Three Clever Ways to Add Storage Around a Refrigerator

Three ways to customize the outside of your refrigerator with additional storage!

I love finding smart ways to add storage around the house, especially in the kitchen! I really enjoy figuring out ways to make better use of an underutilized spot.  

One of the first DIY projects I worked on in our old kitchen was adding a DIY enclosure around the fridge. This makeover will go a long way to making a kitchen feel more custom and updated. 

PLUS, there are so many ways to add storage when you “build in” a fridge! I’m sharing the ways I’ve done just that. 

1. Add or extend the cabinet above a refrigerator. 

If your fridge doesn’t have any cabinetry, adding a cabinet at the top with side panels will give it a custom touch. 

In our last kitchen, we already had a cabinet above but it was the same depth as the rest of the cabinets: 

short cabinet above refrigerator

Not super useful when you have to climb on top of the fridge to get to it! Ha!

extended cabinet above fridge

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I was able to move the original cabinet doors to the one I built. 

gray peppercorn base cabinets

If you purchased your cabinets from a big box store, you may be able to find matching side panels to match. 

If not, use a 4×8 foot wood panel cut in half to create your own! (This will always be cheaper than buying the “matching” panels.)

You can add a refrigerator enclosure if it’s against a wall, placed in between cabinets or standing alone.  

2. What to do with the space above the fridge?

If you add a cabinet above, congrats — you have some new storage space! 🙂

pan storage above refrigerator

Those organizers are expandable, so you can stretch them for bigger pans, or close it up for skinny boards. You can still find them at IKEA, but this expandable option is similar. 

In our current kitchenette, we used a sheet of plywood for the side panels:

wood panels around fridge enclosure

I saved more than $100 by using this instead of the finished panels that match the cabinetry. 

We purchased a side by side fridge for this spot (they are SO much cheaper than the French door options!) and after it was installed, we had a good ten inches of open space between the top and the cabinet above.

I knew I could make that space useful, so I started by nailing some scrap wood into the sides as support strips: 

wood supports for shelf

And then I cut down some wood that fit under those supports to close it off and create a shelf. 

My original plan was to add a piece of wood on the front that we could flip up and access the inside of our new shelf. But I couldn’t figure out the right hinges to make it work. 

So I went back to my scrap pile and decided to finish if off by making a box I could slide in to cover all the ugly parts (you could see the hardware under the cabinet and the supports I had just installed). 

I nailed in a couple more scrap parts to along the back and sides to attach my new insert to: 

DIY shelf above fridge

I painted the box before sliding it in and nailing, and then trimmed out the front to cover the rough edges. 

Now that awkward space not only looks better, but is a useful spot!:

small shelf above refrigerator

I still need to fill in some gaps around the trim, but this little detail is almost done!

3. Add pretty storage to the side of the refrigerator. 

This is one of my all time favorite kitchen DIY projects!

Enclosing the refrigerator creates a wall if it’s open on one side…and after living with ours for a couple years, I wanted to utilize that empty vertical space. 

fridge with cutting board storage on side

I LOVE this wall now! It’s such a sweet little detail in our kitchen, and it’s USEFUL. I love when form and function meet up so beautifully!

I created little shelves with leather strips to keep the cutting boards from falling. For a little decorative detail, I hung scrap wood on the back for a shiplap look, but you can also use beadboard, wallpaper, an accent color…whatever! 

On the basement enclosure, I had that same empty wall that was calling out for something. I grabbed a pile of pretty cutting boards I’ve had in our storage room and decided on a way to display them. 

By the way…yes I have too many cutting boards. I KNOW. 😂 But we always grab one for entertaining or when we’re having snacks and watching TV. 

I decided to hang them on this wall for easy access. You can use cup hooks to hang cutting boards, but I was a little extra and used a few of the antiqued brass knobs I installed on our cabinets. 
using knob as hanger

I drilled pilot holes into the wood panel, then screwed the knobs in. 

They are super secure and hold all of our cutting boards: 

cutting board wall

I love the brass detail! 

The wood tone looks great against that gray, and it ties in nicely with the new floor (that I still need to show you!) and the wood accents on our entertainment center: 

cutting board wall by fridge
I hung most of the boards with leather string I had in my craft stash: 
leather string on cutting board

There you go! I hope these give you some ideas for your own refrigerators. Who knew they had so much potential? 🙂 

Of course there’s nothing wrong with just leaving them as is, but I love to figure out ways to use unused space. 

Original Post – Thrifty Decor Chick