Panel-ready refrigerators… (alternate title: EVERYTHING NICE IS SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS.)
Below is our previous plan for the kitchen layout… to understand the details that dictate our options, this is the post you want to read, (it’s boring because it deals with boring details.) Here is an index of all my posts about the kitchen.
My problem with kitchens is that you need stuff in them.
Appliances are ugly.
Unless they are $47,000.
If you do not have $47,000, you are left with an equation where you still have to pay LOTS OF MONEY… but now, the money is FOR UGLY THINGS.
So you buy ugly things, put them in your home, and then come to terms with ugly things just hanging out, being ugly.
For me and Paul, this equation-of-ugly is compounded by the age of our house– even if budget were no issue, we are still constrained by a space that was never intended to house a hulking metal box full of ketchup.
Up until now, the spot the refrigerator has been occupying in all our designs was dictated by two things:
1. my wish to have it as much out of view as possible.
2. access to the basement stairwell—> allows us to recess a non-counter-depth fridge.
The house originally had access to the basement from both the foyer and the kitchen; but the access from the kitchen had been closed off at some point.
The wood and wallpaper we found was pretty old, so we are thinking it was closed around 1930?
Below is a (not remotely professional) footprint of our first floor, just so you can visualize better what is happening… the grey/porch area at the bottom is the entrance to the house.
Paul had already reopened the access to the basement stairwell to recess the refrigerator; it allows us to make a normal-depth fridge appear counter-depth.
What we have there now is a 33″ refrigerator, but after a mind-numbing amount of internet-ing, we realized that with a brand new fridge, we could get that down to 30” and keep the same storage.
Infact, you can get a 30″ standard-depth fridge, with storage (21.8 cu. ft. at that link) that is greater than a 36″ counter-depth refrigerator.
This makes me think that the reason we’re seeing MASSIVE WALLS OF NOTHING BUT FRIDGE are NOT because that looks awesome… but because otherwise you have zero refrigerator space.
Also, hello? Can we discuss how a regular fridge is SO MUCH CHEAPER… $1,300 for a standard depth, vs. $8,000, minimum, starting price, for a panel-ready fridge.
Why would I pay 57 times more, to get less fridge space?
Oh, wait… I remember: TO AVOID THE UGLY.
If you have not spent the last three months looking AT ALL OF THE REFRIGERATORS ON PLANET EARTH, you may not have realized JUST HOW UGLY YOUR REFRIGERATOR IS.
A regular fridge is not a visually appealing thing… SQUAT is the word that comes to mind.
This is a fact: a $12,000 refrigerator looks better than one that is $1,300.
And if you spend even MORE… say, $24,000… you can acquire an appliance that I would fully enjoy LIVING INSIDE. LIKE A MINI HOUSE JUST FOR ME AND KITTENS.
I could have solved this by working an extra job on third-shift, to afford a refrigerator I’d really ENJOY looking at… but then I would end up in the sanitarium, and wouldn’t really get much use out of it.
This is the point in a blog post where I question my life choices that I have so much to say about refrigerators.
My point is: for a while it seemed that panel-ready was the solution to my stupid-problems-that-are-not-real-problems-but-still-occupy-all-of-my-brain-space.
There is no ven diagram where you find overlap between a 30″ refrigerator, that is panel ready, AND has real storage… IT DOES NOT EXIST… you MUST go to 36″ to get a reasonably-sized panel-ready.
We went and looked at them in person, just to verify that we would be insane to buy one; and also to feel like we are people who consider high-end ketchup boxes. (Albeit, scratch-and-dent fancy ketchup boxes.)
My findings: 30″ panel-ready refrigerators are for people who do not wish to have food in their home.
Half a watermelon and a large bowl of grandma’s cucumbers would leave room for not much else.
Which led us to this consideration: let’s just do an all-fridge column… this will give us the space we need, and let us keep the less-obtrusive 30″ width… and we’ll just trek to the basement for freezer stuff, (because we bought a chest freezer.)
The OPPOSITE of ideal!
(Hi! Have we met?)
This fridge-only-column “solution” isn’t even more “affordable”… it’s just random juggling of needs-vs-visual-appeal, and doesn’t really solve anything… but is the sort of design-road you travel down just to see if it might magically lead anywhere other than a dead end.
And! Of course! No new plan would be complete without an attempt to DIY what lives in my head… which is how we ended up lying on the floor at the scratch-and-dent trying to figure out how to remove the finished door of a cheap fridge to turn it into a panel-ready.
An interesting theoretical exercise!
