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How To Make A Refrigerator Fit Under A Cabinet


How to make a refrigerator fit under a cabinet

According to appliance experts, simple adjustments like removing shelves or trimming an inch from the bottom of cabinets often works. “With a little patience and the right modifications, nearly any fridge can fit.” (1)

Did you know over 50% of homes report fridge fit issues? Whether tackling small clearances or major overhangs, success relies on creativity and precision. Removing shelves alone grants flexibility for many styles while trim and panel additions discreetly customize openings. With diligent measuring, careful cutting yields snug fits avoiding pricy alterations. More solutions inside!

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How To Make A Refrigerator Fit Under A Cabinet?

There are several things you can try to make your refrigerator fit under your kitchen cabinets, such as removing shelves from the cabinet above the fridge, trimming an inch or two off the bottom of the cabinet, or adjusting the height of the refrigerator doors or side panels. With some minor modifications, precise measurements, and the right tools, you can usually find a way to make your fridge fit without requiring a full kitchen remodel.

How to Shorten Cabinet Height to Fit an Oversized Refrigerator

Many kitchens have older cabinets that weren’t designed for today’s taller refrigerator styles. Rather than replacing all your cabinets, consider simply trimming an inch or two off the bottom of the cabinet above your fridge. This is a low-cost solution that requires minimal work.

First, use an oscillating multi-tool to carefully cut through the bottom panel or base trim of the cabinet. An oscillating tool makes clean cuts in wood or laminate without splitting the material. For a professional finish, glue on new plywood pieces to cover the cut edge. Then use a ruler and utility knife to neatly score the surface and break off excess wood. Finally, reinforce the bottom edge with pocket hole screws driven into the cabinet sides from inside.

This simple trim allows your big fridge to fit while keeping the same cabinet aesthetics.

Simple fridge mods when it’s too tall for cabinets

Before undertaking major cabinet remodeling, evaluate if slight fridge modifications make it fit instead. Many refrigerator models have removable plastic side panels that serve no purpose other than looks. Removing these panels gains an inch or more of space on each side. Decorative trim pieces around the perimeter can also come off.

Check if your fridge door fronts or “toekick” panels underneath are adjustable too. Sometimes lowering these a couple inches bridges the cabinet-to-fridge gap. Basic fridge tweaks are worth trying since they’re low effort for potentially big clearance gains. Only proceed with cabinet work if minor fridge changes aren’t sufficient.

Low-cost cabinet adjustments for any fridge size

When a fridge is somewhat too tall but not excessively so, start with inexpensive cabinet alterations rather than replacement. Try removing one or two shelves from the cabinet above the fridge. This provides valuable vertical space without the fuss of cutting cabinets.

For a polished look, construct a new partial back panel from leftover wood to disguise where shelves were taken out. Another quick fix is removing just the cabinet doors if losing one shelf isn’t enough clearance.

These simple hacks are low-cost and easy to reverse in case your future fridge happens to be a different height. Only proceed with more extensive cabinet changes if minimal adjustments fail to solve the problem.

Refrigerator relocation tricks inside a small kitchen

Before considering major renovations like moving walls or replacing cabinets, thoroughly explore all fridge relocation possibilities within the existing footprint. (2) Empty corners and unused wall spaces are ideal candidates for a fridge move. A corner spot near the kitchen entrance can feel more open than one tucked away. Getting the fridge off a shared wall also enables creative counter layouts like an L or U-shape to maximize workspace.

Relocation may be as simple as rotating the fridge on its side or putting it flat against the wall rather than leaving space behind it. Think through every angle to find a new fridge home that better utilizes the space you have rather than tearing things out for a fixed solution.

DIY cabinet shelf removal for immediate fridge access

If gaining just a few more inches of access to the top shelf of your fridge solves your height dilemma, minor shelf removal is the way to go. Start by removing cabinet doors if possible so they don’t get in the way. Then look for the screws or nails fastening each shelf piece into the cabinet box frame. Typically they’ll be along the cabinet sides near the front and back. Take out one or two from the top down for increased fridge clearance. And if extra space is still needed, try angling shelves out from the cabinet after removing them.

This simple process takes minutes and lets you defer other costs and work until entirely necessary. Replacing shelves when upgrading fridges is no hassle.

Measuring fridge and cabinets the right way for a perfect fit

How to make a refrigerator fit under a cabinet

Proper measurements are key for easy fridge installation later. Jot down specifics like interior fridge width, depth, and door/handle clearance needs. Note cabinet opening sizes and positions as well as power outlet and vent locations. Verify measurements with a reliable tape measure, and re-check before making purchases or starting demolition. Photos provide a visual reference too. Note stud wall positions for bolting installation braces.

With precise dimensions on-hand, the installation process goes smoothly instead of requiring frustrating re-works or scrap materials. Double checking measurements saves later hassle and ensures your new appliance fits seamlessly on the first try.

