After seeing all of the cool kitchen cabinet organizers that you can buy at IKEA, I decided I needed to get my builder grade kitchen cabinets in order. To make sure they fit properly and save some money, I built my own DIY kitchen organizers like these kitchen drawer organizers, this DIY blind corner cabinet organizer and this hanging utensil storage rack This project, a DIY over the fridge organizer, is the next step in my kitchen storage and organization journey.
DIY Over The Fridge Organizer
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If you have been following along, you know that I have been on a mission to get my kitchen organized without spending a lot of time or money.
The next step along that journey is to add some storage organization for the kitchen cabinet over the refrigerator.
When I first moved into my house, there actually wasn’t a kitchen cabinet over the fridge at all. Which is a total waste of storage space in my opinion.
So I went out and bought a fridge-depth, 30″ wide by 24″ deep cabinet from IKEA. Even though the rest of my kitchen isn’t from IKEA, you don’t really notice that it’s different once it’s installed.
And this cabinet is definitely big enough to hold a lot of stuff!
The problem is that because of its location and how deep the cabinet is, it’s an awkward spot to get to.
The Original Cabinet – The Problem
Even before starting on this kitchen re-organization project, I had decided that storing long, tall things like cookie sheets and serving trays was a good use of space for this cabinet.
And I still think it is, but not when it ends up looking like this.
Originally, I bought some of the IKEA vertical partitions to organize the storage space in this large cabinet. They are meant for storing things like cookie sheets.
I think it’s the first time I have ever used an IKEA organizational accessory that didn’t actually work that well.
The problem is that the space between the divider wires is too wide and too high.
Any time you have baking tins (like muffin tins) that have bits which stick out, they fall through the holes and interfere with whatever is stored in the next space over.
Any time you have a shorter tin, it falls through the space to interfere with whatever is in the next space over.
Any time you have a heaver tray or plate, it leans past the top of the divider and interferes with whatever is in the next space over….you get the picture.
All of that makes it hard to pull things out and put things in without also pulling out something else…which sometimes ends up on the floor. So I needed vertical dividers that were solid to make my over the fridge organizer easier to use.
The second storage issue I had was a side effect of having the vertical dividers.
I didn’t need them to go all the way across the cabinet and I wanted to use the rest of the space to store serving plates and trays.
These are glass so I didn’t want to store them vertically and have the edges chipped (been there, done that!)
But because I had the vertical storage, I couldn’t install shelves.
So all of my serving plates and trays ended up getting stacked on top of each other. Which made it really hard to get at the ones at the bottom of the pile.
The solution? Build some custom shelves and vertical dividers that fit my over the refrigerator storage needs exactly.
Keep reading to read the step-by-step instructions on how to build a DIY over the fridge organizer.
The Over The Refrigerator Storage Plan
For the glass serving trays and plates, I wanted to build some regular shelves that would hold a few plates each…which would make it much easier to get at the ones I needed.
Since I was still going to put in vertical storage for the cookie trays, I only wanted these shelves to go part way across the cabinet.
To figure out how wide the shelves should be, I measured the widest plate in my collection. It happens to be the one I serve turkey on, and it’s 15″ wide. So to make sure it will fit, I decided to make the shelves 16″ wide.
That would mean installing a divider which would become the side of these shelves.
The divider and the shelves would be cut from ¾” melamine…¾” thick so they wouldn’t warp under the weight of all those glass dishes. And melamine because that’s what my cabinets are made…and I happened to have some scraps left over from another project.
The Vertical Dividers
Then I would need to build the vertical sections.
To fit my cookie sheets and baking pans, I wanted 4 separate sections – one for cooling racks, one for baking pans, one for cookie sheets and one for cutting boards.
The wood for these vertical dividers didn’t need to be very thick since they are not carrying any load (and I didn’t want to waste any space).
I also wanted to be able to remove the dividers (easier to clean that way) and I didn’t want to use a router to make the grooves (I can never seem to get router grooves to go straight).
So I went with ¼” plywood…both for the vertical dividers and to create spacers at the top and bottom of the cabinet that would hold the dividers in place.
The best part about this? It’s really not hard. The whole project took about 3 hours to put together.
Keep reading to see how to build a DIY over the refrigerator cabinet organizer.
Materials and Tools
Materials For the Shelves
- 24″ x ¾” melamine, plywood or MDF – My cabinet is 24″ deep…if you are working with a narrower one, you will want to adjust the width of the melamine to match your cabinet depth. The length will be determined by how many shelves you are building.
- 4 Corner Braces*
- Melamine Edge Banding*
- Shelf Supports*
- ¾” x #8 Screws
Materials For The Vertical Partitions
- ¼” x 24″ plywood – My cabinet is 24″ deep…if you are working with a narrower one, you will want to adjust the width of the plywood to match your cabinet depth. The length will be determined by how many shelves you are building.
- White primer and paint
- ¾” x #8 Screws
How To Put The Shelves Together
The first step to make this over the fridge organizer is to build the shelves.
Measure And Cut The Shelves
1. Figure out how deep your cabinet is. All of your boards will be cut to this length. In my case it is 24″ deep.
2. Figure out how wide your shelves need to be. In my case, I measured the width of my biggest serving plate. It was about 15″ wide, so I made my shelves 16″ wide.
