How we are hiding the refrigerator in our kitchen remodel.
My last post detailed our refrigerator conundrum… read it if you enjoy stories about a vapid woman grappling with not-real-problems.
Here is the synopsis:
In our kitchen, the refrigerator makes our layout not symmetrical.
Lack of symmetry is unacceptable.
At some point, there was a doorway here (in the layout below, the * asterisk denotes doorway.) Possibly a service entrance, possibly some kind of landing to the basement?
It’s hard to be sure, given that we do not know what the layout looked like before the parade of previous owners remuddled the space, and put on an addition, (where we added the wall of windows.)
We discovered it when we redid the ductwork that originally ran across the ceiling in the world’s weirdest soffit.
Adding ductwork to an old house is always a challenge, (pre-high-velocity) but this was egregious… it was like they asked themselves, HOW CAN WE DRAW ALL OF THE ATTENTION TO THIS SOFFIT?
This doorway was a portal to ALL OF MY IDEAS!
Let’s reopen it and put a small porch! a LARGE porch! a year-round SUN PORCH! just stairs down to the yard! a glass door would bring in so much light! maybe some kind of wraparound porch thing extended from the front! an elevated deck along the side of the house!
LET’S BUILD MINI VERSAILLES!
Spoiler alert: there will be no Versailles.
Because while it galls me to squander a space suitable for French royalty, hedonism, and scandal; putting the fridge here will give us approximately 297% more functionality, and apparently 297% is the magic number.
This section of our exterior is not fields of wildflowers and butterflies… so to do any kind of appealing outside space, we would need to move (or camouflage) the AC compressor unit… plus, consider the bilco doors.
Theoretically, we could get rid of them; we have access to the basement from inside the house. BUT! The bilco doors, (while rarely used,) are REALLY USEFUL when you need them! Trying to get a water heater, chest freezer, washer/dryer, down old-house, twisty basement stairs is an exercise in me getting yelled at, while Paul tries to not be crushed by 4,000 pounds of appliance.
Although, to his credit, Paul spent time figuring out how to build a landing that hinges, to accommodate keeping the doors accessible under an imaginary-deck-area… blah blah blah.
But ultimately, considering how we already have a mile-long wraparound front porch, and how this will completely change how we can layout the rest of the kitchen, I’m pleased to announce that for the first time in my life, I am embracing FUNCTIONALITY.
BUT! Please do not worry! I KNOW that YOU would do A SUNROOM! A LIBRARY! A SOLARIUM!
I’m really looking forward to the chorus of: YOU ARE DOING THE WRONG THING! It’s the best part of blogging! The way the Internet lets you know LITERALLY ANYTHING OTHER THAN YOUR PLAN IS A BETTER PLAN.
Just move windows!
Just move doors!
Just move walls!
Chop off the back of your house and rebuild it!
RENT A BULLDOZER TONIGHT AND TEAR IT ALL DOWN!
If the bulldozer rental place is closed, BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN.
Above is the wall where we are moving the fridge… (getting a straight-on photo of this space is impossible unless the far wall is totally empty, which is never the case.)
Our previous kitchen plan had us acquire this this near-ceiling-height, antique Victorian bookcase for dish and other storage (and also because fancy old bookcases are my favorite thing to hoard. Count them! One bookcase, two bookcases, three bookcases, and the bookcase to end all bookcases, the Elvis Memorial Library.)
Also, random aside of importance: the above photo is not complete without showing you why my husband is truly the very best thing that has ever happened to me… I was feeling so sad, dreading the anniversary of Elvis’s death… and on that morning, when I got up and trudged downstairs and into the kitchen.
I CANNOT EVEN.
I do not think I need to write a bunch of mushy mush, because I think you will GET how uglycryface I was.
Anyway. Back to the below photo.
I loved the bookcase we had there. And I loved having storage that was beautiful, non-kitchen-y, and unexpected.
But keeping this space OPEN, is better.
It will allow us to use a panel-ready fridge and keep it totally flush with that wall.
I may or may not be trying to figure out how to DIY some version of below.
Ok. I’ve lost control of this post. Proceed at your own risk of death-by-boredom.
Despite appearances, I DID TRY TO EDIT but there is no transforming this into something five-second-internet-attention-span-friendly that has no words, just pretty pictures!
Now, addressing some questions from my last post… I was surprised at how many of you are also somewhere in refrigerator hell, and if you haven’t stumbled yourself on these options, they might be worth considering for your project!
Did you consider counter-height refrigerators?
Yes… we considered both simple undercounter, and refrigerator drawers, (both in panel-ready.)
For us, the drawers caused just as many layout issues as they resolved… I DON’T want more base cabinets, and we would have had to add them/extend the line of cabinets on the window wall, and where it ends now is a natural transition and none of the rearrangements we came up with were satisfying.
Also, I imagined myself doing what I do with every other storage system: OPEN EVERYTHING AND STILL NOT FIND WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR.