Fridge and cabinet hacks professionals use every day

Experienced contractors know all kinds of tricks for challenging installations in tight spaces. Sometimes it’s more practical to modify existing structures than replace them entirely. Cabinets can be split apart, for example removing one side panel to shave off vital inches.

Extending an existing cabinet face frame with finish trim is less work than swapping out whole doors. Contractors also wedge in shelves, dividers and organizers to gain every bit of usable space. Metal cutoffs and scraps find new purpose with bends and attachments. An angle grinder transforms stock into customizations like notches or extensions.

With the right tools and outside-the-box thinking, tradesmen turn limitations into functional solutions.

Finding the fridge type that maximizes small space

Compact kitchens often require innovative fridge choices. Undercounter and mini-fridge models integrate nicely above low cabinetry. Slide-in and flat styling saves space by removing front panels that jut out. French door and bottom-freezer layouts allow shelves up top while bottom access and swinging doors optimize organization. Narrow 24″ or 26″ widths squeeze into tight spots better than standard 36″. Built-in panels dissolve appliances into surrounding cabinetry.

Stainless finishes blend different cabinet materials. Configurations like side-by-sides pair compartments. Doors that open less than 90-degrees tighten the footprint. With so many space-saving innovations, today’s fridges accommodate galley, island, or rental kitchens with swift shopping.


Fitting a fridge under cabinets ain’t always easy but with some know-how it’s sure doable. As seen, minor tweaks go far like trimming off an inch of bottom or removing shelves. Taking measurements proper matters much for a smooth install. If that don’t work, rearranging could be your best bet. With a set of plans and basic skills, even complex jobs aren’t too tough.

Whether DIY style or calling in a helper, these tricks of the trade level up tight spaces for all sizes of chillers. With some elbow grease put in, fridges find happy new homes. Give a holler in the comments if you got other questions!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does my refrigerator cabinet need to be replaced?

It’s often not necessary to fully replace cabinets. Simple modifications like removing shelves, adding plywood pieces, or trimming off an inch from the bottom of an upper cabinet or refrigerator cabinet surround can help a fridge fit without complete replacement.

What materials are best for cabinet adjustments?

Common materials used for minor cabinet adjustments include plywood, particle board, and wood trim pieces. These allow cabinet retrofitting through additions like false backs, shelves, side panels, and cabinet door modifications. Using matching materials maintains a consistent look.

When should I hire a general contractor for the fridge installation?

Most simple installations requiring only minor cabinet tweaks can be handled DIY. But for major kitchen remodels, extensive cabinet work, structural changes, or installations that involve plumbing/electrical, a general contractor’s expertise is recommended for compliance, efficiency and proper handling of permits if needed.

How can I prepare cabinets before removing the doors?

Before removing cabinet doors, protect cabinet interiors by covering shelves and surfaces with furniture covers or blankets. In addition, remove small delicate items, and secure tall items from possible tipping. Photo documentation is also wise for reference points when reassembling later.

What safety precautions should be taken for cabinet adjustments?

Basic safety gear like eye and ear protection should be used during any cutting or power tool use. It’s also wise to turn off electricity if working near outlets and cover outlets not in use. Work in well-ventilated areas, and have a first aid kit and fire extinguisher on hand in the unlikely event issues arise during DIY projects.

Can I build a refrigerator cabinet surround instead of replacing cabinets?

Yes, a custom-built cabinet surround provides flexibility. Using full depth panels allows designing to the fridge dimensions. Face frames, door hinges and easy-close soft-close hinges provide a finished look. Adjustable shelving means future-proofing for various fridge sizes. Surrounds integrate well when built flush and with matching finishes.

Can I trim an inch off the bottom of upper cabinets?

Trimming cabinets is usually preferable to full replacement if done carefully. Use a power miter saw or oscillating multi-tool to cut 1-2 inches off cabinet bottoms, then cover raw edges with wood fillers or plywood strips. Be sure to leave adequate clearance under the cabinet for ventilation around the fridge.

How do I properly measure fridge and cabinet openings?

Take multiple measurements of fridge specs like width, depth, handle clearance, etc. Measure inside cabinet opening width and height, also wall-to-wall distance between cabinets. Use a metal tape measure and double check. Photos provide a visual reference point. Proper measurements result in an efficient installation process.

What home improvement projects most commonly need fridge upgrades?

Common projects where fridges are replaced include kitchen remodels, bathroom remodels involving moved plumbing walls, finished basement conversions into living space including a new laundry/furniture area, and whole home renovations or built ins requiring new kitchen layouts.

Can removing cabinet doors create ventilation issues?

Removing doors alone rarely causes issues if the opening remains shallow, around 6-8 inches. Deeper removed sections may require adding partial panels, cross wires or adjustable shelves to maintain ventilation/circulation around the fridge without blocking intake/outtake vents.

Are there alternatives to cutting cabinets?

Options include building a face frame extension, adding side panels to narrow the opening, removing a cabinet side/rear panel to shave off inches, or creative shelf/ organizer placement to better use awkward vertical spaces. It’s often best to explore moderate changes before drastic cutting.

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