Help with Fridge Wall Design Please

WMA89November 8, 2012


I introduced myself about a week ago, seeking help with a kitchen/family room remodel. The first drawings we got from the cabinet maker were "underwhelming", so I've been working at redesigning everything before moving further with anyone. Here's a link to my post that provides a lot of the background info on the

Anyhow, I've got two of the three cabinet walls redesigned, and while they still need tweaking I'm pretty happy the style direction. I'm now stuck on the third "refrigerator" wall. This wall will house a pantry closet, refrigerator, wall oven and microwave drawer. So there's a lot of utility in that wall, but I want it to look nice as well, because it's the wall we'll be looking directly at while sitting on the sofa in the family room. I'm attaching pics of the general layout, the cabinet makers proposal for the fridge wall, and the two walls I've redesigned, and my redesigns for the other two walls to give a sense of the style I'm seeking.

Please note that I cannot change the location of the fridge--I know it should be closer to the range--but it's got to stay where it is. I think I'd like a paneled fridge. Looking for any thoughts and ideas on how to integrate this wall into my kitchen design. Thanks so much!

Here is a link that might be useful: Intro thread

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I realized that I didn't indicate what's being stored in the cabinetry on the fridge wall. I've marked up the plan. Basically the cabinets next the fridge will house a bread/snack drawer, small appliances (toaster, hand mixer, etc.). Upper cabinets to right of oven will have a message center (we've put in an outlet for a charging station), flashlights, and any overflow baking supplies. Drawers below will store pyrex/corning ware, baking/cooking utensils, etc.). Drawer under microwave will be for roasting pan, etc. Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 7:41AM
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I think it is a very functional space, the only thing I don't love is how the oven cabinet bisects the space. What would happen if you split the microwave drawer from the wall oven? I would put the microwave drawer right next to the fridge, and then shift the oven to the right end. Then, visually you would have a larger open area.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 8:25AM
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I'm saying this just in case - it looks like your plan has "F" sticking out into the aisle further than the refrigerator body?

Most refrigerators can't be opened when a hinged side is up against a deeper tall object - like the pantry closet or a wall. This is because the door opens to the side of the ref, either by the entire depth of the door or by half its depth. This is just to get the door open to 90 degrees. Check your selection to be absolutely sure this is going to work.

Slightly less refrigerators also have problems opening the drawers - even for everyday use - if the door is only open to 90 degrees.

Another fun fact about refrigerators are that they require air space on both sides and the back. The amount required will vary with the actual refrigerator. Altho generally speaking, the only outcome of shorting the required space is a shorter refrigerator life - its still worth checking.

Another is the total depth allowed or stated for the ref body sometimes has no allowance for its cord and plug. Sometimes, that can be cured by using a recessed outlet. Remember the same issue for an icemaker water line - particularly if you're thinking of an in-line water filter. We have one of those - but it's in the basement where we can reach it without having to move the refrigerator.

Some refs have those chunky hinge things on top. Double check the height clearance under the cabinet and its moldings. I've seen people leave a goodly amount of clearance and then use a filler to tailor it to the exact size. If they later change refrigerators to a taller unit, the filler could be cut down.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 8:45AM
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I'd probably separate the 2 appliances...put a cabinet next to the fridge for a microwave at elbow height or so...and place the oven below the counter.Then you'd get open counter space there. If you want the microwave drawer,then I'd put them on far right and far left/below the counter. I don't care for the position of the oven-usually vertical cabinets for microwaves and ovens/etc are over to one side or the other of a run like that.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 8:51AM
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I'm assuming you cannot put the oven/microwave cabinet all the way to the right because of the doorway, and the oven would interfere with the foot traffic, right?

I would prefer to see the counter space there not broken up. Can the oven/micro cabinet slide left so it is next to the fridge? The island is still close enough to be a landing space to put things you are pulling from the fridge. Because in reality with a fridge that is a side x side you aren't reaching around the door that is open to put stuff on the counter next to it. If it was a single door fridge, that opened with the hinge on the left, then yes, you could use that counter.

