Dilemma #1,343 - The Fridge

steph2000June 2, 2013

If you are playing along, I am trying to break down some of my dilemmas into specific posts to get concentrated feedback.

While my partner is in full demo/electrical mode, I continue to grapple with layout, appliances and cabinets. My attempt to hire a designer didn't turn out so well and I got a message Friday they are willing to refund my money, so it looks like I might be back on my own here.

In any case, there's really only one natural place for the fridge to go - even if we end up swerving off and going with an L kitchen for some reason once that wall comes down.

There are exactly 45" from the edge of the BS window to the edge of the sliding door. That does NOT include trim, which has not been installed. As an added note, there is 2 1/2" between the BS window and the corner on the other side of the BS window, so for symmetry it would be nice to have 2 1/2" on the other side as well. However, I am willing to give up that space and have the fridge panel start right at the edge of the window trim if I need to squeeze inches.

All along, what I wanted from the kitchen was to get away from using cabinets as pantry. How I was going to do that was with a tall pantry next to the fridge. However, we had to lock down the size and placement of the BS window and sliding door way before we had even started really conceiving kitchen designs. So, we are stuck and have to work with the space as it is.

So far as I can see, there are 3-4 options.

1 - Go with a tall and skinny counter-depth fridge/freezer, like the Liebherr. BrooklynGalley turned me on to this option. However, I cannot see the fridge in person as no one keeps it in stock up here in Alaska (or anything like this). My aunt in Chicago did see it and immediately determined it would never work for her - and she is single and living in a condo, gone a lot traveling and barely cooks. She said the fridge in particular is really unworkable and too small to fit a pizza box.

In any case, that would eat up basically 25" including the end panel, leaving room for a 12" pull out pantry and 7" gap prior to the slider (assuming we started right at the end of the window trim, otherwise probably more like 5").

2 - Go with a 28-30" inch fridge, which would not be able to have a pull-out freezer drawer unless it is 30" or more. It wouldn't be counter-depth, so it would stick out more in the room, which particularly concerns me around the slider. We could pack in pantry, but it would basically take it to the slider and that seems really, really tight. It would basically take it right up to the slider.

3 - Say goodbye to the pull-out pantry at the fridge, and go with a 32-36" counter-depth with pull out freezer. Spendy, but more fridge space. Counter-depth to keep it low profile around the door/entrance to kitchen. My partner then suggests a low profile tall cabinet that could somehow store cell phone chargers or a broom closet. I don't know how deep those things tend to be.

Here's a basic rendering of just a fridge, but it shows full depth as CD was not an option on the design program.

Here's the other thing to note, I guess. The current plan is to consider putting 12" floor to ceiling cabinets on the far DR wall.I guess the one closest to the sliding door wall could act as a food pantry. My question is how inconvenient that is really going to be for everyday cooking. It's not like our house is huge, but it will mean scooting over there, around the DR table, when you want a can of soup or whatever...

How much do those pull-out pantries even hold? Am I stressing to get one in when it just doesn't make sense?

Thoughts? What would you do?

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Sophie Wheeler

Do you have any place that you could put a freezer? Like an adjacent laundry area or mudroom? You could then do a smaller all refrigerator unit there. What about freezer drawers in the kitchen on the peninsula?

Also, with the table right there, and the clearances being so minimal, what about just putting shallow storage cabinets for goos on teh back side of the peninsula instead of having seating there?

Do you have a diagram of the adjacent spaces to see what type of out of the box storage might be found?

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 5:49PM
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I really don't have a spot for a freezer. We have an unheated garage, but it gets super cold out there. The peninsula is slated to have drawers for the pots/pans, silverware and a microwave. I'm really not seeing room for freezer drawers there.

Here's a diagram of the place we have to work with, basically. It leaves off the front of the house and the bedrooms to the right:

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 6:22PM
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That space behind the kitchen is garage? It'd cost more, but how about converting some of that space to heated house? A simple 3' depth all the way across (horizontal wall) would allow you to put a freezer on the current laundry/kitchen wall. Or you could even frame a direct door if you wished.

Of course, if you were going to do that, exploring the possibility of just pushing the kitchen wall to the right 2-1/2 feet would make sense too.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 7:00PM
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Oh, shoot gremlins ate my first reply and DH is tapping his feet to leave.....

Idea: How about a side-opening pantry cab next to fridge?

Not too deep that stuff gets lost. No expensive slider mech.

Could use regular BF fridge. Save $$$

Got to go

Will check back


    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 7:31PM
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Rosie, the garage is unattached, unheated and about 20 feet or more from the house.

