Believe it or not, the exterior of your fridge can look great, and it can actually serve a functional purpose in your kitchen too.

By Sarah Baird
October 30, 2019
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For the majority of us, the refrigerator is the biggest, most imposing appliance in the kitchen—and the one that gets the least respect when it comes to cleaning. Sure, sometimes we make a point to make the inside a little less skunky or remove the slightly-past-their-prime vegetables, but the outside of the fridge seems to be, more often than not, overlooked. It’s time to change that. Below are four ways to get the most out of your refrigerator’s exterior, while making your whole kitchen a more interactive, engaging space.

Quadrants are your friend.

Historically, I’ve had a serious problem with posting a photo on my refrigerator, and letting it linger for months—or years—until it was literally yellowing. After a while, the poor fridge would become so crowded with extraneous stuff that it looked like a living papier mache project. I knew something had to change, so I devised a “quadrant” method a few years ago to make better use of this giant, glistening kitchen canvas. (Afterall, isn’t it the greatest mood board of all?)

Today, on one quarter of my fridge, there are recent photos of friends and family that I make an effort to switch out once every couple of months. On another, there’s a whiteboard (more about that below). On the other third, I keep clipped out or printed off recipe inspirations. I’ve found placing the recipes I’d like to make on the fridge not only reminds me about them but acts as a deterrent from just pulling out another (albeit, delicious) Trader Joe’s meal for dinner. And on the final quarter, there are additional family reminders about the mundane things—dentist appointments, car tune ups and beyond.  

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Make it an active space.

Having a whiteboard on the refrigerator is an ideal way to ensure you don’t treat the appliance as simply something to open and shut to retrieve your favorite snacks. This interactive tool allows for greater family communication, real time notes and important updates that also remind people that the front of the fridge is every bit as important as what’s inside. What’s more, it allows you to take stock of what’s around in the other quadrants, so you can remember your dentist appointment or something exciting to make for dinner. It also can help reduce waste if you’re used to writing on scrap paper or Post-It notes to leave reminders.

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Use magnets to set the mood.

Unattractive magnets sent by your local pizza place, insurance agent or dog groomer are free, sure, but can really kill the mood of the kitchen. Instead, opt for some attractive magnets that make school permission slips look downright attractive. These multicolored glass magnets would add a rainbow-hued pop of personality to any space, while these geode magnets add an earthy vibe. I try to buy a magnet from every place I visit (no matter how kitschy!) so every time I open my fridge, there’s a reminder of my trip to Montana, Taiwan or anywhere in-between.   

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And don’t forget to clean the outside!

Frequent home cooks are always remembering to scrub down their stovetops, wipe off counters and make sure the sink is free from stains and debris. The exterior of the refrigerator, though, is (more often than not) rarely given a scrub down. Whether your refrigerator is black, eggshell or stainless steel, streaks and stains easily cling to its surface, so aim to give yours a good wash at least once a week. For enamel refrigerators, using a spray bottle to spritz the appliance with a mixture of half water and half dish soap—followed by cleaning with a soft sponge and rinsing—will typically accomplish the job. (Tough spots respond well to a little bit of baking soda.) Things get a little trickier for stainless steel versions. Using a spray bottle, spritz your fridge with white vinegar and rub off using a microfiber towel in the direction of the grain. After that, finish polishing it up by gently rubbing with a few drops of olive oil. Yes, it’s a two-step process. But good news? You already have all of the tools in your pantry!  

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