HOUSE: New Mexico #3

A new refrigerator! Pantry shelving!

Oy! I am SO sorry it’s taken me as long as it has to get this post up! I got the photos ready last Wednesday, and then spent five days trying to sit down to write without something else coming up. My attention span has been absolutely shot lately, and I swear that’s in part because I—like everyone else, apparently—am losing track of time and days. I didn’t think that was going to happen to me because I’ve been working from home for several years now, but I underestimated the impact all of the other schedule/routine/stress changes going on would have on me.

ANYWAY. Let’s get back to the kitchen renovation!

Santa Fe kitchen BEFORE -

Remember this end of the room? This is how it looked in early 2018, before we’d done anything to the kitchen. This space was essentially wasted; probably used once upon a time for a Hoosier-style cabinet or a tiny kitchen table. Although I briefly toyed with the idea of building out a small pantry in that corner, but it really made so much more sense to move the refrigerator over there, and then add additional cabinets/counter space where the fridge used to be.

Santa Fe kitchen BEFORE -

I wish I could say that I was totally fine with the refrigerator that came with the house, and for a while, I tried really hard to convince myself that I was. But the more work we did on the rest of the kitchen, the more out-of-place it looked. It also seemed HUGE and bulky, even though it was short.

So…the entire time we were working on the kitchen, I was casually researching refrigerators on the side. It would not have made sense to try to build out cabinetry to surround the fridge in a kitchen like this, so I was determined to find a refrigerator with a small footprint, finished sides (meaning the side material/color/texture is the same as the front, and is intended to be exposed), and no visible hinge mechanism. I’m as amazed by the lack of refrigerators with finished sides now as I was in 2013 when I discovered a SMEG was one of the few options.

I also have all of the same issue I always have with not wanting any logos, digital displays, or water dispensers on a refrigerator, which of course makes finding one that checks off most of the boxes (and still comes in at a reasonable price point) all the more difficult.

Summit FFBF281W refrigerator

December 2019

As soon as I came across the Summit FFBF281W, I was sold. It checked off EVERY box! It’s counter-depth (29″ with the handle), and only 27″ wide. It still clocks in at almost 12 cu.ft for the fridge and 5cu.ft for the freezer, though, thanks to the 75″ height. And the sides are finished! I love that the handles are so simple, too. No logos, no frills. Just right!

AK agreed, and we ordered it right away from Home Depot.

A full WEEK before the tracking info showed it was supposed to arrive (and with no advance phone call from the delivery service), a huge truck pulled up in front of the house. I was home alone. A massive snowstorm was just beginning. The delivery company was only allowed to bring the refrigerator to the porch. Of course.

As usual, Geninne came to my rescue! She deployed her lovely husband and son (who are currently building a whole house together) to help, and they quickly and quietly carried the refrigerator (and the GIANT box it was packed in) off of the snowy porch and into my living room. PHEW.

(Oh! And! I found someone on NextDoor to come and pick up the old refrigerator the next day. He’d just lost his job the day after his own fridge died, so the timing was perfect for both of us. Habitat for Humanity won’t take appliances that are more than a decade old, and while the power company does offer a rebate for recycling “inefficient” older appliances, I would much much much rather have given it to an actual person who needed it right away. Win/win.)

Summit FFBF281W refrigerator

Hello, refrigerator! Hello, defunct heating vents I need to drywall over! Hello, empty space next to the refrigerator that’s just the right size for some shallow pantry shelving!

That sliver of wood door that’s visible on the left is the door to the garage, and it stays open 95% of the time—so any shelving had to both clear it completely and allow room to pass through without worrying about bumping into anything. Fine, because what I really wanted to build here was shallow, wall-mounted shelving for pantry goods.

Kitchen - open wall shelving

Hello, wood! I bought inexpensive 1×8″ pine boards, figured out how much space I needed between shelves to accommodate my jars and stuff, drew up a plan, and cut everything to size. In this photo, nothing is assembled yet—it’s all just standing up on end on the floor.

Kitchen - open wall shelving

The construction is really simple. I drilled pilot holes, then countersunk screws at the corners and for each shelf. I didn’t bother making the shelves adjustable. My advance planning is just that good (remind me I said that in a few years when I’m wishing I could move a shelf). The screw holes got patched, the whole thing got sanded, and then I did a test-hanging on the wall.

