not!
Subzero has the biggest interior cubic storage of all the brands.
I am undecided what our actual panels will look like; simple/white will match our woodwork… and Self is unusually quiet at the idea of UNREMARKABLE.
Although, of course, you all keep trying to rile her up by sending her emails and being like, BUT HAVE YOU SEEN A FAUX ICEBOX FRONT.
Paul wants to know why you hate him?
Except, the PROBLEM with a faux icebox front is… the FAUX part. I’m afraid that I will always be like, OH THERE’S THAT FAKE PANEL THAT I GLUED SOME FAKE HARDWARE TO.
How awesome is that?
I’m not exactly sure.
But I AM sure it will NOT reproduce for me the feeling of a PHENOMENALLY TREMENDOUS BIGLY FANCY.
So I guess what I’m saying is: GIVE ME old/BROKEN/useless/FANCY… OR GIVE ME
DEATH boring refrigerator panels.
Easter is almost here!
Celebrate Easter with COMPASSION!
Celebrate Easter WITHOUT eggs!
Did you know: baby boy chicks are useless to the egg industry; at birth, they are killed.
Grabbed by their fragile wings by workers known as “sexers,” (who separate males from females,) these baby animals are thrown into a grinding machine. Alive.
It confuses me, that humans celebrate Easter, by LITERALLY throwing new life into a shredder.
Or simply thrown away.
While they are alive, feeling, breathing.
It does not matter if they will be free-range, or organic, or whatever… those terms have no application at a hatchery; an egg hatchery is a supplier… all they do is hatch eggs.
Did you know: 150,000 male chicks hatch every 24 hours at ONE large hatchery.
Did you know: at ONE large facility, over 30 MILLION male chicks are chipped up PER YEAR.
WHY NOT CHOOSE COMPASSION, LOVE, KINDNESS?
We can make a difference, when we open our hearts!
March 21, 2018 @ 12:01 pm
In my 1894 house, I will be installing undercounter refrigerator drawers, and freezer drawers.
So, no tall cube in a corner!
And a regular fridge in the basement for overflow.
March 21, 2018 @ 2:33 pm
Try greendemolitiins.com for a showroom model, or used at a much better price. Plenty of used outlets around, some remodels get rid of new/newer appliances that don’t fit the owners aesthetic.
March 21, 2018 @ 12:05 pm
Victoria, I have been a lacto-ovo vegetarian for over 30 years, and your posts about the cruelty in the dairy and poulty business have definately given me pause. I am rethinking my eating habits because of your input. Thank you for showing us your heart and risking wrath at the hands of your readers.
Thank you also for your awesome posts about the turnings of your mind in your remodeling escapades. I love reading your blog.
March 21, 2018 @ 12:27 pm
TusconPatty – right there with you. Been lacto-ovo veg for 40 years, and am now finding myself trying to minimize eggs and dairy, largely because of VEB’s posts. I just started buying Elmhurst nut milks and love them, especially the cashew. That’s milk handled, now on to the other foods….
March 21, 2018 @ 1:25 pm
Chao vegan ‘cheese’ is best for the slices. Trader Joe’s has a vegan mozzarella that we got used to after a while, and the SO Delicious mozz isn’t bad either. Trader Joe’s also has a coconut creamer that makes coffee sing. Earth Balance is the best vegan butter, both for spreading on things and for baking. Bob’s Red Mill egg replacer works well in most baking. It took us several months to make the transition from vegetarian to vegan, trying out all the different replacement options, learning what we could just live without, and finding surprise egg/dairy hidden in the ingredient list of some of our processed foods. But in the end, it’s been a journey that is well worth it to know we are making ethical choices as both animal lovers and environmentalists.
home before dark
March 21, 2018 @ 12:12 pm
In my remodel the one thing I had my heart set on was the SubZero 48″ pro refrigerator/freezer aka a serious religious sacred object. I thought I would have to do a de-fib on my husband when the sticker shock hit. But I persisted and made cuts (mostly open shelving and Gladiator tool cabinets for storage and work benches) else where and today, everyday, she brings me such joy. I’ve named her Mrs. Patmore, the Downton Abbey cook who didn’t know what to do with new fangled refrigeration. At almost 70, my kitchen is the total opposite of yours. I wanted it to look like and be a working lab of a kitchen. Yet I so enjoy your writing and your vision of what is dreamy for you. I agree with others who say you should do standup! Yes, you are that funny.
March 21, 2018 @ 12:17 pm
$7000 for a fridge???
Buy a good basic fridge. Find a Huge Fancy Antique Door and paint it white and and some great big beautiful Brass knobs and hinges. Or Black Iron ones. I love Black Iron. Attach it to the fridge door. I just used screws.