I think having a larger run of counters will be beneficial. You can use it for baking area, for snakcks/coffee bar on a daily basis, or even to set up a beverage area for entertaining.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 9:31AM
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Thanks, everyone! Localflavor, I think you've nailed what bothers me about the space--the location of the oven smack in the middle of everything. Beekeeperswife--I like your suggestion of one longer run of counter. Herbflavor, putting the oven below the counter is something I had not thought of. I am a little concerned that it will cost me some lower drawer space.

Bemorepanic, thanks for all the fridge info. I will have to digest that. We haven't selected the fridge yet, but that info will be helpful.

The cabinetry to the far right is shallower than that on the rest of the wall due to framing that will go around the door (leads to dining room and then on to mudroom). Between that and the traffic flow, it would be a tough spot for the oven. I could, however, slide the oven further to the right and put a very small broom closet/charging station in the corner. The microwave drawer could possible move to the island.

I'm off to draw this up. I'll be back--thanks!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 5:48PM
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Move the oven over to the left or the right, and then have the cabinet maker add some rails to the upper cabinets to create a uniform line of panels the same height all the way across the top. Put some frosted glass or an interesting art glass in them with lighting if you want something more interesting. For the base cabinets, have the bottom drawer be the same size as the one under the MW, with two smaller drawers above. If the deep drawer is too deep, you can do an interior shallow drawer inside it to help keep things organized.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 8:24PM
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I think LWO just added the bling factor, love the suggestion. I think it's the continuity which pleases me so much, the unbroken line above. I rather like the oven in the middle with (potentially) beautiful tiled spaces on left and right. (Perhaps even tile the sides?)

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 8:40PM
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LWO, I was busy redrawing some new pics last night and didn't see your post til now. Love what you did. The question now is can I keep the oven in the middle? That, honestly, would make things a lot easier due to the need to narrow the counter top on the right of the oven due to bumping into the door frame. Anyhow, I've drawn up three different versions of this wall based on suggestions from other readers. Please note that in the drawings with the tall utility closet on the far right, that unit would be recessed back about 3" from the rest of the cabinetry. DH doesn't really like that, as he feels it would feel odd when you enter the kitchen from the dining room. In the first drawing, with the oven against the fridge, the run of counter/cabinetry would all be shallower (22"). Thanks again for all your input!

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 5:44AM
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I like the one with the oven down lower next to the fridge but is that a problem with the 'hot appliance' next to the 'cold appliance'? I see your DH's concern about it being set back from the rest of the cabs. Could you put the utility closet next to the fridge THEN have the oven next to that under the counter for more counter space, or raised up for more storage space, either way you like it?

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 7:00AM
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Deedles, hadn't thought about the hot/cold appliance adjacency issue, but hopefully others will chime in on that.

The utility cabinet was created as a solution to needing something in the right corner that was not as deep as the rest of the counter/cabinets due to the doorway to the dining room (see floor plan). DH thought we could "taper" the counter back, I thought creating a separate piece would be more interesting.


    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 7:20AM
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Not quite sure why the recessed closet at passage to dining would be considered a negative. A person would have to turn their head 90 degrees to really absorb the difference-usually while walking in a spot like that the glance is forward cast....maybe off 30 degrees or so to a side,until out of the "passage" itself. Of these 3, I like the 3rd.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 7:22AM
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Thanks, herbflavor. That's what I think but DH (who doesn't complain much) has concerns. He's an engineer--so your post speaks his language and may make more sense to him!

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 7:53AM
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WMA - here is what we did
I only have 45 inches between the oven and fridge. When I am baking, it is tight but functional - if you are baking for a large crowd, you would want more space.
I am showing this - cause, although I like what you did from a creativity point - I think it will make baking and roasting in your oven more difficult - I would keep the wall oven - no sense crawling on the floor to get stuff out of the oven unless you really need to do so.

Note the fridge wall - I have enough clearance to open the doors. We also left just a bit of room on top for future growth - when we bought this fridge (it is a re-use item as only 2 years old), it was the only FD that would fit in our old space. So we left "growth" room on top.

Here is another angle

I would have loved to have 60-72 inches in this area - but no dice without overhauling the whole bottom floor.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 8:08AM
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This is one of those instances where I think it's justified to spend the money to move the door over "just" 9" or so. Whatever would allow you to have the oven there at full depth without crowding the door. Yes, that means you need to rework the cooktop area. But shifting it over 6" probably isn't so awful since you have a prep sink and will hopefully be doing the prep on the island.