You can only see one of them in this picture, but the whole shelving unit is mounted on two cleats that are screwed into studs. The frame of the unit “hugs” the cleats, which bear the weight. A few screws through the top and and lower shelf into the cleats keeps the unit from falling off. It’s simple stuff! If you need a shelving unit like this, you can absolutely do it yourself. (Wall-mounted bookshelves, anyone?)

Kitchen - open wall shelving

Hello, paint! A coat of primer and a couple of coats of black paint (I’m pretty sure I used semigloss Rust-Oleum), and it was ready for its permanent installation! After hanging, I patched over the screw holes in the cleats, then painted the cleats white to match the walls. It is REALLY secure. Four screws are going directly into studs, and the others are well-anchored.

Kitchen - open wall shelving

Hello, jars! I took this photo before I loaded the whole thing up with stuff, but you get the idea. It’s a WHOLE BUNCH of extra storage. This house doesn’t have an actual pantry, so these shelves are a huge bonus. I’m really happy with how they came out! Scroll up to the top photo—doesn’t this end of the kitchen look a million times cozier and ten million times more functional now?? I love it.

Unless I’m forgetting something, the next kitchen post is THE BIG REVEAL! All of the projects are done!! Wheeeeeee! I’m even going to put down my iPhone and use an actual camera to take photos. Should I make a video, too??

In the mean time…
Kitchen recap:
It’s time to meet the kitchen!
Kitchen planning!
Kitchen cabinets: Prep + painting.
Painting and stenciling the kitchen floor.
Kitchen countertop demolition.
Painting the kitchen’s steel casement window.
Let’s add some cabinets!
Building cabinet cubbies for extra storage.
It’s time for the kitchen to get some countertops!
Installing a stacked bond subway tile backplash.

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  • Reply H May 11, 2020 at 9:33 pm

    This post makes me happy.

    • M May 14, 2020 at 11:53 am


  • Reply Claudia May 12, 2020 at 12:18 am

    Your kitchen looks amazing! My Blomberg fridge is basically the same as yours, and I love having so much freezer space and the fact that it’s counter-depth. I have a tiny kitchen, so it really helps having a fridge with a modest profile.

    Love the shelves you put up, so simpleyyet so functional!

    • Anna Dorfman May 12, 2020 at 9:27 am

      Thanks, Claudia! I considered the comparable Blomberg refrigerator, but I was a little worried about the lower capacity. I had one in an apartment years ago, though, and it was great!

    • GreenInOC May 14, 2020 at 10:48 pm

      Gorgeous! Your fridge is gorgeous, nice choice!!

      I love my LG 10 cu. ft. fridge – like, seriously, am in love with it! No matter the size of a fridge I always suggest at least one lazy susan. I can fit so much more in mine with it and nothing every gets lost or shoved to the back (or if you’re like me and are too lazy to start moving things around to get to something, that’s solved!) They are great for spices, small prep bowls and any dead corner space in cupboards too.

      I’m waxing poetic about lazy susans, what is wrong with me?!

  • Reply Lewis May 12, 2020 at 7:53 am


  • Reply Stef Noble May 12, 2020 at 8:12 am

    Amazing. What is the black… carafe-type thing possibly? at the top of the shelving?

  • Reply Lyndsay May 12, 2020 at 8:14 am

    SO CUTE. I loved the black SMEG you had in your old house, I’m curious if there’s any reason why you didn’t go with a SMEG again in this house?

    • Anna Dorfman May 12, 2020 at 9:33 am

      Part of it is the capacity issue. The smaller SMEG (which is what I had in my Newburgh kitchen) has a tiny, integrated freezer, which was fine for the way I lived there (weekend/vacation living, lots of delivery), but would never have worked the way I live now (working from home full time, cooking three meals a day, infrequent takeout/delivery). SMEG does sell a larger model in the US now with a separate freezer, but the storage capacity is still considerably smaller than the Summit…with a price tag that’s more than double.

  • Reply Geninne May 12, 2020 at 8:14 am

    You did such a great job with those shelves and choosing that wonderful fridge! Can’t wait to pick your brain for my new adobe house kitchen!

    • Anna Dorfman May 12, 2020 at 9:34 am

      I am forever grateful to you and your men for saving my ass that day!! I might still be lying under a toppled refrigerator to this day otherwise. 😉

  • Reply Karen May 12, 2020 at 8:27 am

    Love it! Amazing what a few shelves can add to a room.

    Yes to video. I’d love to see how the space “flies” as you walk through it.

    • Anna Dorfman May 12, 2020 at 9:35 am

      I’ll try! I have no idea what I’m doing with videos.

