Fridge for tight spot next to wall- single door or french doors?

wolverine2March 17, 2013

I had posted this question in the appliances forum, and it was suggested I post it here...

Our fridge is going to be in a corner with a wall to the left of it that extends 48.5 inches out (and then it's the entry doorway to our kitchen). We have a window to the right of where the fridge will go, so are limited on space there as well (35 in). It's not an ideal spot for it, but it allows us to do everything else we wanted to in our layout, so we're compromising. So we're putting a 30" fridge there, and I'm wondering whether we should put in a single door or french doors (want freezer on bottom).

With the single door, if we had the hinges on the left, it would both hit the wall and open into our entryway door. Hinges on the right would work better, but then I'd pretty much have to close the door to put anything on the countertop next to it. Plus, I'm thinking of how right now we stand kind of next to our fridge to open it, so we rarely actually need to open it 90 degrees. If the handle were near the wall, you pretty much have to open the door the whole way in order to get anything out, and then go around the door to put anything down.

With french doors, I worry that we wouldn't be able to open the left door enough to access everything (though we can leave a few inches to the left side, as per manufacturer specifications) and that the left door would hit the wall. But even with those few inches so that I can open doors 90 degrees, might I not be able to pull out drawers?

We want to stay under $2000 for the fridge- preferably closer to $1500.

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Having a fridge not open up properly was a HUGE reason why we remodeled our last kitchen. Have you ever posted your kitchen design on here to get feedback. There are some amazing designers that likely can make it work for you. It's at least worth trying.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 7:18PM
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I'm having trouble picturing this. Is the fridge truly in a corner on a diagonal or is it on the wall that will have 48.5' to the left of it or on the wall with the window next to it on the right? Do you have a picture or the space or layout to show us? That would help. Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 7:20PM
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Here's the layout:

The entryway is the place that looks like a window at the top of the page- it leads to our dining room. I did post it once before but it is a bit hard to read so didn't get a ton of feedback (and I haven't gotten around to hand-sketching it, but hopefully you get the idea). I had the fridge on another wall (where the stove is) at one point, but it left less counter space and the stove/sink/prep area became too cramped for two. Plus, I like the seating under the window- I need to have a kid be able to sit and do homework while I'm cooking dinner.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 8:14PM
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You should be able to figure out exactly from specifications the inches of filler that you would need to be able to open the fridge/freezer doors enough to pull out the drawers. You are going to have that problem both with the single door and the double door. However it looks from your drawing that the single door (full width door) handle, with the hinge against the wall, might be able to recess slightly into the entryway doorway at full opening which would actually give you more of an opening angle than a french door freezer door, where the handle would hit the wall. So that might be the best option. I wouldn't worry too much about the entryway being blocked if you have a window so that people could see that the fridge was open before opening the entryway door.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 8:54PM
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That's a good point about the handle possibly going into the doorway- I hadn't thought about that. I'm not so worried about the entryway being blocked as people could probably still fit around an open fridge.

Also, the red box isn't anything in my drawing- I realize it looks like an island, but it's not!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 9:00PM
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What if you were to move the dining room entry 12" or so closer to where the frig is now. You could put a pantry where the frig is now, then move the frig where you elongated the wall from 36" to maybe 48. It would allow for a much better swing.

What is the rectangle in the middle of the room?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 9:05PM
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Sorry, the rectangle isn't anything but an editing error when I was trying to delete personal info...

That 36" wall is only 16" deep, so elongating it won't help- a fridge wouldn't fit there anyway.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 9:38PM
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I don't think I described it well enough.

You currently have a 36" of cabinets perpendicular to your cooktop/stove. If you shifted the doorway of the dining room to the right, you could create a longer area perpendicular to the cooktop/stove, where the frig could go. You would have to remove the back wall so the depth of the frig could be accommodated.

If you have a layout of the kitchen in conjunction with the adjoining rooms, that might help. Perhaps, you'd be running into venting, structural, etc.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 10:14PM
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Have you considered an asymmetrical corner cabinet next to the sink? Rather than a 36x36 cabinet, you could put a 33x36 cabinet there. Everything else on the fridge wall (stools, table, 18" cab, fridge) would shift 3" down. That would allow for the 3" filler to the left of your fridge.