3. Figure out how many shelves you need. My cabinet space is only 15″ tall, so I could only fit 2 shelves.
4. If your shelves are only taking up part of the cabinet (like mine), you will need to cut a divider. Measure how high the cabinet space is to determine the height of the divider. In my case, it was 15″ high.
5. Cut the shelves and divider from the melamine or plywood.
My shelf and divider board sizes:
2 – 16″ x 24″ shelves
1 – 15″ x 24″ divider
Drill Holes For Shelf Supports
6. Mark where the shelf support holes will be.
In my case, the original cabinet was an IKEA cabinet which already had shelf support holes drilled in it. I measured the distance between those holes to determine where they needed to go on the divider. If you are drilling your own holes, you can use pegboard to mark evenly-spaced holes on your divider and the existing side of the cabinet.
7. Use the correct size drill bit for your shelf supports to drill holes where you have marked them to go. In my case, I used a 7/32″ drill bit as I had 5 mm shelf supports.
Finish The Edges
To make your over the fridge organizer shelves look neat, you’ll need to finish the edges. While this step isn’t absolutely necessary, it does help the shelves to look finished.
8. If you are using melamine, you can cover the outside edge of the boards with an iron-on melamine strip that will give it a finished look.
a. Cut the melamine band edging so that it is slightly longer than the side your are covering
b. Heat an iron to its hottest temperature.
c. Iron on the band edging.
d. Trim the edges.
9. If you are using plywood or MDF boards, you can paint the shelves at this point. Make sure to prime them first.
Install The Shelves
8. Attach corner braces to the top and bottom of the divider, making sure that the back side of each of the corner braces lines up with the edge of the shelf.
9. Position the divider in the cabinet. Make sure it is the correct distance from the side of the cabinet by using a shelf as a spacer. Also, if your cabinet had holes pre-drilled in it (like mine), you will need to make sure that your divider is installed the right way so that the holes line up. Use ¾” screws to attach the corner braces to the cabinet shelves.
10. Push in shelf supports in the locations where you want the shelves to go.
11. Add your shelves and this section of the over the refrigerator storage unit is done.
How To Put The Vertical Dividers Together
The second part to making our over the fridge organizer is to create the vertical dividers for storing cookie sheets.
Measure And Cut The Wood
1. Measure the height of the cabinet space where you will be installing the vertical dividers. In my case, it was 15″ high.
2. Measure the depth of the cabinet space. In my case it was 24″ deep.
3. Figure out how many dividers you need. I did this by figuring out what I wanted in each section, and then figuring out how wide that section needed to be:
Cutting boards – 2″
Cookie sheets – 3″
Wire cooling racks – 3″
Baking pans – 4″
The number of dividers you need will be one less than the number of sections you need. In my case, I had 4 sections, so I needed 3 dividers.
4. Figure out if your space will accommodate your “wants” by measuring the width of the space. In my case, the width is 12″ wide, which is exactly the same distance as what I had estimated that I needed. Since you also need to leave ¼” for each of the plywood dividers, I had to reduce my measurements by a total of 3/4″ (that’s 1/4″ multiplied by the 3 dividers I was installing):
Cutting boards – 2″
Cookie sheets – 3″
Wire cooling racks – 2¾”
Baking pans – 3½”
5. Cut the dividers from the ¼” plywood based on the height and depth of the cabinet. In my case, I needed 3 dividers that were 15″ x 24″.
6. Next, cut spacers from the ¼” plywood that will keep the dividers in the right place in the cabinet.
To do this, you will need to cut 2 pieces of plywood that are the same width as the space measurements you calculated in step 4, and are the same length as the depth of your cabinet. So in my case I need to cut the following:
2 – 2″ x 24″
2 – 3″ x 24″
2 – 2¾” x 24″
2 – 3½” x 24″
7. Prime and paint the dividers if desired.
Install The Over The Fridge Organizer Dividers
, 8. The next step to building our over the fridge organizer is to install spacers for the dividers.
The idea is that the spacers will make sure that the vertical dividers are exactly the same distance apart at the top and bottom, and keep them standing upright. To do this:
a. Figure out which order you want your vertical dividers to be in. In my case, I decided to put the largest section first, then the 2¾” space, then the 2″ space, then the 3″ space.
b. Install the first spacer at the top and bottom of the cabinet using ¾” screws.
c. Measure ¼” from the edge of the spacer to determine where the next one will be installed. Or use a scrap piece of ¼” plywood stood on its end to create the space where the vertical divider will be.
d. Install the second spacer at the top and bottom of the cabinet using ¾” screws.
e. Repeat steps c and d for the rest of your spacers. You should end up with a ¼” gap between each of the spacers.
9. Install the dividers by pushing them into the ¼” gaps between the spacers.
Now you are ready to use your over the refrigerator storage!
The Finished Over The Fridge Organizer
Add your baking sheets and serving dishes…and enjoy how easy it is to get at them!
I love how easy it is to get at all of my plates and bake ware.
The dividers come out for easy cleaning.
And everything looks so much neater than it did before!
Hopefully, you have found some inspiration to build your own custom DIY over the fridge organizer, too.
Other DIY Kitchen Organizers You Might Like
- Pull Down Under Cabinet Cookbook Shelf
- 7 Awesome Kitchen Cabinet Door Storage Ideas That Will Organize Your Kitchen
- How To Convert Base Cabinet Shelves to Drawers
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This post was originally published on February 8, 2016 but was updated with new content on January 8, 2022.