Recess Your French Door Fridge into the Wall

in Cabinets & Furniture

standard depth fridge is a least 10 inches deeper the oven beside it There’s something exciting about getting that new French Door Refrigerator

– until it arrives in your kitchen.

Once you realize it sticks out almost a foot beyond the cabinets and impedes the traffic flow to the mud room – you resign yourself to your decision and just live with it.

If you love your fridge but hate how deep it is, you may be able to gain back a few inches by recessing it into the wall.

Fridge depth matters

My last three kitchen design projects have all involved recessing fridges to gain space and prevent them from dominating the room. French door fridges are very popular – mostly because of the bottom freezer (bottom freezers rock BTW) – but many of them are a whole lot deeper than the fridges they replace.

standard depth french door fridge occupies valuable aisle space Besides the imposing visual aspect of these stainless steel whales, aisle clearances are restricted, especially if they face an island.

Many GE Profile and Kitchenaid models can be almost 3 feet deep from back to handles.

Can I recess my fridge?

Depending on your situation, you may want to consider this trick of the trade. If you’re building a new home or renovating your kitchen, you should look at this as a option – especially if you already own a deep fridge or plan to buy one. This is not a quick-fix-after-the-fact scenario – it’s a plan-ahead one. You’ll need to assess the structure and fridge location within the room layout to determine if it’s feasible.


standard-depth-french-door-fridge Restrictions:

  • Fridge located on exterior wall
  • Plumbing or ductwork behind fridge location
  • Structural post in wall behind fridge
  • Shared wall that can’t be disturbed

How do I do it?

The ideal circumstance is when the fridge will be located on a newly constructed wall or a wall that’s getting opened up anyway. You can frame the recess where you need it and route any wiring above the recess if required. The recess should be an inch or so wider than the refrigerator and about 72" high.

It’s a bit like a door opening that’s been drywalled over on one side. You would also install drywall in the french-door-fridge-recessed-into-stud-wallrecess, using panel adhesive to glue the back in the recess to the drywall attached to the other side of the studs.

We typically build cabinets for fridges at least 26" deep to allow countertops to die into the side. The side gables of the cabinet mask the edges of the recess.

Electrical and water supply

Since there is not enough depth behind the recessed fridge for an electrical outlet or water supply, they should be relocated within an adjacent cabinet. Our normal routine is to surface mount a shallow (1 1/2"d) electrical box in the lower area of a base cabinet. If it’s a drawer bank, we make the bottom drawer a couple of inches shorter – which leaves space behind the drawer for the plug (and water supply if needed).

Alternatives

If you haven’t yet made the plunge and bought a new fridge here are a few tips to make sure you don’t end up with a too-big fridge.

  • counterdepth fridge fits nicely into wall cabinetryCheck the appliance dimensions before you buy and compare them to your kitchen space. Download the “Dimension Guide” (PDF) from the web page for your appliance model.
  • Consider a counter-depth fridge – be aware, the doors have to stick out beyond the counter in order to open properly (no matter what the salesperson tells you). Some people find the interior of these fridges aren’t deep enough for larger items. That’s the trade-off – along with the higher price tag of course.
  • Fully integrated fridge – these are cabinet-depth models that accept wood door panels flush with the surrounding cabinetry (25” deep). They look beautiful – but unless you’re ready to shell out upwards of $6000 for a fridge you may just want to window shop for these ones.

No matter which type of fridge you’re looking for, shop around, carefully check the dimensions and go with what will work best in the long term for you and your kitchen.

Related posts:
Kitchen Seating – How Much Knee Space Do I Need?

Design Tips for Your Kitchen Trash Pullout

Kitchen Planning – On Pets & Pantries

Images: SugarInducedComa; bossco; PeaceLoveSweater

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

mark henry

make sure wall is non-bearing or change to accommodate.
water and power can come up thru floor.
the 1/2 inch drywall facing the other room is enough, it does not need to be doubled.
thanks for the site~!

Rick

Questions from reader Mary:

Hello, I was looking at the very helpful article on recessing a refrigerator into the stud space of the back wall and have a few questions.

First; what do you mean by a shared wall that can’t be disturbed? What would determine that it could not be disturbed?

Second; what about noise from the fridge, does the double drywall keep it at the same level in the room behind the wall as it was before? Or is there some type of thin noise reducing material you could usebetween the 2 layers of drywall?

Third; I read another article that mentioned some type of through the wall vent for air circulation to accommodate the clearance space for around the fridge, sounds like a good idea if you do not have the clearance space (not sure what my requirement is yet), and of course it will make the noise pass through the wall (not sure how much noise a fridgecompressor makes- any idea?), but do you see any other issue this may cause ifused? … Thanks for any feedback.

—–

Hi Mary,

I’ll try to answer your questions as best I can.

By a wall that ‘can’t be disturbed’ I mean you don’t want to affect the wall
in the adjacent room (ie. living room next to the kitchen) which would mean
removing/replacing drywall, crackfilling, painting, etc. in the living room.

Anytime you can ‘hear’ your fridge the compressor is doing it’s thing –
otherwise it’s silently keeping things cool.

A double layer of drywall will help stiffen the drywall which is spanning an
opening that’s 36″w versus a typical wall with studs every 16″. Not sure how
much effect the double layer has on noise but the thicker wall would reduce
vibration of the drywall which can only help. There’s really no thin noise
reducing material but there are products available to isolate the drywall
from the studs which might help for new construction. (http://www.clarkdietrich.com/products/specialty-clips-connectors/rsic-resilient-sound-isolation-clips)

As for venting through the back wall – I’d consider it based on the room
that’s behind the fridge – if it’s a mudroom or hall – yes. If it’s a
living room, dining room or bedroom I wouldn’t due to the potential noise
transmission.

Hope this helps.

Rick

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