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Our Built-In Fridge Fiasco


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Are you ready for the craziest story I’ve ever written?  I hope so because this gets really wonky.  Almost like there’s a spell on me wonky.  There IS a ghost in our house you know, he’s usually friendly, but I think he was acting up because he liked the old fridge 😥 .  Welcome to our “Built-In Fridge Fiasco”.

It all began back in 2009.  Here’s the kitchen when we moved in.  You can see all the WOOD.  😯    Even the fridge is wood.  Now you know I love wood, but this was crazy.  There was just too much darn wood.

What a beautiful built-in-refrigerator transformation. This 1994 old Sub-Zero refrigerator is replaced with a modern classic kitchen aid stainless steel side by side refrigerator.

*** Some of the links in this post may contain affiliate links for your convenience.  Read full disclosure policy here.

So, when we painted our cabinets I decided to ask my husband if he could spray paint the panels in the Sub Zero refrigerator.  After all, the fridge still worked great, and the panels were removable.  It totally worked and we were actually quite impressed with how great it turned out.  This lasted for years.  I think we had to touch-up the handles twice in the last 7 years, but that was it.

Click HERE for spray paint used.

What a beautiful built-in-refrigerator transformation. This 1994 old Sub-Zero refrigerator is replaced with a modern classic kitchen aid stainless steel side by side refrigerator.

It really blended in nicely with our white & black cabinets, and the mahogany wood tones.

What a beautiful built-in-refrigerator transformation. This 1994 old Sub-Zero refrigerator is replaced with a modern classic kitchen aid stainless steel side by side refrigerator.

“So why change it, Julie?”

Well…25 years is a long time for a fridge.  Here’s a few reasons why I was ready…

  1. It was no longer energy efficient.
  2. Mold was growing underneath and in the crevices (more than I knew).
  3. Fire hazard due to it’s age?  Possibly.
  4. Lack of space inside was driving me crazy.
  5. I was getting tired of the spray painted fridge.
  6. I deserve a nice fridge.
  7. I want a new fridge.

When we decided not to sell our house and stay here, I told my husband that a new fridge was a priority.  I cook a lot and I am in this fridge sometimes 20 times a day.  He totally agreed and didn’t have any problem with getting a new fridge.  I was excited.

We went to Home Depot and told the dude that we had a 1994 built-in Sub Zero refrigerator and we wanted to replace it.  I swear the guy turned white as a sheet and went on and on about how they don’t “do those” and we would have to hire a professional to take it out, and then go from there.  We were totally bummed.  I looked on-line and quickly realized that he was correct.  Well, kind of.

What a beautiful built-in-refrigerator transformation. This 1994 old Sub-Zero refrigerator is replaced with a modern classic kitchen aid stainless steel side by side refrigerator.

He was right that they are tough to remove, but he was wrong about having to hire a professional.  Luckily, there are DIY videos on-line that take you through the process of removing an old built-in refrigerator.  It was quite a process, but we got it out of there in a few hours.

What a beautiful built-in-refrigerator transformation. This 1994 old Sub-Zero refrigerator is replaced with a modern classic kitchen aid stainless steel side by side refrigerator.

We were very excited when we realized it was actually on wheels and we could wheel it out.  That was until we got to a doorway by our laundry room that was too short.  This thing weighed well over 400 lbs.  There was just no way my husband and I could get this beast out of the house.  So, we left it in our hall, and that night we researched where to find the most affordable cool  fridge.  Mind you, we really didn’t know at this point that a “regular” fridge wouldn’t work.  We were being very naive.  We figured we could “DIY frame in” the fridge and it would all be fine.

While researching and measuring we FINALLY realized that a “regular” fridge just would not fit.  You see, the Sub Zero built-in fridge is not very “deep”.  It’s only 24 inches deep.  So, a regular fridge would stick out way too far and not go up high enough.  We thought we might have caught a break when we thought a “counter-depth” would work, but those still only go 28 inches deep.  That would mean that our fridge would stick out four inches, plus the handles.  As you can see above, our island is right there and we don’t have that kind of space.  Besides, it would really look odd in such a tight space.

What a beautiful built-in-refrigerator transformation. This 1994 old Sub-Zero refrigerator is replaced with a modern classic kitchen aid stainless steel side by side refrigerator.

So…we went to Best Buy to look at built-in refrigerators.  Holy moly.  They were so gorgeous I swear I could live inside one of those.  Then I looked at the price tag.  It was quite steep and I really didn’t want to spend $14,000 on a refrigerator.  That is just insane.  After a talk with the sales woman, she decided to show us the lower priced built-in and it knocked the price down to $8,000.  That was much better, but still a lot for a fridge.

My husband & I had a very long talk and we decided that we really had no other choice.  This fridge had the EXACT MEASUREMENTS of the old.  Oh, and guess what?  Best Buy would remove the old fridge for $15 (what charmers they are  🙄  ).

What a beautiful built-in-refrigerator transformation. This 1994 old Sub-Zero refrigerator is replaced with a modern classic kitchen aid stainless steel side by side refrigerator.

Hold up.  Not so fast to refrigerator euphoria…we still had quite a fiasco to go.

The new built-in fridge was going to take 1 month to build, so probably 4-6 weeks total.  We do have an old fridge in the garage, so I thought no big deal.  I was so wrong.  You guys…by the second week I was so tired of going back and forth for everything.  I had no idea what I was in for.  It was really tiring carrying everything you need for lunches, or everything you need for dinner.  I really got quite cranky.

Then FINALLY!  They called and our fridge was ready.  We set up the delivery day and everything was so perfect.

Hold up.  Back up.  You are not home free yet.

What a beautiful built-in-refrigerator transformation. This 1994 old Sub-Zero refrigerator is replaced with a modern classic kitchen aid stainless steel side by side refrigerator.

The guys spent about an hour figuring out how to get this new fridge into the house.  That ended up working out, but what didn’t was that there was a little molding we needed to move, and the biggest issue, was that the outlet was in the wrong spot.  My heart sank.  There was no way they could set it up without that outlet being there.  The fridge is made to fit directly over the outlet, so we had to hire an electrician to move it over 2 inches (extensions do not work for something like this).  The good news is we had our electric guy here on Monday ($40 bucks-done) and the new delivery set for the following weekend.  That last week our new fridge was in the garage staring at me every single time I wanted a piece of cheese.  Every time I needed milk for my tea.  Every single darn time I would need anything from the fridge in the garage, there it was.  Waiting.

The week went by fast and we were so excited to finally get our fridge.

What a beautiful built-in-refrigerator transformation. This 1994 old Sub-Zero refrigerator is replaced with a modern classic kitchen aid stainless steel side by side refrigerator.

You honestly don’t think that it would be that easy, do you?

Hold up.  Nothing is easy…

They called about 2 hours into the 4 hour window and said their guys were hurt on the job.  At first I was upset, but then realized that the one guy who was here the week before was actually hurt from lifting something.  I was very frustrated, but what could we do?  They only had 2 “teams” and the other team already had their schedule.  So, we scheduled for the following Wednesday.  We were close to 6 weeks without a fridge now.

Wednesday came and I was working from home (like I always do) and I was so ready for the big delivery.  Guess what?  I needed to hold up again.  They called AGAIN and said they were in an accident!  I was so upset at first, and then realized that I was being very selfish.  They really were in an accident.

To be honest, I am so tired of this story, I totally forget when they finally came.  I think it was that Thursday.  Then to top it all off, they scratched our floors, broke our screen door, and told me I was THEIR unlucky charm.  I have no words.

What a beautiful built-in-refrigerator transformation. This 1994 old Sub-Zero refrigerator is replaced with a modern classic kitchen aid stainless steel side by side refrigerator.

Time to let all of that go, and just enjoy our new gorgeous refrigerator (FYI -I bought the blue runner at Target to cover up the scratch, and Best Buy is sending an insurance guy out to access the damage).

What a beautiful built-in-refrigerator transformation. This 1994 old Sub-Zero refrigerator is replaced with a modern classic kitchen aid stainless steel side by side refrigerator.

