Side-Opening Above-The-Fridge Cabinet




About: I build, I write, I film... Mostly a woodworker.

The last major project in our kitchen renovation is the cabinet above the fridge. This is NOT going to be an Ikea cabinet, it's going to be a custom-built side-opening cabinet.

Step 1: Video Build

If you like, you can watch a video build of this project.

Otherwise, read on!

Step 2:

We used to have a cabinet above the old fridge and we basically never used it, because it was just so hard to access. It was the same depth as the other upper cabinets, so reaching into it was just a chore. So why not put an extra deep cabinet above the fridge? That is the typical approach, but we don't want that in our kitchen, because we feel it would be too obstructive in our layout.

Our kitchen is a galley layout, so the fridge is NOT located beside a wall. In fact, our fridge is exposed along its right side, since it is located at the crossroads of our house. The Fridge is right beside the opening into the Living/Dining room from the kitchen.

My idea was to build a side-opening cabinet and install it above the fridge. From the front, it would look like an ordinary kitchen cabinet. But the side of the cabinet would be completely open, and I would build a drawer to go there.
We would access the drawer from below, so one side of the drawer would need to be very low. The end of the the drawer would be attached to a cabinet door. When it's closed, it would look like an ordinary cabinet, just with a handle on the end.

Step 3: It's a Box!

I took measurements of the space above the fridge, and plugged those into Sketchup while designing the cabinet, and then used that to make the cabinet box. This is just a plywood box. it doesn't need to be terribly attractive, as the front is getting (fake) doors, and the end is getting a drawer+door

I wanted some "fake" doors on the front of the cabinet. That is, I wanted the front of the cabinet to look like the rest of the kitchen - as if it had doors on it. Instead of going through the work of making two complete doors, I opted for a simpler approach. I cut a large piece of cherry veneer plywood -- the same used to make the door panels -- and laminated that to the front of the cabinet. I then glued on solid cherry pieces in the shape of doors. (These are, of course, designed to match the doors on the rest of our kitchen cabinets.)

In the last photo you can see the finished cabinet with the faux doors on the front. I applied three coats of polyurethane to the front and two coats to the rest of the cabinet, both inside and out.

Step 4: Build a Drawer

I then built this weirdly shaped drawer and fitted in place with soft-close full extension drawer slides. The drawer is just a fancy box with glue, butt joints, and nails and screws holding it together. Therefore, I did not take any photos of the build process.

It has a very low side, because that is how we will be accessing the drawer. It is a wall hung cabinet, which we'll be mostly reaching up into it from below, so the front facing side really needs to be low.

I then went on and built a regular cherry cabinet door to cover the end of the cabinet -- this is the front of the the drawer. And in the final photo, you can see the finished unit, ready to be installed.

I detailed my method for making Shaker-Style Cherry Cabinet doors in this Linked Instructable.

Step 5: Installation

The cabinet was carried into the kitchen and placed on top of the fridge. I had some blocks placed that lifted it to the desired height. I then used long clamps to fasten the cabinet to the neighbouring (already installed) cabinet. I got it into proper position and tightened up the clamps. Then I screwed the two cabinets together using four screws. I then had to stick my head inside the new cabinet and fasten it to the wall with 3" constructions screws sunk into studs. And finally, the drawer unit could be installed.

Step 6:

Here is an animated GIF that shows how it works.

Step 7: Photo Gallery

Here are some photos of the finished cabinet.

This is the final cabinet in an entire Custom Ikea Kitchen project at our house. We renovated our kitchen using Ikea Cabinets, but I built custom cherry door and drawer fronts to go with the cabinets.

I have posted a few instructables of the project, but not the entire project. There are more details on my website: I also have a YouTube Playlist of videos (11 so far) showing parts of the process.

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    12 Discussions


    3 months ago on Step 7

    What an awesome idea! Might a swinging door somehow built into an existing cabinet also be a possibility?(though not quite as functional as this). Kudos!

    1 reply

    Reply 3 months ago

    I suppose you could hack an existing cabinet to add a side door. But you'd really have to work on preserving the strength of the cabinet as you open up the side. On the other hand, you could fairly easily add a slide out to the FRONT of an existing cabinet. I did that years ago with an under-sink cabinet:


    Question 3 months ago

    I see you have wood above the slide out drawer, but you don't have any on the front of the rest of your cabinets are you going to put trim or something above the rest of them!
    Great space saving idea!

    1 answer

    Reply 3 months ago

    Yup. Kitchen is almost done, but a few final touches like that need to be added


    3 months ago on Step 7

    What a perfectly practical idea! That is the best design for use of that space I have seen. Good thinking.


    3 months ago on Step 1

    Great idea for using the hard to reach space above fridge. The only thing I would add is painting the back of the sliding back of the drawer a bright orange so no one walks through the archway to the kitchen when the drawer is open.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 months ago

    that seems to be a common suggestion and one we have considered...