kitchen remodel...refrigerators are huge!!!

lhf79September 19, 2006

We are trying to come up with a floorplan for the remodel of a 1925 kitchen (removing the 1970 kitchen). I need suggestions for a refrigerator. They are all so BIG!!! We want to go with painted off white cabinets, beadboard, glass knobs. I'm getting really discouraged by the size of refrigerators out there. Ideas?

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I agree with you! There's not much selection in appliances that will fit in older (and especially, in antique) homes. The smaller models tend to be very low-end and poorly made. I've just about given up on finding a replacement for my aging 19.5cf refrigerator. If the empty drawers in the showroom models wobble and are hard to pull out, just imagine what they'd be like full!

What size are you looking for?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2006 at 7:41PM
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My mom actually wound up buying a cabinet depth refrigerator to fit in a small alcove area that she had. I think it's only about 21 cf--it's by Jenn-Air, I think, but it certainly wasn't cheap!!

Good luck!


    Bookmark   September 19, 2006 at 9:31PM
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Everywhere you looked in our kitchen, it was. We moved ours into our pantry. It made all the difference. We also thought about refrigerator drawers and a separate freezer. I think all of the pantry cabinets turned out to be the same price as the refrigerator drawers. The pantry is only five steps from the kitchen work area. With a small sink and the coffee pot in there, it has become a well used space.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2006 at 6:35AM
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No option is going to be inexpensive, but there are several.

1. Counter depth will not stick out further than the base cabinets and there is also the idea of using cabinet panels on the exterior of it to make it blend in--not necessarily hide it.

2. Moving it to another room like Corgilvr--if you have the space in the pantry that may be a good option for you. It may also be a pain in the rear, depending on your cooking style.

3. There are companies that manufacture smaller units. Thermador makes the new Freedom model refrigerator and freezer units, for example. They're tall, columnar, narrow, modular units that may fit in well with some designs. Liebherr also manufactures a smaller size refrigerator that is available in the US. Of course, there are also refrigerator/freezer drawers and undercabinet units that aren't cheaply made. Sub Zero makes a whole lot of them.

Head over the appliance forum for more details. If you post the question there, I'm sure that you'll get a lot more feedback.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2006 at 8:22AM
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Why not look at the vintage style new fridges. They are really beautiful. Elmira and Big Chill come to mind.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2006 at 12:44PM
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Last winter we decided to replace our circa 1960 refrigerator. We wanted to put it in the same place which was at the end of a run of cabinets and abutting a wall that contains an angled doorway.

We had a heck of a time finding something that would fit into the same space. In addition to height and width restrictions it couldn't be too deep because then it would block the doorway. Sales people at Home Depot, Lowes and Sears all told me that NO ONE made a fridge that would fit into the space that I was looking to fill. I had to either go with something super small that would look ridiculous, redo the entire kitchen, or live with a partially blocked doorway.

My mom fortunately came across a little beauty from Fisher & Paykel that fills the space perfectly. It's pretty basic and small by today's standards (esp. in the U.S.) but it suits us and the space just fine.

Sorry this turned out to be so long. I just wanted to let you know that depending on your needs and desires, there are options out there. Sometimes you just really have to hunt for them though.

I think LG has some smaller refrigerator options as well.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fisher & Paykel refrigerator

    Bookmark   September 20, 2006 at 1:52PM
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ugh. I know how you feel. We finally found a fridge at Sears that is about 19 cuft. That SHOULD fit. We haven't purchased it yet.
They had a smaller one that was 18 cuft also.

I was really starting to get frusterated also becauase all the smaller fridges were not energy star rated which means they cost the same amount to run as a huge one. grr! The 19 cft one at sears was the only one that i could find that is energy star and smaller. I don't even think the 18cft one is energy star.


    Bookmark   September 20, 2006 at 2:00PM
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We purchased a Whirlpool on the recommendations of our appliance fix-it guy. He said not to get the computer chip, which went out on us at only 5 years old. I chose my fridge mostly based on looks. It has a curved front and the top of the freezer door is curved. It looks very good with my 1950's O'Keefe & Merritt stove. We are a family of six and it is plenty large for our needs, but it's just the regular size of fridges. I had previously had a side by side, and I'm very glad to go back to the space in a traditional top freezer. All of the drawers are very sturdy, which I really noticed comparing with fridges a few hundred dollars less. It is very light weight and for the first time ever, I can actually clean behind and under a fridge without killing myself. Now, I don't have to let it build up for 10 years at a time.


Here is a link that might be useful: curved top fridge.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2006 at 2:12PM
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Wow, I just looked at the Elmira refrigerators mentioned by trailrunner. They're so cute, but they "start" at $4,000. Ouch! Very nice looking, though.