It fit like a glove.  I didn’t have to do 1 touch-up of black (those cabinets use to be oak so I thought I might).  I’ve had the fridge for over 2 weeks now and I am absolutely in love with it.  Here’s a few reasons why:

  1. The doors open so easily.  Our old one was like pulling on a suction cup.  I can use my pinky to open this one.
  2. Stainless steal look with no smudges.
  3. The cute night light for cookies at 3am.
  4. It’s very bright inside.  I can see everything in the back now!
  5. The handles are so pretty and easy to clean with just a wet kitchen cloth.
  6. The doors clean easily with a cloth they provided.
  7. It’s very big and more than I need space wise.
  8. The ice maker and water dispenser are glorious.
  9. It updates the kitchen in so many ways.
  10. It will never go out of style.
  11. I love my Kitchen Aid mixer, so of course I would love my Kitchen Aid Fridge.

What a beautiful built-in-refrigerator transformation. This 1994 old Sub-Zero refrigerator is replaced with a modern classic kitchen aid stainless steel side by side refrigerator.

It was worth every penny.

What a beautiful built-in-refrigerator transformation. This 1994 old Sub-Zero refrigerator is replaced with a modern classic kitchen aid stainless steel side by side refrigerator.

For those of you interested…I found a few refrigerators on-line for you to look at:

Kitchen Aid Side-by-Side-Counter Depth Refrigerator

Kitchen Aid Side-by-Side Built-in Refrigerator

What a beautiful built-in-refrigerator transformation. This 1994 old Sub-Zero refrigerator is replaced with a modern classic kitchen aid stainless steel side by side refrigerator.

Have I told you how much I love my new refrigerator?

What a beautiful built-in-refrigerator transformation. This 1994 old Sub-Zero refrigerator is replaced with a modern classic kitchen aid stainless steel side by side refrigerator.

Look Mom…my Costco milk fits on that top shelf.

What a beautiful built-in-refrigerator transformation. This 1994 old Sub-Zero refrigerator is replaced with a modern classic kitchen aid stainless steel side by side refrigerator.

Look at these led spot lights.

What a beautiful built-in-refrigerator transformation. This 1994 old Sub-Zero refrigerator is replaced with a modern classic kitchen aid stainless steel side by side refrigerator.

I think this fridge was made for our kitchen.  Wait..it was.  😆

What a beautiful built-in-refrigerator transformation. This 1994 old Sub-Zero refrigerator is replaced with a modern classic kitchen aid stainless steel side by side refrigerator.

My Mom approves and was so happy for me when she recently came to visit.

What a beautiful built-in-refrigerator transformation. This 1994 old Sub-Zero refrigerator is replaced with a modern classic kitchen aid stainless steel side by side refrigerator.

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56 Responses

  1. Dad says:

    You did a great job, this should be a commercial. We paid $10,000 for our first house in Arizona in 1963 Ps#1 Mom use to be taller, Ps#2 I like it that your family is Happy, love, Dad in NY

  2. Pamela Fife says:

    I have a love hate relationship with fridges. I would really have one if I paid 8 grand for it! That takes guts. I would suspect I would need couch therapy if I were forced to pay that because I loved my kitchen too much to move a thing and had no choice. You have kahoona’s honey. But your home is gorgeous and it needed to be kept that way and that built in is the only way you could of went. Those kind of surprises are hard to take. But it is beautiful.

  3. Laura Laskey says:

    Love the new fridge and it looks beautiful in your house – as does everything! But, I always look for your Dad’s comments – he is so funny. Dad in NY – just in case you did not know which Dad. And my favorite of all time – Mom used to be taller. LOLOLOL Your dad needs his own blog. 🙂

  4. Linda of No.Cal. says:

    What a story !! Wait… hold on— what a journey !! Lookin’ good !!
    I envision your 20 trips a day to the garage for food…?
    hmmmmmmmm… I am gonna count the times a day I get in the fridge!!
    You are a great story-teller. ?Linda

  5. Melva says:

    Expensive but totally worth it. The fridge is the lifeline of the kitchen. Congrats on your new “baby”.

  6. Kyle says:

    We have the same set up but the fridge is a few years younger. I am thrilled with you sharing this with us as well! Looks super!

