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

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