Cabinetry Update – Final Resolution To An Otherworldly Problem

Recently, we finalized and executed the design for the cabinets around the fridge. That sentence actually minimizes how big of a deal this was. These cabinets had become a large bone of contention between Mr PoP and I. Way back in July (while on my first Cabinetry-Cation), I started working on the upper cabinets that were to go over the fridge based on the schematic that I had drawn up and that Mr PoP had agreed to.

Back then, the plan was that we would be buying a HUGE fridge – something in the neighborhood of 35″ wide and 30″ deep, which would have been a huge upgrade in size from the fridge we bought when we moved in to our house. A huge fridge, though, meant that the cabinets above it would have to be REALLY DEEP for there to be any hope of them being usable by a short person like me. Thus, plan #1 was to make the cabinets above the fridge (and immediately to the right of the fridge) 29″ deep, and to make the one above the fridge 36″ wide to accommodate a HUGE refrigerator.

I made these giant cabinets and soon after we hung our first few cabinets this fall, we went to hang these last few upper cabinets along this wall one night after work.

What Else Could Go Wrong…

The install went HORRIBLY. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have insisted on hanging cabinets on a night when we were both tired and it was totally dark and miserable out. I also probably should have waited to hang the extra-big cabinets until we had the extra-big fridge for them to hang above. But I wanted them up, darnit!

IMG_5680Needless to say, we hoisted these cabinets up above the fridge and balanced them roughly in place to get an idea of where we’d need to drill to get our screws into the studs. After much grunting (and possibly some cursing) to get them up there (these cabinets were truly heavy beasts that we were lifting 6 feet in the air), Mr PoP decided that he hated them.

Mr PoP: “They look like a spaceship hanging in the air.”
Mrs PoP: “Be more specific.”
Mr PoP: “It hangs out way too far and blocks the light. Also, look at it from over here. It looks like a spaceship.”

A spaceship!?!

A spaceship!?!

Apparently I didn’t read the same sci-fi books as Mr PoP growing up since I didn’t think it looked remotely spaceship-like. (Kitty PoP’s litter robot on the other hand…. very spaceship-like.) We argued about this for longer than I care to admit, my biggest contention being that when we get the gigantic fridge, the extra-deep cabinets would look far less ridiculous. The 29″ deep cabinets were just accentuating how absurdly tiny our fridge actually was.

But after a while, I agreed partly with Mr PoP. At 29″ deep, the cabinet did seem to block more of the light from the nearest recessed LED than I really would have liked. Begrudgingly, I knew he was probably right that we didn’t want to block light and there was something fundamentally “too much” about the 29″ deep cabinets.

The next weekend, (somewhat tearfully) I cut the depth of the over-the-fridge cabinet from 29″ down to 12″ so the faces of the over-the-fridge cabinets would be in the same plane as the other upper cabinets the way Mr PoP wanted it. We put one of them up (with less grunting since they weighed less than half as much as they had before).  Mr PoP liked it, but I hated it immediately. It was just utterly unusable for a short person. I couldn’t actually reach them unless standing on top of the counter (and once doors get added it’d be even more awkward) and crap seemed to get set on top of the fridge in front of the cabinets looking very messy. We also hadn’t resolved the depth of the cabinets that would be to the right of the fridge (between the fridge and the wall) and I stressed about this way more than I should probably admit.

I’m not exaggerating when I say these few cabinets were the source of the biggest disagreements in this entire renovation.

Luckily, we got past it. Mostly because Mr PoP decided he wanted a counter-depth refrigerator when we were appliance shopping. Admittedly, I was initially against the idea of a counter-depth fridge. I had gotten my heart set on having a HUGE fridge and counter depth models weren’t going to have that much more volume than the one we already had. However, I came around when I realized that the counter depth fridge would likely solve the disagreements we were having with the size (and depth) of the cabinets around the fridge. In fact, after playing around with the dimensions of the counter-depth fridge in question, I felt confident that I would be able to get Mr PoP on board to my vision of the cabinets in that corner of the room.

The key was that I knew I’d need to play my cards way better than the last time – ie no messing with new designs while we’re hungry and tired or if it was dark out and no creating new cabinets until I got Mr PoP’s complete buy-in and sign off.  I was done building cabinets only to cut them into pieces – it can be pretty demoralizing.

IMG_5608On the (brightly lit!) afternoon of Christmas Eve (a couple of weeks after our fancy new fridge had been delivered), I made my move. I mocked up the outline of the cabinets that I wanted to build around the fridge using some scrap 1/4″ plywood. Above the fridge and to the right, the cabinets would be 24″ deep, allowing easy access to the cabinets for even short folks like me, while also creating a cleaner “look” since there would no longer be space for random items to be stored sitting on top of the fridge out in the open.