At that point, either a left-hinged single door, or french door fridge would fit without a problem.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 10:18PM
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aloha2009, I did get what you meant, but I can't recess into that wall because it's the back of a built-in china cabinet in the dining room (that I love). We'd prefer not to mess w/ the walls- we're on a tight budget.

I do have room for 3" filler- no problem- I can shift a little bit without changing the corner since it's just open space. I guess I was wondering if the recommended space to open the door 90 degrees is enough to open drawers.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 11:00PM
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Have you considered having your sink centered under the windows and having the frig on the wall where the sink was but on the end of the wall.

What are you trying to achieve exactly.

Some things that just doesn't feel good to me, is having the sink with no window above it, especially when there's a wonderfully wide window on one side.

You're also missing out on some very valuable base cabinets by using it to store a rolling island when you have quite a bit of countertop space.

The frig is obviously in question.

What is the current floor plan? What are all your objectives that you were trying to achieve? I couldn't find your original post. Perhaps you can add the link and we can read your answers.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 11:11PM
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The rolling cart was something my designer put in- I wouldn't have that. I just want room to fit two stools. If that space can have more base cabs and still have the stools, I'm all for it.

What we have currently is horrible- the stove is where it is right now with no countertop next to it because there is a doorway to the right (that we're going to wall in) and the fridge to the left (completely blocking the back hallway). There is currently no countertop under the window- we have a table there.

What I want overall is more counter space than I have now, but I also want space for two stools- we are losing the eat-in aspect of our kitchen, which is fine, because the dining room is right next door, but I need to have a space where my kids can sit while I'm cooking.

I always imagined putting the sink under the window (see pvs thread), but it left the seating very close to the stove. I like the idea of putting the fridge on the wall where the sink is, but it would leave no seating, I think?

Anyway, here are my previous threads:

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 8:12AM
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With my french door fridge I can open my drawers with the doors open at 90 degrees. I can't remove them to clean however at that angle and there are a good 4 inches left that can't be pulled out.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 8:42AM
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You will need at least a 2 1/4" filler strip (or space) between the fridge and the wall so a door could open in that direction. If you do not have that space to give, you will have no other choice but to hinge a single door on the right side. The space is required so the door can open just past 90" allowing the drawers within to open.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 9:44AM
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I need to have a kid be able to sit and do homework while I'm cooking dinner.

Kids grow up fast. If I was in your shoes, I think I would postpone the remodel until seating in the kitchen wasn't a necessity. As it is, you're committing a lot of valuable kitchen real estate to a temporary requirement. And making way too many compromises in the process. I just don't see investing $$$ into something that you'll most likely be really unhappy with in just a handful of years.

That said, you could think about going ahead with walling over the doorway and adding some inexpensive cabinets (repurposed, recycled, Ikea, garage sale, cheap ready built stuff from the box stores...) in the interim. That will give you more storeage/ counterspace and make what you have more functional and cost very little if you DIY.

I just so agree with Aloha that the sink needs to go under the window and the refrigerator at the end of the (in your drawing) sink wall....that I can't see investing money into a much less desirable floor plan.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 10:06AM
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I can easily get up to 4 inches on the left of the fridge, so it's sounding like I'll be able to open drawers, it's just a matter of getting them out for cleaning? And whether french doors or single would make more sense?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 10:07AM
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I like the side hinged fridge we have-situated about 3 in from side wall which is also a passage.You approach at an angle whereas french doors require the individual to stand squarely in front,unless you situate most sought after items on the ONE door.....but the french models I've seen look like the 2 hands opening both doors is how it needs to be used most of the time. The base freezer drawer gets opened much less's never presented a problem. the frozen veggies and stuff retrieved on a regular basis can be placed so that you can grab without even opening the freezer drawer all the way....freezer drawers are wonderful-there will be compartments and slide outs in that area to help you in no longer"rummaging" around. Might want to go and look at the various models in your size allotment-surprising how the makers tweak the usability of the compartments and bins/etc. to the extent that some you will prefer more than others and might help in your planning.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 10:28AM
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I think I would move the sink under the window, the stove where you have the sink. Then do a corner banquet/table in the top left where the 16" depth is with seating on one side there and a deeper one next to where you have the stove. Then do a shallow full wall height pantry next to that and then the fridge on that wall.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 10:39AM
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Could you open up that wall between the kitchen and dining room? (Even if it's load bearing, it may not cost that much to do.) If so, then that would be a perfect spot for a small peninsula with seating. That would give you your goal of visible seating, and a MUCH better layout. This layout is VERY awkward with the seating in the middle of everything. It's in the way and will be hard to actually work around. If you did the peninsula, you will have much better traffic flow for both prep and snacking, and seating.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 11:22AM
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lyfia, that was sort of like one of our previous design incarnations if you look at previous threads I posted above, minus the banquet. I don't think there's enough room on that wall. The pantry has to be 18" deep, and there is about 104 inches to work with on that wall- and I'd have to do a cabinet depth fridge, I think to have enough aisle space, so it would have to be wide.

