Newbie needs urgent help - refrigerator sticking out of panels?

mamatoalexSeptember 15, 2010

I need some opinions of those wiser than I, and quickly, as I need to make a decision in the very near future.

We're in the process of putting in a 2nd kitchen into our finished basement. There was a big communication problem, due to many factors, but none our fault. The contractor is accepting responsibility and agrees to fix the problem. He has offered several options, but I don't know that any of the options are good ones, so I need some advice.

Our kitchen is basically a 3 sided rectangle. The refrigerator is at one end. Unknown to me (due to a communication error on the part of the contractor and kitchen designer), the cabinet layout was designed with panels that go around the refrigerator and a cabinet over the refrigerator. The panels are 24 inch deep panels and the cabinets over the fridge are also 24 inches deep, as are the cabinets next to the panels. However, our refrigerator is 31.25 inches deep, so it will stick out a good 7-8 inches beyond the panels.

I think this will look very, very strange. The contractor and kitchen designer are telling me that I have a standard depth refrigerator and the 24 inch panels are standard as well, so that many, many people have refrigerators that stick out that much beyond the panels, and that it will look fine.

Had I known this, I would have chosen not to have the panels and just would have had the over refrigerator cabinets. I think this would make it look less weird. This is not my pic, but I think something like this doesn't look too bad:


The contractor is telling me that if they remove the panels, they will have to move the cabinet over to be right next to the other cabinets, and then it will be off centered above the refrigerator, and that will also look strange.

They've offered to buy me 30 inch panels and to replace the 24 inch panels with 30 inch panels. However, I think that might also look strange because the cabinet next to these panels will only be 24 inches deep.

Are there other options? What are they? I asked them over and over how they would have designed it differently if there hadn't been a clear miscommunication, and they insist that they would have designed it the same way with the 24 inch panels and the 31 inch refrigerator. I find it hard to believe that this is "standard" as they say it is.

My goal is just to have a kitchen that doesn't look odd.

The reason this is so urgent is because these cabinets and panels are already installed. Ugh. We are basically stuck now until we decide what's the next step.

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It is standard for stock cabinets, but I also think it looks weird. You have another option, though---you can use the 30 inch panels and pull your 24" cabinet over the refrigerator out from the wall to line it up with them. The panels will hide it; a lot of people do this to get a built-in look. Short of buying a counter-depth refrigerator, that's probably the way to go to solve your problem. Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 12:09AM
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My panels are approx 26" deep, so stick out 2" past my base cabinets and 1/2" or so past my counter.

My upper cabinet next to it is only 12" deep, so the end panel is 14" deeper than the upper cabinet.

The finished end panels should be the depth of the refrigerator carcass/box but should not cover the doors. The cabinet above should be brought forward so it's flush w/the end panels in front.

To me, it would look better to have the end panels & have them the correct depth than to have them too shallow or to have the cabinet above the refrigerator be "free floating", especially w/its depth. It will look more "finished" this way.

BTW, are you sure the pic you have doesn't have end panels? It looks like there's an end panel on the left side to help enclose (& support) the cabinet over the refrigerator. I can't see the right side, but I suspect there's one there as well.

Here is a link that might be useful: Slideshow: How to Build-In a Refrigerator

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 12:11AM
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For people saying to bring the 24 inch cabs "forward"--how do you do that since they are installed on the wall? I have trouble visulizing that.

I think the best solution is to buy a counter depth fridge. Either that, or just leave everything the way is, I have seen many standard fridges in a counter-depth enclosed space @ open houses and it looks ok. If you want to "upgrade" your fridge later (counter depth ones are definitelly more $$$) you can do it. Try a scratch and dent store. I got a good 36 inch French door one @ Sears outlet and it was much cheaper because of the scratches on the sides.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 1:54AM
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@turtlemeng, you can do it by putting a block behind it or sometimes simply by attaching it to the panels rather than the wall---depends on the specific setup. I think ours will be done with a block of wood running behind the cabinet. (We could have just made our cabinet deeper, but thought 24 inches was already pretty deep!)

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 2:08AM
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"For people saying to bring the 24 inch cabs "forward"--how do you do that since they are installed on the wall? I have trouble visulizing that. "

Well, you're not supposed to visualize it once it is installed. ;-]

You remove the cabinet from the wall above the fridge and either build a 'box' behind it attached to the wall and attach the cabinet to this box, or you attach to the side panels.

Mom: since you didn't include which refrigerator you're trying to fit, does the 31 1/4" mean just the 'carcass' of the fridge or does it also include the doors and / or handles? If this is a 'standard' fridge then the doors must stick out from the cabinet walls and/or the countertops else you will have interference when you attempt to open the doors, depending on the fridge.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 5:23AM
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Mama, the picture you referenced is exactly as people are describing - using the deeper panels and lining up the front of the over the ref cabinet with front edge of the panel. Your contractor would uninstall the panel and the ref cabinet put in the new panel, maybe a rear cleat and re-install the ref.

My panel is 27" deep, the over the ref cabinet is 24" deep. The over the ref cabinet doesn't touch the wall behind the ref, its supported by the panel, the sofit and the pantry wall. The base cabinets are pulled out from the wall a little with some plywood.