But even if we could overcome the hinging/pivot issue, (panel-ready/built in/integrated fridges; which are not really interchangeable terms, but for my purposes they are… they hinge differently than regular fridges) I still couldn’t figure out a solution to the inherent SQUATness. Cheap fridge = short… and while extending the panel above the actual fridge to make it APPEAR taller was maybe an option, that seemed… what? Silly? Shoddy? And when added to the hinging issue… blah blah blah, words words words, WHY AM I STILL SPEAKING?
I also concocted a plan where we buy antique brass doors… and glue them to a 30” cheap fridge… and then paint the fridge, inside the new brass “frames” a sophisticated shade of yes-this-is-a-painted-fridge-with-brass-glued-on.
Paul didn’t have to consider it because the frames are $4,500. And in Las Vegas. And also because it would look incredibly stupid.
This is how NUTS the refrigerator makes me.
And you know what else? EVEN IF we found a 30″ panel-ready that was magically not $9 million dollars, and stored more than condiments, I WOULD STILL HATE IT.
Because in our kitchen, the refrigerator makes our layout NOT SYMMETRICAL.
Lack of symmetry makes me itchy on inside of my brain.
The refrigerator MESSES EVERYTHING UP.
Thus it is unacceptable.
October 25, 2017 @ 11:21 pm
This may be far fetched but I think you should recess the fridge on the wall that meets the dining room. Build what looks like a tool shed /garden shed on the outside. 1/2 for fridge inside & 1/2 for garden shed outside. Or use the second 1/2 inside also for coffee bar or pantry style storage with some of your giant fancy things incorporated as door? Crazy I know.
October 26, 2017 @ 12:33 am
I read this and then while at Habitat ReStore I actually saw a paneled refrigerator that has been there for months. So finding a used one might be an option.
October 26, 2017 @ 4:17 am
do u have room to build a mini butlers pantry within the kitchen and hide the fridge inthere?
October 26, 2017 @ 7:30 am
Love the fact that you can hilariously ponder and explain challenging decision choices so eloquently to us and that you take the time to explore the possible solutions to those decisions so we don’t have to!
October 26, 2017 @ 11:45 am
What about fridge drawers?!? #mindblown
October 26, 2017 @ 4:44 pm
Haven’t read all the comments, so perhaps this has been suggested, but how about a couple of Drawer Fridges? Keeps that ketchup to a minimum….
October 26, 2017 @ 6:43 pm
I fear you are going to end up with a $24,000 fridge. Take out a small second mortgage and call it square.
October 26, 2017 @ 7:55 pm
I feel your pain. I know it been used too much however.
The struggle is real.
Appliances are ugly and ruin design.
October 26, 2017 @ 9:50 pm
I am sorry, but let’s do a reality check. I was with you on saving kittens and saving an old house, even freezing kale. But let’s get real….. there are PEOPLE suffering all around the world – starvation, illnesses that could be prevented with a vaccination, losing homes and every belonging they ever had, no electricity, no drinking water, no water to bathe in or wash clothes, or living in abysmal conditions in refugee camps after escaping murdering men who burned their village carrying whatever they could, holding their child as he dies from a water borne illness… Seriously have any of you read the news lately? And you are concerned because your refrigerators are UGLY? Where are your hearts? Why not just get a fridge that is functional, and give all the rest of the money to people who will do good works with it? If you post this, I’ll be really surprised. I’ll be leaving now. Hear the door slamming?
Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
October 27, 2017 @ 8:35 am
I don’t moderate comments, yours is posted.
I am currently working on a post about how the leather industry is one of the most egregious abusers of child-labor in underdeveloped countries… when I’m finished, I’ll post it, and do you know what will happen? No one will click on it. Why?
If you have insight into how I can MAKE PEOPLE CARE… and make people WANT TO ENGAGE… I hope you will share with me.
My effectiveness as an advocate for change is ONLY AS GOOD AS THE PEOPLE I REACH… and I struggle to balance “real” posts with “entertainment” posts. I ENJOY writing the over-the-top posts about refrigerators! I’m not going to buy a $9,000 fridge, but I still want to poke fun at it! And people read and share these posts! And maybe the people who are new, click around a bit, and maybe THEY are a person I can reach!
If I only wrote about the bleak, everyone would leave. Humans do not want to hear it. THEY SHOULD! But I do not know how to fix that. I am trying in my own way, and while it may not be obvious to you, this is a topic that keeps me awake at night. If you have thoughts, I’d love to hear them.
October 28, 2017 @ 2:25 pm
I am totally with you on your empathy for all the billions of human beings suffering deprivation and my heart cracks with disgust at the rape and pillage of our Earth for Greed. IMHO it is not for those who work for a paycheck and make a home and a life for themselves with money they earned to solve the problems you speak of. They are caused totally by those who don’t want to pay any of their dollars to taxes or fair wages or join the effort to provide health care,not health insurance-health care for the citizens of our Nation.