The Fancy Old Things in your home and not going to like New and Modern moving in.
With all the money you save- You could start a Backyard chicken coop. You could go all kinds of crazy making your husband build you a Victorian Chicken Coop. A few hens will give you all the eggs you need. No need for a rooster if you don’t want one. If everyone did this we could crush the Horrible Industrial Egg Corporations. It isn’t just the baby boy chickens. The hens live their entire lives in small cages.
There are great photos of fancy Victorian Chicken Coops online……..
March 26, 2018 @ 8:15 pm
Yes and yes.
We had chickens and they were pets. We were not allowed to have roosters, but some people keep them for pets, beauty, whatever, anyway. Backyard chickens, ducks, goats, etc. are the way to go. Kids love having pet chickens and ducks for eggs, goats to milk, and other animals. It teaches them responsibility and compassion. There is nothing like eggs from your own chickens, duck eggs are divine. We HATE store eggs, they are crap. Let the animals have the run of your back yard. They love it and it is beautiful to watch and be a part of.
March 21, 2018 @ 12:18 pm
I have a panel front subzero that I inherited with my house. It probably dates from 1985, and I absolutely love it. We have never had a problem having it fixed or getting parts. The panels match the cabinets. You will not be sorry.
March 21, 2018 @ 12:21 pm
Wait – I’m confused. Where is the refrigerator going now?
March 21, 2018 @ 12:27 pm
You struck a (less manic) chord with me. I remember twelve years ago as we were planning our kitchen it was the refrigerator and freezer which gave us the most pause. And trouble. I love love love the look of a Traulsen but at that time they (all glass front fridges) were notorious energy hogs, plus my partner was and remains a notorious slob (really, really gross). After literally years (three) of research, we chose the Thermador columns, separate fridge and freezer, and two (elsewhere) fridge drawers. And we ultimately had to get another freezer in the basement. We have kids, the eldest now a teenager so I rest my case.
I desperately wanted to do a faux icebox look, madly in love with it, but even though thirteen years ago doesn’t seem that long, in the world of false fronts and available hardware it actually is. We had ours (which bracket the entrance to our dining room) made to look like cupboards, with a “door” on top and “drawers” (with quarks to really give the impression of depth) on the bottom. Looks freaking fantastic, and people who come over are always like “that’s a big pantry you have — where’s the fridge?” So now that I’ve lived with this beautiful and “hidden” kitchen all these years can I say that next time I’d make everything obvious so guests can easily help themselves. And I’d have fewer nooks + crannies to clean with a toothpick, and I am not kidding.
Same as I’d say I wouldn’t do a white / Calacatta kitchen, because I’ve scratched that itch for many years.
Of course, these are such first world issues that complaining about cleaning the false fronts makes me want to kick myself. But I’m a good person so I won’t.
Happy refrigerating, Pesach, and Easter.
March 27, 2018 @ 8:15 pm
I swear, I read your post, but I couldn’t comprehend anything after quarks. I fear my brain will be useless until I see photos of this masterpiece. Help a sister out?
March 21, 2018 @ 12:30 pm
I think a white panel fridge will look stunning, especially when paired with the grand piano. Is the end of the kitchen renovation in sight? xAllie http://www.theallthatglittersblog.com
March 21, 2018 @ 1:20 pm
Please….no glass front frige, are you going to have to style your leftovers everyday to accomodate the artist in you? Where does that ugly milk container go? or do you have to re-contain the milk (etc) in a pleasing container for proportion to the rest of the frige contents? or just paste a picture of the perfect arrangement to the back of the glass? ?????
March 21, 2018 @ 1:26 pm
You could go with the Dacor, more affordable fridge if you put a satellite fridge in the basement—it can be ugly as can be and affordable (maybe even a Craig’s List find). I LOVE my satellite fridge. I do a happy dance whenever I put the overflow in there, especially at holidays. I bet both fridges would be less than the Thermador.
March 21, 2018 @ 1:32 pm
We downsized to a skinny smaller fridge with the freezer on the bottom. With only two of us in the house how big does the darn fridge really need to be? Anyway I got the Fagor (all recycled/recyclable materials) in stainless steel and then my old friend Jane Powell said that “stainless steel is the avocado green of our generation” and I immediately wished I had considered a built-in option. BTW the Habitat for Humanity Re-store is a good place to look for appliances, too. Some people donate the fanciest stuff. https://www.habitat.org
March 21, 2018 @ 1:33 pm
I think your idea of panels door(s) to match your cabinets fits the idea of hiding the refrigerator. Barn doors, gorgeous antique doors will draw attention to it. Have to say I almost spit out my coffee when I read that you thought the answer was to move refrigerator to the basement! Loved Penny’s comment about your having to style your refrigerator every day if you had glass front doors. What a wit! Love, love, love your columns!!
