DIY Painted Refrigerator
(or, How to make your fridge look darling and retro instead of sad & tired)
Here it is, my perfectly adequate, functioning perfectly, perfectly boring refrigerator:
Step 1/2: Gather supplies.
- 1 quart paint color of your choice, in semi-gloss. I chose one with primer mixed in to skip the priming step and the texture was thick, almost like pudding! Yum. There are definitely fewer splatters with thicker paint, too.
- Sandpaper, any grit
- Soap & water
- Painter’s tape
- Xacto knife (optional, but helpful)
- Small paint roller. I chose one with 3/8″ nap because our fridge is orange-peel textured and I knew I wouldn’t get a super-smooth finish. No need to use a foam roller!
- Angled paint brush + teeny tiny paint brush (think watercolor size)
- Paint tray. I’ve used paper plates and even tupperware bin lids before! I finally splurged on a reusable metal one during my last project.
- Drop cloth. Plastic sheeting, towel, old sheet, doesn’t matter, as long as it protects your flooring.
- Nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol and Q-tips (for cleanup!)
And that’s it! Since I already had a lot of these things on hand, my supplies cost $17 total at Lowe’s (paint and paint roller).
Step 1: Lightly sand the surface of the fridge.
Don’t ask me what grit sandpaper I used, because I don’t know! It’s whatever I found in the garage. I could tell it was working because little piles of metallic-smelling dust gathered on the floor. Yuck, I probably should have put my
dropcloth beach towel down before this step. After sanding, I used a soapy rag to wash down the surfaces of the fridge, and rinsed with a wet rag afterwards. Wait for it to dry before moving to Step 2.
I’m not sure how long I sanded each side. I was good and sweaty by the end of it, though!
Step 2: Tape off the parts you don’t want to paint.
For me, this was the handles, gaskets, and Whirlpool logo on the front. I used an xacto knife to cut excess tape from around the logo, because I’m good like that. Also, I DID NOT paint the metal that the gaskets close against. Basically, I kept paint off of the rubber gaskets and off of what the rubber touches, in order to keep the seal nice & tight. Do I really know if paint will interfere with the seal? No. But it’s better to be safe than sorry! This just means that when I open the fridge doors there is a 1/2″ of white in a ring around the opening.
Step 3: Mix your paint and prep the roller by thoroughly saturating it in the paint. Start painting!
Yep, it’s that easy. I painted three coats even though I could have stopped after 2. I already had the paint in the pan so why not! I used Valspar’s Turquoise Tint mixed in Olympic ONE Paint+Primer from Lowe’s.
Yes, at this point it’s going to look like a hot mess. Don’t freak out! Break out a beer and make sure something funny is on TV. Last night my combination was Miller Light, Big Bang Theory, and Cougar Town. Also, there’s definitely some maneuvering in order to cover everything in paint – for example, opening the doors to paint their tops and bottoms meant that the tape along the gaskets would be disrupted, so I saved that for last. I used my angled brush and also a TEENY TINY watercolor brush to paint around things that couldn’t easily be taped, like the hinges.
After the first coat:
After the third coat, and removing the tape:
Step 4: Clean up!
I am by no means good at painting. I have the enthusiasm and the desire, but not the skillz. So, after taking off the painter’s tape, I had to deal with stuff like this:
That’s paint on top of the gasket, in case you can’t tell. This kind of thing could definitely end up interfering with the fridge’s ability to stay closed & sealed, so not good! After madly hunting for the nail polish remover that I SWEAR I HAVE SOMEWHERE, I grabbed rubbing alcohol and some Q-tips and got it cleaned up. It took a little soaking and a little scrubbing, but eventually the paint came off the no-no spot. You can also see in the “after” pic what I mentioned above about not painting the part of the fridge that the gasket sits against, instead leaving a ring of white around each door opening.
I also used my teeny-tiny paint brush to go along edges that hadn’t been fully painted due to wonky tape placement. Here’s a before and after of the opening-side of the freezer door, see how much sharper the edge looks?
After taking the tape off of the logo. MAN I’m good! I take back what I said earlier about not having mad painting skillz. I totes do.
Through a combination of taping and painting with the teeny-tiny brush, the handles turned out smashing. The non-paint splattered, bright white kind of smashing!
I have a confession to make. Because I am a female, cleaner, nice-smelling version of Larry the Cable Guy, my motto for DIY projects is, “Git ‘her DONE!” And so last night after moving the fridge back into place, in the spirit of “gitting ‘er done” I put the top cabinet back up. You can probably tell that this cabinet doesn’t actually hook to the wall, it just rests on top the fridge. I’ve been meaning to install it but haven’t gotten around to it. It’s on my list! Anyway, in putting it on the newly-painted fridge, I scraped some of the paint off the top. I guess that’s why you’re supposed to let paint cure before messing with it? Huh! Anyway, thankfully I had the roller still handy and touched them up. No harm no foul! Now I swear I’m not touching it again until the paint is cured (2-3 days according to the can). The cabinet is resting on top of a towel until then, too.
(I also put the cabinet back up upside-down. There’s a blasted screw sticking out of the bottom of it just begging to scratch my new paint further, and in trying to get it out I managed to strip the head. So, I just flipped the cabbie over and now the screw points towards the ceiling, like a defiant middle finger. Does anyone really care if it’s right-side-up? Nope!)
This is where you step back and admire your handiwork! And it is just beautiful. My turquoise paint color is chameleon, depending on the shadows and light source (artificial vs. natural, or both), it looks like different colors.
My helpers! NOT. They so did not help at all. Luke got paint on his nose from sniffing the fridge while it was wet, and Emma peed on the ottoman approximately 30 seconds after I took this picture. Weenies.
Remember how I said that turquoise should be my signature color? Here are some other turquoise things I have in the kitchen/living room that tie in to the new, fabulous refrigerator.
A turquoise bus full of dogs in my living room gallery wall:
My beautiful turquoise mason jar light fixture:
My pair of turquoise foo dogs from TJ Maxx, sitting on my “hopeful for springtime” winter mantle:
I am beyond thrilled with how this project turned out! In 4 hours with less than $20 I created something that will make me smile every time I see it. I call that success=) Happy DIY! One last time: