I want a sexy kitchen!
February 2, 2010 2:05 PM   Subscribe

How can I best use the top of my refrigerator? What's on top of your fridge?

I keep stuff that's too tall for my cupboard - cereal, cooking oil, vinegar, etc. on top of my fridge (my cupboard shelves are squat and non-adjustable) but it looks messy - the way my kitchen's set up, this area is pretty much a focal point of the space. How can I make it look more functional / organized and interesting?

I'm open to creative, unconventional and weird suggestions - what would you love to see in a kitchen?

Note: I don't have any other spaces for the tall kitchen-things, so eliminating them altogether probably isn't an option, but they only take up about half of the space up there. I'd like to "go vertical" and use more of the space toward the ceiling (about three feet), but I don't know how.
posted by Bergamot to Home & Garden (47 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Anything can go on the fridge that you don't mind falling on your head when you place it up there with carelessness and in a hurry.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:10 PM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am the wrong person to turn to for advice at uncluttering things, but I can say that the top of my fridge holds several cookbooks.
posted by Panjandrum at 2:11 PM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

My house has a nice potted fern in a square basket on top of the refrigerator. It has a little height and adds some greenery to the room. Easy to take care of!
posted by dreamyshade at 2:12 PM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have my pretty cast iron pans (both enameled and non) on top of my refrigerator.
posted by Night_owl at 2:13 PM on February 2, 2010

The only thing on top of my refrigerator is my fire extinguisher.
posted by bukvich at 2:14 PM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

How about putting in an inexpensive wall cabinet from IKEA? I'm sure you can find one in the size you're looking for...
posted by aquafortis at 2:15 PM on February 2, 2010

Cookbooks in front where I can reach them on tippytoes, random infrequently-used stuff behind where it's mostly hidden by the books. You'll need reliable bookends for this approach; I speak from experience.
posted by Quietgal at 2:15 PM on February 2, 2010

We keep our decorative platters up there. It's a handy spot and they look nice, even from the bottom/side view.
posted by bearwife at 2:16 PM on February 2, 2010

Not a lot of space between my kitchen fridge and the sort-of-fitted cupboard above it - so cutting boards is how I roll.

I have a second fridge in the basement/rec-room, so it has a few books and stuff messing around on top. But I guess your question is more slanted towards kitchen fridges, so if you have space, I'd go for something that fits with how easy you can access the top of that fridge. If it's hard for you to access - then less commonly used things would be what I'd put up there. If it's easy for you to reach up there - then maybe something you use a lot more often would be a better fit.
posted by Sk4n at 2:17 PM on February 2, 2010

If you're storing bottles, a lazy-susan spinner can help with reaching them easily, and make it tidier (provide a visual "container").

Also, for making things pretty, consider hanging something from the ceiling (a potted plant, if there's sun; an artsy mobile; a lamp; a decorative but little-used cooking pot) so that you can use the vertical space and the surface space separately.
posted by aimedwander at 2:21 PM on February 2, 2010

It's where my cake carrier lives.

No, I don't really know why I have a cake carrier.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:22 PM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Pizza pan and bread.
posted by sanka at 2:28 PM on February 2, 2010

I have 5 boxes of cereal, a "Watchmen" lunchbox, and a stuffed piece of toast. Maybe if you put some fun, decorative things in front of the clutter it will feel more like a focal point? (Or maybe just more cluttered, what do I know?)
posted by JoanArkham at 2:30 PM on February 2, 2010

I've never seen anyone store anything on top of the fridge that didn't look like clutter.

I could see that a decorative platter as mentioned above could be okay. If you really need to use this as storage space, consider installing a cabinet or maybe even shelves. I have always had a hate on for houses that store cereal or liquor on the fridge cause it's sooo first-apartment-in-college (although if this is the case for you - go for it).
posted by saradarlin at 2:35 PM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Don't put anything up there unless you absolutely have to. It's messy and kind of gross. What I love to see in a kitchen is function, accessibility, and practicality with as few opportunities for grease and dust to collect as possible. I'm 5'2" though, maybe I'd have a different view on things (hurhur) if I were a foot taller.
posted by crabintheocean at 3:06 PM on February 2, 2010

I have this pretty retro radio on top of mine.
posted by ellieBOA at 3:11 PM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

the microwave is on top of our fridge.

BUT WAIT! YOU MIGHT SPILL HOT SOUP ON YOURSELF REACHING IT DOWN ONE DAY! or, be careful and you won't. we never have.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 3:13 PM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ours features our cat's bed and water bowl. She loves sleeping high up where she can crack open an eye and keep an eye on us lowly commoners ever once in a while, and she especially loves having her water bowl up there so she can splash water all over the floor.
posted by Cygnet at 3:27 PM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Other people must have exceptionally clean kitchens, or else I'm doing something wrong, because the top of my fridge is a magnet for dust and general nastiness. I can't imagine storing anything edible up there. I keep candles and extra boxes of lightbulbs on top of mine. There's also a hammer, a screw driver, and a measuring tape up there (simply because no one ever seems to be able to find them when they're put away in a drawer).
posted by amyms at 3:34 PM on February 2, 2010

I've got my Foreman grill and my blender up there. It's a catchall for appliances that I use often but don't want to keep on my prep space.
posted by Hiker at 3:48 PM on February 2, 2010

posted by bonobothegreat at 3:56 PM on February 2, 2010

I have a sort of 3/4 fridge so I can see the top of it. I also have fitted cabinets more or less over them. I have a big pottery jar thing with tongs and wooden spoons and I have a teapot, and a have a wooden bowl full of measuring cups. Nothing awesome, but easy to get at and easy to clean the rest of the fridge top which, for some reason, manages to get mungy anyhow.
posted by jessamyn at 4:10 PM on February 2, 2010

I also have a 3/4 fridge, so the top is easily accessible. I've got my toaster oven up there, plus a small stereo so I can rock out and dance around my kitchen while I cook.
posted by missmary6 at 4:15 PM on February 2, 2010

A painting leaning up against the wall, a couple of trays, and my colander. All in complementary colors, so it looks nice, but is still a functional storage space. I particularly like keeping the colander there--after I use it, I do a quick rinse in soapy water and then stick it up on the fridge to dry.
posted by donajo at 4:15 PM on February 2, 2010

Wine, liquor, and an ice bucket.
posted by amro at 4:18 PM on February 2, 2010

Mostly the new rolls of paper towels. They take up too much room in the pantry.... and don't hurt when they fall on my head.
posted by kestrel251 at 4:20 PM on February 2, 2010

A loaf of bread, a cookie jar, some pens, and instructions for various kitchen appliances live on my fridge. Sometimes I put baked goods up there too. I don't really care if it looks cluttered.
posted by sandraregina at 4:21 PM on February 2, 2010

I put the microwave there too, mostly because our kitchen has a ton of cupboard space and very little counter space and we don't use the microwave very often. You could then put stuff on top of the microwave if you wanted although I'm not going to endorse that for visual appeal. A shelving unit is probably the way to go if you want to maximize the space and you are sufficiently tall.
posted by phoenixy at 4:29 PM on February 2, 2010

I have a fitted cabinet over mine, which covers about 95% of the top of the fridge, leaving an open strip on the side.

We keep several things we hardly ever use anymore on top of that cabinet -- most of it isn't visible from ground level: bread maker, ice cream maker, Passover pots and pans (they're only used once a year, after all,) an antique cast iron coffee bean grinder with a wooden base (that's somewhat decorative and thus kept towards the front,) and a couple of large platters that are family heirlooms but we think are too ugly to use.

The thin free strip on the refrigerator is used to display some unusually-shaped, decorative, colored glass corked bottles containing Italian herbs marinating in olive oil. Like this and this, sort of. Only nicer looking and minus the spout. :) Our refrigerator doesn't generate enough heat to spoil the oil, but just in case, those bottles are resting on a thin piece of soft "thermal" material that blocks the heat anyway.
posted by zarq at 4:30 PM on February 2, 2010

Oh, and the cabinet itself is used to store dry goods, including paper towels, napkins, toddler snacks, cereals and other odds and ends. It's very deep.
posted by zarq at 4:32 PM on February 2, 2010

Microwave, fire extinguisher, and potted plant. I have minimal counter space and that's the easiest place for the microwave (I'm tall), as well as pretty much the only place. I can also get around 2 sides of the fridge. I think a deep cabinet would be frustrating, trying to get to the stuff in the back.
posted by mostlybecky at 4:39 PM on February 2, 2010

Ditto on the microwave. It's also a great way to make sure you actually clean your microwave, because you'll be able to see the inside a lot better.
posted by beyond_pink at 4:43 PM on February 2, 2010

My family keeps a lazy susan up there with all our drinking cups and glasses on it. Looks nice enough.
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 4:56 PM on February 2, 2010

Wow, thanks for all the answers, folks! I love hearing how people use (and feel about) this space!

I'm determined that something should go up there - it's just too big and blank and white and wrong-looking when it's empty. (It's not gross up there - I can get at the area pretty easily to clean it.)

Right now I'm thinking of keeping my eyes open for some object - a piece of art, or a mobile, or maybe a stool or other small piece of furniture - that I absolutely love, and displaying it there. Asking this question made me realize just how much of a focal space this is in my apartment!