The fault lies completely with the 1% and the .o1% who must-absolutely- MUST have so much-from ocean going yachts,private jets and ridiculous million dollar watches that they send millions of jobs to slave labor countries and welcome workers who must accept what they are given or risk arrest and deportation.
The rest of us are just working for a happy nest and a contented life. No gold gilding required
I won’t bear the burden of their greedy guilt. My Husband and I worked hard for our comfortable home,paid our taxes and contributed what we could to worthwhile causes.
Talk to those who are eliminating the Estate Tax-only affects estates over 5.5 million dollars and exempts family farms etc.
so multi billion dollar estates that paid little or no taxes during life will pay none when the party dies.
They are eliminating the Minimum tax on huge incomes that could have paid no tax due to loopholes for the uber wealthy
They are reducing the amount of savings allowed in 401 retirement funds from $23000.00 to less that $3000.00 per year in order to reduce the tax on Corporations? Corporations spend a fortune in order to not pay any tax?
We have an administration that has,with reckless abandon,wiped out restrictions on coal,protection of public lands, etc. Their greed is awe inspiring and rolls over our right of a free press and peaceful assembly with arrogant contempt.
I arrived in this World with Hitler and the Nazis, I cringe to think it may be possible a tyrannical spectre of evil rises from its grave to bedevil humanity again. Voices of alarm talk and warn and preach and yet I fear a massive awakening will come too too late. Once the boot is on the neck it is very very difficult to rise against it. Ask the German people when is the appropriate moment to act?
Apologies to Veb and her wonderful followers for the soap box but I am so tired of being lectured that it is the middle class that should give up what they have worked hard for while the people who manipulate the Stock Market or bankrupt companies , eliminate pension funds and viable companies , are idolized because WOW they are sooooooooo Rich. HA!
October 31, 2017 @ 5:07 pm
Alee, you are guilty of the ‘either or’ logical fallacy. Either VEB cares about human suffering, animal cruelty, etc. OR she cares about ugly refrigerators. The fact is, it is possible to care about BOTH. But if you are a person who finds posts about refrigerators to be frippery, the option of not reading them is open to you. There are blogs I read which sometimes veer off into ‘mommy’ issues, and since I do not have kids I skip those posts.
Victoria, keep on keeping on. You are amazing!
October 26, 2017 @ 10:10 pm
Victoria, have you looked at Summit Appliances? Due to an interesting layout of our kitchen, we needed to do a counter-depth fridge, but couldn’t do a 33″ or 36″ width. We ended up buying a Summit and love it! It’s counter-depth, 28″ wide and 75″ tall. It fits our needs, looks great, and was less than $1,500. We have had no problems with running out of space, and we grocery shop once a week for our family of 5. We bought it in August and have no regrets.
October 27, 2017 @ 11:47 am
Ugly is kind. Hideous is more likely. Especially because I am a landlord and never know which of the units we will be living in/working on. So it is always the serviceable basic fridge with the best repair rating. Ick.
To add insult to injury, my poor husband gets to carry them up and down the stairs, while banging up the plaster and muttering about just how much he loves me.
I am contemplating getting some custom appliance paint made to match painted wood cabinets for the unit we are working on now. Though like you, I can’t find a thing we like that we can afford. If this keeps up, I am going to be building the damn things myself. Once we are done tiling that is. Someday.
October 27, 2017 @ 4:43 pm
In our 1932 Tudor, we had a breakfast room that opened to the dining and kitchen and a separate swinging door from the kitchen into the dining room. The dining room was HUGE – we didn’t need a BR and DR. During the kitchen reno, we were faced with (a) the fridge/freezer of ugliness, and (b) space/flow considerations …. what to do with wasted but much needed space? Blow all the walls open for one huge open kitchen/diner that would ruin the architectural integrity of the house? No way!
So …. we moved the kitchen/DR swinging door to BR/kitchen doorway (it had no door) and turned the BR into a butler’s pantry with a new home for the fridge. We frosted the glass of double french doors from the BR into the DR to hide the butler’s pantry from the DR. For convenience, we placed two under-counter fridge drawers in the kitchen and have an extra chest freezer in the basement.
October 27, 2017 @ 4:44 pm
V. it all makes perfect sense to me. At one time I had decided to only use dorm sized frigs so that I could have more counter space. It never happened. Instead I settled for a counter depth frig that cost 2x as much as standard. Needless to say, our entire reno $ for the kitchen was spent on appliances that I am not in love with. All of your agony will lead you to the correct decision that you will love.
