Time to upgrade the 1980’s hotpoint refrigerator or was it a magic chef…

The current HotPoint refrigerator from the 1980’s was on its last legs.  It was just not feeling cold enough.  With concerns of food safety I started a search for a new fridge.  WP_20130104_003

Note, I had removed the doors on the above cabinets before I realized I should take a good before picture.  Notice the fine 1980’s fake wood grain on the handles.   Also notice how short this here fridge is!  There is nothing that goes in this compartment without having to rebuild it except for a super crappy small apartment style fridge.  I wanted a bottom freezer and as close to counter top depth as I could find.  Nothing I hate more than a fridge sticking a foot or so out from the cabinet.  You can buy a counter top depth refrigerator so this does not happen, it goes down in the proper planning category.



I looked at multiple fridges.  Can I just say they are all boring!  Stainless steel, no thanks, so overdone!  I started hunting on the web.  There are several retro style companies out there.  The Big Chill so happens to be based right here in boulder.  My brother and I went to take a look in person.  They don’t really have a showroom other than the website but they are happy to show what they have in the warehouse.  Just so happens they had a Black Retropolitan with the door swing I was looking for.  Turns out it was a return from someone in LA that wanted the opposite door swing.  Their loss was my reward as the owner gave me a discount (who wants a black bottom freezer with a left hand hinge).  It came with an ice maker as well.  It is really an Amana wrapped in a nice powder coated sheet metal with some fancy chrome additions.  It is a perfect match for the edging of my counter tops in the kitchen and our old 1950’s Kelvinator stove.

Well as you can see this is a taller and wider refrigerator than the might Hot Point.  Some demo was in order.


Demo complete.  Something to note here, do not do this!  Scrap the whole damn thing.  Don’t go all Rehab Addict on me.  Take the whole thing out.  Sure reuse what you can, I reused all the old doors in one way or another when I rebuilt it.  The reason I say to scrap it all is its easier to install a new cabinet than it is to try to fit to old out of square existing.  That created a lot more work then I needed to do had I just started from scratch.


Rebuilt with some 3/4″ paint grade plywood. The existing cabinet was a cobble together extension on the left side.  I redesigned the cabinet to have more space on the left and a middle cabinet up top to keep things in proportion (another plug for By Hand and Eye from the Lost Art Press).  All cutting was with a Festool TS55 Panel Saw that made quick work of the plywood sheets.


I had to wait for delivery of the new big chill.  In the meantime I installed the old fridge in the new cabinet.  Notice the height change.


Now you’ll see I added a bunch of drawers.  This cabinet is rather deep.  The space was underutilized before.   I had tried wire baskets and I can say is they suck!  Everything falls through them, nothing sits upright in them well, they just pain suck.  So my solution was 1/2 inch plywood (crap from the big box, never ever, ever again) and slides.  Drawers were all cut on the Festool TS55 saw and the screwed together with glue and the Kreg Jig.  Can you tell I love the Kreg Jig, it has its place.  It made attaching everything to the existing very easy. I filled the holes with Bondo and sanded them off before painting.  Are these pretty maple drawers sprayed with finish, NO. They are white plywood drawers that match the rest of the kitchen style yet providing a huge leap in efficiency for the kitchen.

The middle  cabinet on the top gets a self closer and it also gets a vertical hinge so it flips up.  The middle upper cabinet door is made with a upward hinge from McMaster Carr. I’ll add that at 6′ 3″ I get a lot of use of the upper cabinets that Kristen requires a foot stool to get to.

These drawers are the best thing I did with this project, I have tons of pantry space for what is a tiny kitchen. They took about a day to make then paint. Installation would have been easier had I completely rebuilt. You’ll see that I did not demo the right side completely, I should have.

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All the doors in place.  The doors, like our might historic doors from the 1950’s or is it 40’s are plywood with a round over  on the outside and a rabbet on the inside.  Fortunately we were able to scavenge enough old handles from the previous setup to use again on the new cabinet.  You can also see the fridge was delivered.  The owner of the Big Chill and his crew provided deliver services since we were local in Boulder.  They did a stellar job!


There you have it, a brand new fridge from the Big Chill in a new cabinet.  Only regret is not doing a complete demo.  Fridge is great, absolutely love it, nice to have things stay cold.  Something else to note is it has an ice maker.  I had previously put anti water hammer devices on my front loading washer and investigated it for the Ice Maker.  I found Sioux Chief Manufacturing made a great one and this was installed in the wall behind the fridge to a 1/2 PEX connection.   So I only hear the ice dumping, no water hammer on the valve opening and closing.  I  highly recommend these water hammer devices which will be covered on my LG washer post in the future.


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