The Fridge That Cleans Itself

Our kitchen is in progress right now. We have a couple of new things so far, but no backsplash, curtains, or art on the walls yet. I’m just showing peeks of the kitchen until it’s finished, hopefully, soon. (It looked like this previously.)

I’m no stranger to the way that smaller things can cost more than bigger things. The small houses in the historic district cost much more than the massive houses on the edge of town. One good writing pen costs more than the cheap pack of six. And you can’t just buy one battery, you have to buy the entire package and find a place in your apartment to store the rest you don’t need. Travel-size and apartment-size, while practical, often carry a premium price for their small design.

So it came as no surprise when I looked for a smaller counter-depth refrigerator that they cost significantly more than what I would consider to be a normal fridge according to American standards.

I looked for weeks, reading reviews and studying dimensions of cubic feet, but I saw no clear winner. The dozens of refrigerator models aren’t very different, after all; they’re made by the three or four companies who own the variety of brands. It’s hard to be impressed when an expensive appliance’s life expectancy is just 7 to 10 years according to the salesperson. What happened to quality? We used to expect better. But I digress.

IKEA had a model at a reasonable price that was a true counter-depth of 24 inches, but it was out of stock for months. We couldn’t wait for it. We needed a fridge for the house we just bought, and though our kitchen is a large size, a regular-sized refrigerator unit would have blocked the window.

We had our sights set on having a fridge that was smaller. That was one of the changes we decided to bring back with us from Italy. In Florence we became so accustomed to our dorm-size refrigerator with just barely enough room to store our fresh food that we didn’t want to go back to a deep fridge with enough food stored inside to rival a corner market.

A dorm-size fridge might really be too small, but a counter-depth fridge seemed just right. We liked how they look as well.

One fortuitous day we browsed through the aisles of yet another appliance store, studying the models that all looked the same, and we came across one lone fridge with a big yellow sign. It was a scratch-and-dent markdown with a steep discount that put it squarely in our price range, thanks to a burned-out light bulb and a small dent above the handle. We became excited when the dimensions fit the space we had for it perfectly.

The dent makes me happy every time I look at it.

So that’s how we now have a pretty little counter-depth fridge in our kitchen, but still it’s only half-full. We keep our fresh food for the week in it, and when it’s time to go to the grocery store at the beginning of the week, our fridge usually looks like this:

Clean and almost empty, ready to fill with fresh, new groceries.

I have so enjoyed having a smaller fridge that I can easily assess what’s in it, reach everything, and not let food go to waste. I find that an enormous fridge full of food can be overwhelming, and I can’t seem to remember what’s in it. Most of our food goes in the pantry, anyway. We use up what we have, and we don’t throw out as much.

Everything is fresh, and I never need to clean it out.

Cleaning the stainless steel:

When I titled this post about how the fridge cleans itself, I was referring to the inside, but the stainless steel on the outside of the fridge is easy to clean too. I spray it with H2, which is an all-purpose cleaning concentrate that I use for most everything, and then I wipe it in the direction of the grain with a microfiber cloth. It’s almost perfectly streak-free, but no one is looking closely enough to inspect my fridge. (If you’ve used polishes or other oil-based cleaners such as Pledge on the stainless steel already, then this method may not work as well on the residue those leave behind.)

What has been your experience with fridge shopping?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.

Comments

  1. I love our stainless stell fridge visually, but it seems so small, and it getd so many grubby marks on it…I would like to do away with our fridge altogether LOL
    Tasmanian Minimalist´s last post…Please Visit & Like My New Blog

  2. Sorry about the typos, shameful !
    Tasmanian Minimalist´s last post…Please Visit & Like My New Blog

  3. We recently bought a black side-by-side from a friend who had to move in a hurry, and sold us his fridge, washer, and dryer, all for $800. Our old fridge functioned, but didn’t have nifty features like the water dispenser, and our old washer didn’t work at all (kept flooding) — so we were happy to upgrade.

    And, we sold the 3 old appliances for $300 — so really we got a 1 year old fridge, washer, and dryer all for $500, can’t beat that!
    Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm´s last post…Favorite Board Books and a GIVEAWAY!

  4. We have a junior type fridge that comes to my shoulders (but I”m 6’1″). I find that it’s really all we need for most things, however I really wish we had a much larger freezer section. There are only two of us, so I’m often frustrated by the fact that I can’t just make-and-freeze batches of things in advance simply because we don’t have the space (our freezer is about 2 shoeboxes large). It feels wasteful to not to freeze ahead.

    It’s also frustrating because I like to do as much advance food prep as possible to make eating healthy and fresh easier for us; but with a small fridge it’s just not so easy. While our tiny fridge isn’t completely to blame, I know we’d save money and eat healthier if I had a larger one. It’s too tempting for us to eat out/eat an all -or half- processed meal after both being tired from work.

    Granted, I live in Germany, but most long-term apartments and homes have fridges as large as yours, or at least a size that’s our junior fridge + 1/2. I definitely stroll through the fridge sections of shops here and drool! =)
    Juliette´s last post…‘Tis the Season

    • I also live in Europe and find myself frustrated by the small freezer. We mostly fill ours with homemade stock, which is very useful for cooking quick meals, but I do wish I could do more big-batch & freeze cooking.

  5. A timely post, as we will be fridge shopping at some stage over the next couple of years, and there are so many more choices available now than when we bought our last fridge 15 years ago.

    Now, if only you could buy a shower that cleans itself, that would be domestic bliss indeed!
    Kim @ Extra Organized´s last post…Today’s organizing bliss

  6. Your posts always inspire me to buy less and waste less.

    As for cleaning the stainless steel, I find that a damp microfiber cloth is enough most days, followed by a dry soft cloth.

  7. we were given a brand new fridge by my in-laws after the one we had was literally falling apart (the one we had was probably close to 25 years old and came with the house already falling apart when we bought it 8 years ago). i am so impressed with the energy savings just with having a new fridge! enjoy yours!
    Charis´s last post…the great adventure

  8. Your kitchen is delightful! So bright and pretty, I can’t wait to see it finished.

    My appliance shopping is usually limited to “uh oh it broke!”

    We had to rush out and buy a new fridge a few years ago, on Easter Sunday, no less. We lucked out, our ding is on the top in the back. It’s large and ugly, but the only time we see it is when we paint (move the fridge) or clean behind it (yeah right!). It’s worked happily for the past 8 years, save a couple small repairs my handy fixed – condenser motor stopped and fan quit. I guess that 7 to 10 year thing is about right.
    Deb´s last post…Inspiration: Emerald Green

  9. bethinthecity says:

    I started using baby oil on mine and it requires cleaning much less often than when I used the “special” stuff on it. I’ll have to try a microfiber cloth.

  10. I wish we had a counter-depth model–but our fridge went out last August during a heatwave of 100 degree or so weather. This was less than a month after moving into our new house, with its existing fridge. So, we got a stainless one at a pretty good price (@ Lowe’s, which beat all the other local options), but it’s definitely not my dream fridge.

    I really like the look of your cabinets, and think it’s great that you used the existing ones rather than tearing them out for something new.
    Rita@thissortaoldlife.com´s last post…What you don’t see is what you get

  11. You know, this is SO true! We purchased our fridge under the delusion that it would last us a good 20-30 years, just like my parent’s fridge did. HA!! Our compressor died within 4 years of purchase, but at the time they were offering a 5 year warrenty (now long gone). It’s still working, but I’m holding my breath and wondering when the other boot is going to drop. What happened to quality?! My parent’s upright freezer that is older than me (and I’ll be 30 in less than a month) is still going strong in OUR basement! No, not the most energy effiecient, but boy does it keep things COLD!! It’s a sad, sad day when we stopped caring about quality and became a disposable society. :-( On a positive note – I LOVE the way your kitchen is looking!!
    Carrie @ Busy Nothings´s last post…For Your Reading Pleasure…

  12. I heart scratch and dent – most of our house is supplied with other people’s “less than” discounts and discards. I couldn’t be happier – only shortage I’ve found is we live in a coastal community, and a lot of the used freezers smell kinda fishy. I have faith that the perfect gently used non-fishy one will come along, though.

    Your kitchen is looking terrific! Are the panes/trim on your windows painted a darker color than the walls or is that just a lighting illusion?

  13. This year my parents bought 5 new appliances. My mom carefully measured their width to make sure they fit their old space. Well width wise it fit but she had no clue that all the kitchen appliances are built for the McMansions and extend out to much. Her frig bothered her the most. The store would not take them back. So she ended up hiring someone to move the outlet and cut out the sheetrock inthe back to move her refrigerator back a few more inches. Since it was jutting into the entrance, the extra work was cheaper than selling it on Craigslist. That is what she had to do for her dishwasher as the handle extended to a point where it hindered a drawer from opening. Painful lessons. 4 out of the 5 had to be fixed within months of purchase. It makes me worry about when my appliances go. How do consumers stand up for quality?! It should be a no brainer green goal for our planet…

  14. Natalie - Organized Habits says:

    Oh, I can totally relate to this post! About 2 years ago, we had to buy a new refrigerator. We needed a shorty for our 1950′s ranch home. I don’t remember the height limitation measurement now, but needless to say, we never found it. We had to raise the cabinet above the frig and move the cabinet doors as far up as they would go in order to make the frig fit (even then they rubbed the top of the frig hinges when you opened the cabinet). We did 3 months of shopping, research, and consumer reports studying. The end result was a cabinet facelift and we never liked the frig that we so painfully took the time to research! Ugh!

  15. So we plunked down a hefty sum for an Electrolux counter depth. It’s pretty to look at but it’s all junk and you are right that it really doesn’t matter as far as brand is concerned. Ours is 3 years old and it’s been serviced a few times. Just finished reading “the story of stuff”. They say that this stuff isn’t just faulty mishaps but it’s actually intentionally designed to break down so you will buy a new one. Pretty depressing…

  16. We also found our fridge on a big sale. I actually called to see if they had any fridges on clearance. Well we were in luck and such our luck was we got a the fridge in the color and style we wanted, the bonus, it was 60% off the floor price. :) Yee-Haa! The bummer: it’s huge, like the 2nd largest one you can buy and my husband had to cut the cabinets to get it in the space. But all in all, we’ve had it 2 yrs and I am still in love and enjoy having a large fridge to put stuff, like apples from the tree. They were able to stay fresh longer! Love your fridge but as once comment stated. Stainless leaves all sorts of marks from finger prints. :/ Our friends solution, use a microfiber cloth, they work wonders and it does not have to be wet either.

    The kitchen looks wonderful too!

  17. Have neve liked those huge monster fridges! Our old special-ordered-in-2001-counter-depth fridge went out last January, we bought a new one in February during the sales. Husband wanted side-by-side with ice-and-water in the door. I wanted stainless, and counter-depth only. Looking at all the big-box stores, came down to only having 3 choices, really, which helped to narrow it down. Went with the least expensive – which we both actually just liked the best. More than enough room for all the food needs for Thanksgiving. Happy I’m not alone!

  18. I own the largest fridge I could buy that wasn’t a pricey built in. Of course, I bought it during the teenager season of my life. With 4 teens and their friends, I really needed a hefty size fridge to make my dream of weekly shopping stay my reality. Now that I’m in the empty next season I do know that the next fridge that comes to my house will be smaller.

  19. Ooh, it is looking good! Right now my 1800′s house kitchen is all gutted, as it only had one very rusty 1950s sink cabinet and one small shelving unit in it. I, too, am going with white cabinets – unfinished we will sand, prime and paint to save money. We need a bigger fridge because we do all our cooking at home everyday. We have an upright freezer just outside the kitchen in the entryway, which works well. It might be a while until I have a sink again. And yes, buying smaller appliances cost more, just like buying sugar free fat free things cost more. Our fiberglass shower cost more as the space was less than 55 inches when we redid our bathroom… that at one time in 1800s was an outside porch.

  20. Very beautiful Kitchen, Just wanted to comment that you don’t have to have a black splash if you don’t want… also the Truth about the 3 to 4 fridge makers is true for all appliances now, electolux makes frigidaire, whirlpool owns a bunch of brand names including Maytag, and did you know when we were shopping for our appliances LG makes a ton of brands and just puts the different labels on them such as Kenmore, So true about not worrying so much, because the appliance people as Sears told us the same thing, they don’t build them to last like in the old days, so no point in spending an arm and a leg for something that you are going to replace more than likely in around 10 years if your lucky… Good Luck with the rest of your renovation, I love your blog!
    Erin

  21. I’ve been loving your home reno posts – thank you so much for the shout-out :)
    xo, Becky
    Becky – Clean Mama´s last post…Calendars!

  22. My parents didn’t replace a single appliance in our house until just a few years ago- after about 25 years of use. Granted, they were likely not very efficient and that dishwasher required much more pre-cleaning than it should have… But it got things about as clean as my brother’s 5 year old dishwasher. Ugh. How depressing.

    Glad you found what you wanted! Love that little dent and all it symbolizes:)
    Katherine´s last post…Thiiiiis close to losing my mind completely

  23. Alexandria says:

    The first home we bought was a condo with a super TINY kitchen. I remember it felt impossible to fit a fridge that fit in there. Anyway, when we sold the place 2 years later we left the fridge. I have no idea what possessed the prior owners to take that tiny fridge with them!

    When we bought our current home we splurged on a normal size fridge! :D

  24. Our Gibson fridge is 31 years old and I’m really hoping it will not die just because I’m putting that information out in public!

    I’ve heard the same 7-10 year estimate on the life of ANY of the new ones.

    I love that you love your dent :) I’d love it too.

  25. Teach me your ways! Due to cabinets that were built around the previous owners’ non-standard fridge, we bought a smaller one and it drives me crazy. Hardest for me: fitting in three lunches for grabbing-to-go the next day. Most of the time I can’t do it and it frustrates me and complicates my mornings.I’m going to study that open fridge photo….
    MemeGRL´s last post…MPM–Birthday Bonanza!

  26. I love my big fridge. I store things like nuts and oils and whole grains in there because I don’t have a cold room. But there is a danger with big produce crispers; things can get lost in the back. You have to pay attention.

    We just had to replace ours (speaking of quality control) and though a counter-depth would have given us more space in the kitchen, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how I’d store a case of peaches in there, come canning season…
    Frances´s last post…hot soup.

  27. LOL to me in central Europe, this fridge still looks ENORMOUS!!! And it’s still deeper than your units??
    Our family fridge is usually about half full – vegetables (some are happier at room temperature and we would never cool things like apples, potatoes or tomatoes…), milk/yogurt/hard cheese (again, soft cheese is better out…), eggs, butter, cold meat cuts or meat to be eaten in the next two days, a few condiments (incl. jams), and always a bottle or two of champagne, just in case!
    This fridge has an oak front like the rest of the fitted kitchen, so it’s the same depth as the cupboards (60cm/24″), and it’s 127cm/50″ high (it sits between a deep drawer and a top cupboard). Oh, it has an integrated mini-freezer, which is all I need for a few things – a small tub of ice-cream for emergency guest desserts, some frozen fruit/veg, some meat (usually mince!) also for days of no inspiration, ice-cubes… That’s it!!
    I’ve heard our stoves are smaller, too. I guess that’s because we don’t have the tradition of turkey-roasting – it’s hard to even find a 5kg/11lb turkey here and that’s considered huge and just about fits in my oven, which is a Swiss standard 55cm/22″ wide (the rest of Europe has 60cm/24″), i.e. my oven trays (cookie sheets?) are approx. 40cm/16″ square…
    What I don’t understand is that when I had to have a new fridge, it cost more to have a fitted model without the “finishing” than it costs to buy a free-standing one! In fact, double!! Very strange.
    Also, my last one was 21 years old but as you say, they now say to expect a life of more like 10 years :(

    • I was convinced that was the Before picture not the After. It’s HUGE! Like MelD, my fridge is built into the units. Normal in the UK. Saves having a standalone appliance to clean around and lose stuff behind. I do have a separate freezer though, of similar size. I find that almost as useful as a fridge.

    • Same here! For Europeans this fridge seems HUGE! Ours is less than half the size and we are a family of five…

      As to today’s life expectancy of electrical appliances, don’t get me started! My grandma bought a washing machine (Miele) right after World War 2, and it broke down in the 1980s!!
      Rima´s last post…December 1st: Hand in Hand

  28. Oh, Frances! How curious to store oils or nuts in a fridge – to me!! In my house, they are just sealed normally in a cupboard – and used.
    And surely if you’re canning/jamming, you do that immediately, why would you have to store the fruit first?!
    Just curious!
    MelD´s last post…Helen’s fault?!

    • I keep nuts in the fridge too so they don’t go rancid. But when I stored some kind of fancy oil in the fridge, it may not have gotten rancid, but it was so sludgy it was hard to use. So I don’t keep oils in the fridge anymore.
      Margo´s last post…Dark Days: Macaroni & Romanesco

  29. Sorry to add more… but why would you need more fridge space for teenagers?! Do you keep them in there LOL??? I also had 3 teens at home till recently. Made no difference at all now I only have one; the others bring their spouses and kids with them… and all with the same fridge??!
    Also, yes, microfibre cloths just damp are perfect for my stainless steel appliances (dishwasher, oven), no chemicals needed and just a quick wipe down when I’m in there cooking daily (in case anyone thought we don’t cook our meals at home if we only need a small fridge…!)…
    MelD´s last post…Helen’s fault?!

  30. So….
    Your new fridge is considered a SMALL one by the average american!
    I’m always amazed by the differences between Europe and North America, although I never really believed there’d be so many! Your italian posts were eye-opening!
    My fridge is half the size of yours and it rarely is full because we, too, are used to buying food for 2-3 days tops.
    Of course we do have a well stocked pantry with dry ingredients.
    btw, your new kitchen looks fabulous!

    • Yes, but it used to not be that way, those are just the choices now. And most of us do not have grocery stores within walking distance, so we don’t shop as often. A lot of families store big things in it like milk gallons (must be refrigerated, not UHT), but I think having the freezer space is quite nice.

  31. We have a very large fridge. It was in our house when we moved in and works fine, so we haven’t felt the need (or had the cash on hand!) to replace it yet. However, it’s often pretty empty, especially when we need to grocery shop. We buy a lot of fresh produce, only some of which need to be refrigerated, and we eat a lot of grains and beans. If I didn’t cook from scratch so much, I think our fridge would be even emptier—often it looks fuller than it is because of things like lard, tahini, homemade yogurt, homemade jams and salsas (only refrigerated once opened, of course!), buttermilk, etc.

    Our freezer is also pretty large (it’s side-by-side with the fridge), but generally full. I freeze extra portions of large soups to eat later, as well as 1 1/2-cup portions of cooked dried beans, leftover cups of wine for cooking, muffins and waffles left over from huge batches, etc.
    Cate´s last post…On Healing and Gifts

  32. I read somewhere that most refrigerators contain mostly C & C – condiments and compost!

    We are redoing our kitchen and downsizing our frig too. It is so hard to find not only a counter depth frig but on that is less than 30 inches wide. We are going to be buying a very small ‘apartment’ sized frig – at a cost that exceeds most regular models!

    All my friends think we are crazy since I have two small girls but I shop in a more European style – everyday or so – I never need to store much food.

    • Love the C&C comment – that is so true. I like my old fridge (was probably average size around the 70′s or 80′s) because it holds about the right amount of stuff, and I know it’s time to shop when it’s nearly empty. I still don’t understand how my parents always have a full fridge! Of course, they seem to be throwing old produce and condiments out every time I’m there. We do still have my old dorm fridge on the balcony just for my husband’s beer supply. Not that it really needs refrigerated or that he drinks very often, but he can’t stand the thought of an impromptu party without plenty of cold beer on hand.

  33. In our last house we had a small space for the fridge and when it was time to replace it we went with Fischer Paykell. We didn’t have much choice since we needed a short fridge–it was either that or just a basic, basic model that didn’t have glass shelves (a must for me!). At the time they were not very expensive and I LOVED that fridge. It was small but well designed and fit like a counterdepth fridge without the cost. I still miss that fridge. It fit everything easily without anything getting lost. Right now we have a big side by side and I cannot wait to replace it (well, actually I can–there are many more things that need to be done in our remodel before the fridge is going to get replaced).

    And I agree–when the fridge is empty, it’s time to go shopping. We try for once/week.

    Your kitchen looks beautiful by the way. I love the tall windows–they are just gorgeous! I know you want everything done but it is coming together so quickly!

  34. I understand. Great find you made! We are building our new home for retirement and I wanted simple but adequate. ha. I wanted a side-by-side without an ice maker so there would be more room in the freezer–sure, I could have it for 1200 more. I didn’t want a “little room” built around the refrigerator either!!! sigh. I had to give in. But at least it’s at the end of the counter and won’t interfere with anything. And I didn’t have to get the biggest thing out there. I learned I had to give in to the builder and our kids somewhat because after all, our kids will be the ones inheriting it and dealing with it for selling or whatever they choose. So I picked my battles carefully and smiled at the ones I chose not to fight.

  35. I have to agree with rest of the Europeans here, I also think the fridge is bigger than the standard here although I have also seen big fridge freezer units here lately.

    I would personally favour a cellar/cold pantry/higher temperature fridge and then a very small fridge, but freezer can be bigger. I tend to have lot of canned produce and vegetables like beets to store in a cellar temperature and way more less food items that need to be stored in colder temperature. Also I love berries and love to have lots of them in the freezer.