March 21, 2018 @ 4:37 pm
My refrigerator is in the basement. It’s a 9.5′ square kitchen plus 46×51″ breakfast nook and three doors (had four but we closed one up) so no room for a giant hulking fridge. After 10 years we’re going to add a hidden undercounter fridge/freezer for ice cubes and leftovers and condiments. It’s not necessary though and I’m actually wondering if I just sacrificed a bunch of cookware storage but I already bought the fridge.
March 21, 2018 @ 1:38 pm
I am appalled and in utter and profound disbelief that all the times I have looked lovingly at the chickies at the farm store longing for the day when our barn is done and I can have chickens here APPALLED I SAY that it never once occurred to me (a college graduate and life long country girl I’ll have you know) that the boys are just “disposed” of.
March 21, 2018 @ 1:51 pm
The aspect of this that worries me is the investment versus resale value-solved I think by your intent to live where you are till you are retired and/or beyond. Beyond that I think you have a form of OCD that involves demanding absolute perfection/since you accomplished that demand by finding Paul…. and you are super perfect IMHO….don’t sweat the smaller stuff. You must know that whatever Self and Paul bring to fruition will be as lovely,unique and sublimely bee u tee full as is humanly possible. We in Virginia are now disappearing under a deep blanket of snow-how are the Dalias? I am praying my little japanese maples aren’t doomed.
March 21, 2018 @ 1:53 pm
I love, love, love reading your blog.
I’ve never had the money to do a darned thing, so I enjoy the flights of fancy! I live in a very pretty house, 1898, with a sizeable yard. I fervently hope that the next owner loves it too and does a VEB on it.
March 21, 2018 @ 2:52 pm
#1 I think Paul must love you very very much.
#2 I am more practical-minded than you…almost spit out my drink when I heard you wanted to move the frig to the basement- glad Paul prevailed there. Though more practical minded- I LOVE LOVE LOVE the looks you achieve- my first post of yours I read was getting the gigantic mirror… wonderful.
#3 I never knew that about baby boy chicks…but it doesn’t bother me too much- not enough to not eat chicken or eggs. (sorry- farm girl here) we had chickens or awhile, but just FOR eggs…never had to deal with that.
#4 please- NEVER GO WITH GLASS DOORS ON A FRIG- You will hate it! I have glass doors on one cab when we did our kitchen makeover- just to keep plates, glasses, dishes in. it’s bothering me the baby sippy cups of my grandchildren peeking through those glass doors- they will grow up- it won’t be forever…
#5 if the one fits your needs but is 2 cubic feet smaller- get a 2nd frig in the basement. You can deal with that. You were willing to deal with the WHOLE frig being in the basement. We have a little basement frig (about the size of a dishwasher- plus we have a chest freezer) that basement frig keeps extra drinks, extra eggs, extra butter/cheese, etc., nice place for casseroles waiting to be cooked for special big family dinners, etc. The total cost to run the basement frig is about 10 cents a day. Totally worth it.
March 21, 2018 @ 3:30 pm
You have lived without a working kitchen for so long. Do you really even need one? Imagine, you could turn that whole space into a kitten wonderland, and I’ll bet they wouldn’t even notice the lack of a refrigerator.
March 21, 2018 @ 3:51 pm
That last photo of the very large icebox is amazing. We have one for sale (admittedly in poor condition) at the local Habitat Restore. I’ve watched the price drop from $800 to $600. I find myself wanting to gut it (again, it is in poor condition) and turn it into a fun clothing and shoe closet.
I love the big and fancy things, and the more useless the better, lol.
Love your posts!
March 21, 2018 @ 3:55 pm
I think the Sub Zero is a good choice if you consider it as an investment. We recently replaced our 27 year old Sub Zero with a new paneled front Sub Zero and I absolutely love it.
27 Years we got out of the old one! That’s hard to beat. And they are tremendous for resale value if that’s a concern.
Marianne in Mo.
March 21, 2018 @ 5:02 pm
Oh to have your problems! We ( the poor ) vacillated over spending $1200 for a run of the mill fridge! Ended up with a GE package kitchen – french door fridge, gas range, and dishwasher in slate color. It works fine, doesn’t look horrible and we are content. Yes, I would dearly love to have fancy, but will I die a slow death by not having it? No, I don’t think so. I also drive a 12 year old car that I love to death and wish it was still made, so I could buy a new one just like the old. Also – have you considered that a tall fridge, given your height, will need a stepladder to access the upper shelves? Just a thought!
Thankfully, I am allergic to eggs, so my head is free of guilt regarding the chicks. I can’t even get vaccinations, because they use chicken eggs to develop the vaccine!