The longer I study interior design, the more I notice myself forming obsessive resentments over inanimate objects. Case in point: refrigerators that are too effing big for a space and/or aren’t framed into the surrounding cabinetry.
If you are living with this annoying design offense yourself, don’t fret! Believe me….I have felt your pain, sister! Lucky for you, I just recently hacked my way to a “built in” fridge look myself …. despite the fact that my fridge is actually too wide for the opening. Even better, I accomplished this look for less than $75, and I am sharing all of the details with you today in this DIY tutorial.
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But before I give you all of the details of this hack, I just want to reiterate how far my kitchen has come since moving into my fixer upper three years ago…..
As you can see, the kitchen was in its full-blown, 1980’s glory days when we first moved in. On a very limited reno budget, I decided the best thing we could do for the space was give it a fresh coat of paint (including the cabinets), add some subway tile backsplash and anchor the island with my DIY cone pendant lights.
We then lived with the kitchen , in what I like to call “progress mode”, for the next three years. It wasn’t until very recently, I began saving funds for further updates.
As I shared a few months ago, we just recently were able to continue our kitchen reno progress by installing more up-to-date flooring- luxury vinyl flooring directly over the existing tile (you can read that tutorial here)- and switching out the “blah” island countertop for a more showstopping piece of quartz (you can read those details here). We were also fortunate enough to find a great deal on a counter-depth refrigerator (here is the one we purchased) -replacing the original, oversized one.
And while all of these upgrades did wonders for our 1980’s kitchen, I was still hiding a dirty little secret …..
Over in the corner of my kitchen, was an exposed refrigerator that stuck out like a sore thumb. Now I know… many people will see an exposed fridge and not think much of it (I was one of those people for many years). Given I am an interior design blogger, however, I was ashamed. You see…I just freaking knew better than to commit a design crime of this nature.
My Challenge: Fridge Too Wide for Opening
In my opinion, a framed-in fridge is a hallmark of a professionally designed, custom kitchen. If I was ever going to truly take pride in my kitchen and its progress, I knew we had to figure out a way to frame my refrigerator. However, one particular challenge presented itself and had paralyzed me from taking definitive action: the fridge was slightly wider than the intended opening and partially overlapped the door casing leading into my mudroom.
Given that our kitchen was built in the 1980’s, the opening for the fridge was smaller than today’s standards. Measuring at only 30 inches wide, the space was better suited for a single-door refrigerator. Given how much food we have to store in our refrigerator, however, I knew there was no way in hell that I could downsize to a 29 inch wide fridge. So while searching for a counter-depth refrigerator, I hunted for the most narrow, french-door model I could find. Concluding my narrow fridge quest, I found a 33 inch wide model (you can click here to see the one I purchased). ** Just for reference, most standard french door refrigerators are 36 inches wide**
Let me show you how I designed around this challenge and what to do when your refrigerator is too wide for a given space.
DIY Refrigerator Framing Materials:
- 3/4” MDF cut to spec
- 1 1/2” wood screws
- fine tooth circular saw blade
- paint that matches the color and finish of your existing, surrounding cabintery
- counter depth refrigerator (we bought this one)
- *optional(If your refrigerator protrudes on one side)* – Paper Mounting System
How To Frame Counter depth Refrigerator on a Budget
(Step 1): Attach side MDF to existing cabinet using wood screws.
(Step 2): Using a fine tooth circular saw blade,cut the top shelf (top piece of MDF)so it rests on top of the side MDF pieces.
(Step 3): Attach top shelf to existing cabinetry with screws.
(Step 4):Paint the MDF pieces to match existing, surrounding cabinetry.
When Your Fridge is too Wide for the Opening: My Hack
Now for those of you with a refrigerator that is too wide for the space, here is the real kicker. So, pay attention!
Essentially, you are only going to fully frame one side of the fridge. On the side of the fridge that protrudes, you will only partially frame it.
As pictured above, see how this side of the fridge is protruding into the door casing which leads into our mudroom? Because of this , I thought it would feel awkward (not to mention claustrophobic) to fully frame in this side.
So…my hack of a solution was to give our over-sized fridge the illusion of being fully framed by wedging another small piece of MDF under the top MDF piece and then mounting a roll of craft paper on the side. (I got the craft paper mount system here).
Not only does the craft paper mounting give the illusion of full framing from the most visible , fully-framed side. I now have a designated place to write out my grocery list and as an added bonus, my kids have a fun art area.
I realize this solution is not entirely ideal or perfect, but sometimes you just have to make the best of what you are given. At the end of the day, it’s a hell of a lot better than a fully exposed refrigerator.
Now get out there and design some good vibes. Please also be sure to spread the love by Pinning…