  • Reply Emma May 12, 2020 at 9:12 am

    How are you liking the fridge so far? I’ve been casually searching for a fridge that would be a better fit for my tiny u-shaped kitchen– the current fridge sticks out about 6″ past the counter and I can’t stand it. Summit seems to have one that’s a perfect fit, even making good use of the vertical space!

    • Anna Dorfman May 12, 2020 at 9:53 am

      The fridge is great! I especially like the three drawers in the freezer. It’s really efficient—minimal digging around for what I’m trying to find. Figuring out how to put ice cube trays in without spilling any water was a bit of a learning curve in the beginning, but I have my technique down now. 😉

    • Kelly May 16, 2020 at 1:06 am

      I have this fridge too! I’ve owned it for 6 years; I did hours of research for a counter depth fridge with the greatest capacity for my tiny 1920s house – its height is a game changer. (I’m 5’2″ and that it’s tall is not a problem for me – it’s well lit and the shelves are glass so I can look up through the top shelf and know exactly what’s up there in the back of the shelf as I can see straight through.)

      The ice cube trays are adorable, and the little pull out shelf they sit on can also accommodate silicone baking molds (it’s about an inch high), or a quarter sheet pan if you need to quickly chill some bliss ball type items.

      I also rearranged the fridge shelving so that I can put my instant pot insert on the second shelf from the top. Jars on the top shelf, and the third shelf down is (deliberately) the height of a loaf of bread. It’s all very efficient.

      Knock on wood I’ve had zero problems with it. Once the little drain hole in the back became blocked and the condensation then went underneath the produce drawers instead of disappearing down the drain; easy fix was twirling around a q-tip in the little drain and it was good to go.

      Love the height, love that I can get so much more in here than with a standard US fridge height; it’s a fantastic option for small kitchens!

      p.s. If you’re looking for a good website for comparing specs on appliance dimensions (and the ability to search by multiple dimensions) – AJ Madison is fantastic. I researched through their filtered searches, and then ordered the fridge from my local appliance store as I live out in Portland, Oregon.

    • Kelly May 16, 2020 at 1:14 am

      (I just double checked – my model is FFBF285SS, as it’s 6 years old and they’ve got a newer model now. Mine does not have a digital display inside, it’s your standard temp dial. But it’s the same specs and the SS stands for stainless steel.)

  • Reply Pat May 12, 2020 at 9:22 am

    The worrier in me is concerned about the baseboard heater harming your refrigerator (and vice versa), but everything looks great. I love the shelves! I’ve been afraid to do something similar because I thought you’d need one of those fancy pocket hole jigs (kreg?) to make the joints strong enough to carry weight.

    • Anna Dorfman May 12, 2020 at 9:51 am

      Kreg pocket hole jigs are really easy to use (and not particularly fancy—they really just hold your drill at the correct angle and prevent you from drilling too far) if you have the right clamps! I actually used 2 1/2″ steel pocket hole screws made for softwoods (these) for these shelves—three on each side of each shelf (so 6 screws in each shelf). The screws are stronger than the wood, honestly, and the cleats bear the majority of the weight. It would be easy to add a cleat at the back of each shelf for extra durability, if necessary. I wouldn’t build a bench or deep shelving this way, but for this purpose, it’s just fine.

      As far as the baseboard radiator goes, not to worry—I keep the vent shut year-round, and it emits very little heat. It’s a redundant heat source in this house, so the kitchen doesn’t feel cold without it. If there’s ever an issue, we can always decommission it completely (or insulate behind the cover), but as it is it barely feels warm with the vent shut.

  • Reply Melissa May 12, 2020 at 1:45 pm

    Great call on relocating the fridge to this space! I like this idea of an open shelf pantry with clear jars/containers. We find that because our pantry is closed and such a deep space it can feel like a black hole and we’re not always able to see what all is in there. I am now so curious about your garage! And also where does Fritz’s food & water bowls live?

  • Reply Fiona May 12, 2020 at 2:51 pm

    I love that you didn’t just make all the shelves the same height, and that they correspond to the door. So thoughtful.

  • Reply Ellen Genovese May 12, 2020 at 3:59 pm

    Do you like the fridge? I have been on an epic fridge hunt and this looks perfect? Also your kitchen is amazing. Your sense of style is one of my favorites.