    Love those long, big windows in you kitchen.
    Leena´s last post…Packing for a vacation

  36. I love that you don’t have your fridge filled to the brim. I love looking into my fridge when it is half empty. That way leftovers don’t go bad and you can take stock of what you need for the next shopping trip. I’m sure the rest of my family hates it though…lol.

  37. Intellagirl says:

    This is so timely! Our 25 year old Subzero built-in is on its last legs and we’re desperate to find a counter-depth fridge that is ACTUALLY counter-depth and not 30+ inches. Would you mind sharing the model you bought? It’s exactly what we’re looking for.
    Thanks for your great blog.
    Intellagirl

  38. mare mendez says:

    HI Rachel,
    I loved this post. I follow your blog and I write a blog and facebook page for a charity called Green Demolitions.
    They recycle luxury kitchens and all kinds of gorgeous stuff and sell them cheap to support an addiction outreach. This latest post made me take the plunge and contact you – the website is greendemolitions.com. I think you’d really love this concept.
    Mare

  39. Having lived in our house 22 years, we have had a few fridges. The cheap used ones when we were young and VERY broke. Then we upgraded and got all white appliances about 12 years ago. The fridge was 22-23 cubit feet, decent size. About 3 years ago, I was working a well-paying job (as well as my husband’s) and I decided I wanted to switch to all black. The white ones worked fine, but wanted a change, to update it. And I had in my head I wanted a side-by-side. And I got it. I like the fridge part, but I really don’t like the freezer part. All the small shelves make it seems as if there is less space. And I did get the front that has the texture to it, so it doesn’t show streaks, but the sides do, as well as the front of the dishwasher and stove.
    Oh how I would love stainless, but alas, now we are back to one paycheck in the house, we’ll be keeping the black for quite a while, lol!
    Oh, we were able to sell our used while appliances to recoup some of the cost.
    Bernice
    Living the Balanced Life´s last post…How to be happy

  40. I love your dent! Both my fridge and my oven are dent specials. We’ve had them both for over 10 years now with just one service call for each…I’m pretty happy. (of course, as I’m typing this one of the two of them is probably going to malfunction now) I am contemplating changing the fridge out to find something more energy-effecient and smaller. I agree that a larger fridge just ends up being a black hole after a while and a lot of food gets wasted.

  41. Knock on wood… our refrigerator is over 15 years old and only had to have the icecube maker serviced once.

    But the one complaint I had back then when we bought it and still do, is how far out it sticks from the counters. It took some getting used to but I still don’t like it.

    Love your remodeling posts.
    Donna´s last post…A Perfect 11″ Gift Box Block

  42. From a preparedness standpoint, hearing that you keep so little food in your refrigerator makes me very nervous for you: ) I’m a HUGE proponent of using up what you have and avoiding food spoilage; in fact, I’m working hard to achieve a “zero-waste” kitchen, but I can’t imagine letting my refrigerator empty out each week–what would you do if you were unable to purchase groceries? Or if the flow of foods into your local markets was suddenly halted? That’s scary stuff.

    Then again, maybe living 45-minutes from the nearest grocer and living in a blizzard- and wind-prone area have made me biased: )

    • We have a pantry too, and most of our food is in it (beans, nuts, rice, etc). The food in the pantry won’t spoil even if the power goes out.

    • I had the same exact thought. An empty fridge would make me anxious! Keeping a well-stocked food supply is a priority for us. Plus, we cook a lot and have a large, very hungry family (our kids are in year-round sports and burn lots of calories!), so a small fridge wouldn’t work for us.

    • Yeah, I think the pantry is the best place for an emergency supply – we keep some canned fruits, veggies, meats and gallons of water there just in case, but we eat the fresh ones regularly. Although I suppose if I lived that far away from a grocery store, I would certainly buy more at a time too! (mine is on the way home from work)

  43. I currently live in an RV after having lived in normal sized houses all my life. Just a temporary thing but… The RV fridge may be the size of normal European fridges. It’s tiny. OK, the RV/house is tiny. And you know what? I like it. I have enough in the fridge that we can get by for about a week, and if not, I go to the store again. Easy and fast after preschool drop off. Granted, living in the RV has changed the way I cook a great deal (no baking in the tiny oven) but it is generally a good change. I admit, it would be hard to make the change to small if you weren’t forced into it like we were, but…

    and, for the next house, we’re getting our appliances from Miele. Made in Germany and their website states that their products are expected to last 20 YEARS. I had a vacuum from them and totally LOVED it. They are pricey to be sure, but I’d rather pay the price up front and not have to worry about it breaking in a few years and then replacing it over and over again. And, the stores that carry them tend to have amazing customer service with in home repairs (should it ever be needed) by them for free.

    After my previous house and a very bad experience with GE appliances, I did the research and found Miele. Other commenters have asked why the quality has dropped so much since our parents were our age? Why do consumers put up with it? Why? Because we continue to endorse the production of this crap every single time we buy it. Call and complain, write bad reviews all you want – the only thing businesses pay attention to is the sound of footsteps headed to the companies who ARE quality and responsible. Money talks – and I’m letting my money vote for a quality product next go around.
    clothespin´s last post…What To Say to a Disaster Person

  44. We have a small old fridge, with the freezer on top, that came with our old house. I hate it because it is deep and low and I can’t see anything in it, so stuff gets stuck in the back and bottom and forgotten about. I love the idea of just keeping it cleaned out and only buying what we need for the week, that would definitely solve some of my problem with the fridge set up.