    • Julie says:

      Hey Kyle, I was feeling like we were the only one in this situation, but now I am thinking it’s a common issue. People feel stuck and I did, too. Thanks for stopping by!! -Julie

  7. Jo Ann Smith says:

    Awesome info! I’ve got to face this in the near future! But it’s going to be a fiasco with my husband!??. Your home is beautiful! Enjoy from Ga.

  8. Pat M. says:

    Wow. Happy for you with your new ‘fridge, but if I somehow found a way to spend $8000 on a ‘fridge, I WOULD have to live in it. Not sure I would put that much money into an appliance, but not my money to spend. Congrats ….

    • Julie says:

      Hi Pat! I see what you are saying. Unfortunately, this was the cheapest we could go without ripping out the cabinets. The original owners put that built-in in so it was all we could do.

  9. Dad says:

    I am 83 so don’t think I will start blog, ps I sold appliances for Sears part time in Florida at age 72. Julie is Great with her Blog, for sure. ps Dad in NY.

  10. Judy Chastain says:

    Your new fridge is gorgeous. If I told my hubster we needed one like it, I think he’d have me committed! We had an old Kitchenaid dishwasher, and when it died, we bought a new Kitchenaid. It’s beautiful, and I can stand right beside it and not hear it running! We installed it ourselves, and it took a couple of days. While it was difficult, it was not close to the nightmare you experienced. Your new one made up for it. Good for you for “letting it go.”

  11. Rhonda says:

    Wow, as hubby always say “nothing is easy.” You did it and what an amazing job. Love the pic of you hugging it. Enjoy your writing every morning. Keep up the good work Red??.

  12. Debbie says:

    Great job and a happy ending to your horror story. I know how you feel about your Frig. Got my dream frig. last year and still tell it how much I love it almost every time I go into the kitchen. Enjoy!

  13. Lisa Broussard says:

    So glad you shared your experience about your refrigerator. I also have a sub zero built in frig and separate freezer. I definetly dread the time when I have to change them out. Your stainless frog looks great in your new kitchen

  14. GabiP says:

    Julie, Love your new ‘fridge. It is very similar to the one we bought seven months ago. I only had two requirements: it fit the existing space and the handles were industrial. It was a problem but I got my two wishes! Now, I do have a kitchen sink question for you as we are 16 months from building a new home: is that the only sink you have in your kitchen…the one closest to the fridge in your pics or is there another? If it is the only one…has it been adequate for your family? Appreciate any insight you may have. Love your blog…love your decorating style.

  15. M.e.burke says:

    Gorgeous choice! I too have Kitchenaid stainless steel( not steal) just don’t like the constant wiping off of fingerprints…

    • Julie says:

      Oh geeze! So sorry I know what you mean. The handles on this one are far out so I barely have to wipe it. It’s also finger print proof. I usually see a little something on it every couple days.

  16. Cookie Eddings says:

    Julie–I’m curious. Did Home Depot repair the damage that they made in trying to get your fridge installed?
    Your fridge story went on so long; what patience you have. I would have totally lost it.

    • Julie says:

      Hi Cookie! Oh I lost it a couple times, but I figured it was just a waste of my energy. It was Best Buy and their insurance guy is coming out. He is going to be shocked. It’s a huge long scratch. And we will need a new door.

  17. carol bittner says:

    Oh Julie, what a story! Can’t imagine waiting all that time; must have been extremely frustrating. I’m sure I would have been a very unhappy momma! The new fridge looks beautiful; inside and out. Hi to Mom (she’s so darn cute). Love Dad in NY’s comments ( he has the greatest sense of humor). I really think your blog could become a movie or maybe tv sitcom.

    • Julie says:

      That is so funny, Carol. I was just watching Raymond with my Mom when she visited. Her and my Dad are similar to them where Rick and I are a bit quieter Maybe more like Lucy and Ricky. ? Thanks for stopping by have a great Sunday!