(I can get a shelf or something for the vinegar etc, and maybe some interesting jars to keep the cereal in.)
I love the idea of putting plants up there, and if the area got any sun, I probably already would have done that! Fire extinguishers are important, but mine is already wall-mounted. I'm pretty clumsy, so while I'd like to stick the microwave up there, I am the person that would justify the warnings misanthropicsarah doesn't need! Cygnet, if I still had cats, I'd be all over your idea - my kitties used to love hanging out atop the fridge! And drlith, you make me wish I owned my own home - your setup is great!
posted by Bergamot at 5:53 PM on February 2, 2010

I have a jar thingy that I keep potatoes, onions, and garlic in. And a wine cork cage.

(I did have some food (like boxes of crackers or cereal) up there for a time, but my mother said that it is classless to leave food up there.)
posted by sperose at 6:14 PM on February 2, 2010

The top of my fridge holds several demijohns of fermenting wine.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 7:13 PM on February 2, 2010

Since I have no other better place, I built a 3-tiered "bleacher" to put on top of the fridge, on which is displayed my tiki mug and figure collection. It kind of looks like the cover of Sgt. Pepper if it was designed by someone suffering from mushroom-induced psychosis. Naturally it's a focal point of conversation when people see it, and makes me feel vaguely artisitic.
posted by motown missile at 7:46 PM on February 2, 2010

Since I still use cds, and because I like listening to music while I cook, I usually keep my cheap radio, my stack of music cases, and a couple of miscellaneous cd cases on top of my fridge. I also have a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toy up there, because I loved them when I was a kid and for some reason it makes me laugh when I'm having a bad day.
posted by colfax at 8:10 PM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

We put our tea tray up there; it's the only thing that fits (there are cabinets above the fridge.) We also store sweets up there behind the tray (out of sight, out of mind.)
posted by Hardcore Poser at 8:18 PM on February 2, 2010

Booze and the ice bucket.
posted by Acacia at 8:47 PM on February 2, 2010

Thin, modern stereo. CDs. It helps to have a remote control to the stereosystem, since it is so high up.
posted by slateyness at 8:57 PM on February 2, 2010

On the top of my fridge is a microwave. On top of the microwave is a houseplant. And also, on top of my fridge you will often find a cat, because I feed the skinny one up on top of the fridge to keep his fatso sister out of his dish.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 11:43 PM on February 2, 2010

We have a tray, paper towels and an MP3 stereo. It's not pretty but I love having the MP3 player up there as it stays out of harms way and gets the sound evenly distributed while cooking/cleaning.
posted by like_neon at 1:37 AM on February 3, 2010

I have a couple of mesh bags full of fake oranges and a little 3 tiered shelf holding fake apples.
This sounds incredibly tacky (fake fruit!) but they are very realistic. These give my kitchen a wholesome, colorful touch and they also prevent me from putting other, less cluttery stuff up there.
posted by Pennyblack at 6:04 AM on February 3, 2010

Umm. That would be 'they also prevent me from putting other, MORE cluttery stuff up there. I also have a spaghetti-sized glass jar filled with multi-colored straws and a glass spice jar filled with multi-colored toothpicks.
The top of my fridge is very pretty.
posted by Pennyblack at 6:14 AM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

What about installing curtains above the fridge, using cool fabrics that you like, and keeping your stuff behind those?

Ikea sells parts so you can install pretty much any shape of curtain gliders/holders that can attach on the wall, ceiling, etc. [Click on "features" and you can see some of the curved pieces that would allow you to curtain off the area above your fridge. If you look at 6 of 8 under "combinations," the orange curtain system is a much larger version of what I'm envisioning -- imagine that the floor below the curtains in the photo is the top of your fridge. You could also have three straight rails instead.] Also, you can see in some of the pictures that there are metal, clothespin-like clips that hold the curtains, and they slide around freely on the rail. I think this is really cool and industrial, and makes it really easy to use whatever fabrics you like, and have the curtains split in many places so you can reach in wherever. You could also probably check a hardware store if Ikea won't work.

Also, maybe you could leave open, non-curtained space there as well. More specifically, here's an example: Envision the top of the fridge being curtained on three sides, and the curtains and wall make a square looking from above. So, instead of a square, have a rectangle, so the curtain that's parallel with the (closed) fridge door is set back. Then put a row of pretty bottles or jars* or low light plants in front, using the set-back curtain as a backdrop. You could have the backdrop curtain be black or a single jewel tone, and non-backdrop curtains be interesting patterns that you like. (Presumably you'd reach through the non-backdrop curtains to get to your stored food etc.)

(You might want to use a lazy Susan behind the curtains in this situation so you can more easily get to your vinegar and cereal etc., since the row of pretty bottles or whatever will limit your ability to grab stuff. Or have the open space with the bottles be where you can't reach anyway, assuming this space is visible so you can see the bottles! You could even do something crazy like have the curtains form a triangle.)

*This kind of stuff. Or depending on how crazy you want to get, these filled with these, which I think they sell at craft stores too. The glass beads would help keep them heavy enough to stay put, which seems useful. You might want to use glue or wax too to keep them in place.
posted by sentient at 1:21 PM on February 3, 2010

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