herbflavor, that's what I was thinking... that you can approach a single door fridge on an angle, so we don't usually need to open it up all the way. I'll try to find some display models to look at- not too many people seem to put the 30" models out.

I have thought over and over about seating, and I think it is extremely important to the way we use the kitchen. I don't need a full eat-in table. But even without the kids (who will still be doing homework for 12+ more years at home, so this is not short-term) DH and I often sit and chat while the other is cooking. I need to have two stools in, and have decided that is non-negotiable. To each his own, I guess! I actually like them better under the window- it's a much more interesting place to sit.

Not renovating is not an option. You should see my kitchen. :) I've already waited 6 years. But I can see if it might work to put the sink under the window, the fridge at the end of the other run, and the stools where the fridge was? I worry that the fridge openers would get in the way of the person using the range.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 11:32AM
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wolverine2, you have a lot of good ideas floating around. I just wanted to let you know that my kids do their homework on the dining room table (grades 5 & 7). The kitchen table was too small for both of them to work once they reached grade 3/5. And most of the time they're using the computer, so the table isn't in use always. Where is your family computer? You might want to consider how you'd be able to supervise computer use while you're preparing dinner.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 12:15PM
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livewireoak- yes we did think of that, and decided against it, though when we first thought of it I was sure we were going to do it, for the very reasons you said. We didn't end up liking the sketchup of it being open. We have a small 1920 condo with beautiful woodwork in the dining room, and we'd like to maintain the integrity of that room. It would certainly solve the seating issue though! We can think about it again...

To me though, it feels like the only thing the seating is in the way of would be the fridge- I can easily get from sink to prep counter to stove to pantry w/out being anywhere near the seating. Also, when I looked at the sink and range being where they are in your idea, I think people would bump into each other a lot- I really like the prep space to be in between the sink and the range if possible.

karen_belle, mine also do homework on the dining room table, and sometimes in the kitchen when I'm cooking. We have a laptop, so it lives everywhere- the kids aren't doing homework on it yet though. I don't actually think the seating would be used all the time, but I like having the option for someone to grab breakfast there, sit and chat, etc. We currently have an eat-in table under the window that is in the way of everything- I'm not sure how it would be if we eliminated all seating- especially since we don't have an open kitchen. I worry that people would just be standing around in my way or there would be kids in the middle of the floor, etc.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 12:41PM
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Maybe I'm crazy, but I think you have room for a small island in the middle of the floor. It would serve as a perch for whoever wants to visit with you in the kitchen while you cook, and also direct traffic to the outside, away from your work zones.

I've moved your sink under the window and your fridge to the wall opposite.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 1:31PM
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Interesting! I was telling DH yesterday about someone's kitchen I was in that was not updated, but had a 2ftx2ft butcher block island in the middle, and I was amazed at how everyone crowded around that little tiny island. I'll have to do some measuring when I get home. What clearances would I need to do an island like that?