    • Anna Dorfman May 13, 2020 at 9:23 am

      Thanks, Ellen! Yes, the fridge has been great. It’s only been five months so I can’t speak to its reliability over a long period of time yet, but so far, so good. I love the freezer drawers, and the refrigerator is really nicely laid out. The amount of usable space is really impressive—probably the best I’ve ever had in a refrigerator. It’s very easy to clean, too!

    • Rosie May 14, 2020 at 10:06 am

      We’ve had the Summit fridge since 2017. It had very few reviews when we bought it, so we weren’t sure – but the price was right and the size/counter depth were perfect. Over the long term, we like it, but have had a few issues. The size/layout/lighting is awesome – I feel like we can see everything really easily, and it fits plenty of food for our 2 person household – we cook almost all our meals at home. The tallness feels like a really efficient use of space. However, about a year in it started throwing an error message that we’ve never been able to resolve – it appears to be keeping temperature fine, so we’re not sure what it is, and the manual wasn’t helpful. It didn’t seem worth the charge for the service visit. So the error message is still flashing. Then about a year ago, we started having some issues with the freezer – ice was building up underneath the plastic panels at the back, and that kept pushing one of the drawers out, which would keep the door from closing fully, which would lead to it leaking condensation all over the floor. We ended up removing the bottom drawer completely, and that seems to have solved this weird issue. In addition, the shelves that hold the freezer drawers are always coming unstuck, resulting in the whole drawer crashing out of the freezer if you pull it too far or at the wrong angle.
      I’m not sure if I would buy again or not – I would take a good hard look at all the other options first, and then maybe I would probably buy it again if there wasn’t anything else that was the same size/set up. These issues have definitely been disappointing, since the overall design of the fridge is fantastic.

    • Anna Dorfman May 14, 2020 at 12:47 pm

      Rosie, this might sound completely obvious and I apologize if you’ve already covered your bases, but do you vacuum the vents on the back of the fridge regularly? When I’ve seen ice buildup in freezers I’ve had in the past, this has usually been the culprit. Also, you might want to try to see if the freezer drain is clogged. I haven’t investigated how to access the drain in the Summit, but that’s another thing that can cause ice to build up. (Also also, I haven’t looked to see, but Summit might have their error codes online if you haven’t already checked that!)

    • Anna Dorfman May 14, 2020 at 12:53 pm

      Rosie—again, apologies if you’ve already tried this, but on the Summit website there’s a link to a PDF showing how to reset the display board. Maybe that would clear out the error? (Scroll down to “downloads.”)

    • Rosie May 14, 2020 at 3:57 pm

      Thank you!! I just followed those instructions on the error code and it worked! I wasn’t able to find anything on this when the issue first popped up a couple of years ago (I think the model was pretty new then?) and I hadn’t looked since!

      I’ll investigate the drain plug and condenser coils and report back!

    • Anna Dorfman May 14, 2020 at 5:19 pm

      YAY! I peeked under the bottom drawer in my fridge, and I don’t see the drain. I’m guessing it’s behind that hump? I didn’t want to take the screws out!

  • Reply Christa May 12, 2020 at 5:31 pm

    I have been on this same quest before, and the Summit is a great option. I also like the similar Blomberg. Another great option is Fisher & Paykel Active/Smart. They have 31″w and 36″w options. A little more expensive. But those 3 or the Smeg are the best options for small kitchens.
    Love to see your new kitchen and every little detail that you get just right!

    • Anna Dorfman May 13, 2020 at 9:19 am

      The Fisher & Paykel was on our list for a long time, but saving 4″ on the width (and $500 on the price) for the same capacity put the Summit in the lead. I know 4″ might not seem like a big difference, but it would have made the passageway to the garage a little too narrow—and reduced the available space for much-needed shelving.

  • Reply K May 13, 2020 at 8:45 am

    I’m shocked no one asked about the jars. Where are the lowest set from? They look to have cork(?) lids?
    I love them! And the whole kitchen. That little pantry shelf looks like a million bucks!

    • Anna Dorfman May 13, 2020 at 9:14 am

      Thanks! I’ll include a full list of resources in my “reveal” post, but those cork-lidded jars are from the SAXBORGA line at IKEA!

    • Jax May 15, 2020 at 2:51 am

      I love your love of Ikea (the good items, of course), Anna, as I share it.

  • Reply S May 13, 2020 at 8:55 am

    Did you reverse the door swing on the fridge or does it still open into the wall? Our fridge is the same style as yours and in the same location, and while the the fridge portion is fine, the freezer door doesn’t have enough clearance to let us pull out the drawers, which is such a bummer. I’ve thought about reversing the swing, but I’ve read some horror stories from people who’ve done that with my brand and had the freezer not seal properly. If yours has better clearance, I’m going to bookmark it for when we eventually replace ours!

