Remodel complication - too small opening for refrigerator

pdx7700July 8, 2014

We are recessing our fridge into a wall. It was supposed to get 37" for the width, but I got 36.25". I can fix it, but we would have to move a wall that just got built. There is not only cost for that, but also to delay the entire project.

Will 36.25" give me enough space for a counter depth fridge with clearance to open the doors? Is there a standard width? I want the fridge as big as possible, because we are already forced to get a CD fridge due to depth limitations.

Or, suck it up and spend the money to move the wall?

Thanks in advance!

edited to add: I was really hoping to save some money right now and reuse the fridge that came with the house - I just went over and measured, it is 35.5" inches. But I wanted to build the opening so that I could easily purchase a new fridge in the future. So I don't want this opening to greatly limit my choices.

This post was edited by rebecca3142 on Tue, Jul 8, 14 at 23:03

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Its going to be hard to find something to fit into the 35.5" space, youll most likely be looking to go with a 30 or 33 inch fridge. If you got your 36.25" gap and want a counter depth fridge, go with a 36" Liebherr, spaced out at 35 7/8" to maximise space, they are pricey but have the best factory warranty and are counter depth. if you wanted to spend the money that is. Best bet would be to move the wall unless you can live with a bit of a smaller fridge.

Hope this helps

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 12:18PM
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Thank you Jonathon, that is very helpful. How much more space would you recommend? I can probably get 1-2" at the most, is that enough space to have more selection with fridges?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 12:41PM
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Adding to what Jonathan said, it sounds like your contractor was either figuring on you having a small fridge or somebody forgot about the requirements for clearances for a larger fridge. Bummer.

You need space around a fridge for three reasons: One is to allow ventilation for the mechanical parts; two is having enough space to push the fridge into and out of place; three is --- with that wall on one side --- having the clearance for any door handles that open towards that wall so the door can swing enough that the crisper drawers, etc.are not blocked obstructed by a partially opened door. Also, be aware that the doors on many CD fridges need to stand a little proud of the countertop nose so that the back edge of the door doesn't bind against the countertop when swung wide open.

So what do you do?

As Jonahon suggested, you don't have to do anything if can go with a 29" to 33" fridge and if having fridge capacity of 18 cu. ft or less is okay for you. There are numbers of choices in CD models including single door/bottom-freezer models by Fisher & Paykel, Liebherr, Miele, and Thermador. These range from expensive to very expensive. To get a sense of what is available, try using the search filters on a site like AJ Madison. (If you aren't confined to a CD model, there are a lot more choices with greater capacity at much more budget friendly prices.)

If you want more fridge capacity and/or SxS or FD styles, then you need to expand the space to fit one in. AFAIK, there might be one or two SxS CD fridges that are a skoonch less than 35.5" in width, but nothing you could actually push into place in the present space and you would hardly be able to open the wall-side door.

Therefore, if you want more fridge capacity, you will all of the additional two inches (if not more) to give your fridge ventilation, to have the space to push it into pull it out of place, and to be able to open the doors..

If you are looking for a SxS or FD model in CD-style, you might find a CD model with zero-side-clearance hinges which allows you to butt the countertop side against the counter/base cabinets and maybe gives enough room to fully open the wall-side door). WIthout zero clearance hinges, you might need to position the fridge an inch or two further out from the counter edge that you might have hoped. Do download and read the installation instructions for any model you are interested in -- you want to be sure it will fit and work in the space you have.

One other suggestion. Is that corner wall possibly an interior wall and non-load-bearing? If so, it might be possible for your contractor to pick up some additional space by making the wall thinner. Maybe framing with 2x3 or 2x2 boards.

Hope this helps.

This post was edited by JWVideo on Wed, Jul 9, 14 at 14:29

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 2:18PM
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Thanks JWVideo, that is a great idea. I think that 29-33" might be a bit tight for a family of 4. My husband isn't worried about it, since we will now have an extra fridge in the basement....but I am a worrier/planner. I would rather be safe and "fix" it now and not have to think about it.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 3:31PM
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