Your Refrigerator: The Silent Happiness Killer

Please, sit down. Take a sip of room-temperature water. How’s your blood pressure these days? I don’t want to induce panic, but I’ve identified a silent killer in your kitchen. A SPACE killer. A happiness killer. Every year this killer grows a little bigger, morphing and metastasizing, stealthily colonizing more territory in your kitchen, sucking up more energy, growing fat on the American propensity for frozen dinners, warehouse-club shopping, and produce from other continents.

This (space) killer is your refrigerator.  It’s just too darn big.

In fact, Projectophile’s scientific team found a direct correlation between the size of the average American refrigerator and the average American coffin: coffins v fridgeI’ve always had a hostile relationship with the refrigerators in my life. As a child, one-pound bricks of frozen hamburger meat would topple onto my head every time I peeked into our family’s over-stuffed freezer.*  That appliance never once apologized.

Perhaps as a result, I’ve spent my entire adult life picking fights with refrigerators. Poor Scott has endured my grudge with refrigerators for more than a decade. The first time I brought him back to my apartment (circa 2004), he noticed that I had pushed the refrigerator into the pantry. Lucky for me (and our future children), major appliance shuffling wasn’t enough to scare him away.

In the first apartment Scott and I shared,** I was so frustrated with the fridge blocking the flow of my tiny kitchen (you could touch both walls with your arms spread), we moved the fridge into the dining room. Here’s the kitchen, with fridge intact.


Scott insists that this picture makes him look fat,  maybe cause he’s drinking cake batter out of a mixer bowl.

When we bought our condo in 2005, the fridge was a giant Black Hole, blocking a window, and sucking all the light energy out of the room: IMG_5315I refuse to choose between cold food and sunlight, so we pushed the fridge into a distant, lonely corner of the kitchen. Our last rental apartment (where this blog was born), the fridge was again the size of a small bus, its girth and awkward placement causing us again to be deprived of an eat-in kitchen. I hate to think of the hundreds of miles I’ve cumulatively walked to deliver food all the way to the dining room. Picture 037 This ivory beast would stand there, half-empty, mocking us with its largeness.  Not long after we moved there, the little ones (aged 2 and 8 months in this picture) found a way in and decided to take inventory: Picture 434Before we moved into the Babushka House, I decided to take my life back from these overgrown, tetrafluoroethane-fueled bullies.  The original Babushka had her old fridge (now gone) in the back corner of the kitchen, blocking a window to the back yard.  Here’s an aerial view of the Babushka kitchen when we bought it: IMG_5215So, instead of blocking a window, I decided to squeeze a fridge next to the stove, without blocking the entrance to the front hall: 08707241_5_0-001The problem is, the fridge would have to be TINY – by today’s portly fridge standards – not to block the hallway.  On the advice of a friend whose brother is a slum landlord, we hit up a store that specializes in “urban” appliances: cheap, used, and (most importantly) small.

The Hobbit*** Fridge was delivered exactly an hour before we moved. Happily, I was able to pack everything from our previous (massive) fridge into this one, with room to spare! IMG_5252The only thing I had to sacrifice was my gas tank full of soy sauce, which the children determined to be too large for the Hobbit Fridge: IMG_5244Here’s the east wall of our kitchen today: IMG_5279-001To give you a sense of scale, here’s me posing with the Hobbit Fridge. Scott says I could be a refrigerator model.  I think that’s a compliment. IMG_5285And the best (actually worst) part is the easy access for the Hobbits! Let’s just hope he doesn’t find Mommy’s fancy cheese. IMG_5251On second thought, I think my Refrigerator Modelling career may have to wait, at least until these two retire (where IS all that wind coming from?): refrigerator model

* One-pound of hamburger meat was the foundation for nearly every weeknight meal in 1980s Midwest America: Taco Night, Spaghetti Night, Meatloaf Night, Hamburger Helper Night, Raw Hamburger Meat Night.
** “Shared,” as in, I paid the rent and he slept there 6.5 nights a week.
*** Hobbits are know for their small size and habit of eating constantly, much like my children.


17 thoughts on “Your Refrigerator: The Silent Happiness Killer

  1. Your stove is pretty huge too. But then I’m used to petite Euro-style kitchens where everything is based on modules of 60cm (about 24 inches) squares. We have what I thought was quite a large fridge but it’s the same size as your Hobbit-fridge! The nice thing about a smaller fridge is that things don’t get lost at the back… Mind you, I’ve just thrown out a jar of corn relish the Husband insisted was fine. I checked the best before date on it. May 2013…. So even a smaller fridge can’t entirely save you from black hole syndrome….


    • Yes, this huge fridge thing is definitely an American phenomenon (great article in the Atlantic if anyone wants to get smartypants about it: “The Huge Chill: Why are American Refrigerators So Big?” )
      I remember a few years back, my parents complaining that they couldn’t find a fridge to fit between the existing cabinets in their 1960s kitchen — they just stopped making them that size anymore. Generally I’m happy with our little fridge but would like to raise it up a bit so I don’t have to get on my hands and knees for some produce. Maybe a bottom-freezer style would be better.
      Kate, do you leave your milk and eggs out or in?


      • I live in the tropics, so bread, milk and eggs are all in. But when I lived in a cooler climate, eggs and bread were out. I keep a lot of vinegar based condiments out, because they don’t spoil no matter what the label says, and I definitely wouldn’t keep my soy sauce in the fridge; it’s fermented AND full of salt so is unlikely to go off anytime soon!


  2. My fridge is waist height, it fits under my countertop and has a teeny tiny icebox in the top which just fits three bags of frozen veg, two cartons of soya milk and a packet of sausages (current contents, not a rewrite of a Christmas song). It’s seldom full, I don’t know what on earth I’d do with a fridge that was bigger than I am. I do miss having a “full size” (it was knee height) freezer though.


    • I like that size as well. I think I would prefer it to be chest height, though, so I can stand face-to-face with my food. Or more importantly, not forget what’s in there. My husband won’t let me put our fridge up on milk crates — he says it will topple over on the children, though I’m not convinced.


  3. Claire, first, I am SO excited for your new house!!! Please post more about your home improvement projects. Speaking of which … I think the idea of a platform (perhaps with a built-in drawer) beneath this fridge would be brilliant. You could totally projectophile it!


  4. We have refrigerator drawers in our kitchen, with the oven / microwave above, and more storage up to the ceiling above. It works quite well, though we have less ‘fridge space than is now typical. For a couple (no kids) it’s great. And I love that there’s no looming ‘fridge skulking in a corner. However, because so few vendors make refrigerator drawers, that wall of appliances cost more than I care to think about. It was the big splurge in an otherwise rather modest budget.


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