Help With a Stupid Cabinetry Problem

So… when my late husband and I moved to my current abode, we did an extensive kitchen remodel. Among the projects was cabinet replacement. My husband was very handy, so we did virtually all the work ourselves. It looks great.

Unfortunately, we keyed the horizontal measurement for the bottom of our cabinets to the height of the refrigerator. From floor to the bottom of the cabinet for the refrigerator opening is just a hair over 68 1/2". You can see where this is going.

The existing refrigerator is 68-ish". and is (!!!) 18 years old. New refrigerators with the features I want are all 70" tall. The day is coming when I will need to address this issue.

I have 3 choices, best I can tell:

  1. Buy a refrigerator that’s under 68 1/2". The problem here is, the choices are extremely limited and not what I want.

  2. Rip the over-the-fridge cabinet out completely and then any refrigerator I want will fit. What I don’t like about this option is the loss of cabinet space, plus it’s going to look weird. I suppose I can simply add a shelf, but I’d really prefer something more permanent.

  3. Modify the cabinet to remove the bottom 2-3 (maybe 4?) inches. This is the option that appeals most to me, but finding someone who can do it… are there such people anymore? I believe it would be difficult for a cabinet maker to match a newly-built cabinet to the existing units. And why make a new one when an existing one need only be modified? The cabinets are high quality, all wood, so no one would be working with press board or OSB.

Any clever clogs out there who have a better idea? Thanks!

FYI, my mother chose the second option of simply removing the over-the-refrigerator cabinet. Not much was stored there, so we’re not missing much. I think you are correct that modifying the cabinet is going to be expensive or difficult.

One possible option; buy a new cabinet to put above the refrigerator, either one exactly matching or just close enough that any difference is minimal.

Thanks, and your mother’s and my situation is exactly the same. I so rarely use the items in that over-the-fridge cabinet it won’t be missed for that reason, only its outward appearance in the kitchen. One way or another, that cabinet is going to have to come down.

Cut you link to a photo of the cabinets to see the construction? Exactly how much do you need to cut it down?

I’ll see what I can do. I need to sign up for a hosting account first. Friends are coming over for an early dinner, but maybe by tomorrow morning.

I’ll probably cut it by about 4 inches, so when they come out with the new 72" tall refrigerators, I’ll be ready!

Obviously you must dig down instead…

Just kidding. Why can’t the cabinets be raised? Do they extend all the way to the ceiling already?

This happened to me as well - measure once, buy new fridge, and… why didn’t I measure twice? D’oh!!

I left the cabinet, but cut off the bottom of it - now the cabinet opens to the top of the fridge, no bottom shelf anymore. It looks fine, and you can actually store stuff on the top of the fridge, behind the cabinet doors. It’s warm there, but there is storage for the right items.

It was a long time ago, but I seem to remember that cutting out the bottom shelf of the cabinet wasn’t too difficult.

We have exactly that same problem. I’m going to take the cabinet down and see if I can modify it. Otherwise we’ll probably get a new cabinet. All the previous owner(s) stored up there was their extensive liquor bottle collection anyway.

I think I’d go for option 2. Surely there has to be some nice options you can put on top of the fridge to make it look nice. Like some wooden crates or something.

I have wire crates on mine. I actually prefer these over the cabinets because I can just take the crates down and grab whatever I need from them. In other words, that space is actually usable unlike the cabinet space where I would need a step ladder.

It’s actually comforting to realize others are struggling with this same issue! It was something we simply never foresaw, tall refrigerators…

@Grrr, I think when I post pics you’ll understand why that will look weird. At least it will to my eye. I may end up going that way all the same, but I won’t like it.

I know cabinets can be modified to accommodate a new space because my husband did it at our last house when we bought a bigger stove. But that wonderful option is, alas, no longer available.

We have the same issue. I just want the fridge to last until the house sells, as the new behemoths won’t fit in that space. Not only the height is a problem, but also width and depth, it seems. A new one can’t protrude much past the counter depth because there is a French door right next to it. Well, I won’t have to deal with it.

Cutting the cabinet down to size is pretty easy. It’s the door design that may take some creativity if it’s an inset panel. It might involve cutting the insert in 3 pcs and removing the middle.

My brother had the exact same issue as you. I cut the cabinet out for him. But he was already planning to do a complete remodel within the year anyways. Turned out fantastic.

I had the same issue with a shelf and just moved it up.

Modifying the existing cabinet would be quite easy with the right tools if you have or can borrow them. The biggest potential issue would be the doors as Magiver pointed out.

Raise the over the fridge cabinet the 2" or so needed and use molding to fill in any gaps created. That is a simple way and fairly cheap and easy and will look fine.

Post a picture for more detailed advice.

My parents did option 3 a few years ago. There was some trim on the cabinet that could be cut. I forget if we looked up “carpenter” or “handyman” to do it but it was do-able, and you can’t even tell.

We just had a carpenter in to do exactly this. He used a flush cut saw to trim the bottom couple inches off the cabinet, cut down the doors, and reattached the bottom of the cabinet. He wasn’t cheap, but he did a great job.

One tip: on our fridge, the top of the door is about 2.5 inches higher than the body of the fridge. Not a problem as far as fitting the fridge under the newly raised cabinet. But you when I open the cabinet doors, they just barely clear the top edge of the fridge door. I hadn’t thought about that, and I’m lucky that there is just enough clearance to open all the way.

And don’t forget you’ll have to raise the front of the fridge 1/4 to 1/2 inch higher than the back so that the doors will close by themselves. So make sure you allow enough room for all these factors (if they apply).

Remove the cabinet, then get a new fridge. Then you can forget the cabinet or just set the cabinet on top of the fridge.

Yeah, it will not all line up, but if you have the room between the fridge, cabinet and ceiling you are good to go and can figure out if you want to try to saw the cabinet down. A good circular saw can do that.

You will probably just say that it’s fine.

Like NIKE said, just do it.

Is there anywhere else the fridge will fit? When It came time for a new fridge, my family chose option 4. move the fridge to another wall in the kitchen with more room, filled in the old fridge hole with shelves and a slightly shorter than cabinet height console.

Great suggestions, everyone. Thanks for taking the time.

Here’s the promised pic:


@elfkin477, no, there’s no other spot for the fridge, I’m afraid. I’ll have to fit a new one into the available space.

@commasense, good advice indeed. Yours is the route I will most likely take. I plan to err on the side of Even Larger Fridges in the Future, so will probably leave a 3-4" gap between top of new fridge and bottom of cabinet.

Nice kitchen! Is there a pot/pan rack to the right there?