    Also, it really doesn’t work well and should probably be replaced soon but the space is definitely too small for most modern day fridges – I completely agree with the idea of finding a small one that will fit the space and that we really don’t need to have a huge ginormous fridge! I will definitely keep this post in mind when we look to replace our fridge in the future!
    Emily @ Live Renewed´s last post…Black Friday Ebook Sales!

  45. Your kitchen is looking wonderful! I love how bright and cheery it looks with the new paint – and the floors are beautiful and homey!
    Thanks for sharing the makeover with us!

  46. By my standards (and being used to British-sized appliances) your fridge is HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE.

    But i am also one of the scratch-and-dent crew. We recently bought a dishwasher for £300, it *should* have been £549. Massively discounted because of a large scratch on the side. In the area that is always hidden between cabinets. Ho hum, if the stores are dumb enough to mark it down so much, i’m quite happy to take it off their hands!

  47. One time we had friends over for dinner the day before I went shopping. The husband went to our fridge to help himself to more water and he nearly fell over when he saw how empty my fridge was. “Where’s all your food?!” He was completely incredulous that we had so little food in our fridge. I totally love under the counter fridges, and am going to continue looking for one as a deal. I’m not giving up on my dream of having one someday!

  48. I love scratch & dent specials. My mom bought a huge gas stove on clearance because it was missing the middle grate (for which she bought a flat pan instead to make pancakes). I’m curious, if you don’t mind sharing, because you seem to be such a reasonable consumer not spending more than you need, what did you end up getting the fridge for? I feel more justified in buying one if someone ‘responsible’ spent the close to the same amount!

    Are you keeping the avocado double-oven??? I LOVE it. Really. I am so into that vintage-modern look right now, if that oven worked, I’d keep it forever!
    finley´s last post…Marni for H&M

    • We are keeping the avocado oven. Not sure about the harvest-gold stove though.

      I don’t really remember what the fridge, and we bought the dishwasher the same day, and I’d have to go look at the receipt. But I remember thinking that the price drop brought it down to what a regular big fridge would cost.

  49. Lisa Neumann says:

    Well, you know… We lived in Lithuania for a year. We were ready for the public transportation, hefting 2 kids and a stroller up 4 flights of stairs, going to the grocery store (up and down said 4 flights of stairs) every. day.

    But… our fridge was ENORMOUS. It was probably the biggest refrigerator in Lithuania. It was bigger and nicer and more modern than our American refrigerator.

    In case I thought it was an anomaly, we moved partway through the year and the fridge in our new apartment was also (you guessed it) ENORMOUS. Bigger and nicer and more modern than our American refrigerator.

    So… when we got back to the United States, we bought a bigger refrigerator.

  50. I am interested to hear from European readers:
    What kinds of things that we Americans typically store in the fridge do you NOT store in there? Example: German friends of ours never refrigerate opened jam/jelly/preserves. They have small jars and simply keep in in the cupboard for the couple of weeks it takes to consume it.
    Lori´s last post…And the Winner Is…

    • Americans refrigerate: eggs, fruits and vegetables, gallons of milk, jugs of juice, lots of condiments

      In Italy you buy the fruits and veggies you will eat that day. The eggs at the store are on a regular shelf in the baking aisle, not the cold section. The milk comes in smaller containers and has been high-temp treated so it’s shelf stable and not sold from a cold dairy case.

      • I’m in the UK, and although most of my friends have large standalone fridges, I’m not unusual in that my fridge will fit in the space left by the dishwasher in the photo. We have a separate (large chest) freezer in another room.

        For the record, there are 5 in our family, including 3 children under 12 and plus 3 cats and 2 large dogs who need some food refrigerating. I also cook from scratch; I’m not just opening packets instead!
        We don’t refrigerate jams or pickles on the whole- the sugar and/or vinegar is there to preserve them and it works fine as long as you don’t have a cupboard-full open at the same time. I have one or two jams open, so there’s a choice but they don’t go mouldy.
        I get my milk delivered 3 times a week (in returnable/reusable glass bottles) by the milkman. He even gets to my small village in 2 feet of snow. (I know, I know! That’s a lot of snow for us!) It’s fresh milk- unlike Continental Europeans who are happy to use sterilised milk, the British buy pastuerised. The French, Italians etc have less of a culture of cooking with milk- traditionally they tend to eat it in the form of yogurts and cheese, (my parents can remember yogurt as a ‘new’ foreign food), whereas the English love breakfast cereals and milk puddings and put it in tea.
        I’d manage even with plastic containers of milk though. S/S freezes fine and I still keep some in the freezer should I need extra before it’s delivered.
        I keep eggs on the counter. They really, really don’t need to go in the fridge.
        I buy seasonal vegetables, so salads and tomatoes go in the bottom drawers in the summer and carrots, apples, parsnips go in in the winter.
        Cheese, meats,opened cans of pet food, leftovers are all in the fridge. I don’t use margarine or spreads and with butter try to keep a system of keeping 5-10 packs in the tiny freezer section at the top of the fridge (along with freezer packs for school lunches), 1 defrosting in the fridge and one being used out in a china butter dish (apart from in the heat of the summer when that’s in the fridge too).

        Long answer! Hope it helps!