On the left hand wall, the pantry cabinets have to be 18" deep, so when the counter depth starts it would jut out more, and I'm not sure there would be enough room to put that much cabinet to the side of the stove and still get through that aisle. You were thinking the fridge would go over there, right?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 1:39PM
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In a situation such as this I think you'll likely have to put in a walk-in in a better location.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 1:42PM
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I have no comment on how to make the design better but as someone who has lived with her fridge opening next to a wall for the last 16 years, I can't tell you how much I HATE it. There are actually bifold doors on that wall that open to our pantry and dh cut a slit in the track so that when necessary, I could pop the door out of the track and swing it into the pantry. For years we had a SxS fridge and that was the worst, but now we have a French door fridge so it hasn't been as bad. However, not too long ago the bifold closest to the fridge broke so dh just removed the whole door, leaving the pantry open. While I don't appreciate having to look at the clutter, I LOVE not having that obstacle. Our plan for our remodeled kitchen has been to take out the wall beside the fridge as well as the doors and just get rid of the pantry altogether, instead having pantry cabinetry and incorporate the old pantry closet into the kitchen space. Having that door removed made me realize just how much nicer that will be. Now when I see kitchen designs (especially in builder grade/spec homes) that have a fridge next to a wall, it makes me cringe. If there is some way you can move it and still get the other things you desire, I would highly recommend it.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 1:48PM
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Yeah, you're right, the fridge is not really to scale in the sketch I put up.

You want more than 3' in the walkways around an island. I think we ended up with 42" walkways in our kitchen (it is 13' wide so we have a pretty narrow island), and our built-in fridge takes up a bit of that on one part of the island.

I drew the island as a triangle because of this. You have a lot of wall space on the left to put a fridge without interfering with an island. You keep saying the pantry has to be 18" deep - but I think you can make a section of that wall 2' deep and build in a fridge.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 1:50PM
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It has to be 18" deep because that's all we have- we'd have to get rid of the closet in our bedroom otherwise. But we can bump out to counter depth once we clear that little hallway and could do a counter depth fridge. I'll measure when I get home. Wouldn't save the $$ we would save not moving plumbing though...

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 2:00PM
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Which plumbing? The sink and stove? What kind of foundation do you have? It is not difficult to reroute water. Gas is more of a hassle but only because it requires special handling.

Here's a pic where I think I've gotten things pretty much to scale. I changed the cabs on the upper wall to 12" deep only and had to shorten the run to leave room for a tiny island. I made the island with minimal 3' clearance all around. It's an odd shape and I wouldn't say you should do it that way, but it gives you an idea of where your clearance is.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 2:40PM
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You may have already made your fridge decision, as several weeks have passed. I have a very similar layout issue and I wondered what you chose? One fridge I was considering is the KA French Door with the fridge drawer for produce (or whatever else you get often) OUTSIDE of the French doors because you don't have to open a door to pull it out fully. The one drawer inside the fridge is only half-width and can be positioned on either side, so you can put it on the side of the fridge where your door opens fully. The drawback is that the fridge is very deep (35"+). The specs say to allow 3 3/4 minimum on the wall side (filler panel) to allow the door to open. A KD suggested to me to check out 33" fridges because of the wall. There aren't many...

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 12:34PM
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Are you still working on this? I have questions about more than the fridge. This is an awkward layout and there is enough space there that I think you must have better options.

Have you looked at moving the dining room entry to the right? Shifting an opening is not a huge ordeal, even if that is a load bearing wall (not sure if it is but someone mentioned the possibility in an earlier post). I'll try to post something mocked up best my crude skills allow here. As I have it, I think that would be a 36" fridge and there is a pinch point. I'm not sure of the depth there, but with a counter depth, an 18" DW or some other tweaks with proper measurements, I think you could improve the function of the space.

On the dining room side, any crown would remain or be replaced above the opening and a good contractor should be able to adjust the baseboards.

Keep working the plan until you get the kinks out. I lived with two horrible kitchens (we're talking 2 burners and they aren't flat or heat that well, dying ovens, DW tiled in and praying it wouldn't die -- even though it was so loud I hated to run it) for ten years between the two of them until I was able to do my kitchen. I learned a lot along the way and had time to explore outside the box ideas, come back and go off in different directions. All that exploration really paid off in the end, and I plan to use it long enough to make up for any delays.

Anyway, here's one rough idea in case you hadn't though of it.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 4:17PM
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