Let’s face it. One of the most discouraging parts of a tiny house is that oftentimes the kitchen is sub-par leaving barely more than room for one person to do his/her best Wonder Women impersonation. The sink is little more than a bar sink. The countertops are more like a single table top. The room for countertop appliances is nearly non-existent. Spices hang, dangle, and otherwise suspend, like art installations. The fridge is less than 4 cubic feet and more suitable for a dorm room filled with late night snackers than a human being living daily in their environment. How then do you even go about choosing something like a refrigerator; something so seemingly important? You can go several routes.
- Choose not have a fridge at all as Matt and Laura have.
- Choose a small fridge like The Boulder Tiny House has done.
- Or you can go with a full size fridge and make accommodating choices in your design.
How do you know what is right for you though? How do you choose a fridge for your tiny house?
ASSESS THE SITUATION. I would suggest first taking an honest look at your own fridge-related habits, the eating styles of your family, the proximity of groceries, etc. Ask these sort of questions:
- What kind of cook am I?
- Do I prefer fresh ingredients over non-perishable ones?
- Do I grocery shop daily? Is that an option?
- Do I need room for large beverage containers? (milk carton, wine bottles, 2-liter soda, etc)
- Do I entertain frequently and therefore need extra space for larger platters?
- What does my current kitchen layout allow for?
- Do I want my fridge to stand out or integrate into my cabinetry?
GO BIG OR GO HOME. Size matters and when it comes to refrigerators it matters even more. The capacity you need in a fridge varies. But most kitchen designers suggest you have 4 to 6 cubic feet of fresh storage for each adult in your household. That number will be less of course if you do a lot of eating outside your tiny house or if you prefer boxed and canned food meals.
Tiny r(E)volution has two adults and one toddler. Our refrigerator is 10 cubic feet so we fall squarely into the suggested size.
FLIP IT. STACK IT. MOVE IT AROUND. Any old fridge will keep your Bud Light cool and your sliced tomatoes fairly fresh. But is that all you want out of perhaps the single largest appliance in your tiny house? A number of higher end refrigerators give the homeowner seriously advanced options. For example, Jenn-Air fridges now offer Precision Temperature Management Systems which have electronically controlled sensors that monitor the environment of the fridge, allowing adjusting temps to maintain levels for optimum food preservation. Whirlpool offers a model with french doors, a freezer drawer, and even a refrigerated pantry drawer that has a separate temperature control to keep quick items like produce, cold cuts, and snacks close at hand. Samsung has a “door in door” food showcase for those ‘always within reach’ items. In fact, the fridge market almost has as many makes, models, and options, as the Detroit Auto Show!
ON DISPLAY. Choosing a fridge also means choosing a finish. The most common are white, black, stainless, and brushed steel. Decide what you want in order to match your kitchen and not make the fridge stand out too much. You will also want to consider maintenance and cleaning of the unit. Stainless steel is no friend of mine and brushed metal gets scratched quite easily.
ON THE ROCKS. You may also want to think about ice. It sounds simple enough but in this area you have only two options. Do you get a fridge with an ice-maker and enjoy a cold drink while watching your grid power meter spin around? Or perhaps you decided on just using ice trays which take up precious freezer space and has to be cracked and filled seemingly every time you turn around?
AND THEN THERE’S……..But the above aren’t all. You still have to think about your freezer. Do you want a fridge unit with a freezer? How about that self-defrosting? If you get a freezer how does it defrost? Or what about shelving? Does it move around or have the option to move giving you more or less room in areas of the fridge? And does it run hot? Do you need extra room for it to breath while in operation?
The choices are not easy but are certainly necessary. The best way to choose a fridge is to think about how you want to use it, when you want to see it (or not want to see it), and what you can afford to pay. From there you can make a good decision on how you want to keep your families food fresh and ready to prepare.