  18. ColleenB.~ Tx. says:

    Cool!
    So happy for you Julie that you got the refrigerator you wanted but just sorry you had to go through all the fiasco but at least that is all over with and you can now enjoy your new Kitchen Aide. Don’t you just love the new lighting they have in the newer models compared to the old models?
    We had to get a new fridge just a couple years ago; French doors with freezer on bottom and love it more each day.
    I absolutely love the Kitchen Aide appliances as well.
    Love the picture you hugging your new ‘Big Girls’ toy. :}
    Guys have their Big Boy toys and we gals have ours. :}
    Your mother is adorable.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

    • Julie says:

      Hey Colleen! Yaaaas!! The lights are amazing. That is one of the first things I noticed. I could actually see all my pickles back there! I like the night light too on the ice dispenser. I have a night light in every room. I can’t do pitch black. I get spooked lol. Have a great Sunday, girl.

  19. Jane says:

    OMG! You win the award for endurance! What a story! I cannot imagine going without a fridge for so long. Our fridge died a few years ago and we had to wait about a week for the new one to be delivered. We had 2 ice chests on the kitchen floor and the grandkids were visiting at the same time. I feel your pain but your new fridge looks AMAZING! Enjoy!

    • Julie says:

      Oh my goodness, Jane! We have a fridge in the garage, so it was a pain, but I ate less, lol! Thanks for stopping in! XO

  20. Ivory says:

    Wow Julie, I love this story. For sure, you are a better gal than I would have been, because I would have been calling and talking to someone about taking something of mt fridge for all they put me thought. You are a trooper for sure! Your new fridge is fabulous. Hope you are having a great weekend.

  21. Sarah Vogel says:

    You should totally send this story in to KitchenAid!!! WOW!!! By the way, what color and finish did you use to paint your kitchen cabinets? They are gorgeous too!!!

  22. Amy says:

    Thanks for sharing!! ❤️ Ur dad is so cute!! And ur mom!! Thanks reds!

  23. Dad says:

    I was a Red Head at one time, love, Dad in NY

  24. Vickie says:

    I have laughed at this whole story! One calamity after another. I know it was not funny to you at the time. Hope your floor gets fixed also. You must get your humor from your dad!! Your mom looks so cute too! Thanks for some fun reading!

  25. va in nc says:

    I have this project coming up . could us the model number or deminsions pls….love kitchen aid products. tks

  26. carol garcia says:

    You have a beautiful kitchen and now, a wonderful fridge… KitchenAid is awesome…i understand what you went thru… currently my fridge is in the mudroom, the main fridge died, the secondary fridge is too tall for the cabinet…so it will remain in the mudroom until we finally redo the kitchen… i will NOT show this article to my husband, LOL…

  27. Katie Mansfield says:

    I had no idea replacing a subzero was such a nightmare. Great post. I’ll keep this in mind if we ever look at a house with a subzero.

  28. […] we use it for other reasons, but really it just sits there and looks pretty. Oh wait…our big built-in fridge had to come in this way, too.  What a fiasco that […]

  29. Nancy says:

    Oh how true every bit of your story is for each major house change. Like you, I LOVE my refrig – do you think men ever get that? Mine is not built in but has french doors and tons of space. It replaced a regular 2 door one with freezer on the left. I hated that one from the day it came. It had been a spur of the moment choice during a sale at Sears years ago. But back to this one. I do not love that it sticks out several inches but I’ve compromised and tell myself that gives me a place to stick the magnet with the grandchildren’s photo and the card for the emergency vet. That would be te card I hope to never need but if I file it away somewhere I’ll never remember where I put it!

  30. Randy says:

    So Julie —-it has been some time with your new refrigerator. Any problems with the KitchenAid built in????

    • Julie says:

      Hi Randy, NO! I absolutely LOVE it. Just ordered water filters last night. If there was 1 thing I had to pick..it would be the freezer middle shelf. I wish it was larger. So, there could be some improvements in the freezer. I see areas where shelving could be better utilized.

  31. Susan says:

    Hi Julie, I just subscribed following your post in the LO Chat Room. Loved this post! But, so sorry for all of your trouble. In the end, being forced to splurge on something you use everyday may just be what I would call a “Godwink.” Your kitchen looks gorgeous. Your dad’s comments are the cherry on top!

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