It could have been the Christmas spirit, or perhaps I finally wore Mr PoP down. But I prefer to believe that Mr PoP just finally saw how awesome my plan was for this cabinetry and how well it worked with the counter depth fridge, especially. Either way, on Christmas Eve he acquiesced to my plan, and I got started building the units that would fill this corner, since the old ones were now completely useless.

In the six weeks since then, those cabinets have been built, varnished, primed, installed, and (this weekend) crown-moulded (if that’s a word).

Here’s what they look like now.


I can reach the trays in the cabinets above the fridge without a stool (which was the first thing our similarly height-challenged neighbor mentioned when she stopped by to check things out!). Our family heirloom silver (some from Mr PoP’s family and some from my gram) now has a great place to be displayed. Our brooms, dustpans, and stepstools will be meticulously organized in a pull-out broom closet to the right of the fridge much like # 6 on this page. And Mr PoP loves how the counter-depth fridge doesn’t stick out significantly beyond the faces of the lower cabinets and thinks that it’s really starting to look fancy with the crown moulding!

In the end, it’s kindof amazing that these cabinets were literally our biggest source of disagreement in this entire kitchen ordeal. I’m hoping that’s an indication of how well our goals for the kitchen have been aligning throughout the whole renovation process.


I’m in the middle of constructing the last cabinet unit for the kitchen, the bench seat that will go underneath the window in the dining area.  This ran into its own issues requiring a “redo”, but this should be the LAST piece to build for the kitchen.


It’s exciting how close we’re starting to get to being done!

12 comments to Cabinetry Update – Final Resolution To An Otherworldly Problem

  • The kitchen is looking great!!! :)
    SavvyFinancialLatina recently posted..New Couch PurchaseMy Profile

  • Heidi

    This looks amazing (and like SO much work)! After repainting my cabinets by hand, I know I don’t have the patience to *build* an entire kitchen of cabinets and am in awe of how quickly you are doing this! Congratulations

    • You’re definitely right on the amount of work. It’s been a ton, but still very much worth it to me. As for “quickly”… not sure I’d call much of what we’ve been doing with this project quick. It’s taken way longer than we envisioned and it’s looking like the earliest it might be done is May (due to travel plans this spring).

  • Looking super awesome! I love the new fridge. Honestly, super deep fridges often mean stuff can get lost in the back. I really like counter depth fridges for ease of access.

    Have you figured out a door plan yet?
    Leah recently posted..The Evening RoutineMy Profile

    • The counter-depth fridge has worked out pretty well so far and you’re right that things seem more visible than with our old model. But it’s not all that big, so we can’t really “stock up” on refrigerated items since it seems to fill up pretty quickly.

      We know the basic design of the doors – shaker with a beadboard center panel, but I haven’t really started to look all that hard into getting them since I want to wait until ALL the cabinets are done and finalized.

  • It goes to show that with a little tug and pull, you can still find the best solution. The kitchen is looking nice, now the debate starts for what kind of hardware you will use for the cabinet doors? Good luck.
    EL @ MoneyWatch101 recently posted..Never Trade Freedom for DebtMy Profile

    • We have some ideas for door/drawer hardware, but haven’t really come to any final conclusions yet. We’re leaning toward cup pulls on the drawers and getting pretty simple knob pulls for the doors for starters. A friend of ours had pretty simple knob pulls on her cabinet doors and has slowly been replacing them with knob pulls she buys while traveling. Opening different cabinets in her kitchen reminds her of trips she has taken and prompts all kinds of good memories, and we’re considering doing something like that.

  • Well, I think that looks very nice. There’s surely nothing wrong with the aesthetics, and if it WORKS for both of you, what more could anyone want?

    The fridge looks extremely cool (heh…uhm…wait! It’s very handsome), and the kitchen all goes together nicely.
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  • I really like your incredibly neat in-built spice rack :)
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  • Love love love your set-up. Every time I read one of your cabinet posts I tell Mr. FI how jealous of I am of your cabinet skills. We are SERIOUSLY lacking in wood-working ability* so naturally the cabinets and all cabinet-related projects thus far have been our “biggest source of disagreement” as well. I’m so glad you both figured out something you both liked and see that bench!

    *Example: Just this weekend we tried to cut pieces for the edges of our dining room table. We messed up all for sides. ALL FOUR. Hopeless.
    Mrs. FI recently posted..Frugalize That PurchaseMy Profile