    • Anna Dorfman May 13, 2020 at 9:13 am

      Ooooh, good question. No, I didn’t reverse the door swing! This refrigerator only requires 1″ of clearance (!!!) to open wide enough to easily open both the fridge and freezer drawers, which was something I considered before ordering. I left a 1.5″ gap just to give myself a little extra play with the door movement. If you go to the “brochure w/ drawings” link on the Summit website, there’s a really helpful schematic that shows exactly how much clearance is needed on all sides. I hope that helps!! 🙂

  • Reply Cynthia May 13, 2020 at 3:09 pm

    Well, I am so happy to have you blogging again on a regular basis and it is inspiring me to do more with my space. I really wish you and Geninne (and her guys) were my next door neighbors and bff’s! Think of the fun we could have with the 130 year old carriage house I live in! Looking forward to more pictures of this wonderful house! I’d love to see your office space at some point.

    • Anna Dorfman May 13, 2020 at 7:57 pm

      Thank you so much for being here, Cynthia! (And I promise I’ll get to my office eventually. It’s still a work in progress, but there’s a little peek at it in this post.)

  • Reply Christian May 14, 2020 at 12:35 pm

    I hate to be “that guy,” but these are like the fridges they have in Norway, my former home, and they make much more sense to me than any fridge I have used here in Canada. Even small apartments in Canada have huge short ones like the one you gave away, and the tall skinny ones make more sense 100% of the time.

    • Anna Dorfman May 14, 2020 at 12:37 pm

      I’m not sure I understand the “that guy” part of your comment, but I do love a small footprint on a refrigerator.

    • Christian May 14, 2020 at 5:14 pm

      Just the romanticizing of Europe thing!

    • Anna Dorfman May 14, 2020 at 5:18 pm

      Ah, ok!! I guess I do the same thing, because I didn’t even notice. Hahah.

    • Jax May 15, 2020 at 2:50 am

      Romanticize away! There’s so many things that are done or designed so much better in Europe, esp. Scandinavian countries (I grew up in Denmark myself) on the average.

  • Reply Nitzy May 18, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    Video! Video! Video!

  • Reply jessica May 22, 2020 at 2:04 pm

    Hello! Just popped over from Yellow Brick Home. What a great reno. I have been looking at this same refrigerator. I am glad to hear a positive review!

  • Reply Erin S. May 22, 2020 at 9:34 pm

    I love that woven piece on the wall next to your fridge, who makes it?

    • Anna Dorfman May 22, 2020 at 11:16 pm

      I bought it at Target a few years ago!

  • Reply Bob Builder May 28, 2020 at 11:47 am

    My kitchen is small but I love you how you used the space. Will be using this post!

  • Reply Nicolette May 29, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    The lack of refrigerators with finished sides is beyond frustrating! I am a snob and want a water dispenser on the inside of the fridge and I just don’t think such a thing exists.

  • Reply Jenms July 6, 2020 at 1:37 pm

    Hi! I’ve been eyeing that same fridge. Can you tell me — how noisy is it? The average hum of a regular fridge drives me BONKERS. Based on your experience, does your fridge sound quieter or louder than other fridges you’ve had?

    • Anna Dorfman July 6, 2020 at 1:40 pm

      Hmmm. To be honest, other than a quiet hum after the freezer has been open for an extended period of time (like after putting away a bunch of groceries or cleaning the drawers), I’m not sure I notice any sound coming from it at all?

  • Reply Sarah November 8, 2020 at 6:20 pm

    Hi Anna! Thanks for all this information. Your kitchen looks AMAZING.

    Question for you: I’m ready to bite the bullet and buy this fridge, but I can’t decide between white and stainless. I’m leaning towards white -but white can be tricky. I want “high-end” white like a smeg fridge or something similar – not the normal rental white. It looks great in your photos, but I want to make sure you’d still choose it and that white is the superior finish for someone who cares about design. Thanks for your help!

    • Anna Dorfman November 8, 2020 at 6:41 pm

      Sarah! Yes, I would describe the finish as “high-end.” The sides are the exact same color and smooth finish as the front, which was a concern for me. I would definitely still choose this fridge, and it’s working just as perfectly today as it was a year ago. Feel free to ask more questions if you have any!

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