It's a "normal" depth refrigerator but its a small one. If we ever get finished, the ref "decorations" will be gone,

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 7:35AM
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This is what we did, may not be an option for you:
We had a 5' + wall span in our galley kitchen, 36" regular depth fridge against wall & 24" cabinet beside.

We pulled the 24" cabinet off the wall 6" (cabinet maker built a 30" side panel with a false back so you would think the cabinet was acctually 30" deep).
Our side panel is 30".
Our fridge cabinet is 24" deep and we built a simple 2x4 box behind it to space it from teh wall.
The front of the fridge cabinet is flush with the front of the fridge panel, which is flush with the front of the base cabinet.
The fridge doors sit proud of the fridge panel allowing the doors to open. You cannot see the side of the fridge (which is good because it looks like cheap gray plastic while the front is a beautiful samsung SS). Hope this helps.

Also our KD did not understand why I wanted to pull the basement cabinet forward. But it looks great-the fridge is not overwhelming in our small kitchen and looks built in, without being counterdepth and costing more.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 8:43AM
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24" is standard, but IMO having the refrigerator stick out beyond is also standard and not custom. You have several options, most described here already.

Use the panels, refrigerator and cabinets as is. That doesn't seem like the best option.

Use no panels as he suggested. The refrigerator cabinet CAN be centered by the simple use of fill strips on the side of the refrigerator cabinet to take the place of the panel space.

Use deeper panels. This is what we did. There are a couple of options available this way.

Use the panel with a depth that allows the doors to open (usually to the carcass end) and pull the refrigerator cabinet forward to line up with the panel. This is done by building a box behind the cabinet to fill the space between the cabinet and the wall. Leave the base cabinets at 24" depth. This is what we did. I wish we'd done one of the other two options.

Set the panels and over-fridge cabinet as said. Pull the 24" base cabinets forward to the same depth as the panel. Again this is done by building out with wood behind.

Set the panels and over-fridge as said. Use base cabinets that are as deep as panels and take advantage of the extra space!

You have easy ways to work around this. Don't panic!

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 9:12AM
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Thanks for all the help! (I feel like such a newbie - I thought I checked off email notification of replies in my OP, but I guess I didn't, as I didn't get any, and then I couldn't find my own thread to see if there were any replies!)

I'm adding some pics, so everyone can see what I'm talking about.


They've offered to replace the 24 inch panels with 30 inch panels and build the over the fridge cabinet out to 30 inches. However, I think this might also look strange because the cabinet that is next to it is only effectively 16 inches before the corner. I think it would possibly look weird to have the fridge panels and over the fridge cabinet be 30 inches in depth, and then have a 16 inch wide cabinet be 24 inches in depth, and then turn the corner. Do you think that would look weird?

What I think would look aesthetically most pleasing is for them to do the 30 inch panels and build out the over the refrigerator cabinet. I think they should also move out the cabinet next to it to 30 inches, so these are flush. But this means that they'd need to replace the cabinet around the corner with a less wide one to accommodate that cabinet being moved out. This would also be the most labor for them. The head carpenter that I spoke to this morning said that he wasn't sure the owner of the contracting company would agree to pay for the additional cabinet, in addition to all the labor. (The owner is on vacation this week, but will be back on Monday). I don't know how much to push for this.

Like other posters have said, the other options are to just remove the panels. As I think I said in my OP, I did not know that there were going to be panels. We had planned to not have panels, so I'm highly irritated by the fact that I paid for this, even though I didn't even know about it. I did tell the carpenter today that if we did just decide to remove the panels, I'd expect them to refund me for the panels, since I'm not willing to pay for something that I didn't agree to in the first place and that ends up not being used. But now that I'm looking at it, I don't know that this would look any better, again, because of the narrow cabinet next to it. (Just to be clear, the layout I saw was before ordering was obviously not to scale, as it didn't look bad to have the refrigerator sticking out beyond the cabinet. But I think IRL, this will look strange.)

The other option, I guess, is to leave it as is. I'd probably ask for compensation if I chose this.

The spec on my fridge do not specify whether the 31.25 inches includes the door/handle or just is the carcass. The fridge is being delivered tomorrow, so I guess I'll find out. Would that affect your decision?

Thanks for the help!

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 11:54PM
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You did check the notification box but, you don't have your profile setup for it to need to allow emails and right now you don't.

See the "Read Me" thread for more information. Scroll down to the post with the subject "Getting Emails Sent To You...3-step Process".

The "Read Me" thread also tells you how to post pictures...basically, change the square brackets ([ ]) to angle brackets () in the code you posted above.

Here is a link that might be useful: Read Me If You're New To GW Kitchens!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 12:23AM
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Thanks. I can't see how to edit my posts, so I'll try to post the pics again:


    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 7:49AM
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What is behind the frig wall? Can you recess the frig inbetween the studs? That'll give you an extra 4"

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 9:54AM
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I would not pull out the cabinets beside of the fridge. It's not necessary and it will interfere with the use of the counter to the right of the fridge. I'm pretty sure most folks who build a "box" around their fridge to make it look built-in have the adjoining cabinets set back to regular depth.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 10:04AM
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