Nothing is behind the kitchen, which is on the exterior wall. To the right of it is the bathroom and laundry niche. To the left is the DR.

Thanks, Liriodendron. We did think about the side-opening pantry idea instead of a slider. It seems, though, to be functional it still has to be fairly deep, like as close to 12" as we can get it, don't you think?

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 7:52PM
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I'd say number 3 seems to be the best option.

1. It does not crowd the sliding door.
2. Allows for the most room for fridge/freezer.
--- The smaller units may be an issue if you ever sell
3. The cabinets along the back wall may take up space, but would also add some visual interest and tie the spaces together.
--- Maybe a round table would work better in this area.
--- Do you often entertain? Even if you do the entire area is fairly open to allow for large(ish) groups.
4. I don't think the small pantry on the side would hold very much. Though I do not own one similarly so I have no experience.

There are my thoughts!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 7:58PM
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OK, I'm back.

No, I don't think that you need 12" to be useful. It would be nice, but not necessary. Measure stuff. Extra large cereal boxes maybe, but I think even 10" would suffice.

You could even cheat out the depth a bit by having a very thin back surface for most of the cab keeping the necessary vertical framing within the box and using something as thin 1/4 ply for the back wall next to the fridge.

You could use the "blind" front surface of the side-opening pantry for a message center or towel bar or something else flat-tish or steal some depth from the storage inside to make an open cubby for charging things.

In my main pantry (a step-in) I have 15" deep lower shelves but only 10" shelves above, it was not forced on me. I selected that depth after much measurement. One thing I didn;t want was stuff disappearing in the back as it can with deep shelves. Stuff doesn't stick out from ten inches. (But we have no kids who need cereal boxes). I store much of my suff in large plastic and glass containers which fit just fine on 10".

Give it some tests with your stuff - it would certainly make life easier becuase you could get the regular depth BF which is widely available. I have a 30" wide Amanna B/F and I love it. It's 20 years old, though and not nearly as efficient as modern ones. I have a swing out door rather than the more common these days, freezer drawer. When my old beast bites the bucket, I will be very bummed if all I can find are the drawer ones, which are huge space-wasters, IMO, compared to a B/F with two doors. (Plus with a drawer all your frozen food comes out every time you get need one thing. A door is better, I think.)



    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 9:49PM
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I don't have the design experience that so many others here have, so I can't comment from that perspective. But my first thought was how hard it can be to find refrigerators to fit into the space available. For that reason, I would be inclined to go with #3 and the larger refrigerator. I know you've found other options now, but how would those refrigerators be for resale? Also, how easy will it be in the future to find the refrigerator you want, with the features you desire, that will fit into the available space?

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 10:07PM
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Kristen Hallock

Sorry! Duplicate Post

This post was edited by khallock on Mon, Jun 3, 13 at 11:02

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 10:40PM
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I would seriously consider option # 3, if you don't feel like it compromises your DR too much. I would not find it a burden to have to walk 10 ft to get a can of soup-- it's a lot closer than going to the store! But then, I don't have a large family and don't store Costco-quantities of food, so there's a lot I don't understand about other people's needs... I find as long as I have the things nearby that I reach for as I cook, I'm fine with 'staging' the main ingredients at hand before I start. But everyone's different!

Sometimes it is good to take a step back and evaluate your basic assumptions. You may still find them valid, but maybe gain some insight as to "why" that will help with your decision-making.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 11:03PM
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It seems, though, to be functional it still has to be fairly deep, like as close to 12" as we can get it, don't you think?

As lirio has said, no, it needn't be that deep. Ours is 9" on the exterior, leaving about 8"-deep shelves. We love it. You can fit a cereal box, a 3 L tin of olive oil, or two rows of large cans. Nothing gets lost.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 10:22AM
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Thanks for the continued feedback.

In terms of resale, my thinking has been that given the fridge is on the end of the run, it wouldn't be a big deal no matter what option we went with as the new owners could easily remove the pantry and modify the end panels for a larger fridge if they wanted. Am I wrong about that?

We actually have contemplated doing a small pantry on the side instead of a pull out from the front. I just wasn't sure how much bang that would give us to save a few inches at most. Hearing that it can be really useful in the 8-9" range is reassuring.

For those of you who have that, do you use the back of the cabinet as the other half of the fridge panel for that built-in look or put an end panel on both sides?

j_hack - I initially wanted a round table. Now, though, I am rethinking that because if I do the pantries on that back wall, I'm going to need to be able to get around the table/chairs easily to access things. Now I am leaning towards a skinnier than typical rectangular table. A round table does tend to jut out more, yes?