If you are considering them, go and see them in person! The way I use our refrigerator involves LARGE and BULKY items, and the undercounter options just seemed like something I was going to be fussing with– needing to organize and manage the space; and I am someone who struggles to move the laundry from the washer, to the dryer, and then again to a folded state… so “managing” my refrigerators sounds dicey.
Also, I clearly envisioned the very first day in our new kitchen:
Paul– *opens all the drawers* where is? do you know? which one?
Me– rip all of these out.
Did you consider comercial fridge columns?
We also considered glass-front comercial fridges (all-fridge columns) which are relatively inexpensive– this Frigidaire runs $1,700. Not bad!
BUT that is the only one I could see in person, and the shelves/light didn’t thrill me, and overall it was not right for this kitchen, but I think that style could be a great option; I am someone who likes a glass-front fridge! But for this space, I am envisioning something different— I want all the kitchen stuff to be as unobtrusive as possible.
And this question:
HOW are you living without a kitchen?
We’re not! But I see how it appears this way!
We have a working sink, dishwasher, microwave, stove, and a place to prep food. This IS a kitchen. It’s not pretty, but it’s completely usable… I have restrained myself from telling Paul how fast I would make decisions if I were reduced to making sauerkraut in the bathtub.
And one last detail: the family who bought the bookcase has a blog! Called Living in a Fixer Upper. You will like it! They are also suffering through self-inflicted, old-house idiocy! HIGH FIVE!
Only the husband came for the bookcase, he said his wife was not feeling well; but I am certain that she was just doing me a solid: demonstrating to Paul that ALL HUSBANDS DO CRAIGSLIST WITH GOOD CHEER AND ENTHUSIASM!
November 1, 2017 @ 2:58 pm
I sure hope Paul has some supporters on the magic, electric interweb too! You have an amazing fan club! Regarding the Bilco doors, have you considered a breezeway to semi-detached sunroom/aka Versailles solution rather than a traditional addition?
November 1, 2017 @ 7:02 pm
As with all home stuff…know thy self! some stuff looks awesome and I like it but I know who am am and how I live so wont work for me. in theory i love the glass doors…but don’t want to keep the fridge that clean…and the cleaning fairy seems to have forgotten my address.
November 2, 2017 @ 12:31 am
Hmmm, ok I see a problem- even if you do buy a fridge that looks like an armoire or another huge piece of furniture you are still adding when you want to subtract- correct?
Ok, I have an idea… (whisper so Paul can’t hear me) have you considered a walk in fridge? that way all paul has to do is add a teensy tiny room off house and all you would see from inside would be a door? And everything would be visible on shelves right in front of Paul?? And you could find some really cool unique door on Craigslist to hang over existing of you don’t want AND still retain your basement access?
November 2, 2017 @ 4:47 pm
Thanks so much for the shoutout!! That was such a lovely surprise! We LOVE the bookcase!! AND I am totally, outrageously inspired about what can be done to hide an ugly fridge – that wardrobe!
Kitchen layouts in an old house are SO HARD to configure. There’s a million ways to arrange things but only one RIGHT way that you have to somehow find after 5,067 attempts on paper. Plus there’s the “what ifs” such as “what if we did a bump out…walled a doorway…added on…take out the chimney…!” The brain-racking is real…
p.s. – sorry that this thank-you is coming so late – I’ve been having trouble for some odd reason with my comments appearing after submitting. Hopefully this time it works! 🙂
November 3, 2017 @ 7:09 pm
The first picture with Jennifer Hughes name under it is the photographer. The kitchen actually belongs to my friends Nate and Kimberly. Their house was featured in House Beautiful. Kimberly designed the refrig area. I can introduce you to her on facebook and she can tell you how she did it. She has lots of tricks for the kitchen.
Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
November 4, 2017 @ 8:35 am
I would LOVE that!!! THANK YOU!!!!!
I’m leaving tomorrow morning for two weeks in New Mexico (my baby brother is getting married!) so my attention span right now is zero, and I’m about to try to cram everything I own into suitcases because of course I am not packed yet… so let me check in with you when I get back and have regained some sanity?!
November 5, 2017 @ 9:33 pm
I have an idea that I’m not sure you would be interested in but here it goes. I have written before that I hate built-in cabinets and I use furniture pieces as my kitchen cabinets etc. I also love symmetry as do you.
I once upon a time a few decades ago decided I did not want to see my fridge it was a side-by-side so I shopped and shopped antique stores and finally one day I found an armoire that was the exact depth of my fridge and the doors were the exact opening plus a few extra inches it was also tall and beautiful. So i removed the back of the armoire and basically slid it over my fridge. This worked because it was heavy and had very sturdy legs.
The key to this working was the armoire was a few inches wider than the fridge this mattered because I needed to be able to open the armoire then open the fridge doors so I needed the extra inches on each side.