Or, one alternative that you may have already thought of and discarded would be to put your main sink on the island shifted as far down towards the family room as possibly (only the 24" DW between it and the end of the island) and then maybe do a smaller prep sink offset under the window. That would give you a nice stretch of counter with a view out the window to prep at, and a secondary prep spot on the island between the sink and cooktop.

Or consider doing a range instead of a rangetop? with a 48" range, you'll get two ovens, and the whole space next to the fridge can be the snack zone.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 10:48AM
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I like the first pic, with the oven next to the fridge. Shouldn't be a problem with heat/cold issues. I don't like the oven below the counter because you lose the advantage of having a wall oven that you don't have to stoop down to use.

Here is ours

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 11:00AM
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Okay, now I gotcha after studying the top view floorplan. Funny, but I have the exact same thing in our kitchen layout. Had to go with a CD fridge so as not to be jutting into the doorway space AND even with the full-depth fridge (or oven in your case) moved down, I feared that it would visually jut forward into the walkway space even if it didn't bother the actual walking through. So, applying that to your space, I now agree with LWO to move the doorway IF it's at all doable. Doorway moved=problem solved no matter how you configure that wall. Geez, THAT was easy! If you can't move the doorway, a solution will present itself.

With the pantry at the end, is your DH's concern that it would be Pantry-stepout-cabs-stepout-oven-stepback-cabs-stepout-fridge. Kind of a jaggedy line, so to speak? If I'm correct that is his concern, I can understand that might not appeal to some people. If I'm incorrect, well, never mind. :)

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 11:36AM
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Deedles - you have enough room on either side to work - I don't know if WMA has enough space. And that is one beautiful kitchen!!
We have a pocket door, so I can close off that entrance if a concern - but I don't have munchkins roaming around.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 12:39PM
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Thanks everyone. I've been reading and rereading all your suggestions. Here's where I'm at right now--l'm thinking the easiest solution (as LWO suggested) would be to replace the cooktop with a range. Would give me the perfect excuse to upgrade to a beautiful pro style range. I'd keep it 36" with a 48" hood. I would lose the coveted drawers for pot/pan storage underneath, but I could shift that storage to the fridge wall.

OR, I could go with Beekeeper's choice and place the oven next to the fridge and then have a nice run of counter/cabinetry down to the right wall. If I do that I would consider a built in fridge with panels to match the cabinets. The only possible issue with this solution is the pantry door to the left of the fridge. As DH pointed out, we'd have a bulk of pantry door/fridge/wall oven in that area. I'm thinking a custom paneled fridge would help "debulk" that, as well as doing something creative with the pantry closet door (frosted glass perhaps)?.

Either of these solutions results in a more expensive appliance purchase, but I think I'm okay with that. At one point early this morning I contemplated getting a 24" wall oven that was counter depth (we'll have a second oven in the basement kitchen), but decided I'd really regret that.

Now, back to the "bling" factor. Since I'm leaning towards a somewhat furniture look with the cabinetry on the other wall (open cupboard, hutch, no uppers) on the other two walls, any thoughts for this wall? I like the glass panels running along the top as LWO suggested. Any other ideas? Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 6:52AM
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Well, we think we've decided to go with the first drawing (wall oven next to fridge). The base cabinetry will be 22" deep to accomodate the door. We chose to not go with a range because we hated to give up the drawers under the cooktop on both a functional and aesthetic basis. We are also excited about have one longer run of counter to the right of the oven. Under cabinet lighting and a nice backsplash will shift the focal point (when looking from the family room) to that area, I think. In addition the counter space will be great when we are entertaining in the adjacent dining room, as Beekeeperswife pointed out. BTW, Beekeeper and a2gemini, your kitchens are beautiful--thanks so much for sharing the photos.

We're going to look at appliances today. We're leaning towards a built in fridge with custom panels to match the cabinets. We're thinking we'll go with a single wall oven, and put a microwave drawer across the aisle in the island.

The input here has been incredibly helpful. I knew when I first saw the cabinet makers drawing of the fridge wall that something wasn't right--you guys helped me figure that out!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 10:55AM
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Glad to help - have fun shopping!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 1:01PM
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