Here is a link that might be useful: Elmira refrigerators

    Bookmark   September 20, 2006 at 2:50PM
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I always drool over that pink Northstar refrigerator in there. It is WAY TOO cool... Pricey, but cool.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2006 at 3:06PM
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2 years ago, when we moved into our 1916 Dutch bungalow, we had to get a new fridge ASAP. It's our first house; we got a beautiful side-by-side stainless steel monstrous fridge (and a matching dishwasher). Just to fit the fridge against the wall, we had to take out a skinny goofy floor cabinet and put the fridge in front of a door that goes to the 2nd floor stairs--one of 4 doors on the end of this little kitchen. If we ever get through our other projects, we will remove that doorway and make it a solid wall. It's a cozy fit when the fridge door's open, but I do love that fridge (I have 2 growing boys). I'm just doing with less counter and cabinet space. Fortunately the fridge is on a side wall so you don't see it when you first look into the kitchen. At least it doesn't dominate. Our rehab theme is keep it authentic when possible but only if it works in real life.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2006 at 2:47PM
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You might get some info at this link on the "Smaller Homes" forum.


Here is a link that might be useful: refrigerator size - downsizing?

    Bookmark   September 22, 2006 at 9:18AM
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We had the same issue. In our small kitchen, we didn't want to give over so much space to the huge refrigerators that fill the appliance store aisles. We looked at and loved the Leibherr, but it was out of our budget.

I'll put in a second plug for the F&P - it's counter depth and 31" across. Freezer on the bottom and seems like plenty of interior space for us. Will be delivered in about two weeks, so I don't have the practical experience to tell you about, yet.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 24, 2006 at 2:27PM
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I completely understand your pain! We just bought at 1929 English style house. The kitchen is so cute... except for the fact that we cannot figure out how to replace the tiny, hideous, twice-painted 1970's fridge without getting out a sledgehammer.

The fridge is nestled into a tiny nook, with a plaster projection above and one side, too. On the other side is the stove. So we have to replace the fridge with something identically sized, or bust out all the plaster/woodwork above. The problem is that all modern fridges (even the freakishly tiny apartment ones) are at least three inches taller than our current fridge. Grrrr.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2006 at 11:40AM
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Fori is not pleased

I went with a counter depth--and a remodel of a bad remodel. They are tall which works in an old house with taller ceilings but they won't fit in an existing nook.

I don't think there's an inexpensive solution. Sometimes you can turn a fridge nook into shelving, or stick in a pie safe or something. But that only works if you have another place for the new fridge.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2006 at 3:20PM
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Thanks for all the tips on finding a a fridge! I'd love to see the Fisher Paykel in an actual kitchen....anyone have photos to share?

    Bookmark   October 6, 2006 at 1:26PM
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We've had the easy clean stainless Fisher Paykel for about nine months now. We really like the bottom freezer aspect. It fit so perfectly in the alloted space of our early 60s small ranch that it's almost like it was made for it. I see that it comes in white now; it didn't when we purchased it.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2006 at 9:54PM
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I am also remodeling a small 1940's kitchen and the space for the fridge is smaller than most store models. I was also thinking of putting my new fridge in the old pantry, is that an easy move? What about air circulation? I can see I am not the only one with this problem. You'd think the appliance manufacturers would get a clue and make appliances that fit this obvious need. How about smaller AND energy efficient, retro or vintage look that is as affordable as a regular new fridge or stove would be!!! That's what we need!!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2006 at 10:36AM
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our 1910 house has a narrow galley kitchen. 16x7 I think. We bought a 26 cu double door frig and the double doors definitely help, rather than a wide door blocking the narrow walk space.

The frig backs up to a door way to an adjacent room (my bedroom). We bought a louvered door to cover the door way. The frig fits, we get good ventilation for the frig and it couldn't be easier to clean the back of the frig ;-) just open the door!

We're in the process of a kitchen remodel at the moment - gutted to the studs. Found old water and termite damage and are waiting for contractors to repair the damage before we can proceed. We like the setup of the door behind the frig so much that we're not going to close up the wall.

Old houses are a challenge, but whatever works for you is the best solution. I'd take a big frig over space any day.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2006 at 9:54PM
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What does "big" mean? Too wide, too deep, too tall? There are plenty of refigerator solution available but you need to define the problem.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 1:51PM
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I am having a hell of a time replacing the GE refrig my Mom purchased in 2000 and which fits the space that is available. Apparently the size was popular previously but not now. Even when I try looking for less cubic footage, the depth is greater and the refrigerator would block the entry to the dining room. This is a 1918 built house and formerly there was a swinging door between kitchen and dining room...I doubt I can find any refrigerator to make that happen...I've serached exhaustively and would even buy a discontinued model....the only thing I've found is a HeartLand 30" and I'd really like not to spend $3500 on a refrig...also, I have found NO specs about whether the depth on the Heartland includes the handles....and that is a dimension I really need to know so that access from kitchen to dining room is not compromised.

