Today I want to chat a bit about one of the most awkward spots in the kitchen: the cabinets above the refrigerator! After fighting with our racks and pans jammed up there for over a year, I finally took the 20 minutes to organize this cabinet with really inexpensive products I already had on hand. While there are all sorts of custom DIY ideas floating around the web, I think you guys will love this simple, no-fuss solution for creating more order in this hard-to-reach space!
Despite having a really spacious kitchen, we are actually pretty short on cabinets. And since we had to dedicate both an upper cabinet and stack of drawers to be our pantry, we had no choice but to fully utilize the hard-to-reach cabinets above the refrigerator for more storage.
Upon moving in almost 18 months ago, we threw a few wire organizers up there (we’ve used them to organize our bakeware for ages); loaded in our pans, cooling racks, and other items; and called it good.
But over the months, we found ourselves constantly shoving items in and out however and wherever they fit. And with racks and other pans being unruly by nature, it was a big ol’ hassle to access anything.
I recently reached my breaking point with the chaos (I mean, how many times can you fight with a cooling rack before you do something about it!) and made some really simple upgrades that have made all the difference!
Let me break down this 20-minute project so you can create more organization in your cabinets above the refrigerator too!
To start, here is what I used for this upgrade:
- Vertical Pan Racks (3) & Corner Cabinet Organizers (2) – I bought these exact ones years ago at Marshalls. They have held up SO well, and we can always find spots for them in any kitchen layout.
- Command Strips – I tried three different methods to keep the organizers in place inside the cabinet, and these are what did the trick!
- Label Maker with Clear Label Tape – My exact label maker is no longer available, but this will give you the same look and functionality!
Organizing the Cabinets Above the Refrigerator
Like with any organization project, I started by completely emptying out the cabinet. I then placed like items together so I could identify how many unique spaces I needed for each group.
Next, I experimented with several different layout options. I originally had the corner organizers stacked on top of each other in one corner. But but un-stacking them and placing one in each corner, I increased the amount of available levels onto which I can store pans. Since these rear stacks are harder to reach and will be behind other pans, I primarily placed items here that we very rarely access.
Next, I determined that by spacing the vertical racks with 2″ gaps, I was able to create 13 channels rather than just 9. This ultimately allowed me to dedicate one channel to just one item (or group of same items).
At this point, I highly recommend you experiment with different pans in different spots based on their size.
Because I placed the corner cabinets in both corners, I lost my depth in much of the cabinet. However, I determined that many of my pans fit standing on their ends. This allowed me to place most items in the right and left racks, and only the really-long items (e.g, grille pan, skillet) in the (deeper) center channels.
After lots of trial and error, I was ultimately able to find just the right spot for each and every item, ensuring everything went in and came out with ease.
Important Finishing Touches
After months of shoving items in and yanking items out of this high cabinet, we determined that the organizers themselves…while very handy…almost created more chaos because they could slip and slide all around.
For this arrangement to work long-term, I had to figure out a way to keep the racks firmly in place. After trying both museum wax and thinner double-stick tape with no luck, I finally made them completely immovable with my trusty, favorite Command Strips. These large ones are super strong, so slicing a single set into smaller strips for each corner is more-than-sufficient!
The final step was to add labels under each channel with a label maker and clear tape. While I have been known to add labels “just for show,” this time they were absolutely necessary. Again, this cabinet originally fell apart because we took to just shoving items in wherever and however they fit. Labels now ensure that items go back to the exact spot they were intentionally assigned to.
As is the case with any messy closet, cabinet, and junk drawer, the 20 minutes spent sorting it all out and putting good, intentional systems in place is always worth it! I can’t tell you how many times I have wrestled with the cooling racks or climbed up on a stool to retrieve something lost in the back. This is definitely another “wish I had done it sooner” project!
Other (Really) Smart Above-the-Refrigerator Solutions
As renters and frequent movers, I was more than happy to be able to organize this cabinet with inexpensive, off-the-shelf products that can easily move with us. However, there is no shortage of other really good ideas for making sense of this awkward cabinet. Here are some other solutions that might work better for your home or situation:
- This is a great IKEA hack for a pan/lid organizer!
- If you’re looking for a truly custom and permanent solution, these instructions are great.
- Taking the cabinet doors off and adding a shelf for display is such a clever solution!
- Here’s a way to turn this area into a wine rack.
In our last home, our above-the-fridge cabinet was sort of the “pit of despair,” filled with stuff we rarely used or needed. I am so excited we’ve been able to make this cabinet work really hard for us by using easy-to-find items. If your cabinets above the refrigerator aren’t looking or working so well, I hope you give these ideas a try!