Built-in Refrigerator


March 24, 2014 by Sarah

From the minute I started planning the kitchen I knew I wanted a built-in refrigerator but I just didn’t know how to do it exactly or where the fridge would go.

In the meantime, the fridge (along with everything else we ordered from IKEA) sat in our living room collecting dust.  When we finally settled on the location, the new fridge then rested on its back while we tried to find the right sized wrench to get those green moving/packing thingys off the bottom so we could install it.

unpacking a new refridgerator

Alas, we could not find one that would work so we bought a new set of socket wrenches at Menards so we could finally get this thing into the kitchen.

After it was in place I started looking at it more and something didn’t seem quite right.  I didn’t think it really looked that great just alone by itself on this wall like I had planned.


Adrian agreed and we made another trip to IKEA and bought some of these super cute cubbies to go alongside the fridge.  The shelves are removable to be able to fit taller items like cook books and vases.


We also made some last-minute changes to the cabinets over the fridge so we bought two new cabinets to go there.

The original cabinets won’t go to waste as we plan to used them in the mudroom/back entry of the house that is just off the kitchen.

mudroom water supply pipes

It took a lot of planning and measuring to make sure everything would fit properly. The new cubbies are only 12 inches deep which is important because the drawers of the base cabinet next to the radiator can just barely open all the way without hitting anything (phhhuuuuuuu).

fully extended drawer

I assembled the new cabinets and Adrian installed them. He ran the cabinet rail all the way behind the new fridge cabinets and the cubbies.

hanging ikea cabinet rail

The new over the fridge cabinets are a little smaller, both 18″ tall vs the original cabinets that were a 15″ over a 24″.  This gave us some more wiggle room for the crown molding and making sure they lined up with the cubbies.

installing cabinets over a fridge

cabinet fridge surround

We hung the upper cabinets on separate rails for more support rather than attaching them together and hanging from a single rail.

installing deep fridge cabinets

I did not purchase the IKEA fridge panels because 1) I didn’t like the look of them 2) they didn’t have a tall enough size, so I built my own from 3/4in paint-grade plywood.  For ease of handling I bought a few pieces of 2×8 ft panels and use my trusty Kreg Jig to make the panels the size I needed to reach the 9’3″ ceilings.

fridge panel kreg jig

refridgerator panel fridge surround

The edge where the 2 pieces were screwed together will disappear later on with some additional moldings. I think the edge would disappear with a little putty and sanding too if needed.

kreg jig fridge panel

We cut the 2×8 plywood sides down to be flush with the cabinets and attached them with a combination of nails and screws. We used the Kreg jig again to attach the sides to the cubbies on the left side and the wall on the right.

cabinet cubbies

The molding I am planning on using will mimic the custom cabinet doors I ordered.

refrigerator panel trim

It is really starting to look like a kitchen now that it has a fridge!  I have a plan for the radiator too–but I’m still coming up with the details–it involves a wood countertop, recessed coffee station, and gold paint. 🙂

hot water radiator in kitchen

I don’t think I mentioned that we got almost all the base cabinets in already…

installing ikea base cabinets

IKEA cabinets are designed to sit on these adjustable feet that make them easy to level. Two cabinets can share one foot to save costs and ease of leveling, but because we are getting heavy quarts countertops we opted to use 4 feet per cabinet as suggested by the internetz.

installing feet on ikea cabinets

I’m so glad we spend the extra few hundred dollars to really make this built-in area look great.  I’m pretty pleased with it.  I can hardly wait to see what it looks like with the crown molding.

built in fridge cabinets installation

Another good thing–our living room is actually starting to look like a living room again (sort of).  Yes, is it March 23rd and we still have the Christmas tree up–in my defense this room was very full of various crap for the kitchen until very recently.  We didn’t really get a chance to enjoy it very much so I may leave it up a bit longer 🙂

current living room

How do you feel about the fridge built-in? I picked out the more expensive counter-depth refrigerator because I didn’t want it to project too far into the room and I really wanted that built-in look. Anyone else out there have a counter-depth fridge? Do you think the extra cabinets around the fridge were a good idea or should I have left it as is–maybe I am the only one that would notice if there was nothing there?  I can’t wait for the day I will be able to put my cookbooks in those cubbies.

3 thoughts on “Built-in Refrigerator

  1. Peggy in Canada says:

    I think your decision was spot-on! The depth looks right and the built-ins around the refrigerator make the entire wall look more balanced. Plus, those extra cabinets and cubbies will certainly be very handy. Your work has inspired me to look for some additional cabinetry to add to our wall-mounted pantry.

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you! Im glad I’m not the only one that thought it needed something. Send mea photo of your pantry when you’re done. I would love to see it!

  2. Totally the right call. I’m absolutely building my fridge in.

Comment or I'll hate you forever.

Sarah&Adrian @ StPaulHaus

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