Interesting, liriodendron, that you don't like the bottom drawer freezers. I've been kind of in love with them, as it seems to make it so much easier to access and organize things in the freezer. I've been iffy on the french door fridges, though, as they seem less convenient to stand at the counter and use.

khallock, that's an interesting idea (to recess a regular fridge). I'm not sure what our options are there, but I can ask my partner. I've assumed it is not an option on an exterior wall and I know we have structural issues given so much of that wall has windows/doors on it. It's interesting that you like the idea of 12" on the side but not a 12" pullout. Can you help me understand that distinction for you?

sail-away - while I'm not really concerned about resale, your point about replacement appliances is a good one. If I go to a lot of trouble to make something unique work, I guess I'd be stuck with an exact replacement?

lori_inthenw - we don't have a family, either, but my partner loves to buy things in bulk. I'm trying unsuccessfully to break him of that habit, as we really don't have the space. I think whatever we do with the pantry space at the fridge, we will end up needing more from the DR wall.

Angie_DIY - thanks for weighing in. These personal experiences really help. I was thinking 8" interior wouldn't be enough to do much, but if it is, maybe that opens options up. I'm not sure yet...

I guess my big questions at this point are:
1 - how much space is needed between the fridge set up and the back door and
2 - how important is counter depth for my application. It SEEMS important, but egads, the extra money is a drag if I can't recess a regular fridge. We currently have a base cabinet ending 10" before the slider. It seems like a nice distance, but not thinking I'm going to get that much in the remodel. It also seems like a nice depth, in terms of not jutting out into the room between the DR and kitchen or blocking access to the sliding back door.

Are any of you who have the side pantries willing to post a pic or two so I can see? Or send me to your kitchens? I have a hard time on GW finding finished kitchen links.

Thanks again for all your help.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 12:18PM
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My sister-in-law has a narrow pull-out pantry like the one you show in option 1 and 2...I am amazed at how much space seems to be wasted at the sides and back. I think a 10" or 12" cabinet turned sideways would be a better use of the space.

Or 12" pantry cabinets on the far wall of the dining room. That is what we have. Sure I have to walk around the peninsula to get the pasta etc, but it doesn't bother me. I keep the spices and oils etc in drawers and a lazy susan closer to the stove, so typically, I'm only going to the pantry to get things I need before I start cooking. And we keep the snacks and cereal there which is closer to the counter seating anyway.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 12:33PM
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Kristen Hallock

Yes, a 12" pull out seems like it would be a waste of space, whereas with a 12" deep cabinet turned sideways you would have all that shelf space to store things without space being lost for pull out hardware.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 1:03PM
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Thanks for the feedback about space lost in the pull outs - and the personal experience with having pantries on the DR wall. It's very helpful.

Anyone have any opinions re: how close to put tall cabinets in relation to the sliding door?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 4:28PM
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duplicate post

This post was edited by Steph2000 on Tue, Jun 4, 13 at 12:52

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 4:29PM
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And a bump.

Alas, it is not an option to recess the fridge into the wall. So, that means go CD or have it bump out quite a bit.

Still wondering what the standards are for how much space to leave between the end of a cabinet run and a door. Anyone know ballparks for both minimum and desired breathing room around a door?

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 12:55PM
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Miele makes a 30 inch counter depth fridge with a drawer freezer. Pricey, but beautiful and holds way more than one would expect. We had one in our previous home.

About how close to the door. I think you have to consider you trim size and if you want a tiny strip of paint there. Be sure and consider door swings and if you need them to open a bit more than 90 degrees.

Here is a link that might be useful: Miele 30

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 4:35PM
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I went to Ferguson's today looking at faucets and happened upon some of the thin fridges. They looked great but not a ton of room inside. So maybe you could for sure break your partner from buying in bulk by buying the smaller fridge and forcing smaller purchases! Or maybe just buy bulk quantities of items that do not need refrigeration.

About the table... yes I suppose a round table does stick out more. I was thinking of ease of getting into the cabinets and not the intrusion of space the round table would have.

One last thing to add - I do think that a tall thin fridge would give the kitchen more appeal and seem more custom and high end.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 11:09PM
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Option 3 seems like the best from the standpoint of resale, replacing appliances down the road, and IMHO, not having enough fridge space just sucks, but Costco is my favorite grocery store (yeah, I know it's not a grocery store...its a warehouse, but I treat it like one!)