        • I’m curious about the egg thing- I can’t seem to break my habits. If I buy fresh eggs, I usually buy a ton, because it’s such a long drive. I can keep them for months in the fridge with no problems. Is it the same at room temperature, or do people usually just buy 6 or 12 eggs at a time?

          I have a regular-sized American fridge, and I live alone! I do prefer to be able to buy just what I want to eat, but it doesn’t always work for me these days. The good farmer’s market is only once a week, and there isn’t time to drive to the store and cook after work. Lately I am happier to make whatever I bought on Sunday than delay dinner. I have to keep dry stuff in the fridge too because of critters and not having a pantry. I have 3-4 5# bags of flour in the fridge/freezer right now, along with 3 or 4 pounds of butter and a couple dozen eggs. Having the space to store it means I can buy it on sale and/or go out of my way to get exactly what I want. If I were picking it up at the corner market, I’d be paying about twice as much for most stuff. I also like being able to cook ahead for holidays, and the dog eats fresh food. I consider myself a die-hard minimalist, but I’m pretty attached to my fridge space. It would cost me time and money not to have it.

          Simplicity is nice, though, and the actual working food (the meat and veggies for that week) I try to keep organized and close to the front.

          • If you buy fresh eggs rather than grocery store eggs, they are bound to keep a lot longer even outside the fridge. I lived in the French countryside with a host family for a while. They kept their fresh eggs out as well as most of their fruits and vegetables, mustard, and butter. Also, the whole keeping oil and nuts in the fridge thing is even weird to me and I am American.

  51. I really like the idea of having a smaller refrigerator. It really forces us to keep organized and use everything in it. I never understood getting a huge one for the house and then having another in the garage. It’s just too much. My grandparents did that and I could never reach things in the back or on the top shelf. They were constantly throwing out leftovers and expired condiments. I like my small refrigerator, thank you. :)
    Mel@MySunshine´s last post…the quiet

  52. I’m so glad I am not the only one whose fridge is mostly empty at the end of the week! I have always worried I was doing something wrong, not buying enough food for my family or something (even though we never go hungry), when I would see others’ fridges just overflowing with food. But I agree with you – the less food you fill it with, the easier it is to see what leftovers need to be eaten up.
    Amy´s last post…Grace, works, and chocoloate chip cookies

  53. Your fridge looks gigantic to me, but then we also have a huge fridge!!! My mom in law passes on her old appliances so I can’t complain… She ousted her fridge for herself and could never get the too rot shut it was so full!!! but for me it seems massive and all we keep in it is um… butter and a bottle of milk and my husbands condiments – he loves condiments!!! When my husband and I stayed in Rome for a month or two – years ago – we just learnt to buy fresh on our daily wandering and we never need to stock things in the fridge. The habit stuck. I just can’t think why I would want to eat any vegetable that I could eat fresh on the day or after it has been stored in the fridge and so is “fresh” after a week or two. We have a tiny garden but grow all our salad in it… just pick the lettuce leaves we want for dinner… a huge fridge just kind of leaves me wondering what people are really eating.
    se7en´s last post…Sunday Snippet: 365 Days With Spurgeon – A GiveAway…

  54. I love your story! We searched for a while for our fridge too – we wanted a french door fridge with bottom freezer. But in the end, we got a traditional freezer-on-top, but a great price. After 6 years, I would not want a smaller fridge, not at all. Sometimes it’s a puzzle in there! We have a lot of condiments, I guess? We use them. We eat a lot of fresh food too. . .but I do have a big pantry. . .hm.. I’m going to think about this. I must have a really different system. We usually have deliberate leftovers – that’s what we eat for lunches.
    Margo´s last post…Dark Days: Macaroni & Romanesco

  55. I laughed hard when I saw your dent. We too have the same dent which was put there by the instillation guys who knew not what they were doing. But lucky for me, that dent meant they gave me back about $600, got to love that.. so I too smile when I see my dent :)

    Maddie

  56. Rachel, I love seeing your pictures of your remodel. Your house is looking beautiful and so homey. We are bulidng a house and will get to move in a matter of months and will need to buy all new appliances so this post has come at a great time for me! Please keep your home ownership/home remodeling tips and posts coming, I enjoy looking through them and flagging things that I want to keep in mind once we are in our new home.

    I find your blog so enjoyable and informative, I feel like I have learned so much in the few months that I have been reading it. Keep it coming!

  57. I JUST went through a fridge purchase! We live in New England and our 18 year old fridge gave up the ghost as a result of the extensive power outage we had at the end of October. Like you, I did lots of research. We really didn’t want an ice maker because we need the freezer space. We ended up with a stainless steel side-by-side with a black cabinet, very much like yours! It’s a Kenmore and I use plain hot (very hot) water from a well-wrung out rag followed quickly by a dry dish towel. Works wonders. This trick works just as well on stainless steel or chrome sink fixtures. The special cleaner from Sears really makes the refrigerator shine, however, and seems to stave off fingerprints for a little while. Don’t need to use it every day, though. Your house looks fabulous! I’m glad you found something that fits your budget AND your kitchen! I always buy scratch n dent if I can…..it’ll get that way anyhow, might as well enjoy the discount!

  58. The Kitchen looks beautiful so far…makes me want to stop renting and purchase a house ; )…well maybe one day. As far a refrigerators go, I purchased my last one in our then house (we have since downsized) in a rush and regretted it! It was a huge GE stainless steel…beautiful but difficult to keep clean because of the size. We also kept a lot of fresh produce in it and cook often so it was always full and in need of cleaning! (kind of like our fridge in our rental now!)
    Christyn@StrivingforSimple´s last post…6 Things To Do With Your Family This Christmas Season

  59. Your kitchen is beautiful.

    I’ve been reading your Simple Blogging book I bought a few weeks ago and am so enjoying it. I’ll be writing a review for it soon!