This kept my fridge intact and the armoire as well all I had to do to change it was remove it put the back on and I had a perfectly good armoire and a fridge I could easily resell when we remodeled again.
It was sort like the door to Narnia. Was it perfect well it looked just like the last photo you posted but was not attached to the fridge. Yes I had to open the armoire door first but it was fun to have people over and say, could you get the goat cheese from the fridge and they would stand looking around puzzled then I would say in the armoire fridge. They would open the armoire door and to their shock they had to then open the fridge. Everyone loved it.
The second to last photo could easily be built in place and just slide the fridge in.
November 5, 2017 @ 10:57 pm
Is there a place that these armoire fridges exist and are sold? Or are they converted to fridges…? Thanks love your blog,just started reading it. I have seen a few of these armoire fridges online, and love them. Thanks,
November 6, 2017 @ 10:06 pm
You are not vapid. I’m sure that’s only an adjective for someone who doesn’t love cats (or dogs-I love them both and horses and mules and chickens but never mind.) which I know that you do. You want things a certain way as we all do. The rest of them can just get over it!!!
November 7, 2017 @ 10:48 am
What’s beyond the 13’6″ line these days? Could you get your symmetry by removing everything from the frig wall, build a walk-in pantry to the left of the sink (with a window), float a farmhouse sink at the tall window (http://www.avso.org/interior-design-ideas/small-kitchen-ideas-and-solutions-for-low-window-sills), put panel ready frig between next windows (to balance pantry), and an island across from all this? Or… still dealing with a chimney stack???
November 7, 2017 @ 12:38 pm
Oh great, thanks soooo much Victora. Now what am I supposed to tell my inner voice? Please send me a link for where I can find these lovely refrigerator doors.
November 8, 2017 @ 8:38 pm
Ahh…the perfect trifecta of form, function, and knowing you were right to procrastinate.
November 12, 2017 @ 7:44 pm
Omg….where did you get that fridge that looks like a piece of furniture. I’m almost thinking someone may be able to re-create this look by cutting the back out of a similar armoire and sliding it over or into the stainless,steel fridge. You woukd probably have to open two doors….the Armouir Doors,tgen the fridge itself doors. But it may be cheaper than buying a whole Frig Armouir.
November 30, 2017 @ 5:11 pm
I look forward to all of your posts. You fill my moment with much laughter and inspiration. I love Paul from afar he is the perfect man.
December 22, 2017 @ 11:54 am
I started reading your blog last night and we are so much alike in our decorating, Craiglist buying and fixation on a single idea at the expense of everything else. I am older and some of these tendensies have changed but I was exactly like you in my youth. The “I bought another mirror, I can feel you judge me.” really hit close to home. Right now I can look straight ahead to see my Carvers Guild black and white tile mirror (200 on Craigslist, I couldn’t talk him down because my hands were shaking with excitement) and to my left I can see my La Barge Chinoiserie Verre Églomisé mirror (75 from junk shop) and to my right is my mirror screen I got on some internet clearance, and I paid to much and blocked out the price. As for the fridges, I can see myself falling in love with the hidden armiore look when I was young and obsessing about it endlessly. My kitchen remodel is almost done but like you I have trouble finishing things. It needs a backsplash and hardware on one area of the kitchen, and the floor redone. Those last choices are toughest because then all the possiblities are spent. I get you. I really do. I even have a Paul type husband (named Steve) but he is the level headed father of my children who really cares if my crazy dreams come true. You made me laugh too.
February 23, 2018 @ 11:35 am
Perhaps something like this would work as an interim solution? Not the right look, but certainly customizable. http://www.oldhouseguy.com/icebox/
January 23, 2019 @ 12:59 pm
I am in the same refrigerator hell! I am considering putting two Bosch 10 cu. panel ready side by side and adding a beverage mini fridge to my entry way or kitchen…
April 8, 2019 @ 3:18 pm
I’m extremely late to the party, but I laughed so hard when I read this. Thank you!!!
May 23, 2021 @ 4:43 am
Thanks for a laugh out loud this morning! I love your writing. Although the musician in me hates the idea of tearing apart an old piano, the idea is actually quite brilliant! We have a 1900 art nouveau apartment here in Turin, Italy, and have gutted and redone the whole space. That was quite the investigatory process! Of course, after filling it with white furniture and stainglass windows in the interior doors, we had two kids! Yikes. I still have about 573 do it yourself projects, but no time now. My husband is forcing me to use professionals to do the big projects, like renovating a big bookcase (from FB marketplace – people don’t tend to use craigslist much here) into 15x12foot library in our den. It’s killing me. 😉 So I’m living vicariously through blogs like yours! Big greetings from Italy. Laura
September 15, 2021 @ 4:57 pm
Love your ideas.
February 12, 2022 @ 2:33 pm
I’m new to the blog / can you please refer me to the way you attached the amoire doors to the refrigerator doors AND does your freezer doors open simultaneously with the refri section? Thanks for the reply