October 27, 2017 @ 7:18 pm
Ah, Victoria, you knew the answer all along. Click your heels three times and go to Craigslist. Every city has a “new for less” appliance center. I’ve seen new discontinued panel ready fridges in the $2-3K range
October 27, 2017 @ 9:09 pm
Such refrigerator camaraderie here! I’m late to the commenting game, but had to say I went through the exact angst almost 2 years ago. In the end, found a panel-ready, new Viking on Ebay for 1/2 the price. Turned out it was 9 years old, but had never been sold, so the warranty was still good. We got our Wolf range the same way. The older model of the fridge would have been fine, but as luck would have it, our electricians accidentally hooked it up to 24ov and blew the motor (discovered the day we moved in after a 4 month reno!) Their insurance paid for a brand new fridge. An extremely inconvenient, but happy, accident. Best of luck finding a solution!
October 29, 2017 @ 12:11 am
Cristiana from Make hands dirty on youtube might have the solution? She used an ordinary fridge in her kitchen, but it’s got panels attached via a sliding attachment thing (she explains it far better in the video) and it ends up looking awesome!
She starts talking about the refrigerator panel at around 15:00.
October 30, 2017 @ 10:40 am
That was excellent. I’d wondered if it’d be difficult to hide a regular refrigerator behind a door panel. Turns out, it’s not too bad!
October 29, 2017 @ 4:12 pm
My psychic senses tell me that drawer refrigeration units may appear in the next issue… very exciting!
October 30, 2017 @ 1:14 pm
Hello! I come also to echo the idea of making your own panels without succumbing to the “panel-ready fridge” industry which – let us be clear – is HIGHWAY ROBBERY. I think more people refusing to bow under this tyranny will eventually break the monopoly and force the panel-ready appliance makers to price their wares in a manner that is not extortionate.
I thought my fridge was failing, but it survived, so my plan to replace it remains (for now) in the germ stage. (The fridge happens to live in the small laundry room/pantry off the kitchen, which is all that’s protecting it from an early death to allow me to replace it with something more suitable for a nineteenth-century kitchen.) My favorite point of inspiration so far is the very creative lady whose fridge appears here: https://www.houzz.com/photo/36651-traditional-kitchen-traditional-kitchen. I think I read an explanation some years ago about how she had built this frame for a perfectly ordinary fridge, but I can’t find it now. I see from your brilliant commenters, however, that others have done similar things. I think either epoxy or building some sort of overall flat front with a lightweight frame that can be attached to the perimeter of the existing fridge door would work; the flat front could then be embellished with planks or molding or whatever one’s heart desires. Or, one could remove the handles the fridge comes with, and use the sockets for their hardware as an attachment point. It sounds like something Paul could make happen for you (in exchange for avoiding spending five figures on a fridge).
Of course, this post is probably a teaser for whatever brilliant solution you’ve already come up with (perhaps involving a defunct reed organ?), and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what it is!
October 30, 2017 @ 5:05 pm
We recently moved into an 1852 farmhouse. The kitchen had been redone by the previous owners. We do not have a refrigerator in said kitchen. They put it on the back entryway porch (a step down from the kitchen), and I can’t tell you how much I love not seeing a hulking refrigerator in my kitchen. You likely don’t have that option, but at least you know other folks feel similarly! 🙂
October 30, 2017 @ 8:35 pm
Realizing this is a post about fridges and having enjoyed every last one, I lit up when reading Tasha Lanum’s post about changing the cabinet depth to 36″.
Yes ! You go girl !!!
When remodeling I had a come-to-moment that has proved to be nothing less than genius “for me”. I am short-ish 5’5″ and actually work quite a bit in my little (understatement) kitchen. The standard height cabinets were day by day breaking my back. After selecting the sink of my dreams I literally measured the height the sink needed to be for my hands to rest comfortably on the bottom. It meant my counters had to be 39″ tall. Oh my sweet Lord ! While other parties thought I had lost my mind and nearly convinced me of it, too, I’m busting button telling you that not only have I enjoyed Not bending over my sink or counter, I lift, chop, kneed, assemble with no, worth repeating, NO back/neck strain. And the nay sayers who occasionally enjoy my feasts – do, too.
Bonus, the few extra inches of height mean those strange dark corners in the bottom cabinet took on light and usefulness. Well, that plus the fact that I designed the interior shelf to be just a little more shallow than the bottom storage space which I also insisted Not have a false floor. I ran the flooring wall to wall and the bottom of the cabinet is therefore – flooring. Yep, that one meant I was Certifiably but what a difference it has made to be able to use every square inch of the tiny bit of storage I have and be able to see what’s been packed into the nether regions with ease. I have more in less than I ever dreamed possible – workable, accessible. Loved all the innovations you girls have shared. Carry on ! Every detail is worthy of scrutiny.
P.S. I live alone and a dishwasher is more status than useful. Had I a multi-member household = dishwasher sensible, said appliance can be platformed just like today’s front load washers. Ta-da !