    It’s given me a lot to think about, Rachel, and is such a bargain for the amount of work you put into it and the hefty amount of pages there are (hefty for an e-book, that is:)

  60. Rachel, so happy there is another who agrees with my “smaller fridge” philosophy! We are a family of three and I see no need to have a very large fridge. I feel I have a better handle on what’s actually in it. Just another example of how we Americans have grown so accustomed to everything that is “super-sized”

  61. …and we also got our “little fridge” from a scratch and dent. I will say that we do have a separate freezer in our basement, which I find very helpful for purchasing organic meat in bulk, freeing orange juice (we drink so much)and homemade soups, etc. Maybe that’s why I can tolerate a much smaller fridge :-)

  62. Rachel, your fridge will run more efficiently if you fill those empty shelves. It takes more energy to cool air than it does to cool a liquid or a solid. Every time you open the fridge door you lose that cooled air. I fill some large containers with water and keep them in the fridge and freezer when the shelves aren’t full.
    Juice´s last post…Chloe Visits The Shore

    • ^ She’s right. I’m always explaining to friends that their food isn’t warm-blooded, so keeping a fridge full actually uses less energy. I have a tiny kitchen, so I keep pastas and flours in my fridge even though they don’t need chilling.
      Greenie´s last post…The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Sherman Alexie) 4*

    • Oh good! I was scrolling through all these comments to make sure someone let you know about that. I know your fridge is beautiful empty but it’s also costing you extra money. The large containers of water are not as pretty but will save you energy in the long run!

  63. I have to say… I am in love with the inside of your fridge! I cannot seem to accomplish this! New focus to my goal :)

  64. We also need to have a counter depth refrigerator because of a back door. We have no use (and no water supply) for water dispenser nor ice maker and this has been difficult. I am resigned to wasting space for icemaker but refuse to have a water dispenser on the front. The freezer on the bottom is also a must. The fact that we may have to spend have over $2000 has us keeping our energy inefficient model.
    One salesperson told us, because of the back door, we should make sure the door opens toward the back door not away from it. I think he may be right because of our counter location. Do you find the left side of your frig more inconvenient?

  65. What is the actual size of that fridge, Rachel? This is a timely post, because we too are in line for another fridge. We wanted stainless steel, also.

    The one we have lasted twelve years, and looks to be about 3/4th the size of the one you have. That water dispenser adds size to it. We have a water filter and just fill a container with water every day.

    We bought a floor model before we bought this one, and it went out within a year. However, it was replaced with a brand new one that burned out within 5 years. I wouldn’t get that brand again.

    Our fridge now is a small basic one, but we also have an upright freezer that we’ve had for going on 18 yrs. Besides some meat, we keep frozen veggies, org. grains, bread, nuts, etc. in it. very useful appliance to have.

    But the moral of this story is I like your dented fridge, because it’s probably going to give as good a service as a new one, adds character and didn’t cost as much. Very savvy idea :)

    I like the way your place is shaping up, and those long windows are quite different.

  66. We opted for an oversized built in model with cabinet panels on the door so you really don’t see the fridge or how big it is (3ft wide and 7ft tall…) It’s all fridge and we have a small chest freezer around the corner in the laundry room. We have two kids (one teenage boy who eats like 3 adults) and we shop only once a week. Yes we very likely could manage just fine with a smaller model and more frequent shopping, but because our is shallow and wide I find nothing ever gets pushed to the back and forgotten. There are 8 crispers which at first seemed like way too many. Then I stopped thinking of them as places to store only fruit and veggies and everything became more orgnaized. Here we get our milk in bags (which you slide into a plastic jug and clip the top corner off for pouring) not cartons or big plastic jugs. Now two crispers are dedicated to storing bags of milk (12 litres/wk). One for “dinner veggies”, one for salad veggies, one for my husband’s organic fruit (kept separate to avoid cross contamination leading to an alergic reation). We have one for lunch meats, one for all cheeses that are open/in use, and another for all the extra unopened cheese bought on sale. By the time I tuck away all those items in their designated drawer the rest of the fridge remains relatively clear and organized for yogurts, eggs, juice, condiments and clearly labelled leftovers which get used because they are right in your face. Having a designated drawer for so many items also means nobody ever stands staring into the fridge and asking where the ___ is. Last night my son was making himself a caesar salad as a snack and I heard from the kitchen, “hey, who put the parmesean cheese in the wrong drawer?”

  67. Your kitchen looks great! I’ve tried lots of cleaners for stainless steel til I heard that WD-40 keeps it fingerprint free and doesn’t need to be used that often. It works great!

  68. Silly question, but most counter depth fridges I’ve seen are still 25+ cubic feet of storage.

    Is it really smaller in volume?

  69. We live in the Netherlands and have a typically sized refrigerator for this area. It is hidden in with the cabinets and is raised above a cabinet. So while it is probably only 4 feet tall, it’s sits at the right level for opening and reaching in. I too love being able to see everything; my only complaint is that there is no room to keep my bread dough, so the loaner refrigerator given to us by my husband’s company and placed in the garage does get some use after all.
    Tracey´s last post…Five Minute Friday: Tired