At any rate, here are my dimensions. 66" H. 30" W. 28" D.

Any help truly really appreciated....Who would think that in 8 years a refrig that went for a thousand bucks would fail and that you could not replace it in terms of size...

Thanks in advance~


    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 2:49AM
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Hi Lisa. We ended up choosing the Fisher Paykel refrigerator and absolutely love it. It holds much more food than our old 18cf fridge! The size suits our small old house kitchen. I believe the unit is 31" wide. It is also a cabinet depth model so the body measues 24" deep. The doors and handles add about 4". I believe the Fisher Paykel is about 66" inches tall. It will need some open space above the fridge for air circulation. If you have a cabinet above your space that is causing problems, perhaps that cabinet could be reworked. We found a local guy to rework a set of built in cabinets in another room. One would never know that changes have been made to it. Hope this info helps.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 8:04AM
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Glad to see that you found a fridge that works lhf79! For anyone else that needs to find a smaller fridge you can now get a Smeg brand fridge in the US and they are only 23.5" wide, 26" deep. We had one in a rental in Spain and thought it was beautiful. It is still pricy, but half the cost of the Elmira and Big Chill retro fridges.

Here is a link that might be useful: Smeg intrenet seller

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 11:55AM
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I don't have the kitchen space for any of these new refrigs and they are beyond my budget. The other consideration in my 1952 house is the doorways leading into the kitchen. I'll have to have the refrig doors removed just to get through the doorways, so be sure you measure yours!

I'm staying with a Whirlpool traditional top freezer model.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 7:37AM
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The energy efficiency standards have forced more insulation in the walls of the refrigerators.
To have the same internal capacity the units have gotten larger.

There are still 29 inch wide units out there, but they are usually low end basic ones with few bells and whistles.

An appliance store may even have to order them since they are not big sellers.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 9:34AM
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Lisa, we had similar size constraints and bought this fridge I believe (I posted the link below)

I know is says that the depth is 31, but that counts the handle. My suggestion for you is to go to stores with your own measuring tape because we found that many of the posted sizes are incorrect.

We also had to get a counter depth (but thin!) fridge. It took over a year to find one. I was ready to cry!!!! All anyone could offer us was the small dorm fridges!

Also, the fridgidaire or sears only fridge unit would fit very nicely however they had bad reviews and were more expensive AND we would have to run to a freezer in the laundry room if we decided on that.


Here is a link that might be useful: fridge

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 11:22AM
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jennag, coral ma, and cocooner,

I'm thinking of purchasing the F&P refrigerator. I love the way it looks, and it's the only one I've found that will fit into my 1930's kitchen. Now that you've had yours for a few years, do you still like it? Have you had any problems?


    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 6:38PM
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Wow, pacific flights, I can't believe that I stumbled across your inquiry at this time and so answered.

We still like our FP. We wish that the stainless was a thicker gauge since we have couple of dents in it. The handle broke within the warranty time period and was replaced with no problem. The unit works for us though and we would buy it again.


    Bookmark   September 27, 2010 at 9:50PM
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Just a reminder...not only do you need to keep an eye out on overall size of the fridge, you need to make sure the doors will open properly. Our kitchen is very, very large, but the spot for the fridge is up against an old central chimney. It is a french door model so in order to be able to fully open the freezer door, we've had to pull the fridge forward about a foot. It doesn't stick out past the central chimney thingie, but I certainly wish we could push it farther back. In some houses, a traditional fridge may be better, especially if it is going to be directly against a wall.

Just a reminder that size isn't the only consideration.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 2:11AM
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Thanks for the responses!
Cocooner, I realized after I posted that the chances of my inquiry being seen were pretty slim, so I'm glad you found it.
Krycek, good point, I'll keep that in mind.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 12:29PM
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We were very fortunate in that there was a little corner area of our kitchen that was basically a closet used for storage. We reconfigured everything so that the fridge slid back in to that area, thus making it counter depth. We needed a full size fridge but didn't have the room. This worked out very well for us.

Do you have any nooks you could hide part of the big beast fridge in?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 7:37PM
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Given the number of folks posting all in the same boat you'd think some smart person who designs for these appliance companies would take note and fill the void instead of following the herd!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 7:55PM
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Carol, I totally agree! But with the way things keep getting bigger and bigger, I doubt that we'll see more smaller size options in the near future.

Beth, Glad to hear you were able to find a solution. Unfortunately I don't have such a nook in my kitchen.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 2:29PM
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An imitation cast-iron refrigerator front is just a bad joke. An antique ice box would have had paneled wood doors not that would be much more attractive. Maybe these things are for he French market where they like to put gold filigree on anything.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 12:12PM
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