My old pantry was 10 feet away, but down a hallway, like an afterthought. If it had been in the adjacent DR, it would have felt more connected to the kitchen. I never found the distance to be too big of a deal. I did keep the cooking spray and other freq used items in the actual kitchen though.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 2:15AM
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I don't know the answer to the question about space between end of run and slider. I just wanted to suggest you start a new post with that in the subject line.
I think if the pantry is turned sideways, which I agree is a better use of space, you have to keep that in mind. The open pantry doors will block the sliding door opening. Another factor is how often you go in and out of that slider. I would probably only care about having enough visual space so that the wall paint before trim was a nice chunk at least 3 inches. I am the sort of cook, who walks to the pantry grabs what she needs and then is done. I don't stand there with the doors open and I don't make multiple trips, but everybody is different.
I am loving your plans and so happy you stopped spinning. What did you ever decide about the bump out for the laundry?

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 7:09AM
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# 3 also, but reconfigure the laundry to put a 15 to 24" pullout into the hall. Even a 15" holds an amazing amount.

Storage on the dining room wall could be made attractive for kitchen and other needs, but it'd compact the dining room even further, when the kitchen's already marching over into it. I don't know how that laundry area's set up, but it looks as if it probably has more than the less than 3x3 strictly needed for stacked units, and that would be a better place for kitchen storage. Another pull-out could serve laundry and other utility storage. If there's a door outside there, could it move?

After all these years in mostly small houses, my inclination would always be to be very clever and efficient with ancillary spaces, including bedrooms that don't multifunction, in order to preserve generous space for active living. If even one area feels large, it will set the tone for the whole home.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 7:46AM
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Thanks, marcydc. I'll try to price that Miele fridge. It looks built-in and I assume it is very expensive. It's beautiful, though. The door is a slider, but I don't know that I really want the cabinet run to go right to it.

j_hack - thanks for going shopping for me! I really wish I could see these fridges for myself, but no such luck. I agree that they look great - I'm just really wondering how they function. I was considering an 18" DW until I saw one and realized that would not work for us. I have this terrible way of making everything work in my head, dimensions be damned... I don't want to do that here, clearly. People in my life have made the point that the tall, skinny fridge mimics the BS window in a good way. That's true, but still, the kitchen needs to function. I'm just not sure my previous decision to sacrifise fridge for pantry is wise.

ChantelN - we love Costco, too, and also like to support them given their philosophy of paying employees a living wage. It's good to hear from people that have pantries elsewhere, actually. Maybe it just flat out makes more sense to go that route.

localeater - I thought about posting a new post with that title, I was just a little worried about spamming the board. I worry people are getting weary of my dilemmas - I know I am! How gratifying to hear your impression that I am no longer spinning, I still feel very much like I am. However, hopefully spinning with some directional pull starting... lol

We are committed to the LR bump out - the remaining question is how deep to make it. My partner was wanting to just make it small (7'ish inches) to make it align with the other wall in the hall, but now he is realizing he might want it deeper for mechanical reasons. I am thinking I might want it deeper so I can hang my fancy measuring cups and have little shelves on the side for oft used oils and spices on the side. We now have the wall down!!!! (huge step and very fun)

rosie - Sorry, there is no room for a pantry in the laundry area, but if there was, for sure I would make it a linen closet, which we also don't have. As is, there is no door on the W/D cubby and the W/D unit sticks out a foot into the hallway to the bathroom. We are recessing it back and creating a bump-out in the kitchen to get it back out of the traffic pathway. I'm talking to my partner about taking the little bit of wall in the hall that we have down to the studs and maybe even steal some of his closet space to create a little cubby linen closet there, but I'm not even sure we can manage that.

I really don't see a way to avoid bringing some narrow cabinets into the DR, but we'll see. The DR is the least used room in the house as we don't tend to have a lot of formal entertaining. Maybe we will use it more with the remodel - but we are putting seating on the peninsula, so we might use it even less? That will be interesting to see. I do hope to entertain more - and I owe people some dinners!

I do appreciate your concerns and share them. Living in a house this small is a real challenge... It's always this way. My mantra has been "just 3 more inches... wish I had just one more foot..." the whole time I've lived here. I'm hoping that the remodel will help the house function more effectively and at least feel/live larger. The wall coming down is already helping with that. The truth is, not only was this house built small, it was not built smart.

Thanks again for all the input. I'm still undecided on this one, but mulling!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 1:15PM
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